The Mystery of the Ragged Stranger Podcast Episode #1- A Prelude to Murder

ct-chicagonow-podcast-artwork-mystery-ragged-stranger-v3I'm pleased to share with you the first episode of The Mystery of the Ragged Stranger podcast, produced in partnership with ChicagoNow.

The podcast will allow us to tell the story about the Ragged Stranger and Carl Wanderer in a little different way than some of the material we are presenting here in the blog. The blog and the podcast may overlap at times while on other occasions they will have material entirely exclusive from one another. There are roughly 30 more blog posts and the podcast will encompass eight episodes; both will end roughly the same time, September 30th.

This podcast aims to take a deep look, at what was one of Chicago’s most famous crimes.

In 1920, on a quiet North Side street, three people entered a tiny vestibule of a two-flat. Ten gunshots later, only one person emerged.

World War I, mental illness, love affairs, Chicago Police shenanigans, the first John Doe murder trial in Chicago history, Illinois politics, and the writings of one of the period’s most illustrious writers are but a few of the topics we will touch on.

How did it come to this?

The Mystery of the Ragged Stranger starts with episode #1, Prelude to a Murder.

This is the true story.

Episode #1 of the podcast, A Prelude to Murder, can be listened to below.

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Our intro theme music for the podcast is The Crocodile by the Wiedoft-Wadsworth Quartet. Written by Otto Motzan and Harry Akst and recorded March 1, 1920 in New York City. The performers credited were- Harry Askt on piano, Carl Fenton also on piano, George Hamilton Green on the xylophone, J. Russel Robinson again on piano, F. Wheeler Wadsworth on alto saxophone, and Rudy Wiedoeft also on alto saxophone. 

Our outro theme song is The Butcher's Boy (The Railroad Boy) by Buell Kazee and is used courtesy of June Appal Recordings in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Kazee, a baptist minister, recorded this haunting song, compiled from a collection of British ballads, in New York City on January 16, 1928. The recordings for Buell Kazee (catalog no. JA009) were made by Mark Wilson, Buell Kazee, and Kentucky Educational Television, and were compiled and produced by Jonathan Greene, Loyal Jones and John McCutcheon for June Appal Recordings. The album was preserved and re-released by Appalshop Archive in 2007 and can be purchased here.


There is yet even more information, available on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


Episode #2 of the podcast coming Monday, July 9- Murder in the Vestibule


This project aims to fill in the gaps where there is unknown, correct false narratives that have branched away from the truth, and most importantly, to entertain and enlighten.

It has been sourced from research for my upcoming book Kisses for Julia, Bullets for Ruth: The Mystery of Carl Wanderer & the Ragged Stranger.


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  • Impressive podcast. Informative, entertaining, and well delivered. Bravo.

  • I and my team from are impressed by your novel! It's cool!

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    Is "religious madness" different from other types of madness? I think you're conflating a symptom with a diagnostic label. Just like they used to conflate another particular symptom as the etiology of what we now know is schizophrenia. Otherwise interesting tale thus far.

  • In reply to KA Fleury:

    Thanks for your feedback. You're right, 'religious madness' is neither a proper diagnosis or symptom; the newspapers at the time all referenced her melancholia and/or religious mania and madness as being the reasons behind her suicide. As a layman, I've tried to use as much of the terminology of the day as possible to try to avoid retroactively offering a diagnosis of individuals in today's terms. Episodes #4 and #6 get into some of the trial testimony from alienists that diagnosed Carl and offered testimony on his mother and it's shocking what the state of mental health diagnoses were in the early 20th century. In Episode #8, which will be a conclusion and recap of the story, I will explain what a forensic psychiatrist told me what he thought would be a modern diagnosis of Carl Wanderer. Thanks again for your comment.

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