The Box of Astaroth – The Snake Oil Salesman Killer Edition
The SOS (Snake Oil Salesman) killer was one of the first documented US serial killers to poison his victims. This Wild West version of Dr Harold Shipman would travel from town to town touting his dubious ointments and potions to the gullible revelers. He would then select his victim, usually an attractive saloon girl and administer a carefully concocted dose of his 'Beauty Elixir'. This potion was meant to keep women looking young and youthful however, the deadly mixture contained a time delayed dose of snake venom. The SOS killer would administer the medicine from his wagon and then retire for the evening whilst following his intended victim waiting for the venom to incapacitate them. He would then take them back to his wagon and conduct experimental medical procedures on the victim while they were still alive. His amateur attempts at surgery were so brutal and invasive that the women eventually died a slow and painful death whilst being unable to scream due to the paralysis invoked by the snake venom.
Scores of mutilated girls were discovered across the American Old West as the SOS killer wormed his was across the country until he was finally caught in 1879. He was eventually found to be Irish native Marshal Seeley, a ship builder who took his perverted interest in women and medicine and forged a new killer career. To avoid the gallows he self administered a deadly dose of heroin in jail. It was discovered that he had smuggled the suicidal dose into jail internally. He escaped an official sentencing as he died before his trial and so he vanished into the annals of history. It is rumored that Seeley had murdered more than 89 women during his 6 year killing spree although it is though by history experts to be almost double that.
Although the macabre tale of the SOS Killer has faded into history I have been fortunate enough to obtain some of Marshal Seeley's disturbing tools he used to procure his victims. Maybe if we're lucky we may even be able to talk with one of the spirits of his victims tonight who still wander the Earth in limbo waiting for real justice to be served...
This private commission was created for Paul Noffsinger of The Mystery Collection based in Colorado. He specified a Wild West theme and I had always been fascinated by Snake Oil Salesmen of the American Old West so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to create a box of delights for a devious killer cowboy.
The SOS killer's case contains an array of potions and medicines and antique anatomy diagrams. The Victorian wallpaper design is an exact reproduction of the wallpaper in The Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221b Baker Street in London. I had taken a pretty poor photograph of the original wallpaper but after a bit of tinkering in Photoshop I was able to replicate the design and create my own printable Sherlock Holmes wallpaper.
As with all editions of The Box of Astaroth it comes with a saloon girl doll who mysteriously moves around inside the box as well as various tools to converse with the dead such as spirit bells and music boxes.
All that's required is a few rusty surgeon's tools and some 'trophies' in specimen bottles and the next mystery for The Mystery Collection will unfold..