Criminalia

Criminalia

Humans have always committed crimes. What can we learn from the criminals and crimes of the past, and have humans gotten better or worse over time?... Show More

Episodes

March 2, 2021 34 min
Mary Ann Evans, better known under the pseudonym George Eliot (1819-1880), was a major Victorian novelist and poet. As her popularity grew, so did her admirers.  Two in particular - Alexander Main and Edith Simcox - started to cross the line as far as “passionate devotion.”  One sent numerous gushy letters. Another recorded her unreciprocated love for the novelist in a secret journal. Both made George Eliot pretty uncomfortable.
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Georgiana Fane (1801-1874) was an English heiress, most famously known for being featured in a portrait as a peasant girl (painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence). She also gained a reputation for her harassing pursuits of the Duke of Wellington. From what once was a secretive love affair, Georgiana’s later threats and angry letters turned out to be more than the Duke bargained for.
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February 16, 2021 29 min
Holly and Maria continue the topic of erotomania this week with the story of Léa-Anna B. Léa-Anna B. is best known for stalking England’s George V.  Criminalia’s two co-hosts cover everything about the delusional disorder, from the curtain “messages” that Léa-Anna B. thought were from the king, to learning about who clarified the term (psychiatrist Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault).
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February 12, 2021 20 min
Surprise - Criminalia is back again this week with a bonus episode!  Erotomania is a condition where someone obsessively believes a person is in love with him or her.  From outlining movie examples to providing tips on how to approach such a stalker, co hosts Holly and Maria explain the term: just in time for Valentine’s Day.
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Edward Jones (1824-1893) as a teenager became best known for stalking Britain’s Queen Victoria during the 1800s. “The boy Jones” made numerous (successful) attempts at sneaking into the official residency of the Queen. Though each of the teen’s “visits” turned out to be harmless, overtime, the monarchy was not amused.
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Lady Caroline Lamb (1785-1828) was a novelist best known for her affair with Lord Byron.  In spite of the poet “ending” the relationship in August 1812, Lady Caroline’s pursuits were far from over. From learning Lord Byron’s handwriting to sending him interesting “gifts,” the novelist revealed a disturbing pattern of obsession.
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January 26, 2021 36 min
Holly and Maria are back with season two of Criminalia! This season is all about stalkers.  The co-hosts start things off by discussing anthologist Rufus Griswold, Edgar Allan Poe’s not-so-well-known rival.  The critic’s angry, obsessive (and petty) tendencies over the famous poet stayed strong throughout the years - even long after Poe’s death.
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Holly and Maria were curious if poisoners and their crimes would look different with a little distance on the timeline, and even whether any of the perpetrators would emerge as sympathetic characters. And in season 1 they found out, YES. On both counts.
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Criminalia hosts Holly Frey and Maria Trimarchi continue their conversation with "The Poisoner's Handbook" author and Pulitzer Prize recipient Deborah Blum.
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Hosts Holly Frey and Maria Trimarchi are joined by "The Poisoner's Handbook" author and Pulitzer Prize recipient Deborah Blum.
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Amy Archer-Gilligan was the proprietress of The Archer Home for Elderly People and Chronic Invalids, in Windsor, Conn., one of the first nursing homes in the U.S. But she may have been responsible for the intentional deaths of as many as 48 residents.
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Mary Ann Cotton was convicted of, and hanged for, the lethal poisoning of her stepson Charles Edward Cotton. But it's likely that she murdered as many as 21 people, including three of her four husbands and 11 children, apparently in order to collect on their insurance policies. Local children would recite this disturbing nursery rhyme about her, “Sing, sing, oh, what can I sing? Mary Ann Cotton is tied up with string. Where, wh...
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Belle Gunness wanted what every American wants: the American Dream. And through insurance fraud and murder, she eventually found it. "Hell's Belle," as she was known, used strychnine -- and a meat cleaver -- to kill an estimated 40 victims she met through personal ads, almost all in Indiana. The popular theory about Belle? That she managed to elude authorities for years by transforming into a woman named Esther Carlson.
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Hieronyma Spara, known as "La Spara," organized instruction in the uses of arsenic for married women who were considering bettering their station in life by becoming wealthy widows. After the church became suspicious of this secret society, they infiltrated her group -- and La Spara was hanged in 1659.
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Bertha Gifford was well-known throughout her community for her cooking skills and her compassion. She acted in the role of nurse for her sick family and neighbors, and was eventually accused of murdering with arsenic a total of 17 people in her care. But what's most interesting about Bertha is that she also became one of America's first female serial killers.
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Velma Barfield is probably better known for her execution than for her murders. She became the first woman to be executed in North Carolina after the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. She was also the first woman to die by lethal injection in the United States.
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November 17, 2020 32 min
Locusta, herself, wasn't a poisoner. She was a maker of poisons – think of her more like a botanist or chemist. But she was actually more like an assassin-for-hire – she provided poisons because she was hired to do so.
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Italian noblewoman Lucrezia Borgia was the illegitimate daughter of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, who would later become Pope Alexander VI. Considered a famous beauty during the Italian Renaissance, she also notoriously rivaled her family members in jealousy, intrigue, and homicide -- but history may have it all wrong.
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Also known as "The Derby Poisoner," Lydia Sherman poisoned, in total, her three husbands plus as many as eight children in her care --- six of whom were her biological children. She confessed to her murders, showing no remorse, was convicted of second-degree murder in 1872.
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This season we may be exploring the lives and motivations of some of the most notorious lady poisoners throughout history. And while almost all of the victims we've talked about this season have been fatally poisoned, not all poisonings have a fatal outcome. In today's bonus episode, we're instead inspired to talk about everything from mithridate to unicorn horns to activated charcoal ... the antidotes.
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