Canary in a Cage: The Smith-Bennett Murder Case

On New Year’s Day 1901, reporter Jorden Lang is summoned to the newspaper’s office to find the police waiting. Her business card was found in the pocket of an unidentified woman struck and killed by a train. As the police investigation goes on, Jorden recounts meeting the dead woman two decades earlier when she was a young wife accused of brutally murdering her police officer husband. More
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About Maureen K. Wlodarczyk

Maureen Wlodarczyk ( is an author, columnist, genealogist, speaker and admitted history and genealogy addict. She is a member of the Irish American Writers & Artists organization along with several genealogical societies. She was selected for a 2014 and 2015 Excellence-in-Writing awards by the International Society of Family History Writers & Editors (ISFHWE). Maureen currently writes a genealogy column "History & Mystery: Perfect Together" for the e-magazine Garden State Legacy ( She is also a contributing writer for the genealogical e-magazine Irish Lives Remembered (

Beyond researching and writing about her own family history, Maureen searches for true stories of people and events lost to time, rediscovering and sharing those tales through her books, magazine articles, and her presentations to genealogical and historical groups. These fascinating stories of 19th century Americans, including immigrants, entrepreneurs, social activists, and “regular” people persevering in the face of daily challenges, transport us in a time machine to days long past, intriguing and informing us while bringing context to our own lives. Her 6 books are:

Birthless: A Tale of Family Lost & Found - a novel about the power of friendship. Is it ever "too late" to confront long-kept secrets and life-altering decisions? Author and Genealogist Maureen Wlodarczyk takes us on a heartfelt journey from New York to Scotland and Ireland with three women whose friendship helps them face a reckoning with the long-concealed secrets of their youthful pasts. Memories of first love, young motherhood and painful decisions are resurrected as each of them searches for reconciliation and peace after decades of self-imposed silence. What awaits them are unexpected discoveries that will redefine their understanding of love, loss, motherhood, friendship and the meaning of family.

Scarlet Letter Lives - a work of historical fiction inspired by the true stories of the owners of three 1850s copies of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter: a Mississippi boy of thirteen who, along with his two brothers, is destined for the battlefields of Virginia during the Civil War; a New England sea captain's daughter, newly-married and living in Alexandria, Virginia when that war breaks out; and a transplanted Virginia man living in New Orleans who must flee the Union occupation there. Their family stories converge over the ensuing decades as their copies of The Scarlet Letter and their lives intersect in one woman who will tell their tales and then reveal the secret that defined her own life.

Jersey! Then . . . Again - a collection of 36 short stories about New Jersey historic people and events. Suffragettes, boxers, hurricanes, gangs, hot air balloonists, con artists, politicians, inventors, women in the war effort, military heroes and more -- it all happened in New Jersey!

Past-Forward: A Three-Decade & Three-Thousand-Mile Journey Home - the story of her 30-year search for her grandmother's Irish ancestral roots and the surprising and poignant discoveries made along the way.

Young & Wicked: The Death of a Wayward Girl - the true story of star-crossed first generation Irish-American lovers and petty criminals growing up in 19th century Jersey City. As the police close in, they flee to the Bowery in New York City in 1893 and soon after their life together meets a violent end.

Canary in a Cage: The Smith-Bennett Murder Case - historical fiction based on a shocking true story: In 1878, a policeman is found bludgeoned and stabbed to death in his own bed, supposedly while his young wife lay beside him unaware. Did a twenty-something Jersey girl and farmer's daughter turn city-girl killer?

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