Fact or Fiction: Author Series Presents Connie Yen

Today’s guest, Connie Yen, is the author of Sinner and Savior: Emma Molloy and the Graham Murder, the true story of an 1886 murder in Greene County known as “The Graham Tragedy.” In 1886, the nude body of Sarah Graham was found in a well on the Molloy property. Subsequent investigations uncovered a bigamous marriage and other allegedly scandalous happenings in the home of temperance advocate Emma Molloy.  Connie shares the (mostly-true)

details of this fascinating story.  Listen carefully because it’s not easy to know what’s fact and what’s fiction!

Evangelist and temperance advocate Emma Molloy
The Molloy farm in Greene County, Missouri
Letter written by Emma Molloy to George Graham after she discovered proof he was a bigamist

Author and Historian Connie Yen


Emma’s Escapes. (1886, March 25). The Leavenworth Weekly Times, p. 5.

H. H. Holmes: A Fact or Fiction Nightmare!

H. H. Holmes is one of the most infamous killers in the history of Chicago and the United States.  In late 1894, when authorities arrested Holmes on a warrant for horse theft in Texas, they learned Holmes, the architect and former owner of the “murder castle” in Chicago, not only looked like the villain from a melodrama but acted the part, too.  Although he confessed to killing 27 people in April 1896, historians still find it nearly impossible to distinguish between fact and fiction.

Join me and my guest Nancy as we discuss the facts and fictions about Holmes.  Listen carefully because this is most definitely a case where it’s tough to know if something is fact or fiction.  You be the judge!






Bones of the Slain. (1895, July 28). The Chicago Chronicle, 1 – 3.

Castle is a Tomb. (1895, July 28). Chicago Tribune, 1 – 2.

Early Life.  (n. d.) America’s First Serial Killer: The Devious Deeds of H. H. Holmes. Retrieved from https://hhholmesmurderer.weebly.com/early-life.html

Eric. (2020, October 6). Excavating the Former Site of H. H. Holmes late 19th Century “Glass Bending Factory” Revisited. Urban Remains. Retrieved from https://www.urbanremainschicago.com/news-and-events/2020/10/06/excavating-the-former-site-of-h-h-holmes-glass-bending-factory/

Full Confessions of H. H. Holmes. (1896, April 12) The Journal. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/sn84031792/1896-04-12/ed-1/.

  1. H. Holmes. (n. d.) Alcatraz East Crime Museum. Retrieved from https://www.alcatrazeast.com/crime-library/serial-killers/hh-holmes/
  2. H. Holmes//Replay. (2021, July). The Generation Why Podcast. Retreived from https://open.spotify.com/episode/5AJWR7acjTrIyo4U1vG9et

Holmes Confesses 27 Murders. (1896, April 12). Philadelphia Inquirer.

Holmes Murder Castle Razed for Post Office (1938, May 15). Chicago Tribune, 7.

Holzwarth, Larry. (2018, October 19). 18 Facts Most People Didn’t Know about H. H. Holmes. History Collection. Retrieved from https://historycollection.com/18-facts-most-people-didnt-know-about-h-h-holmes/14/

House of Horrors. (1996, May 6). Herald and Review, 11.

Kreps, Daniel. “H.H. Holmes: Tests Confirm Serial Killer’s Body in Grave,” RollingStone.com, 2 September 2017

Light on a Suspect’s Life. (1895, July 24). San Francisco Chronicle, 2.

Links in the Chain. (1895, July 27). The Chicago Chronicle, 1 – 3.

Miller, Cassie. (2019, October 31). Scary, But True: Serial Killer H.H. Holmes Foiled By Insurer. Insurance Newsnet. Retrieved from https://insurancenewsnet.com/innarticle/scary-but-true-serial-killer-h-h-holmes-foiled-by-insurer

Murder Castle! (1937, March 21). Chicago Tribune, 77 – 78.

Selzer, Adam. (2017). H. H. Holmes: The True History of the White City Devil. Skyhorse. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1510713433/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=chicagunbeli-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=1510713433&linkId=d0177ca2f16639140c7e889a730c0dc3

Selzer, Adam. The Three Confessions of HH Holmes. Kindle Edition

Vasudevan, Varsha. (2020, January 28). New Documenatry Claims that Meghan Markle is Related to Prime Jack the Ripper Suspect, H. H. Holmes. Retrieved from https://meaww.com/channel-4-documentary-claims-that-meghan-markle-is-related-to-americas-first-serial-killer-h-h-holmes

Ward, Alvin. (2018, May 18). Meghan Markle is Related to H. H. Holmes, America’s First Serial Killer, According to New Documentary. Mental Floss.  Retrieved from https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/545142/meghan-markle-related-hh-holmes-serial-killer-jack-the-ripper

Whalen, Lauren. (2015, November 2). A History of Chicago’s Murder Castle. Chicagoist. Retrieved from https://chicagoist.com/2015/11/02/i_was_born_with_the_devil_in_me_a_h.php

H.H.Holmes Movie

Fact or Fiction: Author Series presents Bryan Johnston

In this episode of Fact or Fiction: Author Series, Bryan Johnston, author of Deep in the Woods shares the story of the 1935 kidnapping of George Weyerhaeuser, but he adds one fictional detail.  Will I guess it?  Will you?

Play along with me and then order a copy of Deep in the Woods to learn all the stranger-than-fiction details about the kidnapping, the kidnappers, and the rest of the players.

George Weyerhaeuser, age 9
Mr. and Mrs. Weyerhaeuser and their home in Tacoma, WA

Bryan Johnston, author

Fact or Fiction: Author Series presents Owen Pataki

This is the first episode in what I’m calling the Fact or Fiction: Author Series.  Owen Pataki, co-author of Where the Light Falls and author of Searchers in Winter is my guest.  Searchers in Winter brings events of the Napoleonic Wars to life with its compelling plot, engaging characters, and exciting action sequences.  In this show I have a brief chat with Owen about his book, and then he tells me a mostly-true story related to one of the novel’s subplots.  It’s my job to guess the fiction.  Play along with me.  Listen carefully because it’s not easy to know if something is Fact or Fiction!

Host:  Laura Shimel
Guest: Owen Pataki

How Fingerprints Convicted Thomas Jennings

This episode focuses on the tragic murder of railroad clerk Clarence D. Hiller; the man accused of committing the crime, Thomas Jennings; and the advanced forensic technique of fingerprint identification used successfully for the first time in a murder trial in the United States.

Hansen, John Mark. “How Fingerprinting Made Chicago Famous.” Chicago Tribune, 5 April, 2020. P. 15.
“First American Conviction on Fingerprints.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 18 February 1912, p. 54
“First American Conviction on Fingerprints.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 18 February 1912, p. 54

Works Cited






“Convicted by His Finger Prints.” Norwich Bulletin, 11 November 1910, p. 1.

“Dance to Save a Life.” Palestine Daily Herald, 21 December 1910, p. 3.

“Death Sentence on Finger Prints.” The Daily Free Press, 11 November 1910, p. 1.

“Finger Impressions May Convict…” The Los Angeles Times, 21 September 1910, p. 1.

“Fingerprints Only Clue.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 21 September 1910, p. 1.

“Fingerprints Save Man from Prison.” The Lansing News, 29 April 1910, p. 1.

“First American Conviction on Fingerprints.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 18 February 1912, p. 54.

“First Fingerprint Conviction in American Courts.” The Fresno Morning Republican, 11 November 1910, p. 1.

Hansen, John Mark.  “How Fingerprinting Made Chicago Famous.” Chicago Tribune, 5 April, 2020. P. 15.

Kennedy, Robert J. “Fingerprinting by Wholesale.” The Tampa Tribune, 15 May 1915, p. 16.

“Match Hands to Hang a Man.” Chicago Tribune, 6 November 1910, p. 7.

“Prints of Fingers Dooms Murderer.” Chicago Tribune, 11 November 1910, p. 1.

“Thomas Jennings is Given Extreme Penalty by Jury.” Springfield Leader and Press, 8 Jun 1929, p. 2.

Wilcox, Uthai Vincent. “Has World’s Largest Fingerprint Collection.” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 6 May 1928, p. 92.


Fiblett 2.5

Fiblett 2.5 contains three actual articles from newspapers of the past about crimes with a connection to the prestigious Palmer House Hotel in Chicago.  I’ve written one myself.  Can you identify which one is my creation?  Listen carefully because it’s tough to know if what you hear is Fact or Fiction!

The second Palmer House opened in 1873 in Chicago, shown here in 1922. (Chicago Tribune archive).  

Note:  If you’re interested in learning more about Stuart’s Dyspepsia Tablets, the product from the past that is featured in today’s Fiblett, I encourage you to check out this article by Teresa Lou Trupiano.