Sunday, October 25, 2020

TODAY IN CRIME: October 26

1881 Wyatt Earp, his two brothers, and "Doc" Holliday confronted Ike Clanton's gang in a gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Ariz. Three members of Clanton's gang were killed; Earp's brothers were wounded.

1892 Ida B. Wells published Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases. In 2020 the Pulitzer Prize Board awarded Wells a special citation "[f]or her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching."

1909 Korean nationalist and independence activist An Jung-geun assassinated Itō Hirobumi, President of the Privy Council of Japan, who forced the Emperor of Korea to sign the Eulsa Treaty, an agreement that stripped Korea of its diplomatic sovereignty and placed all Korean affairs under Imperial Japanese control. After six trials, An was hanged.

1956 During the Hungarian Revolution, Hungarian secret police forces massacred more than 100 students, workers, and townspeople of the town of Mosonmagyaróvár who had gathered to peacefully demonstrate against Soviet occupation. Fighting spread throughout the country.

1970 In Atlanta, Muhammad Ali faced off against Jerry Quarry in his first boxing match after a three-year hiatus, still awaiting the appeal of his conviction for draft evasion. He knocked out Quarry in the third round. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 1971.

1979 Kim Jae-kyu, the head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, shot and killed South Korean President Park Chung-hee at a KCIA safe house in Seoul after a banquet. Kim and his associates also killed four bodyguards and a presidential chauffeur before being captured, tortured, and executed. It is still unclear whether the attack was unplanned and impulsive or deliberate and premeditated, whether Kim was motivated by jealousy of Park's chief bodyguard, a loyalist who had gained too much favor with the dictator, whether Kim was attempting to seize power himself or to restore democracy with the help of the American CIA, or suffering temporary insanity due to hepatic encephalopathy.

1991 Former Washington Mayor Marion Barry arrived at the Federal Correctional Complex in Petersburg, VA, to begin serving a six-month sentence for cocaine possession. He was released in April 1992 and went on to win re-election in 1994.

1993 A Washington, D.C., circuit court convicted Deborah Gore Dean, a central figure in the Reagan-era HUD scandal, of twelve felony counts of defrauding the U.S. government and lying to the U.S. Congress.

1995 Mossad agents assassinated Fathi Shaqaqi, co-founder and Secretary-General of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine, in his hotel in Malta, a stopover on his way home to Damascus after securing the promise of funding from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The assassination and a crackdown by Israel and the Palestinian National Authority left the PIJ considerably weakened.

1995 A Texas jury sentenced Yolanda Saldivar to life in prison for the murder of popular singer Selena, her former employer. Saldivar shot and killed the “Queen of Tejano music” March 31, 1995, after being fired for embezzlement.

1996 Federal prosecutors cleared security guard Richard Jewell as a suspect in the Olympic park bombing. Because leaks in the investigation lead to his being identified as a suspect, Jewell filed defamation suits against the FBI, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ABC, NBC, CNN, the New York Post, two radio stations, and Piedmont College. He reached monetary settlements with most.

1998 The Recording Industry Association of America lost its case against the sale of MP3 players when a U.S. federal judge refused to issue an injunction against the devices. MP3 players are used to play music downloaded from the Internet.

1999 Britain's House of Lords voted to end the right of hereditary peers to vote in Britain's upper chamber of Parliament.

2000 A wave of protests in the Ivory Coast forced Robert Guéï to step down as president after the presidential election. He fled the country while the duly elected Laurent Gbagbo took office. Gbagbo in turn refused to step down after his defeat in the presidential election ten years later.

2001 U.S. President George W. Bush signed the USA Patriot Act into law, giving authorities unprecedented ability to search, seize, detain, or eavesdrop in their pursuit of possible terrorists.

2002 A three-day hostage siege by Chechen rebels at a Moscow theater ended when Russian special forces pumped a knockout gas into the building, killing 129 of the 800-plus captives. All 50 hostage-takers were killed by the gas or gunshot wounds.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

TODAY IN CRIME: October 19

1765 Nine American colonies united to draw up a “Declaration of Rights and Grievances” opposing the Stamp Act, which ordered colonists to pay yet more taxes—without representation. Eventually all thirteen colonies adopted the Declaration.

1864 21 Confederate soldiers based in Canada robbed three banks in St. Albans, Vermont, killed a local man, then escaped back across the border. Their goal, in addition to raising funds, was to convince Union generals the northern border posed a significant threat and troops were needed there. A U.S. posse captured several raiders but Canadian authorities ordered their release.

1921 Radical members of the Portuguese Army, Navy, and National Republican Guard set up artillery in Lisbon and forced the government of Portuguese Prime Minister António Granjo to step down. When President António José de Almeida refused to allow the rebels to take over, Corporal Abel Olímpio drove a "ghost van" through the streets of Lisbon looking for National Republican Party politicians on a hit list and led the radicals in the assassination of P.M. Granjo and several cabinet members. The perpetrators were judged and condemned in court.

1943 Allied aircraft bombed and sank the cargo vessel Sinfra at Crete, drowing 2,098 Italian prisoners of war crammed in the cargo hold.

1944 The "October Revolution" of Guatemala started when a small group of army officers launched a coup against the military junta of Juan Federico Ponce Vaides that was set up by U.S.-backed dictator Jorge Ubico after he was forced to resign. Oppressed citizens across the country joined the pro-democracy movement and replaced the junta with one that promised free and open elections.

1960 Police arrested Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and 51 others after they refused to leave their seats at a segregated lunch counter in an Atlanta department store. Judges dismissed charges against 16 of the protesters at their first court appearance but Dr. King was held on a charge of violating his probation and sentenced to six months’ hard labor. Presidential candidate JFK helped secure Dr. King's release.

1970 "Killer Prophet" John Frazier, convinced he was obeying the word of God, invaded the home of California ophthalmologist Victor Ohta and bound Ohta, his wife, two sons and a secretary, shot them all dead, threw their corpses in the swimming pool, then wrote a note on Ohta's typewriter declaring the start of WWIII and left it on Ohta's Rolls Royce. Deputies staked out Frazier's shack and arrested him October 23. Tried and sentenced to death, he received a commutation to life imprisonment; he hanged himself in his cell in 2009.

1973 U.S. President Nixon rejected an Appeals Court decision that he turn over the Watergate tapes.

1976 U.S. President Gerald Ford signed the Copyright Act of 1976, the first major revision of American copyright law since 1909. It extended federal copyright protection to all works, both published and unpublished, once they are fixed in a tangible form.

1977 French authorities found the body of kidnap victim Hanns-Martin Schleyer in the trunk of an Audi 100 on the rue Charles Péguy in Mulhouse. The Red Army Faction, a West German far-left militant organization, kidnapped the industrialist and former SS officer in September and demanded the release of four RAF members being held at Stammheim Prison in Stuttgart. The German government refused to negotiate and even prevented Schleyer's family from offering 15 million Deutschmarks as a ransom. After three of the RAF fanatics were found dead in their cells October 18, the kidnappers shot and killed Schleyer.

1982 Police arrested automaker John DeLorean on charges of conspiracy to obtain and distribute 55 pounds of cocaine worth $24 million. He was acquitted two years later.

1984 Three agents of the Polish Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs kidnapped Roman Catholic priest Jerzy Popiełuszko, chaplain of the Polish “Solidarity” trade union, on his way home from a prayer service. His captors tortured and hog-tied him, then bound him up, attached rocks to his body, and threw him over a dam to drown. The intelligence agents were tried and convicted of the murder.

1986 Mozambique President Samora Machel, leader of the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) who led the Mozambican people in their fight for independence from Portugal, along with 33 others, died when their aircraft crashed into the Lebombo Mountains in South Africa. Some observers believe the apartheid regime of South Africa set up a false beacon to lure the plane off-course.

1988 The British government imposed a broadcasting ban on television and radio interviews with members of Sinn Féin and eleven Irish republican and Ulster loyalist paramilitary groups.

1989 The Court of Appeal of England and Wales quashed the convictions of the Guildford Four after they had spent 15 years in prison for the pub bombings in 1974 Surrey that killed four soldiers and one civilian and wounded 65 others. The Met forced false confessions out of Paul Hill, Gerry Conlon, Paddy Armstrong, and Carole Richardson and they were wrongly convicted; the Balcombe Street Gang of the Provisional Irish Republican Army later claimed responsibility.

1989 The U.S. Senate rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned the desecration of the American flag, with 51 Senators voting in favor of the amendment and 48 voting in opposition. Congress passed the Flag Protection Act nine days later, but in June 1990 the Supreme Court ruled (United States v. Eichman) the Act violated the right of free speech under the First Amendment.

1998 Rock music fan Mark Nieto filed a lawsuit against the rock group Aerosmith for alleged hearing loss after he attended a “Nine Lives” concert at the Concord Pavilion amphitheater in Concord, California, the year before. Nieto claimed he was not made aware of possible hearing loss before the show.

1998 Members of the Earth Liberation Front set fire to several lifts and buildings at Vail Ski Resort in Colorado, claiming expansion of the resort was causing irreparable harm to area wildlife. The eco-terrorists caused $12 million in damages. Two members pleaded guilty, one suspect was finally captured 20 years later, and another remains at large.

2004 Thai officials announced the State Peace and Development Council ousted Myanmar prime minister Khin Nyunt and placed him under house arrest on charges of corruption. He was released in 2012.

2005 A defiant Saddam Hussein pleaded innocent to charges of pre-meditated murder and torture and argued with the Iraqi Special Tribunal on the opening day of his trial in Baghdad. He was sentenced to death by hanging a year later.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

TODAY IN CRIME: October 12


1692 Massachusetts Bay Governor William Phips halted the Salem witch trials. His letter to the Privy Council of King William and Queen Mary cited “what danger some of their innocent subjects might be exposed to…if the evidence of the afflicted persons only did prevaile." Phips disallowed such "spectral evidence"—descriptions of abuses committed by the accused's spirit in witnesses' visions and dreams—in the new court he established.

1871 The British in India enacted the Criminal Tribes Act, naming many local communities "Criminal Tribes." The legislation was ostensibly enacted to combat thugees but declared everyone belonging to certain castes to be born with criminal tendencies and required adult males of the named tribes to report weekly to local police.

1915 In WWI, a German firing squad executed British nurse Edith Cavell for helping 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium.

1933 The Pierpont Bunch broke John Dillinger out of the Lima, Ohio, city jail to pay him back for his help in planning their jailbreak a few weeks before. Disguised as Indiana State Police officers, the three men claimed they had come to extradite Dillinger to Indiana. When Sheriff Jesse Sarber requested their credentials, Pierpont shot him dead, then released Dillinger from his cell.

1960 Seventeen-year-old Japanese ultranationalist Otoya Yamaguchi stabbed to death Japan Socialist Party leader Inejiro Asanuma during a televised political debate. Photographer Yasushi Nagao won a Pulitzer Prize for his picture of the assassin attempting to thrust the sword a second time. Police captured Yamaguchi at the scene and he hanged himself in his cell at a juvenile detention center less than three weeks later.

1963 The Soviet Union released Jesuit priest Reverend Walter Ciszek after imprisoning him for nearly 23 years. Ciszek had conducted clandestine missionary work in the Soviet Union for more than twenty years before he was arrested by the Soviet secret police.

1972 During the Vietnam War, a brawl between Black and white sailors broke out aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk off the coast of North Vietnam. Nearly 50 sailors were injured. The Navy charged 26 Black sailors with assault and rioting and ordered a court-martial in San Diego, where four were convicted of rioting, fourteen of assault, and four found not guilty of all charges; the rest had the charges dropped. Most were demoted in rank. In the aftermath, the Navy instituted reforms to address racial inequality in the ranks.

1978 Police arrested rocker Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols for the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, the same day Spungen bled to death on the bathroom floor of their room in the Chelsea Hotel in New York. The twenty-year-old died from a single fatal stab wound to the abdomen. Vicious died of a heroin overdose before his murder trial began.

1983 Japanese former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka was found guilty of taking a $2 million bribe from the Lockheed Corporation, sentenced to four years in jail, and fined 400m yen. His sentence remained under appellate review until he died ten years later.

1984 British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet escaped an assassination attempt by the Provisional Irish Republican Army. A bomb planted by the group at a hotel in Brighton, England, exploded, killing five people and wounding 31.

1988 Members of the Melbourne underworld gunned down two officers of the Victoria Police execution-style in Melbourne, Australia. The perpetrators were responding to local police fatally shooting an armed robbery suspect the day before.

1995 New York state released rapper Tupac Shakur from prison on $1.4 million bail pending an appeal of his conviction for sexual assault. Suge Knight of Death Row Records posted the bail in exchange for Shakur releasing three albums under the Death Row label.

1998 Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, died five days after he was beaten, robbed, and left tied to a wooden fence post outside of Laramie. His two attackers were found guilty of murder.

1999 General Pervez Musharraf overthrew the democratically elected government of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup.

2000 Two al-Qaeda suicide bombers exploded a small craft next to the US Navy destroyer Cole in Yemen, killing 17 sailors and wounding at least 39.

2002 A bomb exploded in the Sari Club, a nightclub on the Indonesian island of Bali, killing 202 people and wounding more than 300. Authorities blamed Islamic militants linked to al-Qaida.

2011 Nigerian al-Qaida operative Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty to trying to bring down a jetliner with a bomb in his underwear minutes before the plane landed in Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day, 2009. Charges against him included the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and the attempted murder of the 289 people on the plane. A federal court judge sentenced him to four consecutive life sentences plus 50 years.

2019 The partially constructed Hard Rock Hotel, a luxury complex on Canal Street in New Orleans, collapsed, killing three and injuring 20. Local news media uncovered evidence of improper structural work and negligent city inspectors as factors leading to the tragedy; OSHA is still investigating the incident.

Sunday, October 4, 2020



610 Heraclius arrived at Constantinople, killed Byzantine Emperor Phocas—beheading him on the spot—and declared himself emperor.

1607 Venetian statesman and scientist Paolo Sarpi survived an attack by stiletto-wielding assassins sent by Pope Paul V. Sarpi retired to his cloister and the would-be assassins received pensions from the viceroy of Naples.

1838 A band of Cherokee Native Americans killed or kidnapped 18 Texan settlers in East Texas in response to a broken treaty.

1877 Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians surrendered to the U.S. Army in Montana after trekking 1,000 miles attempting to reach political asylum in Canada.

1892 The Dalton gang tried to rob two banks simultaneously in Coffeyville, Kansas. The townspeople recognized them, however, and ran to nearby hardware stores for weapons. When the gang left the banks, the people were ready. In the ensuing gun battle, two Dalton brothers and two other gang members were killed; four citizens defending their town were killed and three more wounded. A third Dalton was captured and sentenced to life in prison.

1910 The Portuguese Republican Party overthrew King Manuel II in a revolution and Portugal became a republic. The exiled king fled to England.

1985 Egyptian soldier Suleiman Khater machine-gunned seven Israeli tourists—three adults and four children—for trespassing on a prohibited area at a Sinai beach. He also shot an Egyptian police officer who attempted to arrest him and wounded four Israeli civilians. Two weeks into a life sentence, Khater died of an apparent suicide.

1989 A jury in Charlotte, N.C., convicted former PTL evangelist Jim Bakker of using his TV show to defraud followers. Bakker served nearly five years in prison.

1990 A Cincinnati jury acquitted Cincinnati's Contemporary Arts Center and its director Dennis Barrie of obscenity charges for exhibiting Robert Mapplethorpe's controversial photographs.

2000 Huge mobs rampaged through Belgrade and ousted Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic. He had been defeated in a presidential election but refused to step down. He finally resigned on October 7.

2005 Defying the White House, the U.S. Senate voted 90-9 to approve the Detainee Treatment Act that would prohibit the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" against any prisoner of the U.S. Government, including those in custody at Guantanamo Bay.

2010 A New York federal judge sentenced Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani immigrant who'd tried to detonate a car bomb in Times Square, to life in prison.

2011 Eight members of a Myanmar drug-trafficking ring hijacked two Chinese cargo ships on the Mekong River and shot or stabbed thirteen crew members before throwing them in the river. River police recovered 900,000 amphetamine pills on the ships. Drug lord Naw Kham and three accomplices were executed in China while members of an elite Thai anti-drug task force suspected of being involved in the massacre "disappeared from the justice system."