Folsom's 93

The Lives and Crimes of Folsom Prison's Executed Men


Edward K. Sayer, # 56

Young husband and father, Edward K. Sayer participated in a robbery with two others resulting in the murder of a Japanese store owner outside Sacramento. The killer, Arthur Muller, committed suicide the following day, but a jury found Sayer and the third man, Ray Arnold, also a young father, guilty of complicity. Sayer was known by many others, including physicians, to be mentally unstable, and hundreds of letters, petitions and telegrams in support of these condemned men, including from the United States Attorney General, poured into Governor C.C. Young’s office . . .

Alfred Bollinger, #52

For four weeks, the decaying body of Alex Summers lay concealed under overhanging boughs, submerged in the shallow, murky water of Simmerly Slough in Yolo County, a mere hundred yards from a well-traveled highway. On May 27, 1924, camper Dan McVey made the gruesome discovery. He came upon the mangled body of Summers. A bloody axe, presumably the weapon used in his killing, lay nearby. For the next month, investigators attempted to identify the owner of the crushed skull. No one had reported a missing person. Their only clues were that the victim wore a light blue work shirt, overalls, and heavy ribbed underclothes. His feet were bare.

Stymied by lack of evidence, police nearly chalked this one up as an unsolved murder of an itinerant laborer, a common occurrence in automobile camps at the time. Had it not been for the “delirious mutterings” of Mrs. Eva Bollinger, the crime might have gone unsolved.

Frank Belew, #11

Frank Belew watched in silence as his sister writhed in pain, slowly succumbing to arsenic poisoning. She begged for help, but he only sat beside her and held her hand. The tears rolling down his face were nothing more than a convincing ability to cry on cue. He was, after all, the one who poisoned her. Unaware of this, the three unsuspecting women caretakers following a doctor’s orders, continued to feed her the tainted water and soup broth.  Frank looked on without a pang of guilt or remorse.

Samuel Raber, #29

A café entertainer, a middle-weight prize-fighter and a call girl all played a part in the brutal murder of the beautiful and wealthy owner of a popular house of ill-fame in Sacramento.  Throw in a famous French actress and you have a case that kept readers enthralled and newspapermen happy. The life-like, lavishly-dressed doll the victim kept in her room presented as much of a mystery as the crime itself.

Called a “notorious character,” Cherry de St. Maurice reigned as the “Queen of the Tenderloin,” or the Red Light district, known for its demimonde, or class of women on the fringes of respectable society supported by wealthy lovers.  Cherry owned The Cherry Club, a luxurious and very successful brothel. The Des Moines Daily News called it, “the most widely known resort in the West—a place of sybaritic splendor.”

3 thoughts on “Stories

  1. Finally got to look at your website, great writing and interesting material. I believe you have the “joitel” writing ability.

  2. Hi April,
    I just finished going thru your web site, I can’t wait to read your book. You have done a good job, please stay in touch.

    • Thank you! I can’t tell you what an absolute pleasure it was to meet you both and get the opportunity to talk. I appreciate your willingness to work with me and help me with my research–truly generous. I will most certainly be in touch and send you copies of the photographs–they may come in batches or I’ll try to send them in a zip file. Thank you again for your hospitality and I look forward to talking with you more.

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