002 - Pirates + Losing Streak Lois
Brief History of Piracy
Piracy represented a shift in the laws of nations. Previously, law had been determined based on location but since piracy happened at sea, where no nations governed, countries were forced to adjust their laws. Most chose to have their same laws apply as on land.
Piracy still occurs today. In 2010, Somali pirates hijacked 49 ships and took over 1,000 hostages. These occurrences are less common now but cruise ships are still occasionally taken hostage.
Sources conflict regarding how common it was for women to be pirates. Some say it was very common, others claim it was a rarity.
Many ships codes that included a provision denying to allow women on board because they were considered “inimical to work and social order” but many women didn’t have anything to lose so they would sign up, either dressing as men or dressing as women and using feminine wiles to aid in capturing hostages.
Cheng I Sao
Sao left her life as a prostitute to be a pirate with her husband in the Kwangtung Province in China from around 1795-1810. The two worked together to unify small pirate gangs into one large group that was under their control.
Once her husband died she took over his ships and enforced a strict code- no rape or murder was allowed. The punishment for disobeying was death. Any women that were captured were either ransomed for money or sold off as wives, which was unusual for that time period. Sao would extract promises from the husbands that they would treat the women well.
When Sao decided to retire she made a deal with the Chinese government and became a private citizen, disappearing into civilian life.
Bonny was born in the early 1700s to William Cormack, an Attorney from Ireland, and his maid, Mary. She was an illegitimate child but her father adored her, eventually moving her and her mother to what is now Charleston, South Carolina so they could be a family.
After Bonny’s mother died in 1711 she became violent, allegedly killing two people and spending more and more time in taverns, much to her father's displeasure. She married James Bonny in 1718, which caused her father to disown her.
Bonny and her husband moved to Jamaica, where he would snitch on pirates and she would seduce them. It was here she met Calico Jack and left her husband to travel with him.
Like Bonny, Read was born in the early 1700s and was an illegitimate child. Mary ended up joining the Royal navy as an adult, pretending to be a man. She fell in love with her bunk mate and revealed her true identity to him. The two married and were happy but when he died she turned back to the seas, joining a Dutch Ship and once again dressing as a man.
Bonny & Read Together
The ship Read was on was captured by Bonny’s ship and Read was taken prisoner. Bonny decided to seduce the new prisoner, thinking that Read was a man. The two became friends and probable lovers, with Read becoming part of the crew.
They fought side by side until 1720, when they were arrested and tried. They plead not guilty but there were many witness accounts against them, including Dorothy Thomas, who they had earlier robbed.
They were found guilty and both successfully plead the belly. Read died in prison five months later. Anne carried her baby to term and was given a reprieve. It is not known what happened to Anne Bonny after she had her child.
Losing Streak Lois
Lois Reiss is accused of killing her husband and several others across several states. Before this, local authorities knew who she was due to large gambling debts of over 100,000 and various acts of theft to support those debts, including stealing over 100K from her disabled sister.
Her husband, David Reiss, was found dead at his job by his business partner on March 23, 2018. Before police had time to question her Lois withdrew over 10K from their joint bank account and fled to Iowa. After losing her money in Iowa, she went to Florida where she met Pamela Hutchinson. Hutchinson was found dead on April 9th and it is believed that Lois stole her identity.
Lois was next spotted in Louisiana and eventually arrested in Texas. She plead not guilty to homicide, grand theft of a motor vechicle, larceny and fraud impersonation in FL. After her trail in FL she will be brought back to MN for her second trail.
Murder Food Roadtrip
Smokin' Oyster- Where Lois met Pamela
Sea Ranch- Where Lois was arrested