Why did you write The Murder of Andrew Sigler?

I was a young boy when I met my great-uncle, Andy Anderson; he had just been released from prison. Although I had no contact with him, I began to collect information about the murder when I was a teen-ager. About ten years ago, I had the notion to write a book about the crime. When I did some investigating, it was evident that Andy was imprisoned wrongfully, and Emma should have been tried for self-defense. Hurley and Ironwood are small towns, and rumors flourish about the crime to this day. I contacted parole officers and prison workers, friends and relatives of Andy Anderson, Andrew and Emma Sigler, read trial testimony, and the story began to unfold.

Where did the crime take place?

The murder took place in the Gogebic Hotel in Hurley, Wisconsin, in May, 1924. Hurley and it's neighbor, Ironwood, Michigan, were large iron mining communities, but the mines closed in the 1960's and the population dwindled. Hurley is in northern Wisconsin, about 200 miles north of Madison. Someone once wrote that nobody in their right mind would come to this desolate part of the country where the annual snowfall often exceeds 200 inches, and winter is seven months long. It's been said the three worst places in the world are Hurley, Hayward and Hell, with Hurley being the worst of the lot.

What was it like in Hurley in 1924?

Hurley was a community built because of iron mines and lumber. In 1924, the population was about 4,000; most of the men worked in the mines. Hurley was but one of several towns that were scattered along the 30-mile Gogebic Range; Ironwood, across the Montreal River, was the largest of these. Iron miners, lumberjacks, saloonkeepers, bootleggers and prostitutes made up the Gogebic Range. Hurley had a good side, too. It had one of the finest school systems in Wisconsin, and 90 percent of it's students graduated from high school. Its proud citizens sponsored athletics, churches flourished, and a city band played concerts in the park. The fire department had the latest equipment. Small, family homes lined the streets. At the west end of Silver Street, the main thoroughfare, across from the railroad station stood the magnificent, four-story Burton House hotel with 92 guest rooms and a 216-foot veranda. (The Burton House would be made famous by Edna Ferber in her book Come and Get It, published a decade later.) There was a seamy side of Hurley, too, where prohibition was mocked and prostitution flourished, a town that had gained a reputation among underworld figures as a safe city, a northern retreat where big city crime bosses could relax without fear of arrest. They also recognized that Hurley was a town where crime expansion was not welcome. Dubbed "Sin City of the North", more than 75 saloons lined the five blocks of Silver Street; one of these was the Gogebic Hotel operated by Andrew and Emma Sigler.

Was it unusual for a murder to take place in Hurley?

There were killings nearly every night, but they were usually the result of a barroom brawl. Men were arrested, went before the judge, and sentenced rather quickly.

What was so different about the Sigler murder?

The Sigler killing was significant because Andy Anderson left Hurley after the murder, then the press picked up on it, and Andy was labled as the killer. He didn't implicate Emma Sigler, nor did he admit to killing Sigler. Forensic evidence pointed to Andy as the killer because blood was found on the seat of his car. His alleged confession to an undercover detective led to his and Emma's arrest. Emma was just the second woman in the history of the Wisconsin penal system who was given a life sentence.

Who killed Andrew Sigler?

You have to read the book to find out.

How long were Andy Anderson and Emma Sigler sentenced?

Both were given life sentences at the state penitentiary.

Were they ever released from prison?

Yes. Andy was paroled from Waupun on June 4, 1941, and Emma was paroled on October 26, 1942.

Have you written anything before The Murder of Andrew Sigler?

Yes, but this is my first book. I've written several articles for magazines: "The Hatchet: The Journal of Lizzie Borden Studies"; "Genealogical Computing"; and "Cost Engineering", to name a few.

What are your future writing plans?

I enjoy writing true crime books, and I've been looking for a good subject for my next undertaking. There are a lot of unsolved mysteries that look promising. I'm gathering material for a true crime novel based on Lotta Morgan who was murdered in Hurley in 1890.