Butch Cassidy Tales / Mob Women

Butch Cassidy Tales / Mob Women

Date

HostGeorge Knapp

GuestsKerry Ross Boren, Barbie Nadeau

Butch Cassidy was a notorious train and bank robber and leader of the Wild Bunch gang in the American Old West. In the first half, outlaw researcher Kerry Ross Boren joined George Knapp to unravel tales about Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and their demise. Boren said there was irrefutable evidence that Butch and Sundance were not shot and killed in Bolivia in 1908, and that they both made their way back to America, with Cassidy living in the desert. The TV documentary series NOVA investigated the deaths of Butch and Sundance in Bolivia, and when they exhumed the bodies at their grave site, they discovered that the DNA didn't match that of the infamous outlaws.

According to Boren, Cassidy (whose real name was Robert Leroy Parker) actually died in 1956, when he was in his late 80s in Leeds, UT. Earlier, he had operated a mine in Goldfield, Nevada, and had been hired by the mine's owner along with Wild Bunch member Elzy Lay to guard gold bullion shipments. When living in Utah, Cassidy befriended the Ute Indians, Boren recounted, and helped them get supplies. They, in turn, hid him out when he needed to lay low. Boren said that Sundance (Harry Longabaugh) and Cassidy were initially together in Mexico when they left South America but went their separate ways. Sundance settled in the San Francisco area. A convicted killer named Hiram Bebee (who died in a Utah prison in 1955) claimed to be Sundance, and Boren believes there is strong evidence to support that contention.

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The Mafia has an ingrained image of "made men," with women often seen as ancillary characters. The reality is more complex, says investigative journalist Barbie Nadeau. In the second half, she shared stories of a woman who rose to prominence in Italy's organized crime syndicate, the glamorous Pupetta Maresca, who married a soon-to-be-deceased mobster named Pasqualone. She was pregnant and 18 at the time when she shot the man who'd ordered a hit on her husband, pumping him with 29 bullets. She admitted to the murder in court and served a number of years in prison, though she was allowed to raise her son to four years of age in her cell. Nadeau interviewed Maresca (who passed away in 2021) at age 81 as she reflected back on her life, in an unrepentant manner. While she had some justification for the first killing, the same could not be said for the other murders she was accused of.

"She was a cunning liar and a cold-blooded killer, but if you could look beyond that, she was genuinely delightful," Nadeau wrote. Pupetta partnered with another mobster named Umberto, and they were subsequently convicted of a grisly murder of a doctor who was found decapitated and bloodless (though the conviction was eventually overturned). Umberto may have killed Pupetta's first child from her prior marriage, as the boy disappeared at age 18 and was likely removed because he came from a different crime family. Nadeau also touched other notorious women involved in crime in Italy, including the assassin Cristina Pinto nicknamed "Nikita," and a woman known as "Grandma Heroin," who ran the heroin racket in Milan, and brought her children into the business.

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