This week (February 16-22) in crime history – Old west gunslinger John Wesley Hardin was released from prison (February 16, 1894); Union leaders are arrested in connection with the assassination of former Idaho governor Frank Steuenberg (February 17, 1906); Arsonists sets fire to South Korean subway train killing nearly 200 (February 18, 2003); Green River Killer Gary Leon Ridgway pleaded guilty to killing his 49th victim (February 18, 2011); Murder of rancher John Tunstall ignited the Lincoln County War (February 18, 1878); Former U.S. Vice-President Aaron Burr was arrested for treason (February 19, 1807); Chicago Seven were sentenced for inciting riots during the 1968 Democratic National Convention (February 19, 1970); Reg Murphy, editor of The Atlanta Constitution was kidnapped (February 20, 1974); Malcolm X was assassinated (February 21, 1965); Double agent Aldrich Ames was arrested for leaking secrets to the Soviet Union (February 21, 1994); The Securitas Bank depot in Kent, England was robbed of 53 million pounds (February 22, 2006).
Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -
On February 16, 1894, old west gunslinger John Wesley Hardin was pardoned and released from a Texas prison after spending 15 years in custody for murder. Hardin, who was reputed to have shot and killed a man just for snoring, was 41 years old at the time of his release. During his lifetime, Hardin probably killed in excess of 40 people beginning in 1868. When he was only 15, he killed an ex-slave in a fight and became a wanted fugitive. Two years later, he was arrested for murder in Waco, Texas. Although it was actually one of the few he had not committed, Hardin did not want to run the risk of being convicted and fled to Abilene, Kansas. Luckily for him Abilene was run by a good friend, Wild Bill Hickok. However, one night Hardin was disturbed by the snoring in an adjacent hotel room and fired two shots through the wall, killing the man. Fearing that not even Wild Bill would stand for such a senseless crime, Hardin moved on again.
On May 26, 1874, Hardin was celebrating his 21st birthday when he got into an altercation with a man who fired the first shot. Hardin fired back and killed the man. A few years later, Hardin was tracked down in Florida and brought to trial. Because it was one of the more defensible shootings on Hardin's record, he was spared the gallows and given a life sentence. After his pardon, he moved to El Paso and became a successful attorney. But his past eventually caught up with him, and on the night of August 19, 1895 he was shot in the back of the head by former outlaw and Constable John Selman Sr., as revenge for a petty argument.
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Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning true crime book, 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: