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John T. Cullen has solved the 1892 true crime at the Hotel del Coronado (Beautiful Stranger)


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John T. Cullen in San Diego Harbor late one summer afternoonSample: My Coronado Books. After working in Coronado in the 2000s, I became interested in the notorious 1892 mystery of the Beautiful Stranger. I believe I am the first to solve the case, and I published my work as a scholarly, nonfiction book titled Dead Move. There's more to the title than the fact that it relates to San Diego's most famous ghost story. The Beautiful Stranger, in her early twenties, checked into the luxurious Hotel del Coronado on Thanksgiving Day 1892, attracted plenty of attention due to her elegance, beauty, and mysterious behavior.

Coronado Mystery. Five days later, she lay dead of a gunshot to the head, outside on the back (seaward) steps after a great Pacific storm of the century. Who was she, why did she sign in, and how did she meet such a violent end? Her case became a national sensation on the telegraph wires (the Internet of the day), generating tabloid-like scandal from coast to coast. In the years following her death, a famous ghost legend arose. Allegedly she was a grifter named Kate Morgan, married to a cardsharp who robbed his victims during card games on the new transcontinental railways.

Mystery Solved At Last. I say that is all false—evidence shows she was a dreamy, gorgeous shop girl from Detroit, named Elizabeth 'Lizzie' Wyllie. She had been 'ruined' (made pregnant out of wedlock) by her foreman at the bookbinding factory, and hooked up with that same grifter (Kate Morgan) in a scheme that I think clearly was aimed at blackmailing billionaire John Spreckels, owner of the world-class resort and hotel on Coronado Island's scenic waterfront overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Lizzie Wyllie, who could easily be mistaken for a movie star today, or a stage actress in the 1890s, was a tragic figure. My interest in her case lies in the true crime, not the famous ghost legend. I'll be writing more about her. I have two more books planned.

Mystery Solved At Last. For the moment, you can read the nonfiction analysis that tells it all, titled Dead Move: Kate Morgan and the Haunting Mystery of Coronado. Or you can enjoy a novel closely based on my research, titled Lethal Journey. The two books are available separately or together in one volume, a duet titled Coronado Mystery.


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