Thursday, August 20, 2015

Killer Beauties: History's Prettiest Outlaws

It's hard to keep up a killer beauty regiment and a thriving career as a criminal yet some women manage to do it.

Old West
Etta Place ~ The Wild Bunch Gang, Companion of the Sundance Kid.

Whether a soiled dove or a schoolmarm, it's damn near impossible to be beautiful in the Wild West of the 19th century. Have you ever seen a photo of Belle Starr or Calamity Jane? Yet Etta prettied up very well in this photo taken at the DeYoung studio in New York 1901. One could make the case that Etta was prettier than Katherine Ross who played her in the movie.

Etta is known to have lived with the Wild Bunch in their southern Utah hideout and to have participated in robberies while living in South America.

Rose Dunn ~ aka, Rose of the Cimarron

Far less famous than Etta but perhaps more beautiful given her life in the rough, lawless town of Ingalls, OK. She was taught to ride and shoot by her outlaw brothers and by the age of 14, Rose was the lover of George "Bittercreek" Newcomb. The story is that everyone in Doolin-Dalton Gang, which Newcomb rode with, worshiped Rose and that no man dare insult her lest he face the gang's wrath.

In 1893, the gang got into a ranging gun battle with US Marshals. Rose grabbed a rifle and raced into the street to join the battle and rescue her badly wounded lover. Rose's lover was killed two years later by her own brothers who had turned from outlawing to bounty hunting.

Gangster Molls
Bonnie Parker ~ the Clyde Barrow Gang

Let's see if I can find a few facts you don't know about Bonnie Parker.

She was tiny. Standing 4'10" tall and weighing only 90 pounds.
In 1933 her right leg was badly burned in an auto accident either by fire or battery acid. For the remainder of her life Bonnie couldn't walk and either hopped or was carried by Clyde.
Bonnie Parker was only 23 years old when she was shot 26 times by Texas lawmen who ambushed them in Louisiana. The first bullet that struck her had probably killed her.

Virginia Hill ~ lover of mob bosses Joe Adonis, Frank Costello, and Bugsy Siegel

Virginia had movie star looks and slept her way to the very top of the Chicago Outfit. In 1934, she was sent to New York to seduce both Adonis and Costello and thereby spy on the Lucky Luciano crime syndicate. She added a fiery affair with Siegel just for the fun of it.

Bugsy Siegel named his Las Vegas casino "The Flamingo" after his nickname for the long-legged beauty. The rumor is that Bugsy gave the entire $2 million he skimmed from the mob building the casino to Virginia. And that Virginia set Bugsy up to be assassinated.

Gertrude Lythgoe ~ The Bahama Queen

After Prohibition passed Gertrude's boss, a London liquor importer, sent her to set up an importation (i.e. smuggling) network into the US. In short order she had an operation running rum to speakeasies from Long Island to New Orleans. Heaven help any mobster who thought her a helpless woman as sexual advances would be met with gun in his ribs and a threat to leave his body for the reef sharks.

She was arrest once but never convicted but her pictures often graced the glamour sections of US magazines and newspapers during the Roaring Twenties.

Marllory Chacon Rossell ~ Drug Kingpin, aka "Queen of the South"

Operating out of Guatemala, Rossell provided the drugs to the notorious Mexican drug cartels and then expertly laundered there money. She started a massive private lottery that moved tens of millions of dollars drug profits every month.

Rossell surrendered to US authorities last year and was sentenced in May. The curious thing is that the entire court case is under seal for five years. Maybe she's ratting out her former partners or, if you are of a conspiratorial mind, maybe the Feds need that long to cover their collective asses.

Serial Killers
Myra Hindley ~ The Moors Murders, aka "the most evil woman in Britain"

Not really beautiful but the truth is women serial killers are a decidedly ugly bunch. For two years in the 1960's Myra and her partner Ian Brady captured youths aged from ten to seventeen years old, sexually assaulted them, murdered them, and buried their bodied on Saddleworth Moor near Manchester. Evidence at trial included a recording they had made of them torturing ten year old Lesley Anne Downey.

So hated was she that when she died 35 years after the last murder twenty undertakers refused to touch her body.

Karla Homolka ~ The Schoolgirl Killers, "Deal With the Devil"

Canada is not known for serial killers but at the top of the short list is Karla and her husband Paul Bernardo. The pair kidnapped, raped, and murdered three teenage girls. The last of these was Karla's own younger sister.

Karla batted her baby blue eyes and convinced prosecutors that she was as much a victim as the girls who died and had been terrified of her husband. She got a plea deal of manslaughter in exchange for her testimony.

But the couple had video taped the rapes and murders and the tapes showed Karla was a willing, active, and brutal participant. But the deal had been done and Karla Homolka was released from prison after only 12 years confinement.

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