Detective Ellis Parker and the Pickled Corpse Case Part 2

About the famous detective Ellis Parker and his famous pickled corpse case, history and solution of the crime.



The Chase

Two things about the Paul case struck Parker as illogical. One was that the killer or killers had apparently kept the victim alive for eight or nine days. If they were going to kill him, logic demanded that they do it immediately. The second illogical fact was that the dead man's clothing had been soaking wet. Parker concluded that these two perplexing facts must somehow be related. The more he thought about the case, the more he felt that Paul had been killed at once, regardless of medical findings. Parker would have instantly realized the reason for the victim's wet clothing if Camden County had been his own bailiwick. He would have known about the water in Bread and Cheese Run. As it was, he did not guess the solution until he happened to discover that tanning factories lay upstream. At this point, he filled a bottle with water and took it to a chemist for analysis. Bread and Cheese Run, he discovered, contained a high percentage of tannic acid. And tannic acid is an excellent preservative. A body submerged in this stream would undergo virtually no decomposition in 10 days and would therefore appear to be that of a person dead only a very short time.

The Solution

Once Parker had determined that Paul was killed close to the time of his disappearance, he reexamined alibis. The fact that the killer or killers knew about the chemical properties of the stream meant they were locals. Who had been questioned about the Paul case who didn't have an alibi for the time he disappeared but did have for the "false" period of his murder?

The answer was Frank James and Raymond Schuck, the two men who shared an orgy cottage with Paul. James, a salesman, had been in Detroit for five days at a convention, but that merely proved he couldn't have murdered Paul on the day that he allegedly was killed. Schuck was in the same boat. He had conveniently gone to visit friends downstate during that supposedly critical period. Parker found that while the two men had not spent any large sums of money recently, Schuck, a married man, had given a girl friend who frequented the cottage an expensive fur coat the day after Paul's disappearance.

Separately, Parker broke the two men down, first building up their confidence and then shattering their useless alibis. Each confessed, meanwhile insisting that the other had done the actual killing. Most of the stolen money was found buried in a Camden cemetery in the grave of Schuck's mother. Both men were executed.

Parker managed to carve out an illustrious record in four decades of detective work, during which he solved about 350 crimes, including 118 out of the 124 murder cases submitted to him. Yet he ended up a tragic figure. When news of the Lindbergh kidnapping broke in 1932, Parker was insulted because the law officials who had leaned on him so much in the past failed to contact him. Parker brooded about the case, and after the arrest of Bruno Hauptmann he became convinced that the real culprit was Paul Wendel, a Trenton, N.J., man. Parker virtually kidnapped Wendel and held him captive in various hideaways in Brooklyn and New Jersey until he extracted a so-called confession. In court Wendel effectively repudiated this "confession." and Parker faced a federal charge of abduction. He was sent to prison for six years and died at the penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pa., before he had finished half his sentence.

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