Monday, December 14, 2015

Lynette Squeaky Fromme was Sentenced for Attempting to Assassinate Presdient Ford (December 17, 1975)

This week (December 14-20) in crime history – Mass shooting at Newtown, Connecticut elementary school (December 14, 2012); Nazi Adolf Eichmann was sentenced to death for war crimes (December 15, 1961); Federal Judge Robert Vance was killed by terrorist bomb (December 16, 1989); Lynette Squeaky Fromme was sentenced for attempting to assassinate President Ford (December 17, 1975); The Howard Beach hate crime (December 20, 1986)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -


On December 17, 1975, a federal jury in Sacramento, California, sentenced Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, to life in prison for her attempted assassination of President Gerald R. Ford. On September 5, a Secret Service agent wrestled a semi-automatic .45-caliber pistol from Fromme, who brandished the weapon at the President as he walked through the grounds of the California State Capitol in Sacramento. Fromme, was a follower of convicted murderer Charles Manson.

Seventeen days later, Ford escaped injury in another assassination attempt when 45-year-old Sara Jane Moore fired a revolver at him as he left the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Moore, a leftist radical who once served as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a history of mental illness. She was arrested at the scene, convicted, and also sentenced to life in prison.

In trial, Fromme pleaded not guilty to the “attempted assassination of a president” charge, arguing that although her gun contained bullets, it had not been cocked, and therefore she had not actually intended to shoot the president. She was convicted, sentenced to life in prison, and sent to the Alderson Federal Correctional Institution in West Virginia.

Fromme remained a dedicated disciple of Charles Manson and in December 1987 escaped from Alderson Prison after she heard that Manson, also imprisoned, had cancer. After 40 hours roaming the rugged West Virginia hills, she was caught on Christmas Day, about two miles from the prison. Five years were added to her life sentence for the escape. She was eventually released on parole in August 2009.

Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com as is the author of seven nonfiction books that includes the soon to be released In the Company of Evil Thirty Years of California Crime, 1950-1980 and 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 books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:


http://www.amazon.com/Company-Thirty-Years-California-1950-1980/dp/076435003X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1450114401&sr=8-2&keywords=michael+thomas+barry


http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Mayhem-Shocked-California-1849-1949/dp/0764339680/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1450114401&sr=8-1&keywords=michael+thomas+barry

Monday, December 7, 2015

Bernie Madoff was Arrested and Charged with Investment Fraud (December 11, 2008)

This week (December 7-13) in crime history – Colin Ferguson killed six and wounded 19 on a Long Island commuter train (December 7, 1993); First execution by lethal injection in Texas (December 7, 1982); John Lennon was murdered (December 8, 1980); Frank Sinatra Jr., was kidnapped in Lake Tahoe (December 10, 1963); Bernie Madoff was arrested (December 11, 2008); Singer Sam Cooke was shot to death (December 11, 1964); Leona Helmsely was sentenced for tax evasion (December 12, 1989); Texas Seven prison break (December 13, 2000)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -


On December 11, 2008, Bernard Madoff was arrested at his New York City apartment and charged with masterminding a long-running Ponzi scheme later estimated to involve around $65 billion, making it one of the biggest investment frauds in Wall Street history.

Madoff, who was born in Queens, New York, in 1938, founded a small trading firm bearing his name in 1960. The business was established, in part, with money he earned working as a lifeguard. Two decades later, Madoff’s firm, which helped revolutionize the way stocks are traded, had grown into one of the largest independent trading operations in the securities industry, and he and his family lived a life of luxury, owning multiple homes, boats and expensive artwork and jewelry.

Based on the success of his legitimate operations, Madoff launched an investment-advisory business as part of his firm, and it was this business that by the 1990s had become a Ponzi scheme, in which he paid his earlier investors with funds received from more recent investors. For years, clients of this business were sent account statements showing consistently high and fraudulent returns. Potential new customers clamored for Madoff to invest their money. However, in 2008, with the U.S. economy in crisis, Madoff’s financial swindle began to fall apart as his clients took money out faster than he could bring in fresh cash.

On December 10, 2008, Madoff revealed to his brother and two sons, who worked for the legitimate arm of his firm, that his investment-advisory business was a fraud and nearly bankrupt. Madoff’s sons turned in their father to federal authorities, who arrested him the next day. Madoff was freed on $10 million bail, and placed under 24-hour house arrest at his penthouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

The fallout from Madoff’s scam was widespread: The victims included everyone from his wealthy country-club acquaintances, Hollywood celebrities, banks and hedge funds to universities, charities and ordinary individual investors, some of whom lost their life savings. The charitable foundation of Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel lost more than $15 million, and Wiesel also lost his personal savings. Public outrage was further stoked when it was revealed that since the late 1990s a private financial fraud investigator, Harry Markopolos, had repeatedly warned the Securities and Exchange Commission about his suspicion that Madoff was operating a massive investment scam.

On March 12, 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to the 11 felony counts against him, including securities fraud, money laundering and perjury. On June 29 of that year, a federal district court judge in Manhattan sentenced Madoff to 150 years behind bars, calling his actions “extraordinary evil.”

On December 11, 2010, the second anniversary of Madoff’s arrest, his 46-year-old son Mark was found dead in his Manhattan apartment after committing suicide. Bernard Madoff, who is serving his sentence at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina, has maintained that his family members knew nothing about his crimes and although they have faced intense scrutiny, none have been charged with any wrongdoing. Several of Madoff’s former employees, including his accountant and chief financial officer, have pleaded guilty in connection with the long-running fraud.

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 seven nonfiction books that include the soon to be released In the Company of Evil Thirty Years of California Crime, 1950-1980 and 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 books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:


http://www.amazon.com/Company-Thirty-Years-California-1950-1980/dp/076435003X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1449509523&sr=8-2&keywords=michael+thomas+barry


http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Mayhem-Shocked-California-1849-1949/dp/0764339680/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1449509523&sr=8-1&keywords=michael+thomas+barry

Monday, November 23, 2015

Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer was Murdered in Prison (November 28, 1994)

This week (November 23-29) in crime history – Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz was released from solitary confinement (November 23, 1959); Billy the Kid was born (November 23, 1859); Ira member Thomas McMahon was sentenced for murdering Lord Louis Mountbatten (November 23, 1979); Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald (November 24, 1963); Author and IRA member Robert Erskine Childers was executed (November 24, 1922); Vigilantes storm a jail in San Jose, California and lynched two murder suspects (November 26, 1933); San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk were murdered (November 27, 1978); Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was murdered in prison (November 28, 1994); Conrad Murray was sentenced in Michael Jackson death case (November 29, 2011); President Lyndon Johnson established the Warren Commission (November 29, 1963)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -
 
 
On November 28, 1994, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who was serving 15 consecutive life sentences for the brutal murders of 15 men, was beaten to death by a fellow inmate while performing cleaning duty in a bathroom at the Columbia Correctional Institute gymnasium in Portage, Wisconsin.

During a 13-year period, Dahmer, who lived primarily in the Midwest, murdered at least 17 men. Most of these men were young, gay African Americans who Dahmer lured back to his home, promising to pay them money to pose nude for photographs. Dahmer would then drug and strangle them to death, generally mutilating, and occasionally cannibalizing, their bodies. Dahmer was finally arrested on July 22, 1991, and entered a plea of guilty but insane in 15 of the 17 murders he confessed to committing. In February 1992, the jury found him sane in each murder, and he was sentenced to 15 consecutive life sentences.

Two years later, Dahmer was killed at the age of 34 by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver, who also fatally beat the third man on their work detail, inmate Jesse Anderson. Scarver’s motive in killing the two men is not entirely clear; however, in his subsequent criminal trial he maintained that God told him to kill Dahmer and the other inmate. Scarver, already serving a life term for murder, was sentenced to additional life terms and transferred to a federal prison.

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 seven nonfiction books that includes the soon to be released In the Company of Evil – Thirty Years of California Crime, 1950-1980 and 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 books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:
 
 
 
 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Patty Hearst was Released on Bail Pending Appeal of Conviction (November 19, 1976)

This week (November 16-22) in crime history – Serial killer Ed Gein murdered his final victim (November 16, 1957); Washington DC sniper John Muhammad was convicted (November 17, 2004); Socialite Barbara Baekeland was murdered by her son (November 17, 1972); Murder and mass suicide at Jonestown (November 18, 1978); Patty Hearst was released on bail following conviction on bank robbery charges (November 19, 1976); Nazi war crimes trial began in Nuremburg (November 20, 1945); Oliver North shredded documents related to the Iran Contra scandal (November 21, 1986); President John F. Kennedy was assassinated (November 22, 1963)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -
 
 
On November 19, 1976, Patty Hearst, granddaughter of the legendary publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, was released on bail pending the appeal of her conviction for participating in a 1974 San Francisco bank robbery that was caught on camera.

Hearst’s ordeal began on the night of February 4, 1974, when, as a 19-year-old college student, she was kidnapped from her Berkeley, California, apartment by armed gunmen. The kidnappers, members of a political terrorist group called the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), beat Hearst’s fiancĂ© and drove off with the heiress in the trunk of their car to a hideout near San Francisco.

The kidnappers demanded the release of two SLA members in prison for murder, a request that was denied, and called for Hearst’s family to donate millions of dollars to feed the poor. The Hearst’s eventually established a program called People in Need to distribute $2 million worth of food, but negotiations with the SLA deteriorated after the group demanded additional millions for PIN.

After being abducted, Patricia Hearst was locked in a closet by her captors for two months and subjected to mental and physical abuse. As a result, she later claimed, she was brainwashed into becoming an SLA member, adopting the name Tania and renouncing her family.

In April 1974, the SLA robbed the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco and surveillance videotape captured Hearst holding a gun. In May of that same year, six SLA members, including the group’s leader Donald DeFreeze (who called himself Field Marshall Cinque), were killed when their house went up in flames during a shootout with police in Los Angeles that was broadcast on live television. Hearst, along with several other SLA members not in the house at the time, remained on the run for another year.

Law enforcement finally caught up with Hearst in September 1975 in San Francisco, where she was arrested and charged with armed robbery and use of a firearm during a felony, in connection with the Hibernia Bank heist. When authorities asked her occupation, Hearst famously replied “urban guerilla.” During her widely publicized trial, Hearst’s famous defense attorney, F. Lee Bailey, claimed she’d been brainwashed and made to believe she’d be killed if she didn’t comply with her captors and go along with their criminal activities. However, in March 1976, a jury found her guilty of armed robbery and she was sentenced to seven years in prison. In November of that year she was released on bail while lawyers tried to appeal her conviction, but the appeal was later denied and Hearst went back to prison.

Hearst spent almost two years behind bars before her sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. Shortly thereafter, she married Bernard Shaw, her former bodyguard, and went on to raise a family in Connecticut. She later became a writer and actress. In 2001, President Bill Clinton granted Hearst a presidential pardon.

Check back every Monday for new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of seven nonfiction books that includes the soon to be released In the Company of Evil Thirty Years of California Crime, 1950-1980 and 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 books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:
 
 
 
 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Death House of Sacramento: Dorothea Puente (November 11, 1988)

This week (November 9-15) in crime history – John List murdered his family then disappeared (November 9, 1971); Louise Woodward, a British au pair had her murder conviction reduced to manslaughter (November 10, 1997); Corpse is unearthed at elder care home owned by Dorothea Puente (November 11, 1988); Scott Peterson was convicted of the murder of his wife and unborn child (November 12, 2004); FBI agents searched the home of suspected United Airlines bombing suspect John Graham (November 13, 1955); Ivan Boesky confessed to insider trading (November 14, 1986); James Montgomery was accused of raping a mentally disabled white woman in Illinois (November 15, 1923)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -
 
 
On November 11, 1988, police unearth a corpse buried in the lawn of 59-year-old Dorothea Puente’s home in Sacramento, California. Puente operated a residential home for elderly people, and an investigation led to the discovery of six more bodies buried on her property.

Puente was a diagnosed schizophrenic who had already been in trouble with the law. She had previously served prison time for check forgery, as well as drugging and robbing people she met in bars. After her release, she opened a boarding house for elderly people. Beginning in 1986, social worker Peggy Nickerson sent 19 clients to Puente’s home. When some of the residents mysteriously disappeared, Nickerson grew suspicious. Puente’s neighbors, who reported the smell of rotting flesh emanating from her vicinity, validated Nickerson’s concern.

Although all the buried bodies were found to contain traces of the sedative Dalmane, the coroner was never able to identify an exact cause of death. Still, during a trial that lasted five months and included 3,100 exhibits, prosecutors were able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Puente had murdered her boarders, most likely to collect their Social Security checks. Though she was formally charged with nine counts of murder and convicted on three, authorities suspected that Puente might have been responsible for as many as 25 deaths. She died on March 27, 2011 at age 82 from natural causes at a California women’s prison facility in Chowchilla.

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 seven nonfiction books that includes the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked early California, 1849-1949 and the soon to be released In the Company of Evil Thirty Years of California Crime, 1950-1980. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:
 
 


Monday, November 2, 2015

Serial Killer Ted Bundy Botched an Abduction (November 8, 1974)

This week (November 2-8) in crime history – Gwendolyn Graham was sentenced for the murder of 5 nursing home residents in Michigan (November 2, 1989); South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem was assassinated (November 2, 1963); Serial killer Bobby Joe Long kidnapped his last victim (November 3, 1984); Black Bart robbed his last stagecoach (November 3, 1883); Notorious gambler Arnold Roth stein was murdered in New York City (November 4, 1928); Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated (November 4, 1995); US Army Major Nidal Hasan killed 13 in Fort Hood shooting spree (November 5, 2009); Shirley Allen was arrested for poisoning her husband (November 6, 1982); The Hendricks family was brutally murdered in Wisconsin (November 7, 1983); Serial killer Ted Bundy botched the abduction of Carol DaRonch in Utah (November 8, 1974)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -
 
 
On November 8, 1974, Salt Lake City, Utah, resident Carol DaRonch narrowly escaped being abducted by serial killer Ted Bundy. DaRonch had been shopping at a mall when a man claiming to be a police detective told her that there was an attempted theft of her car and she needed to file a police report. Despite her misgivings, DaRonch accompanied the man to his Volkswagen and got into the car. Once inside, he placed a handcuff on her and attempted to hit her with a crowbar, but DaRonch fought back and jumped out of the car to safety.

DaRonch’s attempted abduction was of special interest to the Utah authorities at the time, who were trying to figure out what had happened to several young women who disappeared earlier in the fall of 1974. Simultaneously, Seattle area officials were looking for a young man named Ted who was the suspected culprit in many murder cases.

On August 16, 1975, an officer noticed a suspicious Volkswagen driving around his patrol area. After pulling the vehicle over, he found handcuffs in the back of the automobile and arrested the driver–Ted Bundy. Following his arrest, Bundy was identified as the man who tried to kidnap DaRonch. In March 1976, he was convicted of aggravated kidnapping, which put him behind bars while investigators tried to connect him to the many unsolved murders in Washington, Colorado, and Utah.

On December 30, 1977, Bundy managed to escape from jail. A few months later, he was added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List, and on February 15, 1978, he was finally captured. He eventually confessed to the murders of 28 women, and was executed in Florida on January 24, 1989.

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 two true crime books that includes the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 and the soon to be released In the Company of Evil – Thirty Years of California Crime, 1950-1980. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:
 
 
 
 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Mob Boss John Gotti was Born (October 27, 1940)

This week (October 26 – November 1) in crime history – Betty Ferreri killed her abusive husband in Los Angeles (October 26, 1948); Mob boss John Gotti was born (October 27, 1940); Music legend Chuck Berry’s trial for violation of the Mann Act began (October 28, 1961); Crime novelist and journalist Dominic Dunne was born (October 29, 1925); Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India was assassinated (October 31, 1984); President Harry Truman escaped an assassination attempt (November 1, 1950)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -
 
 
On October 27, 1940, John Joseph Gotti, Jr., the future head of the Gambino crime family and a man later nicknamed “the Dapper Don” due to his polished appearance and expensive suits, was born in the Bronx, New York. Gotti, the grandson of Italian immigrants, was raised in a poor family with 13 children. Growing up, he did errands for mobsters in his East New York neighborhood, joined a gang called the Fulton-Rockaway Boys and quit school at age 16. He racked up a series of arrests for petty crimes, but escaped real jail time until 1968, when he pleaded guilty to hijacking trucks near New York’s Kennedy International Airport and received a three year sentence.

In 1974, Gotti was arrested for the revenge slaying of a man who had kidnapped and killed the nephew of crime family boss Carlo Gambino. He was sentenced to four years; however, as a result of bribes to prison officials, he was allowed out to visit his family and associates. After Gotti was officially released from prison in 1977, he was promoted to captain in the Bergin crew of the Gambino family, the nation’s biggest and most powerful organized crime group. In December 1985, Gotti grabbed control of the Gambino family after ordering the murder of then-boss Paul Castellano outside a Manhattan steak house.

In 1985, the federal government, which had been wiretapping Gotti and his associates, accumulated enough evidence to indict him on federal racketeering charges. The subsequent trial, in 1986, resulted in an acquittal for Gotti, who the media dubbed “the Teflon Don” for his ability to avoid conviction. The jury foreman in the case was later convicted of accepting a large bribe to vote for the mob boss’s acquittal.

As head of the Gambino family, Gotti’s swagger and colorful style made him a tabloid press favorite and he raked in millions of dollars from criminal activities, all the while claiming to be a hard-working plumbing salesman. Government wiretaps revealed that behind the showy public image, he was a ruthless figure who wouldn’t tolerate disrespect from anyone. In December 1990, Gotti and several associates were arrested on a variety of charges at the Ravenite Social Club in New York City’s Little Italy neighborhood. Mobster Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano eventually made a deal with the government to testify against his boss and in April 1992, a jury found Gotti guilty of 13 counts, including murder and racketeering. He was sent to the U.S. Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, where he was locked in a cell 23 hours a day. On June 10, 2002, John Gotti died of throat cancer at age 61 at a medical center for federal prisoners in Springfield, Missouri.

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 seven nonfiction books that includes the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 and In the Company of Evil Thirty Years of California Crime 1950-1980 (released in March 2016). Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:
 
 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Susan Smith Reported a Carjacking to Cover-up Murder (October 25, 1994)

This week (October 19-25) in crime history – John DeLorean was arrested for drug dealing (October 19, 1982); 2 Live Crew members were acquitted of obscenity charges (October 20, 1990); A bomb exploded at the LA Times building (October 21, 1910); Olympian Oscar Pistorius was sentenced for murdering his girlfriend (October 21, 2014); Pretty Boy Floyd was killed by FBI agents (October 22, 1934); Chechen rebels took hostages at Moscow theater (October 23, 2002); Marine barracks in Beruit was blown-up by suicide bomber (October 23, 1983); Marv Albert was charged with sexual assault (October 24, 1997); Susan Smith reported false carjacking to cover-up murder of her children (October 25, 1994)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -
 
 
On October 25, 1994, Susan Smith reported that she had been carjacked in South Carolina by a man who took her two small children in the backseat of her car. Although authorities immediately began searching for three-year-old Michael and one-year-old Alex, they could find no trace of them or of Smith’s car. After nine days of intense national media attention, Smith finally confessed that the carjacking tale was false and that she had driven her Mazda into the John D. Long Lake in order to drown her children.

Both Susan and her husband, David Smith, who had had multiple affairs during their on-and-off relationship, had used their children as pawns in their tempestuous marriage. Apparently, Susan was involved with another man who did not want children, and she thought that killing her children was the only way to continue the relationship.

Ironically, Smith’s murder came to light because she had covered her tracks too well. While believing that the car and children would be discovered in the lake shortly after the search was started, she never anticipated that the authorities might not be able to find the car. After living under the pressure of the media’s scrutiny day after day, Smith buckled. She was convicted on two counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison. In a book David Smith later wrote about the death of his children, Beyond All Reason, he expressed an ambiguous wish to see Susan on death row because he would never be able to relax and live a full life with her in prison.

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 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:
 
 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Joseph Harris "Goes Postal" in New Jersey (October 10, 1991)

This week (October 5 -11) in crime history – The Dalton gang attempted final bank robbery (October 5, 1892); Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated (October 6, 1981); The Reno brothers committed first train robbery in the U.S. (October 6, 1866); Terrorists hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro (October 7, 1985); Mobster Roger Touhy escaped from an Illinois prison (October 9, 1942); Former postal worker Joseph Harris goes on shooting rampage in New Jersey (October 10, 1991); Botched robbery of a Southern Pacific train in Oregon (October 11, 1923)

Highlighted Crime Story of the week -
 
 
On October 10. 1991, former U.S. postal worker Joseph Harris shot two former co-workers to death at the post office in Ridgewood, New Jersey. The night before, Harris had killed his former supervisor, Carol Ott, with a three-foot samurai sword, and shot her fiancĂ©, Cornelius Kasten, in their home. After a four-hour standoff with police at the post office, Harris was arrested. His violent outburst was one of several high-profile attacks by postal workers that resulted in the addition of the phrase “going postal” to the American dictionary.

Harris, who had a lifetime of psychiatric problems, was fired from his job in April 1990. Harboring a grudge against his ex-employer, he began to stockpile automatic weapons, grenades, and other weapons. Two years later, he learned that he had lost as much as $10,000 by investing it with broker Roy Edwards. Dressed in a black ninja costume, Harris entered Edwards’ Montville, New Jersey, home and handcuffed the family. After sexually assaulting Edwards’ wife and two daughters, he shot Edwards to death. Since hundreds of investors had lost money while dealing with Edwards, police never even considered Harris a suspect in his death until after the Ridgewood tragedy.

Arguing that he was insane, Harris’ lawyers said that he had told psychiatrists that he was driven by the “ninja spirit” to commit the crimes. In 1992, Harris was convicted of both the Montville and Ridgewood attacks and was sent to death row. But in September 1996, two days before a New Jersey State Supreme Court battle to overturn its death-penalty law was to start, he died of natural causes.

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 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:
 
 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Benedict Arnold Committed Treason (September 21, 1780)

This week (September 21-27) in crime history – Benedict Arnold committed treason (September 21, 1780); The Midtown Stabber claimed first victim (September 22, 1980); President Ford escaped second assassination attempt (September 22, 1975); Billy the Kid was arrested for first time (September 23, 1875); Chicago 7 trail began (September 24, 1969); Mobster Anthony Carfano was murdered (September 25, 1959); Mistrial was declared in Phil Spector murder trial (September 26, 2007)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -
 
 
On September 21, 1780, American General Benedict Arnold committed treason by meeting with British Major John Andre to discuss handing over West Point to the British, in return for the promise of a large sum of money and a high position in the British army. The plot was foiled and Arnold, a former American hero, became synonymous with the word “traitor.”

Arnold was born into a well-respected family in Norwich, Connecticut, on January 14, 1741. He apprenticed with an apothecary and was a member of the militia during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). He later became a successful trader and joined the Continental Army when the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775. During the war, Arnold proved himself a brave and skillful leader, helping Ethan Allen’s troops capture Fort Ticonderoga in 1775 and then participating in the unsuccessful attack on British Quebec later that year, which earned him a promotion to brigadier general. Arnold distinguished himself in campaigns at Lake Champlain, Ridgefield and Saratoga, and gained the support of George Washington. However, Arnold had enemies within the military and in 1777; five men of lesser rank were promoted over him. Over the course of the next few years, Arnold married for a second time and he and his new wife lived a lavish lifestyle in Philadelphia, accumulating substantial debt. The debt and the resentment Arnold felt over not being promoted faster were motivating factors in his choice to become a turncoat.

In 1780, Arnold was given command of West Point, an American fort on the Hudson River in New York (and future home of the U.S. military academy, established in 1802). Arnold contacted Sir Henry Clinton, head of the British forces, and proposed handing over West Point and his men. On September 21 of that year, Arnold met with Major John Andre and made his traitorous pact. However, the conspiracy was uncovered and Andre was captured and executed. Arnold, the former American patriot, fled to the enemy side and went on to lead British troops in Virginia and Connecticut. He later moved to England, though he never received all of what he’d been promised by the British. He died in London on June 14, 1801.

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 include 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:
 
 

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Lonely Hearts Killer was Executed (September 18, 1959)

This week (September 14-20) in crime history – President William McKinley succumbed to wounds suffered in assassination (September 14, 1901); Bomb explodes at Birmingham church killing four girls (September 15, 1963); Aaron Alexis kills a dozen people in shooting rampage at the Navy Yard in Washington D.C. (September 16, 2103); The Lonely Hearts Killer was executed (September 18, 1959); The Washington Post published the Unabomber’s manifesto (September 19, 1995); 16 members of an Amish group in Ohio were convicted of Federal hate crimes in beard cutting incident (September 20, 2012)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -
 
 
On September 18, 1959, Lonely Hearts killer, Harvey Glatman was executed in California’s gas chamber for murdering three young women in Los Angeles. Resisting all appeals to save his life, Glatman even wrote to the appeals board to say, “I only want to die.”

Glatman developed an obsession with rope as a young child and when his parents noticed that he was strangling himself on occasion, they took him to a doctor who told them that it was just a phase and that he would grow out of it. As a teenager, he threatened a girl with a toy gun in Colorado. Skipping bail, he made his way to New York, where he later spent several years in prison on robbery charges.

Following his release, Glatman moved to Colorado and then Los Angeles, opened a television repair shop and took up photography as a hobby. On August 1, 1957, he combined these two interests in a sinister way. On the pretense of a freelance modeling assignment, Glatman lured 19-year-old Judy Ann Dull to his apartment, where he raped her and then took photos of her, bound and gagged. He then drove her out to the desert east of Los Angeles and strangled her to death. By the time Dull’s body was found, there were no clues linking the crime to Glatman.

Back in Los Angeles, Glatman posted the pictures of Dull on his walls and became further obsessed with rape and murder. His next victim was Shirley Ann Bridgeford, whom he also strangled to death in the desert. In July 1958, Glatman struck again, following the same twisted procedure but in October, his luck ran out.

Lorraine Vigil, who answered one of Glatman’s modeling ads, was driving with him to his studio when she noticed that he was heading out of the city. She began to struggle with Glatman near an off ramp in south Orange County. Glatman pulled out a pistol and tried to tie her hands. After being shot through the hip, Vigil was able to wrestle the gun away from him. In the ensuing struggle, they both tumbled out of the car–just as a highway patrol officer drove past. Glatman was arrested and confessed to the three murders, seeming to delight in recounting his sadistic crimes. His trial lasted a mere three days before he was sent off to San Quentin to die.

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:
 
 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme Attempted to Assassinate President Ford (September 5, 1975)

This week (August 31 – September 6) in crime history – Jack the Ripper claimed first victim (August 31, 1888); Serial killer Richard Ramirez was captured (September 1, 1985); Former Vice-President Aaron Burr was acquitted of treason (September 1, 1807); United Nation court hands down first conviction in the Rwandan Genocide (September 2, 1998); Hostage crisis at Russian school ends in massacre (September 3, 2004); Terrorist take Israeli athletes hostage at Munich Olympics (September 5, 1972); Lynette “Squeaky Fromme” attempts to assassinate President Gerald Ford (September 5, 1975); Drew Peterson was convicted of murdering his third wife (September 6, 2012)

Highlighted crime story of the week -


On September 5, 1975, an assassination attempt in Sacramento, California against President Gerald Ford was foiled when a Secret Service agent snatches a semi-automatic .45-caliber pistol from Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, a follower of convicted murderer Charles Manson. Fromme was pointing the loaded gun at the president when the Secret Service agent grabbed it. Seventeen days later, Ford escaped injury in another assassination attempt when 45-year-old Sara Jane Moore fired a revolver at him. Moore, a leftist radical who once served as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a history of mental illness. She was arrested at the scene, convicted, and sentenced to life.

Fromme pleaded not guilty to the “attempted assassination of a president” charge, arguing that although her gun contained bullets it had not been cocked, and therefore she had not actually intended to shoot the president. She was eventually convicted, sentenced to life in prison, and sent to the Alderson Federal Correctional Institution in West Virginia. Fromme remained a dedicated disciple of Charles Manson and in December 1987 escaped from the Alderson Prison after she heard that Manson, also imprisoned, had cancer. After 40 hours roaming the rugged West Virginia hills, she was caught on Christmas Day, about two miles from the prison. Five years were added to her life sentence for the escape. She was paroled in August 2009 after serving 34 years behind bars.

Check back every Monday for anew 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:
 
 

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Menendez Brothers Murdered Their Parents (August 20, 1989)

This week (August 17-23) in crime history – Old West outlaw Billy the Kid killed his first victim (August 17, 1877); Seattle Juvenile Judge Gary Little committed suicide after being implicated in a sex scandal (August 18, 1988); The West Memphis Three were released from prison (August 19, 2011); The Menendez Brothers murdered their parents (August 20, 1989); Leon Trotsky was assassinated (August 20, 1940); Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” was stolen from the Louvre (August 21, 1911); The Barker gang killed a Federal Reserve agent in Chicago (August 22, 1933); Irish revolutionary Michael Collins was assassinated (August 22, 1922); Austrian teenager Natascha Kampusch escaped her kidnappers (August 23, 2006)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -


On August 20, 1989, Lyle and Erik Menendez shot their parents, Jose and Kitty, to death in the den of the family’s Beverly Hills, California, home. They then drove up to Mulholland Drive, where they dumped their shotguns before continuing to a local movie theater to buy tickets as an alibi. When the pair returned home, Lyle called 911. The Menendez murders became a national sensation when the new television network, Court TV, broadcast the trial in 1993.

Although the Menendez brothers were not immediately suspected, Erik couldn’t take the guilt and confessed his involvement to his psychotherapist, Dr. L. Jerome Oziel. Ignoring his own ethical responsibilities, Dr. Oziel taped the sessions with his new patient in an apparent attempt to impress his mistress but the woman ended up going to the police with her information and, in March 1990, Lyle, 22, and Erik, 19, were arrested.

For the next three years, a legal battle was fought over the admissibility of Dr. Oziel’s tapes. Finally, the California Supreme Court ruled that the tapes could be played. When the trial began in the summer of 1993, the Menendez brothers put on a spirited defense. In compelling testimony lasting over a month, they emotionally described years of sexual abuse by Jose and Kitty Menendez. They insisted that they had shot their parents in self-defense because they believed that Jose would kill them rather than have the abuse be exposed.

The first two juries (one for each brother) deadlocked, and a mistrial was declared. At the retrial, which began in October 1995, the judge was much more restrictive in allowing the defense attorneys to focus on the alleged sexual abuse. In March 1996, both Lyle and Erik were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

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:
 
 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Carol Bundy Confessed Role in Sunset Slayer Case (August 11, 1980)

This week (August 10-16) in crime history – The severed head of Adam Walsh, son of TV personality John Walsh was discovered (August 10, 1981); Carol Bundy confessed her role in the Sunset Slayer case (August 11, 1980); Alcatraz Federal Prison opened (August 11, 1934); Jonesboro School massacre shooter plead guilty (August 11, 1998); Yosemite Killer, Cary Stayner was born (August 13, 1961); Terrorist Carlos the Jackal was captured (August 14, 1994); Mary Winkle, who fatally shot her pastor husband was released from prison (August 15, 2006); Auto Executive John DeLorean was cleared of drug charges (August 16, 1984)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -


On August 11, 1980, Carol Bundy confessed her role in the Sunset Slayer case. The killer had been murdering and mutilating young women in Hollywood, California, all summer, to co-workers. Bundy, a nurse, told friends “I can’t take it anymore. I’m supposed to save lives, not take them.” Her confession was relayed to police, who immediately arrested Douglas Clark, Bundy’s boyfriend.

Bundy and Clark met in a North Hollywood bar in January, 1980. Clark was a self-described “king of the one-night stands.” But when he met Bundy, he soon discovered that she was willing to assist and indulge in his sick fantasies. Bundy began listening to his desire to kill. In June, Clark abducted two teenagers, sexually assaulted them, and then shot them in the head. He dumped their bodies off the freeway and then went home to brag about it to Bundy. Two weeks later, Clark struck again, killing two young women in separate incidents. In the second attack, Clark cut the head off the woman and took it home, insisting that Bundy apply cosmetics to it. Because most of his victims had been abducted from the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, the press dubbed the killer, the Sunset Slayer.

Clark proved to be more of an influence than Bundy expected. When she blabbed about Clark’s activities to a former boyfriend, she felt compelled to kill the man to make sure that she wasn’t implicated. On August 5, Bundy stabbed John Murray to death and then cut off his head. Within a week, she was tearfully confessing to her fellow nurses. During the trial in 1981, Clark tried to pin all of the murders on Bundy, but the jurors found his story hard to believe and sentenced him to death. Bundy attempted an insanity defense, but she eventually pleaded guilty and received a sentence of 52 years-to-life.

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:
 
 

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Manson Family Murders Began (August 9, 1969)

This week (August 3-9) in crime history – U.S. State Department official Alger Hiss was accused of spying for the Soviet Union (August 3, 1948); Lizzie Borden allegedly murdered her parents (August 4, 1892); Marie Noe was charged with killing her eight children (August 5, 1998); Mobster Dutch Schultz was born (August 6, 1902); Auburn prison in New York is first to use electric chair in execution (August 6, 1890); U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed (August 7, 1998); Actress Sharon Tate and four other were murdered (August 9, 1969)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -


On August 9, 1969, members of the Manson Family murdered five people at movie director Roman Polanski’s Benedict Canyon, California, home, including Polanski’s pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate. Two days later, the group killed again, murdering supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary in their home. The brutal killings shocked the nation and turned Charles Manson into a criminal icon.

Manson was born on November 12, 1934 in Cincinnati, Ohio, to an unwed 16-year-old mother. He spent much of his childhood in juvenile reformatories and his early adulthood in prison. After his release in 1967, Manson moved to the outskirts of Los Angeles and used his charisma to attract young girls and misfits to his commune, where drugs and orgies were common. Manson preached his own blend of eccentric religious teachings to his followers, who called themselves his “Family.” He told them a race war between blacks and whites was imminent and would result in great power for the Family. Manson said they should instigate the war by killing rich white people and trying to make it look like the work of blacks.

Roman Polanski was not the intended target on the night of the slayings. Manson, an aspiring musician, chose the Polanski house because he had once unsuccessfully tried to get a recording deal from a producer who used to live there. Polanski was out of town at the time of the murders, but his wife and her friends, including coffee heiress Abigail Folger, were shot or stabbed to death. Manson stayed out of the Polanski house on the night of the crime and didn’t take part in the LaBianca killings either. However, he would later be charged with murder on the grounds he had influenced his followers and masterminded the crimes.

After initially eluding police suspicion, Manson was arrested only after one of his followers, already in jail on a different charge, started bragging about what had happened. Manson’s subsequent trial became a national spectacle, in which he exhibited bizarre behavior. In 1971, he was convicted and given the death penalty; however, that sentence became life behind bars when the California Supreme Court overturned the death penalty in 1972 and remains in a California prison.

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:
 
 

Monday, July 20, 2015

John Dillinger was Killed (July 22, 1934)

This week (July 20-26) in crime history – Serial killer Alton Coleman and Debra Brown were captured in Illinois (July 20, 1984); James Holmes killed 12 and wounded 70 other at a Colorado movie theater (July 20, 2012); The Scopes Monkey Trial ends with a conviction (July 21, 1925); Terrorists attempted to bomb the London Transit system (July 21, 2005); The Preparedness Day Bombing (July 22, 1916); Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested (July 22, 1991); John Dillinger was killed (July 22, 1934); Notorious California bandit Black Bart robbed a Wells Fargo Stagecoach (July 23, 1878); Serial killer Della Sorenson killed her first victim (July 23, 1918); Writer O. Henry was released from prison (July 24, 1901); California outlaw Joaquin Murrieta was killed (July 25, 1853); Serial killer Ed Gein died (July 26, 1984)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -


On July 22, 1934, John Dillinger, America’s “Public Enemy No. 1″ was shot and killed by FBI agents outside of the Biograph Theater in Chicago. In a fiery bank-robbing career that lasted just over a year, Dillinger and his associates robbed nearly a dozen banks, broke out of jail, and killed seven police officers and three federal agents.

John Dillinger was born in 1903 in Indianapolis, Indiana. A juvenile delinquent, he was arrested in 1924 after a botched mugging. He pleaded guilty, hoping for clemency, but was sentenced to 10 to 20 years at Pendleton Reformatory. While in prison, he made several failed escapes and was adopted by a group of professional bank robbers led by Harry Pierpont, who taught him the ways of their trade. When his friends were transferred to Indiana’s tough Michigan City Prison, he requested to be transferred there as well.

In May 1933, Dillinger was paroled, and he met up with accomplices of Pierpont. Dillinger’s plan was to raise enough funds to finance a prison break by Pierpont and the others, who then would take him on as a member of their elite robbery gang. In four months, Dillinger and his gang robbed four Indiana and Ohio banks, two grocery stores, and a drug store for a total of more than $40,000. He gained notoriety as a sharply dressed and athletic gunman who at one bank leapt over the high teller railing into the vault.

With the help of two of Pierpont’s women friends, Dillinger set up the jailbreak. Guns were bought and arranged to be smuggled into Michigan City Prison. Prison workers were bribed, and a safe house was set up. On September 22, however, just days before the jailbreak was scheduled to occur, Dillinger was arrested in Dayton, Ohio. Four days later, Pierpont and nine others broke out of Michigan City. On October 12 Pierpont came to Ohio to free Dillinger in the process the Lima sheriff was killed. On October 30, the gang robbed a police arsenal, acquiring weapons, ammunition, and bulletproof vests.

The Pierpont/Dillinger gang robbed banks in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Chicago for more than $130,000, a great fortune in the Depression era, and eluded the police in several close encounters. In January 1934, the gang headed to Tucson, Arizona, to lay low. By this time, four police officers had been killed and two wounded, and the Chicago police had established an elite squad to track down the fugitives. They were recognized in Tucson and on January 25 captured without bloodshed.

Dillinger was extradited to Indiana, arraigned for his January 15 murder of Indiana police officer William Patrick O’Malley, and held at Crown Point prison. On March 3, while still awaiting trial, he executed his most celebrated escape. That morning, he brandished a gun and methodically began locking up the prison officials. The legend is that the weapon was a wooden gun carved by Dillinger and blackened with shoe polish, but it may also have been a real gun smuggled into the prison by an associate. Whatever the case, Dillinger raided the prison arsenal, where he found two sub-machine guns, and then enlisted the aid of another prisoner, an African American man named Herbert Youngblood. Dillinger and Youngblood then made their way to the prison garage, where they stole a sheriff’s car and calmly drove away.

Parting ways with Youngblood, Dillinger traveled to Chicago and formed a new gang featuring “Baby Face” Nelson, a psychopathic killer who used to work for Al Capone. The new Dillinger gang robbed banks in South Dakota and Iowa and wounded two more police officers. The Federal Bureau of Investigation joined the manhunt for Dillinger after he escaped from Crown Point, and on March 31 two FBI agents closed in on him at an apartment in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dillinger and an accomplice shot their way out.

In April, the Dillinger gang went to hide out at a resort in Wisconsin, but the FBI was tipped off. On April 22, the FBI stormed the resort. In a disastrous operation, three civilians were mistakenly shot by the FBI, one of whom died; Baby Face Nelson killed one agent, shot another, and critically wounded a police officer; the entire Dillinger gang escaped.

With two other gang members, Dillinger traveled to Chicago, surviving a shoot-out with Minnesota police along the way. In Chicago, he lived in a safe house and got a facelift to conceal his identity. At some point, he also used acid to burn off his fingerprints. On June 30, he participated in his last robbery, in South Bend, Indiana in which one officer was killed, four civilians shot, and one gang member shot.

In July, Anna Sage, a Romanian-born brothel madam in Chicago and friend of Dillinger’s, agreed to cooperate with the FBI in exchange for leniency in an upcoming deportation hearing. She also hoped to cash in on the $10,000 bounty that had been put on his head. On July 22, Sage and Dillinger went to see the gangster movie Manhattan Melodrama at the Biograph Theater. Twenty FBI agents and police officers staked out the theater and waited for him to emerge with Sage, who would be wearing an orange dress (not red as has been erroneously reported) to identify herself.

At 10:40 p.m., Dillinger came out. Sage’s orange dress looked red under the Biographs lights, which would earn her the nickname “the lady in red.” Dillinger was ordered to surrender, but he took off running. He made it as far as an alley at the end of the block before he was gunned down, allegedly because he pulled a gun. Two bystanders were wounded in the gunfire and Dillinger was dead.

Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.” Because I will be on vacation next week’s installment will be postponed.

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: