Episode 364:

The B-I

William H. Wallace and the Murder of His Wife, Julia Wallace


Ma Barker


Episode 364: The B-I

This week, Georgia tells the story of William H. Wallace and the murder of his wife, Julia Wallace, and Karen covers the legendary Ma Barker.

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William H. Wallace and the murder of His Wife, Julia Wallace

William H. Wallace and the Murder of His Wife, Julia Wallace Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Ashley Inguanta on Unsplash 

Other Images:

1. Julia Wallace

2. William H. Wallace


"The murder of Julia Wallace, also known as the 'locked room murder' by many, is the oldest unsolved murder still on Merseyside Police's case files.

The events surrounding Julia's death, along with the conviction and subsequent acquittal of her husband William Herbert Wallace, became one of Liverpool's most baffling mysteries.

Julia was bludgeoned to death in her home in Wolverton Street, Anfield, in January 1931, in a case that has confounded detectives for decades.

The Wallaces were an unusual couple. William was often ill with kidney problems and Julia, 60, was suspicious of strangers and led a sheltered life.

One former friend described their marriage as 'loveless and strained'.

On Monday, January 19, William left his house to visit Liverpool Central Chess Club, in North John Street, where he was a member.

There, he received a phone message. The caller, who had spoken to club captain Samuel Beattie, identified himself as Mr Qualtrough and asked Wallace to call at 25 Menlove Gardens East at 7.30pm the next day.

The man said: “I want to see him particularly."

William was perplexed – he had no knowledge of any man called Qualtrough but made a note of the name and proposed meeting.

The next night, after finishing work for the Prudential Assurance Company, William set off from home – telling Julia he would be back as soon as possible.

He boarded a tram at 7.10pm in Lodge Lane, regularly reminding the conductor of his destination.

After getting off the tram, he went on a fruitless search of Mr Qualtrough’s address, which it turned out did not exist.

Giving up the search, William returned to his home at 29 Wolverton Street at 8.45pm to discover the body of his wife who had been brutally bludgeoned to death inside a locked house.

There was no sign of a murder weapon and no clues left behind as to who killed her.

What unfolded was a murder case so gruesome and unusual it inspired crime novels, TV dramas and a whole host of theories from amateur sleuths..."

Source: “Liverpool's oldest unsolved murder has baffled detectives for 91 years” by Emilia Bona and Annie Williams (The Liverpool Echo)

Ma Barker

Ma Barker Notes:

Other Images:

1. Ma Barker

2. Barker-Karpis Gang Wanted Poster


"Ma Barker was born on October 8, 1873, deep in the Missouri Ozarks in a town that was barely a town called Ash Grove. At birth, she was given the name Arizona Donnie Clark, as per Biography. She never much cared for the name, though, and changed it to Kate herself, notes Chris Enss and Howard Kazanjian in "Ma Barker." Of course, people don't get to choose their own names any more than they can choose their deaths or the legacy left behind. The tumultuous life of Kate Clark -– simple farm girl turned gangster matriarch -– is a lesson in this inevitability.

History remembers her as Ma Barker: the ruthless mother of four of the nation's most dangerous Depression-era criminals. Some say she was no more than a common hillbilly woman, others claim she was the mastermind of the entire Barker-Karpis Gang, who stole more money than John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, and Vern Miller combined, notes author Chris Enss — and left a trail of nearly a dozen dead law enforcement officers in their wake.

No matter what version of the tale you believe, one thing is certain: Being a devoted mother was by far her most defining characteristic..."

Source: “The Wild Real-Life Story of Ma Barker” by Becky Stephenson (Grunge)

Georgia's Episode Sources

  1. “Chess and the Wallace Murder Case” by Edward Winter (ChessHistory.com)
  2. “Currency Converter” (Mconvert.net) 
  3. “Liverpool” (Wikipedia)
  4. “Liverpool's oldest unsolved murder has baffled detectives for 91 years” by Emilia Bona and Annie Williams (The Liverpool Echo)
  5. “R v Wallace” (Wikipedia)
  6. “Raymond Chandler” (Wikipedia)
  7. “The Killing of Julia Wallace: An Impossible Murder” (The Unredacted)
  8. “The Murder of Julia Wallace” (The Julia Wallace Murder Foundation)
  9. “The Unsolved Murder of Julia Wallace” by Rupert Taylor (The Crime Wire) 
  10. “Unsolved 'locked room' murder that's puzzled detectives for 88 years” by Emilia Bona (The Liverpool Echo)
  11.  “Value of £1 from 1930 to 2017” by Ian Webster (Official Data Foundation)
  12. “William Herbert Wallace” (Wikipedia)

Karen's Episode Sources

  1. Ma Barker: America’s Most Wanted Mother by Chris Enns and Howard Kanzanjian
  2. “The ‘Real Public Enemy No. 1’ Once a Street Singer Here” (Kansas City Star) March 29, 1936
  3. Public Enemies: America's Criminal Past, 1919-1940 by William Helmer and Rick Mattix (1998)
  4. Alvin Karpis and the Barker Gang in Minnesota by Deborah Frethem and Cynthia Schreiner Smith (2020)
  5. “American History: The Great Depression: Gangsters and G-Men” (Lloyd Sealy Library)
  6. “The Rise of the FBI” (PBS)
  7. “The FBI and the American Gangster, 1924-1938” (FBI)
  8. “Ma Barker FBI Files - Karpis-Barker Gang” (FBI)
  9. “Americans React to the Great Depression” (Library of Congress) 
  10. “Crooks’ haven: The gangster era in St. Paul” by Sharon Park (Minn Post) 2015
  11. “Great Depression History” (History)
  12. “The Barker clan kills an officer in their fruitless robbery” (History)
  13. “The Nation Calls, 1908 – 1923” (FBI)
  14. “Alvin 'Creepy' Karpis: How America's last Public Enemy No. 1 was captured in New Orleans” by Greg Hilburn (Lafayette Daily Advertiser) 2022
  15. “Barker/Karpis Gang” (FBI)
  16. “Joseph P. Moran” (Wikipedia)
  17. “The Wild Real-Life Story of Ma Barker” by Becky Stephenson (Grunge)
  18. “Barker-Karpis Gang – Terrorizing the Midwest” by Kathy Alexander (Legends of America) 2022
  19. “Why The FBI Thought Ma Barker Was America’s Most Dangerous Mind In The 1930s” by Samuel Warde (All That’s Interesting) 2020