Saturday, March 31, 2012
As police delved deeper into Ray and Hendy's background they became convinced that the woman was not the only victim. Upon hearing initial news reports, another woman called New Mexico police with her own tale of sexual torture at the hands of the couple. Then, an acquaintance of Hendy told investigators that she had previously spoken about Ray burying people near their home.
The woman escaped when Ray was at his job at the State Park. She got into a scuffle with Hendy and hit her on the back of the head with an ice pick. Hendy pled guilty to being an accomplice and then even more was revealed. Soon David Ray's daughter Jesse was also charged for her participation in a similar 1996 attack. And the Ray's friend Dennis Yancy was charged with the murder of a young woman who disappeared from in 1997 from an Elephant Butte bar.
Friday, March 30, 2012
The president had just finished addressing a labor meeting at the Washington Hilton Hotel and was walking with his entourage to his limousine when Hinckley, standing among a group of reporters, fired six shots at the president, hitting Reagan and three of his attendants. White House Press Secretary James Brady was shot in the head and critically wounded, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy was shot in the side, and District of Columbia policeman Thomas Delahaney was shot in the neck. After firing the shots, Hinckley was overpowered and pinned against a wall, and President Reagan, apparently unaware that he'd been shot, was shoved into his limousine by a Secret Service agent and rushed to the hospital.
The president was shot in the left lung, and the .22 caliber bullet just missed his heart. In an impressive feat for a 70-year-old man with a collapsed lung, he walked into George Washington University Hospital under his own power. As he was treated and prepared for surgery, he was in good spirits and quipped to his wife, Nancy, ''Honey, I forgot to duck,'' and to his surgeons, "Please tell me you're Republicans." Reagan's surgery lasted two hours, and he was listed in stable and good condition afterward.
The next day, the president resumed some of his executive duties and signed a piece of legislation from his hospital bed. On April 11, he returned to the White House. Reagan's popularity soared after the assassination attempt, and at the end of April he was given a hero's welcome by Congress. In August, this same Congress passed his controversial economic program, with several Democrats breaking ranks to back Reagan's plan. By this time, Reagan claimed to be fully recovered from the assassination attempt. In private, however, he would continue to feel the effects of the nearly fatal gunshot wound for years.
Of the victims of the assassination attempt, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and D.C. policeman Thomas Delahaney eventually recovered. James Brady, who nearly died after being shot in the eye, suffered permanent brain damage. He later became an advocate of gun control, and in 1993 Congress passed the "Brady Bill," which established a five-day waiting period and background checks for prospective gun buyers. President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law.
After being arrested on March 30, 1981, 25-year-old John Hinckley was booked on federal charges of attempting to assassinate the president. He had previously been arrested in Tennessee on weapons charges. In June 1982, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. In the trial, Hinckley's defense attorneys argued that their client was ill with narcissistic personality disorder, citing medical evidence, and had a pathological obsession with the 1976 film Taxi Driver, in which the main character attempts to assassinate a fictional senator. His lawyers claimed that Hinckley saw the movie more than a dozen times, was obsessed with the lead actress, Jodie Foster, and had attempted to reenact the events of the film in his own life. Thus the movie, not Hinckley, they argued, was the actual planning force behind the events that occurred on March 30, 1981.
The verdict of "not guilty by reason of insanity" aroused widespread public criticism, and many were shocked that a would-be presidential assassin could avoid been held accountable for his crime. However, because of his obvious threat to society, he was placed in St. Elizabeth's Hospital, a mental institution. In the late 1990s, Hinckley's attorney began arguing that his mental illness was in remission and thus had a right to return to a normal life. Beginning in August 1999, he was allowed supervised day trips off the hospital grounds and later was allowed to visit his parents once a week unsupervised. The Secret Service voluntarily monitors him during these outings. If his mental illness remains in remission, he may one day be released.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
New York's first experience with the so-called Mad Bomber was on November 16, 1940, when a pipe bomb was left in the Edison building with a note that read, "Con Edison crooks, this is for you." More bombs were recovered in 1941, each more powerful than the last, until the Mad Bomber sent a note in December stating, "I will make no more bomb units for the duration of the war." He went on to say that Con Edison, New York's electric utility company, would be brought to justice in due time.
The patriotic Mad Bomber made good on his promise, although he did periodically send threatening notes to the press. After his flurry of activity in 1951, the Mad Bomber was silent until a bomb went off at Radio City Music Hall in 1954. In 1955, the Mad Bomber hit Grand Central Station, Macy's, the RCA building and the Staten Island Ferry.
The police had no luck finding the Mad Bomber, but an investigative team working for Con Ed finally tracked him down. Looking through their employment records, they found that George Peter Metesky had been a disgruntled ex-employee since an accident in 1931. Metesky was enraged that Con Ed refused to pay disability benefits and resorted to terrorism as his revenge. Metesky, a rather mild-mannered man, was found living with his sisters in Connecticut. He was sent to a mental institution in April 1957 where he stayed until his release in 1973.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Since the cash box in which the Farrow's stored their cash receipts was empty, it was clear to Scotland Yard investigators that robbery was the motive for the crime. One print on the box did not match the victims or any of the still-tiny file of criminal prints that Scotland Yard possessed. Fortunately, a local milkman reported seeing two young men in the vicinity of the Farrow house on the day of the murders. Soon identified as brothers Alfred and Albert Stratton, the police began interviewing their friends.
Monday, March 26, 2012
On March 26, 1997, following an anonymous tip, police enter a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, an exclusive suburb of San Diego, California, and discover 39 victims of a mass suicide. The deceased, 21 women and 18 men of varying ages were all found lying peaceably in matching dark clothes and Nike sneakers and had no noticeable signs of blood or trauma. It was later revealed that the men and women were members of the "Heaven's Gate" religious cult, whose leaders preached that suicide would allow them to leave their bodily "containers" and enter an alien spacecraft hidden behind the Hale-Bopp comet.
The cult was led by Marshall Applewhite, a music professor who, after surviving a near-death experience in 1972, was recruited into the cult by one of his nurses, Bonnie Lu Nettles. In 1975, Applewhite and Nettles persuaded a group of 20 people from Oregon to abandon their families and possessions and move to eastern Colorado, where they promised that an extraterrestrial spacecraft would take them to the "kingdom of heaven." Nettles, who called herself "Ti," and Applewhite, who took the name of "Do," explained that human bodies were merely containers that could be abandoned in favor of a higher physical existence. As the spacecraft never arrived, membership in Heaven's Gate diminished, and in 1985 Bonnie Lu Nettles, Applewhite's "sexless partner," died.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
On this date in 1975, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was shot to death by his nephew, Prince Faisal.
King Faisal, son of King Ibn Saud, fought in the military campaigns in the 1920s and '30s that helped forge modern Saudi Arabia. He later served as Saudi ambassador to the United Nations and in 1953 was made premier upon the ascension of his older brother, Saud. In 1964, King Saud was pressured to abdicate, and Faisal became the absolute ruler of Saudi Arabia. As king, he sought to modernize his nation, and lent financial and moral support to anti-Israeli efforts in the Middle East. In 1975, Faisal was assassinated for reasons that remain obscure, and his son, Crown Prince Khalid, ascended to the throne.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
The two boys were caught soon afterward. In their possession were thirteen fully loaded firearms, including three semi-automatic rifles, and 200 rounds of ammunition. Their stolen van had a stockpile of supplies as well as a crossbow and several hunting knives. All of the weapons were taken from the Golden family's personal arsenal. Both of the boys had been raised around guns. They belonged to gun clubs and even participated in practical shooting competitions, which involve firing at simulated moving human targets. Golden reportedly shot several dogs in preparation for the actual shooting.
Because Johnson and Golden were thirteen and eleven, they could not be charged as adults in Arkansas. They were both adjudicated as delinquent and sent to reform institutes. They were to be released when they turned eighteen, as they could legally no longer be housed with minors, but Arkansas bought a facility in 1999 that enabled the state to keep the boys in custody until their twenty-first birthdays. Johnson was freed in 2005; Golden was released in 2007. Neither has any criminal record. Arkansas changed its laws following the Jonesboro tragedy so that child murderers can be imprisoned past twenty-one.
School shootings were highly publicized in the media during the late 1990s who ascribed the supposed epidemic to violent movies, television and video games. However, violence against students in school actually went down significantly in the late 1990s, throwing into the question the entire theory.
Friday, March 23, 2012
As a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the political party that held power in Mexico for most of the 20th century, Colosio became the protÝgÝ of future Mexican president Carlos Salinas de Gortari and was elected to the Congress and Senate. In 1988, he was the campaign manager of Salinas' successful presidential campaign and the same year was named PRI party head. In 1992, President Salinas appointed Colosio social development secretary. He became increasingly reform-minded in this capacity; although his promises to reduce Mexico's widespread poverty failed to stop anti-government guerrilla activity in the state of Chiapas. Salinas designated Colosio his successor in late 1993, making him the PRI candidate and thus the favorite to win the presidential election scheduled for August 1994. Colosio campaigned as a man of the people and often appeared without the protection of bodyguards.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
The McMartin school debacle began on August 12, 1983 when Judy Johnson reported to the police that she believed her 2-1/2-year-old son had been molested at the McMartin Preschool. The first major blunder occurred less than a month into the investigation. On September 8, the Manhattan Beach Police Department sent out a form letter to more than 200 families, alerting them of an investigation into the allegations of child molestation and naming Ray Buckey as a suspect. The latter set off a wave of hysteria in the community and compounding the problem, virtually every child who attended the school was sent to the Children's Institute International, an organization that claimed it could get children to reveal abuse even when they didn't want to talk about it. Unfortunately, CII was also capable of getting easily manipulated children to reveal abuse when it had never actually happened.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
At it's peak period of use in 1950s, "The Rock, or ""America's Devil Island" housed over 200 inmates at the maximum-security facility. Alcatraz remains an icon of American prisons for its harsh conditions and record for being inescapable. The twelve-acre rocky island, one and a half miles from San Francisco, featured the most advanced security of the time. Some of the first metal detectors were used at Alcatraz. Strict rules were enforced against the unfortunate inmates who had to do time at Alcatraz. Nearly complete silence was mandated at all times.
Alcatraz was first explored by Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775, who called it Isla de los Alcatraces (Pelicans) because of all the birds that lived there. It was sold in 1849 to the U.S. government. The first lighthouse in California was on Alcatraz. It became a Civil War fort and then a military prison in 1907. The end of its prison days did not end the Alcatraz saga. In March 1964, a group of Sioux claimed that the island belonged to them due to a 100-year-old treaty. Their claims were ignored until November 1969 when a group of eighty-nine Native Americans representing the American Indian Movement (AIM) occupied the island. They stayed there until 1971 when AIM was finally forced off the island by federal authorities. The following year, Alcatraz was added to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It is now open for tourism.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
On March 20, 1995, several packages of deadly sarin gas are set off in the Tokyo subway system killing twelve people and injuring over 5,000. Sarin gas was invented by the Nazis and is one of the most lethal nerve gases known to man. Tokyo police quickly learned who had planted the chemical weapons and began tracking the terrorists down. Thousands of checkpoints were set up across the nation in the massive dragnet.
Japanese authorities raided the Supreme Truth compounds across the country, but could not find Asahara. At one camp at the base of Mt. Fuji, police found tons of the chemicals used to produce sarin gas. They also found plans to buy nuclear weapons from the Russians. The police eventually located Hideo Murai, one of the cult's other top leaders, but when he was being taken into custody he was stabbed to death by an assassin who blamed Murai for the poison gas attack.
Shortly after, the police found a hidden basement at the Mt. Fuji compound where other cult leaders were holed up, including Masami Tsuchiya, a chemist who admitted making the sarin gas. Still, Asahara remained at large and the Supreme Truth made four more gas attacks on the subways, injuring hundreds more. Another potential deadly chemical bomb was defused in a subway restroom. The nation's top police officer was shot by a masked terrorist, adding to the country's unrest.
Finally on May 16, Asahara was found in yet another secret room of the Mt. Fuji compound and arrested. Along with scores of the other Supreme Truth leaders, Asahara was charged with murder. Their doomsday predictions had finally come true, albeit on a much smaller and more personal scale than they had envisioned.
Check back every Monday for a new installment of "This Week in Crime History."
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael's website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:
Sunday, March 18, 2012
The discovery of her body led investigators to Cary Stayner, a thirty-seven-year-old man who worked at the Cedar Lodge motel, where the Sunds were last seen. Stayner was tracked down and caught at a nudist colony in Northern California. Stayner confessed to the murder of Armstrong and then surprised the detectives by admitting that he was also responsible for the murders of the Sunds and Pelosso. Stayner had been on the other end of another high-profile crime years earlier. His younger brother, Steven, was abducted in Merced when Cary was eleven years old. Steven Stayner was held for more than seven years by a sexual abuser, Kenneth Parnell. Following his escape, a television movie, I Know My First Name is Steven, dramatized the incident. Steven Stayner died in a tragic motorcycle accident when he was twenty-four. The family saw further tragedy when Jesse Stayner, Cary and Steven's uncle, was shot to death in 1990 during a bungled robbery attempt. Stayner pled guilty to the Armstrong murder in 2001. He was convicted of the other three counts of murder in 2002 and sentenced to death.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Le, a doctoral student in pharmacology from Placerville, California, was found dead on the day she was scheduled to be married, prompting initial speculation after her September 8, 2009, disappearance that could be a runaway bride. However, that theory soon appeared to be largely ruled out by investigators. Surveillance video showed Le entering the Yale lab building, which was accessible only by electronic keycard, but never leaving it. Her money, cell phone and ID were found in her office, located in a separate building.
Le’s disappearance set off a massive investigation that included more than 100 officers from university, state and local police and the FBI. The case also garnered national media attention. A break came on September 12, when investigators found bloody clothing above ceiling tiles in the lab building. The following day, Le’s body was discovered behind a wall in the building’s basement. It was determined the 4-foot-11-inch, 90-pound Le had been strangled.
Middletown, Connecticut, resident Raymond Clark, who cared for the animals in the lab where Le worked, soon sparked the suspicions of police after he was observed scrubbing the seemingly clean floor in the room where Le was last seen. On September 17, police arrested Clark, after finding DNA and other evidence they said linked him to the crime. Among the evidence was a bloody sock with both Clark’s and Le’s DNA on it, as well as a pen found under Le’s body with Clark’s DNA. Additionally, investigators discovered scratches on Clark’s body (which he claimed were from a cat), and found keycard records placing him and Le in the same room in the lab building on the day she was reported missing.
In January 2010, Clark pleaded not guilty to murder. However, on March 17 of the following year, after negotiations between the prosecutor in the case and Clark’s lawyers, the former lab technician pleaded guilty to charges of murder and attempt to commit sexual assault, in order to avoid a trial. He did not specify a motive, and the reason for his actions remains unclear. On June 3, 2011, Clark was sentenced to 44 years in prison without the possibility of early release.
Friday, March 16, 2012
The Jilted Lover Murder, Judge Roy Bean dies, Terry Anderson is kidnapped, & Robert Blake is aquitted of murder
Blake was arrested for the murder, and the prosecution produced two former stunt doubles who claimed the actor had recruited them to kill his wife. During cross-examination, the stuntmen were revealed to be cocaine and methamphetamine users. In their acquittal of Blake, the jury made it clear they didn’t believe the stuntmen’s statements, and also concluded that the prosecution had failed to place the murder weapon in Blake’s hands. In November 2005, eight months after the criminal trial ended, Robert Blake was found guilty in a civil trial of “intentionally” causing Bonny Lee Bakley’s death; he was ordered to pay $30 million to Bakley’s children. Rose remained in the care of Blake’s eldest daughter, Delinah. Though he did not testify in the criminal trial, Blake did take the stand during his civil trial to deny the accusations.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Julius Caesar, the "dictator for life" of the Roman Empire, is murdered by his own senators at a meeting in a hall next to Pompey's Theatre. The conspiracy against Caesar encompassed as many as sixty noblemen, including Caesar's own protege, Marcus Brutus. Caesar was scheduled to leave Rome to fight in a war on March 18 and had appointed loyal members of his army to rule the Empire in his absence. The Republican senators, already chafing at having to abide by Caesar's decrees, were particularly angry about the prospect of taking orders from Caesar's underlings. Cassius Longinus started the plot against the dictator, quickly getting his brother-in-law Marcus Brutus to join.
Caesar should have been well aware that many of the senators hated him, but he dismissed his security force not long before his assassination. Reportedly, Caesar was handed a warning note as he entered the senate meeting that day but did not read it. After he entered the hall, Caesar was surrounded by senators holding daggers. Servilius Casca struck the first blow, hitting Caesar in the neck and drawing blood. The other senators all joined in, stabbing him repeatedly about the head.
Marcus Brutus wounded Caesar in the groin and Caesar is said to have remarked in Greek, "You, too, my child?" In the aftermath of the assassination, Antony attempted to carry out Caesar's legacy. However, Caesar's will left Octavian in charge as his adopted son. Cassius and Brutus tried to rally a Republican army and Brutus even issued coins celebrating the assassination, known as the Ides of March. Octavian vowed revenge against the assassins, two years later Cassius and Brutus committed suicide after learning that Octavian's forces had defeated theirs at the Battle of Philippa in Greece.
Antony took his armies east, where he hooked up with Caesar's old paramour, Cleopatra. Octavian and Antony fought for many years until Octavian prevailed. In 30 B.C., Antony committed suicide. Octavian, later known as Augustus, ruled the Roman Empire for many more years.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
On this day in 1950, the Federal Bureau of Investigation institutes the "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" list in an effort to publicize particularly dangerous fugitives. The creation of the program arose out of a wire service news story in 1949 about the "toughest guys" the FBI wanted to capture. The story drew so much public attention that the "Ten Most Wanted" list was given the okay by J. Edgar Hoover the following year. As of 2011, 465 of the criminals included on the list have been apprehended or located, 153 as a result of tips from the public. The Criminal Investigative Division (CID) of the FBI asks all fifty-six field offices to submit candidates for inclusion on the list. The CID in association with the Office of Public and Congressional Affairs then proposes finalists for approval of by the FBI's Deputy Director. The criteria for selection is simple, the criminal must have a lengthy record and current pending charges that make him or her particularly dangerous. And the the FBI must believe that the publicity attendant to placement on the list will assist in the apprehension of the fugitive.
Generally, the only way to get off the list is to die or to be captured. There have only been a handful of cases where a fugitive has been removed from the list because they no longer were a particularly dangerous menace to society. Only eight women have appeared on the Ten Most Wanted list. Ruth Eisemann-Schier was the first in 1968. The FBI also works closely with the Fox television show America's Most Wanted to further publicize the effort to capture dangerous felons.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Up until then, Constanzo and his cult had ritually killed at least twenty people, and maybe as many as 100. He had escaped detection because his victims were almost exclusively prostitutes, homeless people and drug dealers. But when Mark Kilroy disappeared, it became an international incident that focused attention on Mexican law enforcement efforts. Authorities in Mexico were pressured to step up their campaign against drug smuggling across the Texas border. On April 1, Serafin Hernandez, a cult member and the nephew of the leader of the Hernandez family drug-smuggling network, which had hired Costanzo to use black magic to bring them profit and protection, drove right through a police roadblock. Apparently, he actually believed that the magic potions Constanzo sold to drug dealers worked. Hernandez thought that he was invisible to the police and led the police directly to Rancho Santa Elena where officials found a large stash of drugs and guns.
Cult disciples who were arrested began to tell police about the human sacrifices at Rancho Santa Elena. Within a week, authorities had found 27 mutilated bodies, including Mark Kilroy, at or near the cult headquarters. When police raided Constanzo's Mexico City home, they found a hidden torture chamber and a large stash of homosexual pornography, but no sign of Constanzo himself.
The cult leader didn't turn up until May 6 when he panicked and opened fire on police who were going door-to-door in search of a missing child. An intense gun battle ensued, and as the police closed in, Constanzo insisted that one of his assistants, El Duby, shoot him. Constanzo was dead when police finally stormed in. El Duby and Constanzo's other surviving cohorts were tried and convicted for the murders at Rancho Santa Elena.
Monday, March 12, 2012
On March 12, 1969, the London drug squad appears at house of George Harrison and Pattie Boyd with a warrant and drug-sniffing canines. Boyd immediately used the direct hotline to Beatles headquarters and George returned to find his home turned upside down. He is reported to have told the officers "You needn't have turned the whole bloody place upside down. All you had to do was ask me and I would have shown you where I keep everything."
Without his assistance, the constables, including Sergeant Pilcher who had directed the drug-related arrest of John Lennon the previous year, had already found a considerable amount of hashish. Harrison and Boyd were arrested and as they were being escorted to the police station, a photographer began shooting pictures of the famous couple. Harrison chased after the photographer, with the cops trailing right behind him down the London street. Finally, the man dropped his camera and George stomped on it before the officers subdued him.
Harrison and his model wife, who missed Paul and Linda McCartney's wedding that same day because of the arrest, were released on bail. A few weeks later, Harrison and Boyd were allowed to plead guilty. Despite the rather prodigious amount of hash recovered from their home, the authorities were satisfied that it was all for their personal use. They were fined 250 pounds each, and even had a confiscated pipe returned to them. Ten years later, Boyd married guitarist Eric Clapton and Harrison sang and played at their wedding. Sergeant Pilcher, the man behind the raid, was convicted of planting drugs in other cases and went to jail in 1972.George Harrison died in November 2001 after a struggle with cancer.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
On this day in 1989, COPS, a documentary-style television series that follows police officers and sheriff's deputies as they go about their jobs, debuts on Fox. COPS went on to become one of the longest-running shows in television history. The show, which was created by John Langley and Malcolm Barbour, was a pioneer in reality television. Crews with camcorders followed law enforcement officers on patrol, tracking down suspects and making arrests. The show was unscripted, which worked in Langley and Barbour's favor when they pitched the original concept to Fox: At the time, there was a writers' strike in Hollywood, and the network needed new programming that wouldn't require writers. In 1989, the debut episode of COPS featured the men and women of the Broward County Sheriff's Department in Florida. The show has aired nearly 1,000 episodes and filmed in 140 U.S. cities, as well as international locations including London and Hong Kong. With its widely recognized theme song, "Bad Boys" by the reggae group Inner Circle, COPS had spawned numerous imitators in addition to parody shows
Friday, March 9, 2012
Christopher George Latore Wallace, better known as the rapper Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls was born on May 21, 1972 in New York, New York. When Wallace released his debut album Ready to Die in 1994, he became a central figure in the East Coast hip-hop scene and increased New York's visibility at a time when West Coast artists were more common in the mainstream. The following year, Wallace led his childhood friends to chart success through his protégé group, Junior M.A.F.I.A. While recording his second album, Wallace was heavily involved in the East Coast/ West Coast feud, dominating the scene at the time. On March 9, 1997, Wallace was killed by an unknown assailant in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles. His double-disc set Life After Death, released 15 days later, hit #1 on the U.S. album charts and was certified Diamond in 2000 (one of the few hip hop albums to receive this certification). Since his death, a further two albums have been released. His ashes were given to family and final disposition is unknown.
The Onion Field Murder (1963)
On the night of March 9, 1963, LAPD officers Ian Campbell and Karl Hettinger pulled over a car containing two suspicious-looking men on a Hollywood street. The two men, Gregory Ulas Powell and Jimmy Lee Smith (aka "Jimmy Youngblood"), had recently committed a string of robberies. Powell, the driver, pulled a gun on Campbell and ordered Hettinger to surrender his gun to Smith. The two officers were then forced into Powell's car and driven north from Los Angeles to an onion field near Bakersfield where Campbell was fatally shot. Hettinger was able to escape, running nearly four miles to reach a farmhouse. The killing occurred primarily because Powell assumed that the kidnapping of the officers alone already constituted a capital crime under the state's Little Lindbergh Law. However, Powell's interpretation was incorrect, as under the Little Lindbergh Law kidnapping became a capital crime only if the victim was harmed. Powell was arrested on the night of the murder. The following day, Smith was apprehended as well. The lead LAPD investigator on the case was Sergeant Pierce Brooks. Both suspects, convicted of murder and sentenced to death, ultimately received life-imprisonment sentences following a second trial for each, several appeals and a California court decision that found California's death penalty to be cruel and unusual punishment.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
On March 7, 2002, the defense rested in the trial of Andrea Yates, a 37-year-old Texas woman who confessed to killing her five young children by drowning them in a bathtub. Less than a week later, on March 13, 2002, Yates was convicted and sentenced to life in prison; however, her conviction was later reversed.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
On the late winter night of March 6, 1873, Louis Wagner travelled to Smuttynose, an island about ten miles off of the coast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He was searching for $600 he thought was being saved by residents to buy a schooner. Wagner stole a rowboat and made his way to Smuttynose, arriving around 11 p.m. He broke into the home of Karen Anne Christensen and Anethe Christensen in hopes of robbing them of their money but found nothing.
In a fit of rage he hacked the sisters to death with an axe. Arrested the next night by Boston police on a description provided by Portsmouth authorities, Wagner was publicly derided and even stoned when he returned to Portsmouth the next morning. During his trial in Alfred, Maine, the most damning piece of evidence was a white button belonging to Karen that was in Wagner's possession when he was arrested. The jury took only 55 minutes and returned a verdict of guilty for first degree murder. A series of reprieves followed, but Wagner joined another convicted murderer on the gallows at Thomaston State Prison June 25, 1875. He professed his innocence up to the moment he died, and many had come to believe him. No positive evidence has been uncovered to support Wagner's contention. The murders have been the subject of many books and poems. They include, The Weight Of Water by Anita Shreve, Ballad Of Louis Wagner by John Parrault, and A Memorable Murder by Celia Thaxter. There is also a movie in the works by director Oliver Stone.
Monday, March 5, 2012
John Schrank and the failed assassination of Theodore Roosevelt and John Adams the last surviving mutineer of the HMS Bounty
During a stop in Milwaukee on his 1912 "Bull Moose" campaign for the presidency, former President Theodore Roosevelt was shot at close range by John Schrank (was born on March 5, 1876 in Germany), a psychotic New York saloonkeeper. Schrank had his .38 caliber pistol aimed at Roosevelt's head, but a bystander saw the gun and deflected Schrank's arm just as the trigger was pulled. Roosevelt did not realize he was hit until someone noticed a hole in his overcoat. When Roosevelt reached inside his coat, he found blood on his fingers. Roosevelt was extremely lucky. He had the manuscript of a speech in his coat pocket, folded in two, and the bullet was slowed as it passed through it. He also had a steel spectacle case in his pocket, and the bullet deflected off of it, before entering Roosevelt's chest.
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Thursday, March 1, 2012
On March 1, 1932, Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped. The toddler, 18 months old at the time, was abducted from his family home in East Amwell, New Jersey on the evening of March 1, 1932. Over two months later, on May 12, 1932, his body was discovered a short distance from the Lindbergh’s home. A medical examination determined that the cause of death was a massive skull fracture. After an investigation that lasted more than two years, Bruno Richard Hauptmann was arrested and charged with the crime. In a trial that was held from January 2 to February 13, 1935, Hauptmann was found guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced to death. He was executed at the New Jersey State Prison on April 3, 1936 and Hauptmann proclaimed his innocence to the end.