The Police Reporter was a Radio Release, Ltd, transcribed and syndicated production. It was recorded during the early 1930s in Hollywood.
Newspaper clipping about the first use of the Electric Chair in Ohio
Indiana newspaper clipping about The Vampire Fiend Of Dusseldorf
The earliest broadcasts we could find for The Police Reporter aired over the NBC-Gold Supplemental station, KTAR in Phoenix, Arizona
The Frigidaire Dealers of Arizona sponsored the 1935 KTAR run of The Police Reporter
By 1936, The Police Reporter had become either licensed to or purchased outright by transcribed programming giant, World Broadcasting System, Inc.
The Pampa newspaper announcements above and below touted the 1937 broadcasts of The Police Reporter over KPDN, Pampa, TX, sponsored by Puritan Bakery
Puritan Bakery ad for their Royal Bread
Pampa Daily News announcement of The Police Reporter to air over KPDN beginning March 26, 1937
"This broadcast inaugurates a new radio series: true murder mysteries brought to you by The Police Reporter. Carefully planned crimes which were solved by intelligent effort and clever detective work. The cases we dramatize for you actually happened. The following true murder mystery is an example."
So opens the first broadcast of The Police Reporter, a twenty-six show series of some of the most sensational, brutal and gruesome murders in history. From the 1557 London case of Lord Charles Stourton, to the 1931 case of John "Red" Downing, the convict who built Ohio's first electric chair--only to be executed in it, these were sensational, headline-grabbing crimes, many of which garnered worldwide attention. Crimes so horrible that you didn't want to hear about them, but then you just couldn't help yourself.
For the purpose of this article, I have chosen to showcase the Duesseldorf, Germany case of Peter Kuerten, whose murderous rampage was so horrendous that he actually received nine death sentences. What follows are chronological newspaper accounts from Kuerten's arrest to his death by guillotine.
From the 30-09-10 Nevada State Journal:
Peter Kurten, who has been in German prisons frequently, has been arrested at Duesseldorf, charged with being the "Jack the Ripper" who murdered many children in the vicinity.
From the 30-05-26 Winnipeg Free Press:
Smokes Cigars and Confesses
And Describes Ten Murders
Duesseldorf, Germany, May 25 -- Peter Kuerten 47, quietly smoked cigars in prison today as he confessed murder after murder and added, "It would suit me best to have my head chopped off immediately."
Among the ten murders he described in minute detail, taking all the blame, were those of a 9-year-old girl and a 64-year-old laborer, for which another man was tried and found guilty. The convicted man, Johann Stausberg, was adjudged insane and sent to an asylum, a circumstance which may have saved him from paying the death penalty for another man's crimes.
Kuerten has 14 previous convictions for burglary and fraud. When asked why he turned to murder, he said, according to police, "I wanted to avenge myself on mankind, women persecuted me."
From the 31-04-13 Wisconsin State Journal:
Start Man's Trial for Slaying Nine
German Faces Charge of Killing Four
Small Girls, Four Women, Man
DUESSELDORF, Germany--(U.P.)--Peter Kuerten, 48, laborer, whose "engaging personality" attracted both men and women to him, will go on trial Monday charged with a series of murders that for a year threw this city into a paroxysm of nightly fear.
Nine murders and seven attempted slayings are charged to the an who appears to have a double personality. Among the alleged victims were four small girls, four women and one man. He was trapped by the courageous detective work of a country girl who nearly lost her life in her pursuit.
The crimes were of the "Jack the Ripper" kind--the sudden flash of a knife and then disappearance into the night. The murderer laughed at efforts to trap him, and wrote letters to the police tauning them with inefficiency. He described in detail where they could find the bodies of his two last victims whom, contrary to his usual customs, he had buried.
The girl-detective, Maria Buttlesll, eventualy succeeded in delivering Kuerten into the hands of the police. The sensational appearance of his escaped victims is said to have broken the man who, police declare, made a confession.
From the 31-04-14 San Antonio Express:
European Crime Experts
Watch Trial of German
(By Associated Press)
DUESSELDORF, April 13.--A small, slightly corpulent man, attired in a plain sack suit and with hair neatly parted, today faced a jury and told in an even voice how he committed nine murders.
From the 31-04-16 New Castle News :
Numerous European crime experts are watching with keen interest the trial of the 47-year-old worker. Peter Kuerten. He has confessed nearly 100 crimes ranging from arson and burglary to murder. Nothing in his outward appearance indicated he was a murderer except occasional flickering of the eyes and fluttering hands which the observant experts said betrayed his "lust to kill."
Kuerten's victims were of both sexes and of various ages. His weapons were scissors, hammer or a dagger, as well as his own hands with which he strangled several persons.
The defendant is married. He reads the Bible assidiously. His arrest was brought about after he had terrorized this section, by a letter which went astray and fell into the hands of the police. The trial will continue tomorrow.
Peter Kuerten, Now On Trial
Charged With Murdering Of Sixteen
(International News Service)
DUESSELDORF, Germany, April 16--Peter Kuerten, Germany's so-called "vampire slayer," who is on trial for his life here charged with sixteen murders, declared under examination by alienists today that his aim was to become "the greatest criminal in history."
The prisoner told the physicians he was planning to switch from individual killings to wholesale killings through bombing and arson when he was apprehended.
Kuerten is charged specifically with sixteen murders, police say he has confessed to forty-five.
From the 31-04-22 Chester Times:
KILLER SENTENCED TO DEATH 'NINE TIMES'
Duesseldorf, Germany, April 222--(INS)--German justice decended harshly today upon Peter Kuerten, so-called "vampire killer," found guilty of nine murders and seven attempted slayings.
He was sentenced to death nine times, one sentence being meted out for each of the slayings.
In addition, he was sentenced to fifteen years in the penitentiary for other crimes of which he was found guilty.
The multiple death sentence carried the ironic stipulation that Kuerten "be deprived of his citizenship rights for the rest of his life."
From the 31-07-02 Sandusky Star Journal:
COLOGNE, Germany, July 2--Peter Kuerten, 48-year-old murderer of women and children, was executed today. The execution of the Duesseldorf murderer--he was conviced of the brutal slaying of four small girls, four women and one man--took place in the state prison at Klingelpretz, to which Kuerten was transferred from Dusseldorf. Kuerten, a laborer who had an appeal for women, terrorized Dusseldorf for more than a year. He gained the epithet of a second "Jack the Ripper" for his hideous crimes and laughed at efforts to trap him--until his arrest in May, a year ago.
The murderous mayhem recounted in the other twenty-five episodes of The Police Reporter represented an interesting mix:
- An abused husband, Warren J. Lincoln [Episode 01], bludgeoned his wife and brother in law to death with an indian club, cut them up and burned them in a furnace, then buried their heads in a flower box. Lincoln's mistakes in attempting to destroy their last remains led to his undoing.
- A Georgia plantation owner John S. Williams [Episode 3], maintained former 'chain chang' negroes as indentured slaves on his plantation to work off the misdemeanor fines he paid for them--long after they'd repaid those fines. Williams employed a sadistic handyman, Clyde Mannon, to whip Williams' 'slaves' whenever they complained about not receiving their monthly wages. When two murdered slaves washed up on the shores of the Yellow River, Williams' fate was sealed.
- A Parisian vagrant, Roger Voron [Episode 4], robbed, then stabbed a kind-hearted spinster, Mademoiselle Metatier, who'd taken him in to feed him. Still unsolved after two years, the murder case took a turn when Voron, imprisoned while awaiting deportation to a French penal colony, related his story to another inmate. The fellow inmate, Beber, resolved to take responsibility for the murder and face the guillotine in lieu of being deported to the French penal colony with Voron. Voron's crime subsequently unraveled with an interesting twist.
- Fiancées Charles Edward Twig and Grace Elosser [Episode 5] were found dead in Grace Elosser's parlor in an apparent double suicide by cyanide poisoning--only a week before their wedding date. Some interesting turns in the case revealed a surprising probable cause for their deaths.
- Charles Lord Stourton, 8th Baron Lord Lieutenant of Wilts [Episode 23], having been discovered pillaging the lands and tenants of William Hartgill by Lord Stourton's own mother, resolved to retaliate against Hartgill for Lord Stourton having been fined £730 in damages for his pillaging. When Hartgill's body was found beaten and his throat slit, Lord Stourton was charged with murder. The episode cites the grisly methods the British courts of the era employed to extract a 'voluntary' confession of guilt.
The actual highlights of the series--the crime detection methods, emerging forensic tools of the era, and dogged investigative techniques--tended to be somewhat more interesting than the scripted dialogue. The true crimes selected were also an interesting mix ranging from the sublime to the bizarre and spanning over 370 years of conspiracy, deceit, murder, and mayhem.
Produced by Radio Relase, Limited, a Hollywood transcribed programming producer between 1932 and 1934, the series aired first over Southwestern stations in Arizona and California during 1935 and 1936, eventually making its way to New Mexico and Texas in 1936 and 1937. Between 1936 and 1937, The World Broadcasting System out of New York purchased or licensed the series under the WBS banner, further extending the broadcast possibilites for the series.
While a few of the series' crimes may not be considered "grisly" or "horrible" by today's standards, in their time, they were indeed sensational. The series itself suffers from mediocre scripts and acting, but the crimes themselves were backed by factual history and are often as interesting and compelling today as they must have been when they were commited. If you can forgive the scripts and the acting, I believe you will enjoy this series as much as I did.
Santa Fe, New Mexico station KIUJ joined with the World Broadcasting System, inaugurated January 12 1936. Police Reporter was featured as one of the 16 hours of continuous, transcribed programming offered during the roll-out.
Police Reporter joined Cecil and Sally and Chevrolet's Musical Moments as featured, transcribed broadcasts over KIUJ
|randsestotericotr, Hickerson Guide, The Arizona Republic, The Los Angeles Times, The Calgary Daily Herald.
Notes on Provenances:
The most helpful provenances were newspaper listings, and randsesotericotr. While information about this show was somewhat sketchy, we are indebted to randsesotericotr for the transcription labels that enabled us to correctly order the episodes.
- Given the chronologically latest case dramatized in the series, the series was probably produced, recorded and transcribed between 1932 and 1934.
- Owing primarily to the Radio Release transcription labels and later newspaper listings of the era, the series has usually been misnamed 'Police Reporter.' The series clearly announced itself as 'The Police Reporter.'
- All transcription titles are anecdotal. There were no announced program titles.
- Every transcription varies in length: the shortest script is 10-minutes, the longest is 12-minutes. The timing differences from script to script were made up by extending the musical fill on either end in order to create a uniform series of fourteen and a half minute transcriptions.
- All circulating recordings are direct digital transfers from the original transcription discs--encoded by randsestotericotr.
- None of the newspaper listings of the era cited either titles or synopses for the broadcasts of the earliest runs. Our sequencing of the canon assumes transcription order--a troublesome assumption at best.
- All circulating recordings contain varying lengths of musical fill for commercial messaging at the beginning and end of each recording.
- As indicated at left, The World Broadcasting System either purchased or licensed The Police Reporter between 1936 and 1937.
- For the 1935 run we were forced to interpolate the dates for the first 13 episodes. We have only marginal confidence in those dates.
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