Monday, October 27, 2014

Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India was Assassinated - October 31, 1984

This week (October 27-November 2) in crime history – Mob boss John Gotti was born (October 27, 1940); Legendary Rock n’ Roll icon Chuck Berry goes on trial for Mann Act violations (October 28, 1961); Dominick Dunne was born (October 29, 1925); President William McKinley’s assassin was excecuted (October 29, 1901); Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister if India was assassinated (October 31, 1984); President Harry Truman escapes assassination attempt (November 1, 1950); President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam was assassinated (November 2, 1963). 

Highlighted Crime of the Week – 

On October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, was assassinated in New Delhi by two of her own bodyguards. Beant Singh and Satwant Singh, both Sikhs, emptied their guns into Gandhi as she walked to her office from an adjoining bungalow. Although the two assailants immediately surrendered, they were both shot in a subsequent scuffle, and Beant died.  

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, attempted to forge a unified nation out of the many religious, ethnic, and cultural factions that existed under British rule until 1949. His daughter, Indira Gandhi (no relation to Mohandas Gandhi), rose to power in 1966, fighting many of the same problems as her father had. Her own political career was a roller coaster, from the highs following India's victory over Pakistan in 1971 to the lows of being thrown out of office in 1977 after declaring a state of emergency in 1975, during which time she suspended civil liberties and jailed her political opponents. Although many criticized her for being authoritarian, the majority of the population supported her because of her extensive social programs. 

In 1980, Gandhi became prime minister again, enjoying fairly widespread popularity. However, in June 1984, she ordered an army raid on a Sikh temple in Punjab to flush out armed Sikh extremists, setting off a series of death threats. Due to the fear of assassination, Beant Singh, her longtime bodyguard, was to be transferred because he was a Sikh. However, Gandhi personally rescinded the transfer order because she trusted him after his many years of service. Obviously, this was a fatal mistake for both of them. Satwant Singh, who survived to stand trial, was convicted in 1986 and executed in 1989. Following Gandhi's assassination, riots broke out in New Delhi. More than 1,000 innocent Sikhs were killed in indiscriminate attacks over the course of two days. Gandhi's son, Rajiv, succeeded her as prime minister.

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for and is the author of numerous books that include the award winning, Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 (2012, Schiffer Publishing). The book was the WINNER of the 2012 International Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards for True Crime.  Visit the author's website for more information:    

The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:   

Monday, October 20, 2014

Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd was Killed by FBI Agents (October 22, 1934)

This week (October 20-26) in crime history – Members of the rap group 2 Live Crew were acquitted of obscenity charges (October 20, 1990); Pretty Boy Floyd was killed by FBI agents (October 22, 1934); Dr. Barnett Slepian was shot to death by anti-abortion radicals (October 23, 1998); Chenchen rebels take 700 hostages at Moscow theater (October 23, 2002); Marv Albert was sentenced for infamous biting assault case (October 24, 1997); Susan Smith falsely claimed she was carjacked to cover-up murder of her two children (October 25, 1994); Former Secretary of Interior Albert Fall was found guilty of bribery in the Teapot Dome scandal (October 25, 1929); Shootout at the OK Corral (October 26, 1881) 

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -  

On October 22, 1934, Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd was shot and killed by FBI agents in a cornfield in East Liverpool, Ohio. Floyd, who had been a hotly pursued fugitive for four years, used his last breath to deny his involvement in the infamous Kansas City Massacre, in which four officers were shot to death at a train station. He died shortly thereafter. Floyd grew up in a small town in Oklahoma. When it became impossible to operate a small farm in the drought conditions of the late 1920s, Floyd tried his hand at bank robbery. He soon found himself in a Missouri prison for robbing a St. Louis payroll delivery. After being paroled in 1929, he learned that Jim Mills had shot his father to death. Since Mills, who had been acquitted of the charges, was never heard from or seen again, Floyd was believed to have killed him. 

Moving on to Kansas City, Floyd got mixed up with the city's burgeoning criminal community. A local prostitute gave Floyd the nickname "Pretty Boy," which he hated. Along with a couple of friends he had met in prison, he robbed several banks in Missouri and Ohio, but was eventually caught in Ohio and sentenced to 12-15 years. On the way to prison, Floyd kicked out a window and jumped from the speeding train. He made it to Toledo, where he hooked up with Bill "The Killer" Miller. The two went on a crime spree across several states until Miller was killed in a spectacular firefight in Bowling Green, Ohio, in 1931. Once he was back in Kansas City, Floyd killed a federal agent during a raid and became a nationally known crime figure. This time he escaped to the backwoods of Oklahoma. The locals there, reeling from the Depression, were not about to turn in an Oklahoma native for robbing banks. Floyd became a Robin Hood-type figure, staying one step ahead of the law.  

However, not everyone was so enamored with "Pretty Boy." Oklahoma's governor issued a $6,000 bounty for his arrest. On June 17, 1933, when law enforcement officials were ambushed by a machine-gun attack in a Kansas City train station while transporting criminal Frank Nash to prison, Floyd's notoriety grew even more. Although it was not clear whether or not Floyd was responsible, both the FBI and the nation's press pegged the crime on him. As a result, pressure was stepped up to capture the illustrious fugitive, and the FBI finally got their man in October 1934.

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for and is the author of numerous books that include the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website for more information. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Al Capone was Sentenced to Prison for Tax Evasion (October 17, 1931)

This week (October 13-19) in crime history – Palestinian terrorists hijacked a Lufthansa airliner (October 13, 1977); Amityville murder trial began (October 14, 1975); Pierre Laval, the Vichy leader of Nazi-occupied France was executed (October 15, 1945); Exotic dancer turned spy, Mata Hari was executed (October 15, 1917); Mass shooting at Luby’s Cafeteria in Kileen, Texas (October 16, 1991); Ten high ranking Nazi officials were executed at Nuremberg (October 16, 1946); Al Capone was sentenced to prison for tax evasion (October 17, 1931); John Lennon and Yoko Ono were arrested for drug possession (October 18, 1968); John DeLorean was arrested for drug dealing (October 19, 1982). 

Highlighted Crime of the Week - 

On October 17, 1931, mob boss Al Capone was sentenced to 11 years in prison for tax evasion and fined $80,000, signaling the downfall of one of the most notorious criminals of the 20th century. Alphonse Gabriel Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1899 to Italian immigrants. He was expelled from school at 14, joined a gang and earned his nickname "Scarface" after being sliced across the cheek during a fight. By 1920, Capone had moved to Chicago, where he was soon helping to run crime boss Johnny Torrio's illegal enterprises, which included alcohol-smuggling, gambling and prostitution. Torrio retired in 1925 after an attempt on his life and Capone, known for his cunning and brutality, was put in charge of the organization. 

Prohibition, which outlawed the brewing and distribution of alcohol and lasted from 1920 to 1933, proved extremely lucrative for bootleggers and gangsters like Capone, who raked in millions from his underworld activities. Capone was at the top of the F.B.I.'s "Most Wanted" list by 1930, but he avoided long stints in jail until 1931 by bribing city officials, intimidating witnesses and maintaining various hideouts. He became Chicago's crime kingpin by wiping out his competitors through a series of gangland battles and slayings, including the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929, when Capone's men gunned down seven rivals. This event helped raise Capone's notoriety to a national level. 

Among Capone's enemies was federal agent Elliot Ness, who led a team of officers known as "The Untouchables" because they couldn't be corrupted. Ness and his men routinely broke up Capone's bootlegging businesses, but it was tax-evasion charges that finally stuck and landed Capone in prison in 1931. Capone began serving his time at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta, but amid accusations that he was manipulating the system and receiving cushy treatment, he was transferred to the maximum-security lockup at Alcatraz Island, in California's San Francisco Bay. He was released in 1939 for good behavior, after spending his final year in prison in a hospital, suffering from syphilis. Plagued by health problems for the rest of his life, Capone died in 1947 at age 48 at his home in Palm Island, Florida.

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for and is the author of numerous award winning books that includes Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website for more information. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: 

Monday, October 6, 2014

USS Cole was Attacked by Terrorists (October 12, 2000)

This week (October 6-12) in crime history - Anwar Sadat was assassinated (October 6, 1981); First train robbery in the United States (October 6, 1866); Luxury cruise shop Achille Lauro was hijacked (October 7, 1985); Mobster Roger “The Terrible” Touhy escaped from an Illinois prison (October 9, 1942); Mass shooting the Ridgeway, New Jersey post office (October 10, 1991); Vice President Sprio Agnew resigned (October 10, 1973); USS Cole was attacked by terrorists (October 12, 2000); Terrorist bombs kill 200 in Bali (October 12, 2000). 

Highlighted Crime of the Week – 

On October 12, 2000, a motorized rubber dinghy loaded with explosives blows a 40-by-40-foot hole in the port side of the USS Cole, a U.S. Navy destroyer that was refueling at Aden, Yemen. Seventeen sailors were killed and 38 wounded in the attack, which was carried out by two suicide terrorists alleged to be members of Saudi exile Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network. 

The Cole had come to Aden at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula to refuel on its way to join U.S. warships that were enforcing the trade sanctions against Iraq. It was scheduled to remain in the port for just four hours, indicating that the terrorists had precise information about the destroyer's unannounced visit to the Aden fueling station. The terrorists' small boat joined a group of harbor ships aiding the Cole moor at a refueling, and they succeeded in reaching the U.S. warship unchallenged. Their dinghy then exploded in a massive explosion that ripped through the Cole's port side, badly damaging the engine room and adjoining mess and living quarters. Witnesses on the Cole said both terrorists stood up in the moment before the blast.

The explosion caused extensive flooding in the warship, causing the ship to list slightly, but by the evening crew members had managed to stop the flooding and keep the Cole afloat. In the aftermath of the attack, President Bill Clinton ordered American ships in the Persian Gulf to leave port and head to open waters. A large team of U.S. investigators was immediately sent to Aden to investigate the incident, including a group of FBI agents who were focused exclusively on possible links to Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden had been formally charged in the U.S. with masterminding the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. Six men believed to be involved in the Cole attack were soon arrested in Yemen. Lacking cooperation by Yemeni authorities, the FBI has failed to conclusively link the attack to bin Laden.

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for and is the author of numerous books that includes the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website for more information. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link.