South Florida Crime – Part 1

Length of Video:  18 minutes and 57 seconds

South Florida has been associated with some spectacular crimes throughout its short history. Miami was incorporated in 1896 but it has been a venue for criminal activity many years prior to its founding. This three-part documentary series will detail some of the more spectacular crimes that have taken place in and around South Florida from the 1850s through modern times.

Prior to incorporation, the Miami area was largely desolate. There were too few people in the area to warrant a full-time law man, so justice was largely enforced by Federal Marshalls. Early crimes in South Florida were generally met with frontier-justice. The first mass murder in South Florida led to the death of five people, including the original perpetrator who was hung by a vigilante mob.

Despite having a full-time law man, Miami was still largely a frontier city after incorporation. The murder of game warden Guy Bradley and the pursuit of the Ashley Gang were two prime examples of the immaturity of law enforcement in South Florida in the early 1900s.

What was referred to as “North Miami” demonstrated the wild-west nature of early Miami. After the antics in North Miami became unacceptable to land owners in the area, the unlawful element was moved into today’s Overtown. The area was labeled “Hardieville” for the Sheriff that facilitated the change in location.

Finally, the first part of the Crime in South Florida series ends with crime associated with Miami’s building boom of the 1920s. The Binder Boys took advantage of anyone willing to buy land site unseen. Part One ends with Al Capone moving to Miami in 1927. His home on Palm Island was the center of attention for law enforcement in the late 1920s and early 1930s.