Weird Postal Inspection History
With Postal Inspectors being on the frontline of all mail crimes, sometimes weird, unusual, and interesting cases arise.
Moo Mail Mayhem
One of the primary responsibilities of a Postal Inspector is to investigate missing mail.
In 1939, Postal Inspectors investigated a life insurance and death note that disappeared from the mail in Lincoln, Nebraska. During the investigation, a neighbor contacted authorities, stating that “a cow went to the box and ate all but small bits of the insurance policies and death claims.” However, this was not the only time an animal was blamed for mail disappearance.
In December 1929, a similar story occurred when Mrs. Reta Morris of Michigan discovered a cow chewing bits of newspaper and mail outside her home.
More recently, in 2018, a family in Afton, Iowa, captured video of a local cow stealing mail out of their mailbox.
The Case of the Baroness
Prior to the advancement of fingerprinting, creating new aliases was rather simple. In one case, Priscilla von Sternberg Fitzgerald created over 27 aliases before finally convicted in 1939. Fitzgerald’s scam of the 1930s was quite similar to the recent case of Anna Sorokin, who posed as an affluent member of society, scamming the wealthiest people and institutions.
Fitzgerald, pretending to be “The Baroness,” would pose as the lady in waiting to the former German Kaiser and daughter of General von Sternberg of the Imperial German Army. Prior to the advancement of fingerprinting, creating new aliases was rather simple. In one case, Priscilla von Sternberg Fitzgerald created over 27 aliases before finally convicted in 1939.
The Baroness would “borrow” various sums of money from newly acquired friends. In all, she obtained roughly $3,500 – over $73,000 in today’s standard. Her downfall came when a Long Island City Letter Carrier became suspicious of her activity and reported her to Inspector H.W. Mahan. She was arrested, convicted of mail fraud, and sentenced to 4 years in federal prison and an additional 3 years of probation.
Mail Theft by Hypnotism
In the early 1900s, hypnotism was a common scapegoat for theft throughout the nation. People would claim to meet strangers in the street and after waking up with no realization they had been robbed.
In September 1919, Postal Inspector T.R. Jervey was tasked with investigating a Post Office robbery in Lyman, Mississippi. Miss Thelma Taylor, a postal clerk, claimed a woman by the name of Mrs. Nikols approached the counter asking for her mail. When she was informed there was none for her, she walked behind the counter and took $19.75 from the drawer. Miss Taylor later stated she believed she was hypnotized into a stupor by Mrs. Nikols. The perpetrator was later located and arrested by Postal Inspectors.
HISTORY SPOTLIGHT HOMEPAGE
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