Paul Drexler

What the butler saw

What the butler saw

"Burglar and Butler Battle in the Dark,” read the headline in the…

 

Calls to pardon Tom Mooney and Warren Billings spread to Moscow, New York, London and Paris. (Courtesy photo)

The Mooney-Billings Case Pt. 2

On July 22, 1916, the San Francisco Preparedness Day parade was to…

 

Warren Billings, pictured left at age 40, and Tom Mooney, at age 22. (Courtesy photos)

The Mooney–Billings Case

One hundred years ago, everyone knew who Tom Mooney was. Simply mentioning…

 

Maurice Curtis, the actor who portrated the title role in “Samuel of Posen,” was acquited of murder in the death of San Francisco Police Officer Alexander Grant in 1891. (Courtesy photo)

Celebrity Murder: Shady dealings help Maurice Curtis skirt conviction

We’re all familiar with the famous Los Angeles case in the 1990s…

Maurice Curtis, the actor who portrated the title role in “Samuel of Posen,” was acquited of murder in the death of San Francisco Police Officer Alexander Grant in 1891. (Courtesy photo)
Left, a diagram shows the entry wounds for the bullets that killed Issac Hoffman in 1897. Right, an illustration shows how Hoffman’s body was found in his office. (Courtesy photos)

A tale of two theories

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,…

Left, a diagram shows the entry wounds for the bullets that killed Issac Hoffman in 1897. Right, an illustration shows how Hoffman’s body was found in his office. (Courtesy photos)
A newspaper clipping shows an ad in the San Francisco Examiner taken out by Gladys Kidd, who offered her services as a cook, maid or housekeeper for 10 years in exchange for a lawyer willing to represent her husband, Robert Lee Kidd. (Courtesy photo)

Did Kidd die by the sword?

"SF Antique Dealer Slain — Tortured With Sword,” screamed the headline of…

A newspaper clipping shows an ad in the San Francisco Examiner taken out by Gladys Kidd, who offered her services as a cook, maid or housekeeper for 10 years in exchange for a lawyer willing to represent her husband, Robert Lee Kidd. (Courtesy photo)
Joseph “Fatso” Negri, left, is shown kissing his wife Betty Morgan in an article about his marriage around the time Negri began cooperating with federal authorities. (Courtesy photo)

‘Fatso’ Negri earns his stripes in crime world

Joseph Negri was born in San Francisco in 1905, and he gravitated…

Joseph “Fatso” Negri, left, is shown kissing his wife Betty Morgan in an article about his marriage around the time Negri began cooperating with federal authorities. (Courtesy photo)
Spud Murphy, one of the leaders of the Howard Street Gang, is pictured with his mother at trial. (Courtesy photo)

The Howard Street Gang

In 1894, a mob of inebriated San Franciscans at Market and California…

Spud Murphy, one of the leaders of the Howard Street Gang, is pictured with his mother at trial. (Courtesy photo)
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)
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)
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)