Paul Drexler

A crime spree that followed the devastating fire and earthquake in San Francisco in 1906 — reported by the San Francisco Examiner — had most of The City's population fleeing town or stockpiling firearms. (Courtesy Photo)

The Gas Pipe Gang

In 1906, San Francisco was struck by two major infernos. The fire…

A crime spree that followed the devastating fire and earthquake in San Francisco in 1906 — reported by the San Francisco Examiner — had most of The City's population fleeing town or stockpiling firearms. (Courtesy Photo)
Joseph Frenna testifies at his trial, claiming James Turner had swindled him and caused him to temporarily lose his sanity. (Courtesy photo)

‘Joe the Barber’

You can get away with murder if you pick the right person.…

Joseph Frenna testifies at his trial, claiming James Turner had swindled him and caused him to temporarily lose his sanity. (Courtesy photo)
Detective Isaiah Lees and the site of the case that made his career: the El Dorado Gambling House. (Courtesy photos)

Isaiah Lees and the Tunnel Bandits

William Pinkerton called him “The greatest criminal catcher the West ever knew.”…

Detective Isaiah Lees and the site of the case that made his career: the El Dorado Gambling House. (Courtesy photos)
A painting of “Jeanne or Jean Bonnet” memorializes the life of the San Francisco frog catcher. (Courtesy Ria Brodell, 2012)

The Little Frog Catcher

I wonder which toilet Jeanne Bonnet would have to use in North…

A painting of “Jeanne or Jean Bonnet” memorializes the life of the San Francisco frog catcher. (Courtesy Ria Brodell, 2012)
Francis Van Wie, aka The Ding Dong Daddy of the D-Line. (Courtesy Photo)

The Ding Dong Daddy of the D-Car Line

“The Ding-Dong Daddy of the D-car line Had a thing for the…

Francis Van Wie, aka The Ding Dong Daddy of the D-Line. (Courtesy Photo)
Frank McManus, dubbed the “King of the Potrero, was known as a violent, heavy drinker with tremendous political clout. (Courtesy photo)

‘King of The Potrero’

A king, a gossoon and a bear walked into a bar. No,…

Frank McManus, dubbed the “King of the Potrero, was known as a violent, heavy drinker with tremendous political clout. (Courtesy photo)
After gaining fame and fortune by performing illegal abortions in San Francisco, Inez Burns spent two years in jail and lost most of her money to the IRS.(Courtesy photos)

Inez Burns: A Necessary Evil

Love her or hate her, praise her or damn her, there was…

After gaining fame and fortune by performing illegal abortions in San Francisco, Inez Burns spent two years in jail and lost most of her money to the IRS.(Courtesy photos)
Dr. Robert Thompson, left, who worked under the alias Dr. James Grant, was convicted of second-degree murder for performing an illegal abortion on Eva Swan, right, in 1910. (Courtesy photos)

The Crimes of ‘Dr. Grant’

Is abortion murder? Today, the answer depends on your religious and moral…

Dr. Robert Thompson, left, who worked under the alias Dr. James Grant, was convicted of second-degree murder for performing an illegal abortion on Eva Swan, right, in 1910. (Courtesy photos)
James Hope, left, was a legendary bank robber who in 1881 crossed paths with Isaiah Lees, SFPD’s first Captain of Detectives. (Courtesy Thomas Byrnes’ “Rogues Gallery: 247 Professional Criminals of 19th Century America”)

Criminal genius meets his match

The chief bookkeeper at San Francisco’s Sather Bank knew the white stuff…

James Hope, left, was a legendary bank robber who in 1881 crossed paths with Isaiah Lees, SFPD’s first Captain of Detectives. (Courtesy Thomas Byrnes’ “Rogues Gallery: 247 Professional Criminals of 19th Century America”)
Charles and Belle Cora, San Francisco’s first star-crossed lovers, are buried in a quiet corner of Mission Dolores cemetery. (Paul Drexler/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Civilizing San Francisco

The story of Charles and Belle Cora is a tale of prostitution,…

Charles and Belle Cora, San Francisco’s first star-crossed lovers, are buried in a quiet corner of Mission Dolores cemetery. (Paul Drexler/Special to S.F. Examiner)
The San Francisco Police Department's Chinatown Squad, pictured in 1989, were known for using direct means to squash the tongs' presence in Chinatown. (Courtesy photo)

Chinatown tong wars

Kwong Duck Tong member Ming Long was not a happy camper on…

The San Francisco Police Department's Chinatown Squad, pictured in 1989, were known for using direct means to squash the tongs' presence in Chinatown. (Courtesy photo)
Jerome Bassity owned and operated dozens of brothels in San Francisco in the early 1900s. (Courtesy Photo)

Jerome Bassity: King of the Tenderloin

Jerome Bassity, also known as “The King of the Tenderloin,” was the…

Jerome Bassity owned and operated dozens of brothels in San Francisco in the early 1900s. (Courtesy Photo)
Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow is shown being questioned by his defense attorney on Monday, Dec. 21 in a San Francisco federal courtroom.  Courtroom drawing by Vicki Ellen Behringer

The United States Vs Raymond ‘Shrimp Boy’ Chow

Trial notes Dec 23,2015 Prologue:  On March 13, 2014 FBI agents in …

Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow is shown being questioned by his defense attorney on Monday, Dec. 21 in a San Francisco federal courtroom.  Courtroom drawing by Vicki Ellen Behringer
Mobster Nick DeJohn, at right, also known by the alias Nick Rossi, was found in the trunk of his car, at left, on Laguna Street in San Francisco on May 9, 1947. (Courtesy photo)

I left my crime family in San Francisco

You rarely hear about organized crime in San Francisco, and many wonder…

Mobster Nick DeJohn, at right, also known by the alias Nick Rossi, was found in the trunk of his car, at left, on Laguna Street in San Francisco on May 9, 1947. (Courtesy photo)
Alexander Crittenden and Laura Fair. (Courtesy photo)

Fury of a woman scorned

Picture a boat approaching the Ferry Building on a warm night in…

Alexander Crittenden and Laura Fair. (Courtesy photo)
A stock certificate for $500 worth of shares in the Meiggs Wharf Company. (Courtesy photo)

Visionary meets con artist

Some of the early immigrants to San Francisco were criminals, hustlers and…

A stock certificate for $500 worth of shares in the Meiggs Wharf Company. (Courtesy photo)
Joe Lococco, a Sicilian immigrant who shot and killed George Gray for refusing to pay his wages, is pictured with the Telegraph Hill quarry, which George and Harry Gray regularly dynamited in the 1890s, destroying surrounding neighborhoods. (Courtesy photos)

Gray brothers had it coming all along

“He had it comin’, he had it comin’, He only had himself…

Joe Lococco, a Sicilian immigrant who shot and killed George Gray for refusing to pay his wages, is pictured with the Telegraph Hill quarry, which George and Harry Gray regularly dynamited in the 1890s, destroying surrounding neighborhoods. (Courtesy photos)
A drawing depicts the violent exchange between John "Chicken" Devine, center, and Billy MNaitland, left, during which Maitland chopped off Devine's hand with a carving knife. (Courtesy photo)

What’s in a nickname?

Never in the history of nicknames has there been a more misleading…

A drawing depicts the violent exchange between John "Chicken" Devine, center, and Billy MNaitland, left, during which Maitland chopped off Devine's hand with a carving knife. (Courtesy photo)
Clarence "Buck" Kelly was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder and hung at San Quentin State Prison in 1927. (Courtesy Photo)

Reign of the Terror Bandits

The reign of the Terror Bandits began with a gun and ended…

Clarence "Buck" Kelly was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder and hung at San Quentin State Prison in 1927. (Courtesy Photo)
A "Wanted" bulletin for Iva M. Kroeger was issued by the San Francisco Police Department on Sept. 6, 1962. Kroeger, who had more than 10 aliases, was wanted for two counts of murder. (Courtesy photo)

The Grandma from Hell

Iva Kroeger had an obsession with nursing. Her first arrest, in 1945,…

A "Wanted" bulletin for Iva M. Kroeger was issued by the San Francisco Police Department on Sept. 6, 1962. Kroeger, who had more than 10 aliases, was wanted for two counts of murder. (Courtesy photo)