Sunday, February 23, 2020

TODAY IN CRIME: February 24

303: After consulting the oracle of Apollo, Emperor Diocletian issued the first official Roman edict for the persecution of Christians.

1387: King Charles III of Naples and Hungary died from an assassin’s wounds. The queen dowager of Hungary, Elizabeth of Bosnia, ordered the execution so her daughter Mary could resume the throne.

1868: The U.S. House of Representatives resolved to impeach President Andrew Johnson because he attempted to replace Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton without senate approval. The U.S. Senate later acquitted Johnson.

1875: The SS Gothenburg hit the Great Barrier Reef and sank off the east coast of Australia. Approximately 100 people were killed due to cyclone-like conditions and poor judgment in the wheelhouse.

1924: Mahatma Gandhi was released from jail after serving two years for sedition—protesting the British colonial government in India.

1945: Mahmoud El Essawy killed Egyptian Premier Ahmed Maher Pasha in Parliament after the premier declared war against the Axis powers and issued a fatwa against the Muslim Brotherhood.

1981: A Westchester county jury convicted Jean Harris of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Scarsdale diet doctor Herman Tarnower.

1984: A disturbed man named Tyrone Mitchell fired shots from the window of his home across the street from the 49th Street Elementary School in Los Angeles. He killed a student and a passerby and injured 12 others before killing himself during a standoff with police.

1988: The U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of Hustler  magazine that its parody ad of Rev. Jerry Falwell was protected speech.

1989: 12 people were killed and 40 wounded in Bombay when police fired at Muslims rioting against Salman Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses.

1996: The Cuban Air Force shot down two private civilian planes of "Brothers to the Rescue," an activist group that supports Cuban refugees. All four pilots were killed. The action taken by the Cuban government was universally condemned.

1999: The State of Arizona executed Karl LaGrand, a German national involved in a deadly armed robbery, in spite of Germany's appeal through the International Court of Justice to save him. Capital punishment is prohibited in Germany.

2019: Pope Francis ended a 4-day "Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church" attended by 190 church leaders promising more action and calling those who sexually abuse children "tools of Satan."

Sunday, February 16, 2020

TODAY IN CRIME: February 17

1600: With his "tongue imprisoned because of his wicked words," philosopher Giordano Bruno was stripped, hung upside down, and burned at the stake for heresy at Campo de' Fiori in Rome. Bruno advocated the Copernican theory.

1634: A Star Chamber sentenced Puritan pamphleteer William Prynne to life in prison for publishing Histrio Mastix: The Players Scourge, or, Actors tragoedie, a denunciation of the theatre that was interpreted as a slam against Queen Henrietta Maria, an occasional actress. He was also fined £5,000, deprived of his Oxford degree, expelled from Lincoln's Inn, his ears cut off, and pilloried.

1838: Zulu forces killed hundreds of Voortrekkers (Dutch settlers) along the Bloukrans River, Natal, Africa, in the Weenen massacre.

1865: Columbia, S.C., burned as the Confederates evacuated and Union forces moved in.

1880: Alexander II of Russia survived an assassination attempt by the "Will of the People," a revolutionary terrorist organization. A workman planted dynamite under the dining room floor during a remodeling of the Winter Palace. The night of the planned assassination, a late guest caused dinner to be postponed, so when the timer detonated, the family was just leaving the drawing room and escaped unharmed. Eleven members of the Finnish Guard in the Guard Room below the dining room were killed, however. The explosion could be heard all over St. Petersburg.

1964: Military personal toppled Gabonese president Léon M'ba and installed his political rival Jean-Hilaire Aubame in his place. Three days later French forces restored the legitimate government.

1970: U.S. Army captain Jeffrey MacDonald murdered his pregnant wife and two small daughters in their Fort Bragg home.

1974: U.S. Army private Robert K. Preston, upset over his military career trajectory, buzzed the White House in a stolen helicopter. With Maryland State Police chasing him and White House security shooting at him, Preston landed on the South Lawn and he was taken into custody.

1992: Armenian troops massacred more than 20 Azerbaijani civilians during the Capture of Garadaghly.

1992: A Milwaukee judge sentenced serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer to 15 consecutive life terms in prison. A fellow inmate killed him in 1994.

1995: A Nassau County judge convicted Colin Ferguson of six counts of murder and 19 counts of attempted murder in the December 1993 Long Island Rail Road shootings.

1998: A Texas jury convicted U.S. Naval Academy cadet Diane Zamora, 20, of capital murder for killing Adrianne Jessica Jones, a romantic rival. The victim's family requested prosecutors not to seek the death penalty and Zamora was sentenced to life in prison.

2012: The president of Germany, Christian Wulff, resigned over a corruption scandal. He was later acquitted of all charges.

2012: In a brazen daylight robbery, two thieves stole approximately 70 ancient Olympic artifacts from the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games in Greece.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

TODAY IN CRIME: February 10

1306: Robert the Bruce and his followers stabbed to death Robert’s political rival, Scottish governor John Comyn, before the altar of Greyfriars Church at Dumfries in the First War of Scottish Independence. Robert seized the throne a few weeks later.

1355: The St. Scholastica Day riot broke out in Oxford, England, leaving nearly 100 people dead over two days. It started as a bar brawl and spread into the streets, pitting "town" vs. "gown."

1567: After an explosion at the Kirk o' Field house in Edinburgh, Scotland, searchers could not find Lord Darnley, second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots and father of future King James VI. He was found strangled in a nearby orchard. Suspects included Queen Mary herself and her next husband, Lord Bothwell; James Douglas, Earl of Morton, was eventually executed for his part in it.

1676: Nashaway chief Monoco led 400 native Americans on a raid of Lancaster, Mass., setting fire to houses, stealing provisions, killing villagers, and taking them prisoner.

1837: Beloved Russian poet and novelist Alexander Pushkin died from wounds received in a duel two days before. Russian Guard officer George d’Anthès had made advances to Pushkin’s wife Natalia, one of the most beautiful women in Russia.

1942: The SS Normandie, a former French liner, capsized in New York Harbor. The ship had caught fire the day before while it was being converted to a troopship. The mob claimed it sabotaged the liner to start a protection racket against the Navy.

1981: Troubled busboy Phillip Bruce Cline started the Las Vegas Hilton fire that left 8 people dead and 200 injured. Cline was convicted of arson and eight counts of murder.

1984: Kenyan security forces executed as many as 10,000 ethnic Somalis in the Wagalla massacre. In the years since, officials have resigned, condemnations made, and official probes ordered, but no one has yet been prosecuted.

1987: Philippine troops murdered 17 civilians in Lupao, claiming the unarmed men, women, and children were members of the New People's Army. All 24 soldiers were acquitted by a military court.

1992: An Indiana jury convicted fighter Mike Tyson of raping Desiree Washington, a Miss Black America contestant, the previous summer.

1997: The U.S. Army suspended its top-ranking enlisted soldier, Sgt. Major Gene McKinney, following allegations of sexual misconduct. Although he was convicted of obstruction of justice, McKinney was acquitted of 18 counts alleging sexual harassment.

1998: Expelled student Richard Machado became the first person convicted of committing a hate crime in cyberspace. The ex-UC Irvine student had sent e-mails threatening Asian students.

1998: Maine voters repealed a 1997 gay rights law. Maine was the first state to annul legislation that protects homosexuals from discrimination.

2013: During the Hindu festival Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, that attracted 30 million people, railway police attacked an unruly crowd at the train station, triggering a stampede that killed 36 people and injured 39.

2018: 19 people were killed and 66 injured when a Kowloon Motor Bus double decker on route 872 in Hong Kong overturned. The driver, previously convicted of careless driving in another accident, faces 19 counts of manslaughter and 18 counts of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm.

2019: The Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News reported widespread sexual abuse in U.S. Southern Baptist churches. Nearly 400 church members were implicated with over 700 victims over a 20-year span.

Monday, February 3, 2020

TODAY IN CRIME: February 3

1377: Breton mercenaries commanded by Robert, Cardinal of Geneva, acting as the legate of Pope Gregory XI, executed between 2,500 and 5,000 people in Cesena, Italy, in a show of papal power. The next year, Cardinal Robert was elected (anti)Pope Clement VII.

1900: Newly elected Kentucky governor William Goebels died from an assassin's bullet wounds.

1904: American bank robber Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd was born in Georgia. He was pursued and killed by federal agents in 1934 several months after the FBI declared him "Public Enemy No. 1."

1916: Fire destroyed Centre Block, the main building of Canada's parliamentary complex in Ottawa. Seven people died. Officially, a carelessly left cigar caused the blaze—or was it a German arsonist?

1950: British authorities arrested nuclear physicist Klaus Fuchs for passing top-secret information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union.

1953: Portuguese landowners and the colonial administration of Sao Tome Island in Central Africa massacred hundreds of native creoles to stop an alleged communist conspiracy.

1965: 105 U.S. Air Force Academy cadets resigned for cheating or for the theft and sale of exam papers.

1967: The Victorian government hanged Ronald Ryan, the last person to be executed in Australia. He was convicted of the shooting murder of a prison guard during an escape.

1971: Drug dealer Edgar Echevarria shot NYPD officer Frank Serpico in the face as Serpico was attempting an arrest. A 1972 jury convicted Echevarria of attempted murder, possession of dangerous weapons, and grand larceny. Serpico survived and testified about widespread corruption in the NYPD.

1982: A California court ordered porn star John Holmes to stand trial for murder. (He was tried and acquitted.)

1992: The defense team of deposed Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega opened its case in Miami, calling Noriega "our ally in war on drugs."

1998: Flying too low over an aerial tramway in Italy, a daredevil U.S. military pilot cut the cable supporting a gondola. It crashed to the ground, instantly killing the 20 people inside. A military court in the U.S. acquitted Captain Richard J. Ashby of 20 counts of involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide.

1998: Texas executed Karla Faye Tucker for the pickax killings of two people during a burglary in 1983. She was the first woman to be executed in the U.S. since 1984.

2012: U.S. federal prosecutors dropped their investigation of cycling superstar Lance Armstrong after a nearly two-year attempt to establish whether he and his teammates had used performance-enhancing drugs. He won the Tour de France seven times.

2014: 15-year-old Sergey Gordeyev took 29 students hostage and shot and killed a teacher and a police officer at his high school in Moscow, Russia.

2016: A High Court judge granted a death certificate in the case of Lord Lucan, 42 years after he disappeared following the murder of nanny Sandra Rivett.