Typically, when people talk about felons and criminals, they’re usually referring to men. Though certainly in the minority, there are plenty of female offenders as well, and they can be even more deadly than their male counterparts. These criminals all hail from the great state of Nebraska, and their photos were found at https://www.nebraskahistory.org.

Let’s examine the rap sheet, shall we?

 

A rare but deadly mother-son duo

 

When elderly farmer Eli Feasel disappeared in 1903, suspicion fell at once upon his housekeeper Nannie Hutchinson, and her 21-year-old son, Charles. They were questioned, but with no evidence of a crime, police had to set them free. After an uneventful winter, Feasel’s neighbor, Mr. Stanley, began to work the missing farmer’s land in the spring. As he worked the field one day, Stanley discovered a human hand was poking through the dirt. When authorities were summoned, the mystery of Feasel’s whereabouts was solved. The Hutchinsons were convicted of second-degree murder. Nannie got 10 years and Charles was sentenced to 12. They were both released in 1911.

Mary Shannon

 

In 1925, Mary Shannon was sent up to Nebraska State Prison for 2 years for mayhem. Most unfortunately, we don’t know what that entailed specifically, but mayhem was regarded as a felony and the legal definition at the time was “the criminal act of disabling, disfiguring, or cutting off or making useless one of the members (leg, arm, hand, foot, eye) of another either intentionally or in a fight, called maiming.”

Minnie Bradley

 

Minnie Bradley, age 27, lets the Omaha Police know she isn’t about to be made to look at the camera. The police note that Minnie was arrested for pickpocketing and her occupation was prostitution. They noted she was wearing a wig.

Mrs. H.C. Adams

 

Who would suspect the demure and petite Mrs. H. C. Adams of so much as passing a bad check? And yet, she was picked up by police in 1900 for blackmail. When asked her profession, she calmly replied that she was a prostitute. Apart from the other funny things about this particular picture, it’s bizarre that the police didn’t bother to get her first name.

Ruby Fox (L) and Myrtle Hetrick (R)

 

Ruby Fox and Myrtle Hetrick met while incarcerated at the State Reformatory for Women in York, Nebraska. Ruby was serving time for breaking and entering, while and Myrtle was there for vagrancy. They must have been thoroughly unreformed for Ruby and Myrtle engineered an escape and made it as far as Wyoming. When they were captured and returned to Nebraska, they were sentenced to one year at the Nebraska State Prison for their escape.

Goldie Williams, aka Meg Murphy

 

At 5’ tall and 110 pounds, Goldie Williams, alias Meg Murphy, was a petite woman. When Omaha Police took her mugshot in 1898, she said she lived in Chicago and gave her occupation as a prostitute. Williams sports an elaborate hat with satin ribbons and feathers. I couldn’t find what she was picked up for.

Red Nora

 

Nora Courier, better known as “Red Nora”, was arrested in March 1901 for horse theft. Back in the day, a horse thief was the most lowdown thing a person could. be. This perp was 22 and stood at 5’3. Red Nora just looks like trouble to me.

 

For over 100 years, the name Mata Hari has been synonymous with glamour and mystery. Her life ended when she was 41 years old, but those years were crowded with adventure, tragedy, and intrigue.

The woman who would one day become famous all over the world was born into ordinary circumstances in August 1876, in Holland. She was named Margaretha Geertruida Zelle to parents in relatively prosperous circumstances.

A very young Gretha, standing on the right

 

 

 

A young Gretha. Photo from friesmuseum.nl

 

When she was old enough, she attended a prestigious teacher’s college in Leiden. At age 16, she had an affair with the principal of the school, but little is known about that relationship. It didn’t appear to have a profound impact on Gretha, apart from giving her some insight into men.

Two years later, Gretha had forgotten the principal. She met her husband, Capt. Rudolph MacLeod, when she responded to a Lonely Hearts advertisement. When they married, she was 18 and he was 38.

 

 

 

Gretha and MacLeod on their wedding day

 

 

 

 

 

Gretha and her new husband did not seem particularly well-suited.

Despite the acrimony in their marriage, Gretha gave birth to a son they named Norman, when she was 21. The MacLeods set sail shortly afterwards for the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia), where they lived in military housing in Java and Sumatra.  In 1898, Gretha had another child, a daughter she named Louise Jeanne. The child was nicknamed Non.

 

The Dutch East Indies, where the MacLeods moved in 1898

 

Financially speaking, the Gretha’s family was doing well. They had enough money to employ servants. Things were not going well in their marriage, though. MacLeod was known for his heavy drinking and philandering. Gretha was also carrying on with other men. It became monotonous, as well as sordid. They accused each other of infidelity.

The continual bickering between the MacLeods came to a temporary standstill when, without warning, both of their children fell severely ill in 1900. A nanny was suspected of poisoning the children. Norman died soon after, before his third birthday. Non, no less ill than her brother, managed to pull through.

Mata Hari’s children: Non (L) and Norman, with his father (R)

 

Captain MacLeod was honorably discharged from the army in 1902, and the family departed the Dutch Indies. However, the damage the MacLeod marriage sustained couldn’t be repaired. The couple separated soon after they returned to Holland. Gretha accused MacLeod of cruelty, attacking her with a knife, and giving her syphilis. Many years later, she wrote bitterly, “My own husband has given me a distaste for matters sexual such as I cannot forget.”

Gretha was initially granted custody of Non. However, MacLeod was unwilling to pay child support, and Gretha- unable to make ends meet- was forced to surrender custody of their daughter to MacLeod.

Gretha and McLeod near the end of their marriage. Gretha’s facial expression is unfathomable.

Now alone, Gretha fled to Paris in 1903. Recently discovered letters showed she missed her daughter a great deal and hoped to find enough work to enable her to support herself and Non. She accepted all types of work: tutoring German, giving piano lessons, and acting. She also worked as an artist’s model and used her first stage name, Lady MacLeod. Even with continual work, she couldn’t make enough money to meet her own needs, let alone bear the expense of raising a child.

Gretha circa 1903

 

Gretha spiraled into a severe depression and at times she contemplated suicide. By 1904, she was desperate. To earn enough to survive, she turned to prostitution, or as she called it “the road to perdition”. It seemed as though she was hurtling into an abyss from which she would never emerge.

Then, with startling rapidity, everything changed.

 

 

 

Next: The Javanese Princess