In a case with familiar echoes down the century, neighbours hurried to police headquarters when six-year-old Janet Wilkinson vanished from her Rush Street, Chicago, home on July 22nd, 1919.
Tom Fitzgerald has taken her! they cried. Everyone knows hes a paedophile. Hes the only one around here who goes after little kids.
Thomas Fitzgerald, 39, was questioned vigorously, but he had nothing to say. Then a witness said he had seen Fitzgerald sitting with a little girl on his knee in the basement of a nearby hotel, where the little girls body was found. He was arrested, kept in custody and not allowed to sleep. Finally he confessed.
I have no sexual interest in adult females, he said. I lured the little girl into the hotel basement with a sweet, but when I tried to touch her she screamed, so I strangled her.
The post-mortem revealed that little Janet was still alive when he buried her in a coal pit in the basement. Despite the fact that most people thought he was insane, Fitzgerald was hanged on Friday, October 17th, 1919, in Chicagos Cook County Prison.