One of the most colorful characters connected with the Jail was Ellis Parker, who served as Burlington County’s chief detective from 1891 to 1936. A Quaker born in 1871 where Ft. Dix is now located, Parker started his career as a detective when, as a teen, he hunted down the varmints who stole his horse and buggy while he was fiddling at a barn dance. Over the next 40 years, he solved 98% of the murders in Burlington County and became internationally known as the “American Sherlock Holmes”.
Possessed with uncanny deductive reasoning skills, he was one of the first “profilers”. His downfall resulted from his involvement in the investigation of the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh’s baby in 1932. He allegedly directed two men to kidnap an attorney named Paul Wendel and torture him into a confession. He was tried in federal court in Newark for kidnapping Wendel. The complicated story, full of incredible irony and extraordinary twists, ended with Parker’s death in the Lewisberg Federal Penitentiary in 1940.