June 21st

Part 9 can be found here if you missed it…   Ninety-eight years ago today a heinous crime was carried out by Carl Wanderer as he took the lives of his wife Ruth, her unborn child, and a vagrant who came be to known as the Ragged Stranger. This blog has tried to shed a... Read more »

Strangers Galore

Part 8 can be found here if you missed it… The first few weeks after the murder saw a flurry of identifications of the Ragged Stranger. While the identifications of John Maloney and Al Watson garnered the majority of the headlines from this time (we’ll look into Al Watson more in a future post) there... Read more »

Matson, Watson, and Reporters Solving Crimes

  Part 7 can be found here if you missed it… While the police went to track down the E. Masters lead with the John Robinson Circus, Chicago’s newspaper reporters were essentially tasked with chasing down another lead, Matson or Watson. The night of the murder dozens of police, reporters, and neighbors had gazed upon... Read more »
ChicagoNow Video

John Maloney- Manslaughter and the Duluth Lynchings

Part 6 can be found here if you missed it… After having tracked down Earl Masters the police determined that the John Robinson Circus commissary ticket found on the body of the Ragged Stranger had been in a jacket Masters had lent to fellow circus worker John Maloney. The police determined that without telling any of... Read more »

E. Masters and the Creepy Clowns of the John Robinson Circus

  Part 5 can be read here if you missed it… One of the highlights of every summer in the pre-television days was the circus coming to down. The big top, a midway teeming with circus barkers extolling their freak shows or trained wild animals; the circus was the place to be whenever it was... Read more »

Ruth Johnson and Graceland Cemetery

Part 4 can be read here if you missed it… The only fault that could possibly be found with Ruth Johnson was her taste in men; she fell hopelessly in love with a psychopath. From all other accounts she was a wonderful, devoted wife and daughter that should have been the envy of her husband. Ruth... Read more »

The Colt .45 and Abercrombie & Fitch

  Part 3 can be found here if you missed it… As America fought in the Philippines in the 1899-1902 Philippine-American war the American soldiers found themselves up against the indigenous Moro tribe who, among other tribes, were said to often take native herbs or drugs that made them fierce to fight. It was said they made... Read more »

Monsieur Bertillon, Captain Evans, & How to ID a Body in the Early 1900's

Part 2 can be read here if you missed it… While homicide detectives investigated the leads on the Colt .45, the John Robinson Circus, and the Chicago Chauffeurs union, another faction of Chicago’s finest was called in to see if they could shed any light on whom the Ragged Stranger might be. The Police Identification Bureau... Read more »

The Ragged Stranger in the Ravenswood Hospital Morgue

Part 1 can be found here if you missed it… In the immediate aftermath of the shooting the police tried to identify the unknown man in the morgue at Ravenswood Hospital. He was a white male in his early 20’s with a pale complexion, freckles, and light reddish-brown hair that was longer than the style... Read more »

The Mystery of the Ragged Stranger

The Ragged Stranger was front page news coast to coast as the art above printed November 21, 1920 in The Washington Times attests. Who was the Ragged Stranger? Was Al Watson the Ragged Stranger? Or Eddie Ryan? Earl Masters? John Maloney? Earl Keesee? Joseph Ahrens? Was he a shell-shocked veteran? A scion of wealth? An... Read more »