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1955

Palm Beach, Florida: Corruption, moonshine and illegal lotteries make for a mystery that takes years to solve.

Where are they now?

Joe Peel was sentenced to two life terms in prison. He served 21 years before being paroled in 1982, suffering from terminal cancer. He died nine days after his release, but not before marrying a Jacksonville woman who was the flower girl at his first wedding. He was 58.

Lucky Holzapfel was originally set to die in Florida's electric chair, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison. A series of strokes left him unable to talk. He died in prison in 1996.

Bobby Lincoln was already in prison on a 1958 moonshine-related conviction when the DA offered him immunity on the Chillingworth murders in exchange for testimony against Peel. Lincoln finished his federal prison term in Michigan in 1962. He died in 2004 at age 80.

Vince “Trapper” Nelson was known as the “Tarzan of the Loxahatchee”. His Florida homestead-turned-zoo was filled with exotic and wild animals and was a popular tourist spot in the 1940s and 50s. In 1960, the zoo was shut down by State health inspectors. Nelson became a hermit and suffered from depression and health problems. In 1968, he was found dead from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. His death was ruled a suicide. The site is now known as the Trapper Nelson Zoo Historic District and still stands today.

In 2011, Joe Peel's son, also an attorney, was arrested sentenced to five years in prison for bilking clients out of more than $600,000. He pled guilty to grand theft and organized scheme to defraud.

What the episode didn't tell you

The Chillingworth convictions were among the first murder convictions in Florida to be obtained without having any bodies.

In 1959, the Florida legislature voted to keep the $100,000 reward on the books “for eternity” or until the Chillingworth case was solved.

Lucky Holtzapfel pled guilty to the two murders and agreed to testify against Joe Peel. While Lucky did his time and waited for Peel's trial, Peel tried twice — unsuccessfully — to have Lucky killed.

Backdrop of an era

  • The first McDonald’s opened
  • Elvis was on the radio
  • Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery
  • The first home microwave was developed
  • The Brooklyn Dodgers defeated the NY Yankees (4-3) in the World Series

From The Headlines

“He personally handed Yenzer $3000 to do the job… ”


“He wanted you killed… ”

Used with permission of The Associated Press © 2013. All rights reserved.


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