February 11 – What happened today?

 

Births

Hugo Schenk

1849Hugo Schenk – Dubbed “the girl murderer with the gentle face,” Schenk adeptly deceived Viennese housemaids in the mid-1800s. Assuming a Polish persona as Count Winopolsky, he skillfully courted them, luring them to secluded picnics for what appeared to be romantic encounters. However, Schenk’s version of romance was lethal.  Following the pretense of affection, he would assault and rob his victims, affix a boulder to their feet, and cast them into the frigid Danube. Occasionally aided by his brother, Schenk seamlessly transitioned from one crime to the next, orchestrating his sinister plans against new targets before disposing of the current victim. Upon his capture, authorities uncovered correspondence with at least 50 women, all potential prey in his eyes.  Although drowning was Schenk’s preferred disposal method, he exhibited a macabre creativity. During a fateful picnic, he taught housemaid Theresia Ketterl the seemingly innocent game of Russian Roulette, only to secretly load the gun before urging her to play. Schenk met his end on the gallows in 1884, and his skull now resides in Vienna’s Kriminalmuseum, a haunting relic of his dark legacy.

1860Karl Denke – was a German serial killer and cannibal. Living in the town of Münsterberg, Denke was outwardly a respectable, elderly gentleman involved in various community activities. However, behind this façade lay a gruesome secret.  Denke’s crimes were discovered in 1924 when police, investigating his suspicious behavior, stumbled upon human remains in his home. It was revealed that he lured, murdered, and dismembered at least a dozen individuals, mostly homeless or transient people, before butchering their bodies for consumption. His macabre activities shocked the community, as Denke had managed to evade suspicion for an extended period.  Despite the evidence of his heinous acts, Denke took his own life in police custody, hanging himself in his jail cell before facing trial. The true extent of his crimes and the motivations behind his gruesome actions remain the subject of morbid fascination and study in the annals of criminal history.

1947Emily Harris – born Emily Montague Schwartz, was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), an American left-wing terrorist group involved in murder, kidnapping, and bank robberies. Along with her husband William Harris, she was a key figure in the SLA during the 1970s.  Born in Baltimore, Maryland, and raised in Clarendon Hills, Illinois, Emily had a middle-class upbringing. She graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in language arts. She met William Harris at Indiana University, and they married in 1970. In 1973, they moved to Berkeley, California, and joined the SLA.  Emily and William Harris, also known as ‘Yolanda’ and ‘General Teko’ within the SLA, were involved in several high-profile crimes. These included the assassination of Marcus Foster, Oakland, California school superintendent, and the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, a college student and one of the heirs to the Hearst newspaper empire.  In the 1970s, Emily was convicted of kidnapping Patty Hearst. In 2003, she was convicted of murder in the second degree for being the shooter in a 1975 slaying that occurred while she and other SLA members were robbing a bank in California. She was sentenced to eight years in prison for the murder.  After her release from prison, Emily, who had learned computer programming while incarcerated, made a successful career for herself by opening up her own computer consulting firm. She also earned more than $100,000 a year from working at MGM Studios. However, her past actions were brought to light once again in the early 2000s with the help of new forensic technology, leading to further legal consequences.

1954Jean-Claude Romand – is known for his life of deception and his heinous crimes. He pretended to be a medical doctor for 18 years, a lie he maintained with his family and friends. Despite enrolling as a medical student, Romand never qualified as a doctor. He claimed to be a successful medical professional and researcher at the World Health Organization (WHO), spending his days wandering and using the free information services of the local WHO building.  Romand lived off the money he and his wife made from selling an apartment, his wife’s salary, and money given to him by various relatives, who believed he was investing it in various hedge funds and foreign ventures. He would sometimes tell his family that he was on foreign trips, then stay in motorway rest areas for several days, and return home with gifts.  In January 1993, when his fraud was about to be exposed, Romand went on a killing spree. He murdered his wife with a rolling pin, shot his seven-year-old daughter and five-year-old son with a rifle, and killed both his parents and their dog. He then set fire to his house and attempted suicide by swallowing sleeping pills. However, he was rescued by firefighters, taken into custody, and later confessed to his crimes. He was convicted of murder in 1996 and sentenced to life imprisonment plus 22 years.  While still awaiting trial, he began a correspondence with the author Emmanuel Carrère to tell his life story and version of events. This correspondence led to the publication of the book “L’Adversaire” (The Adversary) in 2000, which was later adapted into a film. After serving 26 years in jail, Romand was released in 2019. His life story has been the subject of multiple books and films.

1970William Devin Howell – is an American serial killer, he is known for murdering seven women in 2003 and is considered one of the most prolific serial killers in the history of Connecticut.  In November 2017, while already serving a 15-year prison sentence for manslaughter, he was sentenced to six consecutive life sentences. In Connecticut, a life sentence equates to 60 years in prison, which means he was sentenced to 360 years in prison. He is currently serving his sentence at Cheshire Correctional Institution.  The victims were identified as seven women, including one transgender woman named Janice Roberts. Their bodies were discovered in two locations, including an area behind a shopping plaza on Hartford Road in New Britain, which Howell referred to as his “garden”. The victims included Melanie Ruth Camilini, Diane Cusack, Marilyn Mendez Gonzalez, Joyvaline Martinez, Mary Jane Menard, Danny Lee Whistnant, and Nilsa Arizmendi.

1974Richard Michael Cartwright – was a notable figure who was on Death Row. He was executed by the state of Texas for his involvement in the robbery and subsequent murder of 37-year-old Nick Moraida in Corpus Christi on August 1, 1996. Cartwright gained recognition within the movement to abolish the death penalty after he contributed to a series of articles titled “Uncensored from Texas Death Row”. Following his execution, the continuation of the “Uncensored from Texas Death Row” articles was taken over by Clinton Lee Young.

1974Maria Sosa – also known as “Lulu,” is originally from Mexico. She moved to the United States with her son and daughter in search of a better life. In 2007, she met Ramon Sosa, a professional boxing coach, in Houston, Texas. Ramon, who was 40 years old at the time, was also divorced and had opened up his first gym. The couple got married on March 15, 2009, and together, they opened up another boxing gym, named Woodlands Boxing and Fitness, where Lulu kept the books and was a personal trainer.  However, after six years of marriage, their relationship soured. Despite allegations of physical abuse, Lulu and Ramon continued to live in the same house even after they separated, residing on different floors. In 2015, Lulu filed for divorce. Later that year, she was arrested in a murder-for-hire plot. Lulu had allegedly spoken with a man she thought was a hitman and offered him money and gifts if he would kill her husband, Ramon. Unbeknownst to her, the man she thought was a hitman was actually an undercover police officer.  In October 2016, Maria Sosa was sentenced to up to 20 years in prison after being convicted of second-degree felony solicitation of murder. She is currently serving her sentence at the Christina Melton Crain Unit. According to the Texas Department of Corrections, she has a projected release date of October 18, 2023, but she is eligible for parole before that date.

1980Tonatihu Aguilar – also known as “Tony” or “Dopey”, is a convicted murderer who was involved in multiple homicides in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.   On September 21, 1996, Aguilar was involved in a drive-by shooting incident that resulted in the death of Jonathan Bria and injuries to David Glover and Steve Thorstensen. The victims were returning from an ASU football party when they were attacked. Bria succumbed to his injuries during surgery, having suffered a gunshot wound to the left chest area that caused extensive internal damage.  Aguilar’s criminal activities escalated on October 15, 1996, when he murdered Hector Imperial, 28, and his wife, Sandra, 29, in front of their 5-year-old son at their home in Phoenix. Aguilar shot Hector to death and shot Sandra, who died of her wounds the next day.  Aguilar was sentenced to death by lethal injection on June 19, 2003, for the murder of Jonathan Bria. However, his death sentence was later vacated in light of Roper v. Simmons, a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that declared it unconstitutional to impose capital punishment for crimes committed while under the age of 18. Consequently, Aguilar was resentenced to life without the possibility of parole for both murders.

 

Deaths

Danny Barber

1954Thomas Pierrepoint – born on October 6, 1870, in Sutton Bonington, Nottinghamshire, England, was an English executioner active from 1906 until 1946. He was the brother of Henry Pierrepoint and uncle of Albert Pierrepoint, both of whom were also executioners.  Pierrepoint was the second child and eldest son of Thomas Pierrepoint, a plate layer on the railway, and Ann Pierrepoint. The family moved to Clayton, near Bradford, Yorkshire, where Thomas and his father worked as stone quarrymen. He married Elizabeth Binns on December 5, 1891.  In addition to his work as a quarryman, Pierrepoint had several other jobs, including running a carrier service, a small farm, and an illegal bookmaking business. However, he is most known for his work as an executioner, a career influenced by his brother, Henry.  Over his 39-year career, Pierrepoint is thought to have carried out 294 hangings, 203 of which were civilians executed in England and Wales. The remainder were executions carried out abroad or upon military personnel. Among those he executed was the poisoner Frederick Seddon in 1912.  During World War II, Pierrepoint was appointed as an executioner by the US Military and was responsible for 13 out of 16 hangings of US soldiers at the Shepton Mallet military prison in Somerset. In this capacity, Pierrepoint carried out executions not only for murder but also rape, which, at the time, was a capital crime under US military law although not in British law.  Despite some concerns about his fitness for the job and allegations of drinking on the job, Pierrepoint continued to serve as an executioner until 1946. He passed away on February 11, 1954, in Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England.

1999Danny Barber – was an American serial killer and necrophile who murdered four women in Dallas County, Texas between 1978 and 1980. He was executed by lethal injection in 1999.  Barber was arrested in May 1980 for the October 1979 rape and murder of 50-year-old Janice Louis Ingram in her home in Balch Springs. He had been arrested due to a fingerprint match and made a confession. After his arrest, he confessed to murdering 39-year-old Mary Caperton in April 1980 and the killing of 48-year-old Mercey Mendez in June 1978. He was sentenced to death in August 1980 for Ingram’s murder. He was also sentenced to life imprisonment for the other three murders.  He was scheduled to be executed on January 2, 1988, but it was delayed by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White. A second execution date was set for February 11, 1999. That day, Barber was executed by lethal injection in the Huntsville Unit. Barber’s last meal consisted of two steaks, baked potato, chef salad, tea, and chocolate ice cream. His last words were: “Hello, Ms. Ingram, it is good to see you. I said I could talk but I don’t think I am gonna be able to. I heard one of your nieces had some angry words. I didn’t have anything to do with the stay. I spent the last twenty years waiting to figure out what’s going on. I pray that you get over it and that’s the only thing I can think to say. I’m regretful of what I done, but I’m a different person from that time. If you could get to know me over the years, you could have seen it. I’ve got some people over here that believes that. I want to talk to my friends over here for a second. Well, it’s good to see you guys. Look after Mary Lynn for me. Like I said, I’ve called my mother already, so she knows.”

2014Wilbur Lee Jennings – an American serial killer, was infamous for his crimes in Fresno and Sacramento, California between 1981 and 1984. He was often referred to as The Ditchbank Murderer. His heinous acts led to the death of at least six girls and women. Jennings was sentenced to death on November 20, 1986, but he passed away in custody before his execution could be carried out.  His trial for four of the victims, who were believed to be his only victims at the time, started in 1986. The prosecution’s case was primarily based on several objects identified by the victims’ family members. These included a baseball bat and a pipe with blood stains, which investigators believed were the murder weapons. In addition to this, there were numerous testimonies from Jennings’ relatives, friends, and acquaintances, as well as friends of the murdered girls.  Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, Jennings maintained his innocence throughout the trial. He accused the prosecutor of pressuring witnesses and coercing them into giving false testimony.

 

Events

Anna Kournikova

1916 – Emma Goldman is arrested for lecturing on birth control

1990 – Nelson Mandela is released after 27 years of imprisonment

2001 – A Dutch programmer launched the Anna Kournikova virus infecting millions of emails via a trick photo of the tennis star

2015 – Francesco Schettino, captain of the Costa Concordia that ran aground in 2012 is convicted of manslaughter in Grosseto and sentenced to 16 years in jail

2015 – A university student is murdered as she resisted an attempted rape in Turkey, sparking nationwide protests and public outcry against harassment & violence against women

2016 – A riot between rival drug cartels at a prison in Monterrey, Mexico, leaves 52 dead

2016 – A man shoots 6 people dead at an education center in Jizan Province, Saudi Arabia

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