Chicago Homicide Project Database Research

The Chicago Homicide Project is absolutely huge! Maneuvering through the large number of cases was difficult but finding a question to ask of it is not. Using the database, I wanted to find out the number and kind of crimes that successfully received ‘Not Guilty by reasons of Insanity’ verdicts in the 1920’s. After lots of deleting of rows, I narrowed the database down to only eight people, two women and six men. The most important thing that I wanted to find out which race – white, black etc. – was the one that got away with their crimes with the most. I figured before I even started it was going to white men who had the most and I wasn’t disappointed; out of the the eight successful ‘Not Guilty by reason of insanity’ pleas, four of them were white males. This is interesting to me as the case I have researched for over a month, Leopold and Loeb, had the original plea of ‘Not Guilty by reason of insanity’ before Clarence Darrow changed it to Guilty to avoid the Death Penalty that Prosecutor Crowe wanted.

Race and Gender Chart

Primary Source Scavenger Hunt

This is are some of the primary sources that I found for our project:

Watkins, M. (1924, Jun 12). LEOPOLD, LOEB TRIAL SET FOR MONDAY, AUG. 4.

Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) Retrieved from

  • This article details the beginnings of the Leopold and Loeb trial, when the original plea from the two was ‘Not Guilty’. Watkins carefully describes where the two young men were looking when they arrive in the court room and their pompous attitudes towards the entirety of the court scene.


 The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945) Retrieved from

  • An article from Atlanta that describes the ‘similar’ stories of the kidnap and murder of Bobby Franks; each of the suspects declared that the other one was the one to strike the killing blow.

History 390 Scavenger Hunt

Question 1: I went to an advanced Google search, searching ‘Unsolved Murders in New York in 1845’ with an additional word being ‘abortion’. I found an article about Edgar Allen Poe writing a short story, called ‘The Mystery of Marie Roget’, about Mary Rogers, a young woman murdered in New York and whose case remains unsolved. Based on the Smithsonian article I found, her death was first attributed to gang violence but on a witness’ death bed, was thought to be receiving an abortion from a young physician and passed away. Premature birth, an early term for abortion, was considered especially dangerous since any mistake can lead to death, like in the climax of the musical Spring Awakening.

Question 2: This time the advanced search didn’t help too much with this one as the main search managed to help me find something. A website called ‘The Vintage News’ had an article about Anne Bonny and her partner Mary Read. Both women on the high seas, these two women would let nothing get in their way. Once they were captured by authorities, the two managed to escape the hangman’s noose by claiming they were pregnant. This kind of plea had to do with religion, as the sins of the parents weren’t passed down to their children. This saved the both of them but Mary Read wouldn’t live long enough to see a long happy life.

Question 3: Virginia built their electric chair in 1908 and the one woman who was executed by it was Virginia Christian. When she was 17, Virginia murdered her boss and on April 16,1912, Virginia was strapped to the chair and electrocuted to death.