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Man From Devil's Island

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Man From Devil's Island

Post by Karen on Mon 15 Aug 2011 - 10:36

MAN FROM DEVIL'S ISLAND.
GUERIN AGAIN ARRESTED AT GLASGOW.

REMARKABLE CAREER.
SHOT AT IN LONDON AFTER THRILLING ESCAPE.

[img][/img]

That extraordinary man of adventures, Edward Guerin, who escaped from the French penal establishment known as Devil's Island, arrived in London early in 1906, and was later the victim of a shooting outrage in Bloomsbury, has reappeared in Glasgow. There he was yesterday charged as a suspected person and remanded.
He was arrested on Wednesday for loitering in the Central Station Hotel with intent to steal, and at first gave the name of Morren. Later he confessed that he was Guerin, and inquiries at Scotland Yard confirmed this.
Soon after his arrival in London in 1906, from Devil's Island, he was arrested at the request of the French Government, but after many hearings at Bow-street was released on the ground that he was a British subject.

WATCHED BY DETECTIVES.

When the case was heard at the Central Police Court, Glasgow, yesterday, there stood in the dock Bertrand Morton, alias Edward Guerin, on a charge that being a suspected person and a reported thief he frequented and loitered about the Central Station Hotel, Glasgow, on Oct. 27 and Jan. 16, with intent to steal.
Accused, a well-dressed man, fifty years of age, said his real name was Edward Guerin, and that he was the man who escaped from Devil's Island, where he was undergoing penal servitude for being connected with a robbery in France. He pleaded not guilty.
Daniel Goodwill, Sergeant, of the Criminal Investigation Department, Scotland Yard, said he knew accused well. He first knew him in 1906, when he was arrested in London by request of the French Government for shopbreaking at the premises of the American Express Company in Paris. The case was remanded from time to time during thirteen months, and then he was discharged as he proved himself to be a British subject.
A few days after he was released, in 1907, he was shot at from a cab in London by "Chicago May," whose real name is May Churchill, a notorious criminal, and by "Cuban Jackson," or Smith.
Witness followed his movements until the end of 1909. Guerin having been seen loitering about leading London hotels, was warned not to do so. He was then associating daily with notorious thieves and dangerous criminals, and officers were put specially to watch him. Three or four months ago witness saw him at a boxing match in London along with other thieves. Accused also frequented racecourses. For two years he had been an associate of hotel thieves.
Guerin said he had had a bad past, but he had been trying to live an honest life since the extradition case. He produced two boxes of cinematograph films, and said he was at the boxing match with the films, which were his own property.
Alexander Dickson, reception clerk at the Central Station Hotel, said on Oct. 27 accused came into the hotel, stood at the fireplace and looked at the register. He had seen him in the same place last July, and he returned on Jan. 16.
Stanley Quince, manager of the Central Station Hotel, said on Jan. 16 he saw Guerin in the hall looking at the visitors' register and the visitors' telegraph-board. He then stood beside witness at the fireplace, after which he went upstairs. As witness was informed by his clerk that Guerin was a man who had been seen in the hotel on two previous occasions when jewel robberies took place he sent for a detective.
Detective-Inspector Weir, of Glasgow, stated that in response to a telephone message, he and Detective-Inspector Powell went to the hotel, where accused was pointed out to them. They followed him through various streets. After that he spoke to two women, with whom he went in a tramway car to Dennistown, where they went into a public-house. After they left the officers spoke to the women, who said they did not know Guerin. The officers then arrested Guerin, who said that he was a respectable business man and a cinematograph proprietor. He also said that he trained athletes.
Before Guerin's finger-prints were taken he said his name was Edward Guerin. He had no films in his possession when arrested. Guerin sent to London for the two boxes of films, which he produced in court. These arrived by post at the Central Police Office that morning, "Care of the Chief Constable."
Guerin, giving evidence on his own behalf, declared that he had never associated with thieves in London. Since his liberation he had owned a sweet and tobacco shop in London, had written articles for newspapers and weekly journals, for which he received hundreds of pounds, and had written a book.
The stipendiary magistrate adjourned the case for judgment till Tuesday morning.

ON DEVIL'S ISLAND.

A few lonely specks of desolate land off French Guiana in South America, guarded by armed men, swept by fever, and grimly sentinelled by the hungry sharks that infest the seas, the Devil's Islands are places of horror and death for the wretched men who are sent out to spend their lives in the terrible penal settlement.
On one of them, Ile du Diable - Devil's Island itself - Captain Dreyfus passed the long years of his martyrdom, and it was to Ile de Josef, only a few hundred yards away, that Guerin was sent.
In 1901, after acting as interpreter at the Paris Exhibition and working with the American Express Company in Paris, he came to London, and there became acquainted with "Chicago May," a notorious woman criminal, known all over Europe and America. Becoming friendly, they returned together to Paris, and were living together as Mr. and Mrs. Brown, when a former lover of the woman, a German-American thief, known as Dutch Gus, turned up.
That was an unlucky meeting for Guerin. Dutch Gus became madly jealous, and when, a few days later, he took part in a big burglary at the Paris premises of the American Express Company, and was arrested, he declared that Guerin was an accomplice in the crime.
The latter had just set out for Calais, with "Chicago May," with the intention of reaching London. But when the train arrived at Amiens two detectives entered the carriage, and one of them held a revolver at Guerin's head while the other secured him. The woman was also arrested.
Taken back to Paris he was for thirteen months confined in the Prison de la Sante, and then tried for the burglary. For this he and "Dutch Gus" were sent to Devil's Island for life, while the woman was given five years in the women's prison at Montpelier.
It was in 1902 that Guerin reached the Devil's Island. There, working at road-making under a blazing sun, fed on rotting meat from the half-starved cattle of the island, or the yet more nauseous tinned offal from the Chicago "jungle," and housed like a dog, the weary months and years passed by.
Finally in March, 1905, he was transferred to the headquarters of the penal establishment at Camp Maroni on the mainland. Ever since he had left France in the convict ship the thought of escape had been in his mind. Now, at last, the opportunity presented itself. He fell in with two men anxious to join him in the desperate and hitherto ever unsuccessful attempt.
The first step was to get hold of some sort of a boat. At last they became possessed of a canoe, an old "dugout" about twenty feet long by three feet beam. Into her they put all the provisions they could lay their hands on, and one night, in the inky blackness, they managed to elude the warders and get down to the water's edge.
Once aboard their frail and unseaworthy craft, they paddled for dear life up the Maroni River. Towards dawn they landed, and hid in the forest, and at nightfall paddled out through the shark-infested waters to the open sea. For one of the men, the escape from the horrors of Devil's Island came in a terrible form. At dawn he stood up to see whether he could see anything of the coastline, when he overbalanced and fell into the sea, to be swallowed up by a shark.
The next day they reached Dutch Guiana, lived in the forest for six weeks, and then reached Georgetown, Demerara, where Guerin managed to get some money and take steamer for New York.

SHOT IN LONDON.

Early in 1906 Guerin came to London, and by unlucky chance he met "Chicago May," who betrayed him to the police as the man who had escaped from Devil's Island, and his troubles began again. He was promptly arrested, at the request of the French Government, who claimed his extradition. This he successfully contested, on the ground that he was a British subject, born in Hoxton, 1860, and on June 14, 1907, he was set at liberty.
On the following evening, Saturday, June 15, Guerin was standing at the corner of Marchmont-street, Russell-square, when a hansom cab drove up rapidly. In it were "Chicago May" and the man Smith, who had been tracking him all the evening. Smith leaped out and fired several revolver shots at Guerin, one of them striking him in the foot.
At the Old Bailey on July 25, 1907, when Smith was sent to penal servitude for life, and "Chicago May" to fifteen years, Detective-Inspector Stockley had much to tell of their careers. Smith, a man of twenty-five, had been convicted several times, he said.
But the woman was the most remarkable figure. She made an attractive figure as she sat smiling in the dock, in a dainty white blouse, with her auburn hair piled up artistically.
"One of the most notorious criminals in Europe," the inspector said of her. She had been many times in prison, had lived by blackmailing men, and had driven several to suicide.

Source: Lloyd's Weekly News, January 21, 1912, Pages 1-2

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Re: Man From Devil's Island

Post by Karen on Tue 16 Aug 2011 - 8:29

A STRANGE ROMANCE.

"Eddie" Guerin, the man who escaped from Devil's Isle, the French penal settlement off the coast of French Guiana, made a sensational reappearance at Glasgow on January 20, when he was charged at the Central Police Court with being a suspected person, and with having loitered in the Central Station Hotel, Glasgow, with intent to steal. The London "Standard" says: -

Detectives from Scotland Yard gave evidence regarding his career. In cross-examining the London witnesses, the prisoner freely talked of the time when he escaped from Devil's Isle in 1904. The manager of the Central Station Hotel said that he was informed by his clerk that the men who had been seen about the hotel on the occasion of two previous jewel robberies had returned. Detective- Inspector Weir deposed to the detention of the accused, who said he was a respectable business man and a cinematograph proprietor. He had no cards or business papers upon him, but there was nothing in his possession to indicate dishonesty.
The accused, giving evidence on his own behalf, said that he earned a great deal of money in dealing in cinematograph films, and denied being associated with thieves in London. The witnesses could only speak of his past, which had been bad; they had nothing to say to the present. The magistrate adjourned the case, directing that Guerin should be kept in custody in the meantime.
Guerin's career is a romance. Born of English parentage, he was extradited to France after a jury in this country had wrongly found a verdict that he was a French citizen. There he became connected with the woman, "Chicago May," a notorious person, and, through the jealousy of an accomplice known as "Dutch Gus," was arrested by the French police for burglary, tried, and sentenced to be sent to the Devil's Isle. In 1905 he escaped in a "dug out" with two others, one of whom was eaten by sharks, and Guerin managed to reach Dutch Guiana.
Early in 1906 Guerin came to London, and by an unlucky chance he met "Chicago May," who betrayed him to the police as the man who had escaped from Devil's Island, and his troubles began again. He was promptly arrested, at the request of the French Government, who claimed his extradition. This time he successfully contested the claim for extradition on the ground that he was a British subject, born in Hoxton, 1860, and on June 14, 1907, he was set at liberty.
On the following evening, Saturday, June 15, Guerin was standing at the corner of Marchmont street, Russell Square, when a hansom cab drove up rapidly. In it were "Chicago May," and the man Smith, or "Dutch Gus," who had been tracking him all the evening. Smith leaped out and fired several revolver shots at Guerin, one of them striking him in the foot.
At the Old Baily on July 25, 1907, when Smith was sent to penal servitude for life and "Chicago May to 15 years, Detective-Inspector Stockley had much to tell of their careers. Smith, a man of 25, had been convicted several times, he said. But the woman was the most remarkable figure. She made an attractive figure as she sat smiling on the dock, in a dainty white blouse, with her auburn hair piled up artistically. "One of the most notorious criminals in Europe," the inspector said of her. She had been many times in prison, had lived by blackmailing men, and had driven several to suicide.

Source: The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, Thursday 4 February 1915

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Re: Man From Devil's Island

Post by Karen on Thu 18 Aug 2011 - 16:40

GAOL FOR LIFE.
HEAVY SENTENCES ON SMITH AND "CHICAGO MAY."

WILD SCENE IN COURT.
"DEVIL'S ISLE" GUERIN IN THE WITNESS-BOX.

Penal servitude for life for Charles Smith, and fifteen years for May Vivienne Churchill, known on three continents as "Chicago May," were the exemplary sentences passed by Mr. Justice Darling at the Old Bailey on Thursday on the prisoners charged with attempting to murder "Eddie" Guerin, the "Devil's Isle" refugee. Thus was brought to a sensational end in a densely crowded court one of the most remarkable and romantic criminal cases of recent years.
Without leaving the box the jury found the two prisoners "Guilty." Then Detective-inspector Stockley, with cold incisiveness, related to the judge what the police knew of their careers.
Smith, he said, was an American citizen, of Kansas City. He left America when he was seventeen, and went all through the Boer war. He had served several terms of imprisonment in South Africa, including a term of four years. On Dec. 30 he was expelled from the country. His passage was paid to America, but he stopped at Southampton on the way, robbed an hotel, and came to London. He was arrested in London for burglary in March, but not convicted. That was all that was known of him in this country.
With regard to "Chicago May," Inspector Stockley said she had been in London eight or nine years. She was born in Ireland, and married an American subject. She got men in compromising situations and then blackmailed them. She had driven men to suicide with her blackmail, and was one of the most notorious women in Europe.
Mr. Justice Darling, after remarking that the jury could not come to any other verdict than that of "Guilty," then formally passed sentence, that for life on Smith first, then that for fifteen years on "Chicago May."

Curses From the Dock.

Smith, a well-groomed young man of twenty-four, described in the indictment as a tinsmith, seemed dazed for a moment as the terrible words fell from the judge's lips. He fell back from the front of the dock, threw up his arms, and gasped painfully.
Then as the warders touched him he broke into a fearful rage. He threw curses and insults of the vilest character at the judge. The warders were so astounded that for a few moments they stood inert while Smith poured out a torrent of awful language. Then they hustled him down to the cells, but he could still be heard cursing and shrieking from the cell corridor below the dock.
"Chicago May," who had her wealth of auburn hair artistically arranged about her baby face and was wearing a handsome lace blouse, was described in the indictment as an "artist," her age being given as thirty-one.
She was quite unmoved while Smith was caving, even as she was while the detective was telling the story of her career. As Mr. Justice Darling sentenced her she smiled at him quietly, then as the wardresses tapped her shoulder turned without any emotion and left the dock.
On the Bench near Mr. Justice Darling was Mr. Justice Davis, of the New York Supreme Court, who is on a visit to this country. He evidently took the keenest interest in the proceedings, and listened intently to the amazing story unfolded as the case proceeded.
The story was told for the Director of Public Prosecutions by Mr. Arthur Gill, who opened the case with the comment that it was one quite out of the common order.
"Eddie" Guerin, whom the two prisoners were charged with attempting to kill, was a man who had escaped from the French penal settlement known as "Devil's Isle" in South America. The female prisoner was known as "Chicago May," whilst the male prisoner was variously known as Charles Caulville, Charles Smith, and Reuben Jackson.
The history of the connection between Guerin and May started in 1901. In that year May met Guerin in London. He knew her first as "May Latimer." They went to Paris in the March of that year. The result of the visit was that both were arrested with another man for robbing the American Express Company.
They were tried at the Seine Assizes and convicted. May was sentenced to five years, and Guerin was given a life sentence. He was taken to "Devil's Isle," off the coast of French Guiana, but after serving only a part of his sentence he succeeded in escaping. That was in 1905, about the time May's sentence had come to an end.

"I'll Fix Him!"

Guerin escaped to America, and later made his way to England. He met May again in London, and their acquaintance was renewed, but only for a short time. He suddenly expressed a desire to break off his relations with May, and May was very angry.
The result was that a desperate quarrel took place at the flat of a Mrs. Skinner in April last year, and "May" threatened to send Guerin back to "Devil's Isle" to serve the residue of his sentence. The quarrel lasted some time and Guerin left. Some days afterwards he was arrested for extradition, but after months of waiting in Brixton gaol where he met Smith, who told him May "had given him away," Guerin was released.
Guerin's release created consternation in the mind of the desperate woman, as she knew she was suspected of having divulged Guerin's whereabouts to the police.
Coming to the night of the second day of Guerin's release, Mr. Gill told how Guerin visited the Hotel Provence in Leicester-square with a Mrs. Skinner, about nine at night. There they met a man named Oswald. Just after they had left "May" and Smith entered. They also knew Oswald, and he told them that Guerin had been in. Smith was excited at the news. "He won't do anything while she (May) is with me," he said. "I'll fix him."
Detailing the movements of both couples round London that night, Mr. Gill came to the time when, he said, "May" and Smith hired a cab and directed the driver to put them down near the end of Marchmont-street.
Guerin was standing at the entrance to the "Tube" station in Bernard-street, opposite Marchmont-street, when the cab came along. Immediately Smith leaped out of the cab and fired at Guerin several times with a revolver. Amidst a scene of the greatest excitement police and others arrived, and as Guerin fell to the ground with a shot in the foot Smith made off. He pointed the weapon at the police officers, and dashed it in the face of the one who chased and caught him.
Describing the arrest of "May" in the street, counsel told of her exclamation that Guerin had attempted to throw vitriol over her. The court was also told of the discovery of a knife ready open in "May's" handbag, and then counsel came to what he described as a remarkable letter written by "May" whilst awaiting Thursday's trial.
The letter, said Mr. Gill, was written to a Mr. Thompson. Probably "May" did not know that all her letters would be inspected

[img][/img]

before they went out. The important part of the letter was, said counsel, as follows: -

As far as you are concerned those letters of yours would help me, where you warn me of this man. Will I use them, as your name would not appear? Good-bye. You may never see me again. This fellow Smith was the one Eddie (Guerin) got to throw the vitriol. So you see I lost no time to turn the table.

Guerin's Story.

There was a stir in court as the name "Eddie Guerin" was called, directly Mr. Gill had finished his opening. Everybody craned forward as a slim, well-knit man strode smartly to the witness-box. Mr. Justice Darling invited him to be seated, but he "guessed" he could "stand all right."
His story took very little telling. He answered Mr. Gill's questions shortly, with a trace of American accent, and he had borne out counsel's opening in a very few minutes. Telling of the quarrel in the apartments of Mrs. Skinner, when he made up his mind to leave "May," he said, "May threatened to send me back to Devil's Isle to die like a dog."
Asked by Mr. Purcell, cross-examining for "Chicago May," what passed between him

[img][/img]

and "May" when he caught sight of her directly after the shooting, he said he called to "May," "What! If you can't do it one way you would stoop to murder, would you?" and "May" replied, "Yes, and I am sorry we did not succeed."
Mr. Purcell then took Guerin to the offence for which he was sent to Devil's Isle. It was for breaking into a bank - the American Exchange Office in Paris.
You broke in, bound the caretaker hand and foot, blew up the safe with dynamite, and got away with a lot of money? - That was what they said.
Was the other man of considerable strength and daring? - I think Miss Churchill can tell you that. He was her lover.
Where is he now? - He is in Devil's Isle - if he is still alive.
Guerin admitted that previous to being sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Isle he had received a sentence of ten years in France.
Mrs. Skinner, the next witness, who was with Guerin on the night of the shooting, wore a cream and green velvet dress and a hat with heliotrope trimmings. She said she had known Guerin for seven or eight years, and told how she overheard "May" threaten to send Guerin back to Devil's Isle. She had never heard Guerin use threats to throw vitriol over "May."

A Deadly Weapon.

Two police-constables having given evidence, the revolver used by Smith was handed up for inspection, and the judge ordered it to be taken out of court and fired to see how far it would carry.
After the calling of one or two minor witnesses, Inspector Wright, who had been conducting the experiments with the revolver, returned into court with a piece of board and the revolver. He said he had tried the weapon at forty yards range. The result had been that the bullet had gone right through the board (1in. thick) and had drilled a large hole in the wall behind.
Mr. Justice Darling, in summing up, said the more it was insisted that "Chicago May" was afraid of Guerin the more likely it was that she would instigate Smith to kill him. Then the case went to the jury, and in a few minutes more the end was reached.
Quite a surprise, arising out of the case, was afforded at the Old Bailey on Friday, when Mr. Justice Darling said that in regard to the sentence on Smith of penal servitude for life he intended to recommend the Home Secretary when the sentence came up for consideration, as it would do after a certain number of years, that Smith should be sent back to America, for he was an absolutely lawless man.
He did not suggest the same course in regard to "Chicago May." She had been living here a great many years, and it was inexpedient that she should be sent back to give trouble at a home which, no doubt, was happier without her.

CHICAGO MAY'S MOTHER DIES OF GRIEF.
Romantic Story of the Pretty Convict's Career.

A representative of "Lloyd's News" was shown yesterday a letter written in prison by "Chicago May," the remarkable woman who is now faced with a sentence of fifteen years' penal servitude for her part in the Guerin drama.
Although for many years past she has revelled in the society of clever criminals, and to many unhappy people has proved herself a relentless enemy, she has not altogether forgotten the little homestead in Ireland, where she was once an innocent girl. Indeed, this "Leah Kleschna" seems bitterly to complain - as the passage from her letter which we are able to reproduce above attests - that a male friend, as she alleges, caused her parents to become aware of the dishonourable life she was leading. This woman, whom Detective-inspector Stockley described at the New Bailey as "one of the most notorious criminals in Europe," writes feelingly of her mother's death through grief for an erring daughter.
"Chicago May" was born in Co. Longford thirty-one years ago. While still in her teens she appears to have given some indications of her criminal bent. She emigrated to America, and there her Irish beauty soon attracted admirers - some of them of doubtful character. She went on the stage, and among the theatrical productions in which she figured as a chorus girl was "The Belle of New York."
Whilst in America she married an army officer. She and her husband, however, did not live long together, his parents declining to recognise her. He went through the Philippine war, and now, it is understood, holds the rank of captain.
Eight or nine years ago she came to London. Here, it cannot be doubted, she became one of a criminal coterie, and resorted to blackmail as a means of enabling her to live in luxury.

Victims Driven to Suicide.

Not a few wealthy visitors to London have fallen victims to the carefully-laid plans of "Chicago May." To take a typical case, she would contrive to become acquainted with a gentleman staying at a West-end hotel. He would, perhaps invite her to dine with him. She would get his bedroom number and pass it on to an expert thief. Then while her host was entertaining her, the thief would visit his apartments in the hope of procuring confidential papers for the purpose of blackmail.
Among several whom she victimised in this way was an elderly gentleman from Manchester. She managed to get hold of some love-letters of his, and so extortionate were her demands as the price of secrecy that eventually he became bankrupt.
She has driven several men to suicide. Among them, it is to be feared, one must include a rising young barrister. He fell in love with her, but she proved fickle. And the last chapter in the story was the discovery that he had shot himself.
It was early in 1901 that she met Guerin at a hotel in Tottenham-court-road, and it is evident that his personality fascinated her. A few weeks afterwards they went to Paris together. It was a visit that landed them both in the arms of the law. They were arrested for robbing the American Express Company. The safe was dynamited, and a haul of several hundred pounds secured. Guerin was sent for life to Devil's Island, from which he made his escape in a dug-out canoe, and "Chicago May" was sentenced to five years' imprisonment.
On her release "Chicago May" returned to London. Here a young gentleman, extremely well connected, became enamoured of her. In due course he went out to Brazil to take up an official position.
Early last year, having returned to London, Guerin again met "Chicago May" - met her, strange to say, in Bernard-street, where her champion, Charles Smith, shot him the other day. They quarrelled, and as a result she gave information to the police which led to Guerin's arrest and his incarceration in Brixton prison for thirteen and a-half months, while the extradition proceedings - which resulted in his release - were being completed.

Brazilian Wedding Stopped.

At the time of Guerin's arrest "Chicago May" was in Brazil, whither she had gone to see her lover to whom she seems to have been devotedly attached.
They arranged to be married. On the morning of the ceremony, however, some of the bridegroom's friends discovered who she was, and the ceremony was cancelled. The unhappy young man was so distressed that he shot himself.
After this May came back to London, and while Guerin was lying in Brixton prison she became acquainted with Smith, who is now paying the penalty of his championship of the woman.
In the letter from which we quote, "Chicago May" points out that she never thought there was any chance of Guerin getting free. She says she only heard of his release about six o'clock on the night of the shooting, June 15 - he was discharged the previous day. She at once went to a friend of hers - not Smith - and told him that she was "in deadly fear of this man."
This is her story of the shooting: "Just as Smith and I stopped in Bernard-street," she writes, "I saw Guerin coming towards us. Then my companion put his knife in my bag. When I saw Guerin I ran across the street, and I was so scared at the prolonged firing that I never moved."

Source: Lloyd's Weekly News, July 28, 1907, Page 2

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Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"
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