February 13 – What happened today?


Bernard Coy

1735Crown Prince Sado – also known as Yi Seon, was the second son of King Yeongjo of Joseon. His biological mother was Royal Noble Consort Yeong of the Jeonui Yi clan. Due to the prior death of Sado’s older half-brother, Crown Prince Hyojang, Sado became the probable future monarch. At the age of 15, his father appointed him regent, giving him the power to make decisions on administrative matters. However, the tense relationship between Sado and King Yeongjo led to him experiencing severe anxiety whenever in his father’s presence. This anxiety, along with a severe illness he suffered in 1745, is believed to have contributed to the development of his mental illness.  Sado’s symptoms worsened over time, and he began showing signs of serious mental illness between the years of 1752-1753. His behavior became increasingly violent, especially after the death of Queen Jeongseong (King Yeongjo’s first wife) in 1757. He developed a clothing phobia and often had difficulty getting dressed, even with multiple sets of clothing laid out in front of him.  In a tragic turn of events, at the age of 27, Sado died, most likely of dehydration and possibly of starvation after being confined in a rice chest on the orders of his father in the heat of summer. His death was a significant event in the history of the Joseon Dynasty, and his life continues to be a subject of interest and study.

1887Richard Paul Pavlick – After serving in the United States Army during World War I, he worked as a postal worker in Boston, Massachusetts, before retiring and relocating to Belmont in the 1950s. Pavlick had no family and was known for his angry political rants at local public meetings, which included complaints about the American flag not being displayed appropriately. He also criticized the government and harbored a deep hatred for Catholics, focusing much of his anger on the Kennedy family and their wealth.  After John F. Kennedy defeated Vice President Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election, the 73-year-old Pavlick decided to kill Kennedy. He turned his property over to a local youth camp, loaded his meager possessions into his 1950 Buick, and disappeared. During his travels, Pavlick visited the Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, and photographed the Kennedy home while also checking out the compound’s security.  On December 11, 1960, in Palm Beach, Florida, Pavlick positioned himself to carry out the assassination by blowing up Kennedy and himself with dynamite. However, he delayed the attempt because Kennedy was with his wife Jacqueline and their two young children. He was arrested before he was able to stage another attempt.  Pavlick was committed to a mental institution, pending charges, on January 27, 1961, a week after Kennedy was inaugurated as the 35th President of the United States. These charges were eventually dropped as it became increasingly clear that Pavlick acted out of an inability to distinguish between right and wrong (i.e., he was legally insane). Nevertheless, Pavlick remained institutionalized until December 13, 1966, nearly six years after being apprehended, and three years after Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated Kennedy. Pavlick passed away on November 11, 1975.

1937Roy Melanson – He was an American serial killer and rapist, conclusively linked to three murders and numerous rapes in three states, and remains the prime suspect in at least two other murders.  Melanson was a drifter and con artist who spent the majority of his life in various prisons. Some of his earliest offenses include burglaries and rapes in Orange and Jefferson County, Texas, for which he was given 12 years imprisonment, but served only half of it. He allegedly killed an inmate while imprisoned in Texas. In 1975, he was extradited for a rape trial, which landed him a life sentence. However, it was reduced, and he was released in March 1988.  He was convicted of two 1974 murders, for which he received two life sentences. The first victim was Anita Andrews, a one-time county fair beauty queen and single mother working two jobs. She was last seen alive on July 10, 1974, tending to her family bar named “Fagiani’s Cocktail Lounge”. The following morning, her body was found in a pool of blood on the floor. She had been raped, her clothes ripped through, and stabbed 13 times with a screwdriver, in addition to having her throat slashed. Her Cadillac Eldorado was also missing.  The second victim was Michele Wallace, a young woman who disappeared in August 1974 while returning from a backpacking trip near Crested Butte, Colorado. Melanson, who she’d picked up hitchhiking, was the last person seen with her. He was later in possession of her car and other items, including her camera on which he appeared in the last photo lying on a couch next to an unidentified teenager. But it wasn’t until a Gunnison County sheriff’s deputy began looking into the cold case in the early 1990s that Michele’s remains were located off a remote mountain road and Melanson was brought to trial and convicted.  Melanson died on May 22, 2020, at the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, in Cañon City, Colorado.

1940George Kent Wallace – was a notorious criminal known for his violent abductions and murders of young boys. He was first suspected of killing two teenage boys in the Enterprise, N.C., area but managed to evade prosecution due to lack of physical evidence.  In 1986, Wallace moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he continued his horrific crimes. His first known victim in this area was 15-year-old Eric Domer, who disappeared in February 1987. His body was found five days later in a pond in LeFlore County, Oklahoma. More than three years later, after Wallace had served time in an Arkansas prison for an unrelated crime, 14-year-old Mark McLaughlin disappeared and was found dead the next day in the same pond. In both cases, the boys had been beaten with a wooden paddle before being shot to death and dumped in the pond.  Wallace was also suspected of killing a third boy, 12-year-old Alonzo Don Cade, but he was never officially linked to that crime. Two other teenage boys from Fort Smith reported encounters with a man believed to have been Wallace, one of whom was handcuffed and driven to the same pond but managed to escape.  In December 1990, Wallace was arrested for the attempted murder and abduction of 18-year-old Ross Allen Ferguson. Ferguson was able to escape after being stabbed multiple times by pretending to be dead, pushing Wallace down, and fleeing the scene in a car. Wallace was later identified in a lineup by Ferguson and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences plus an additional 60 years for pleading guilty to the abduction and attempted murder charges.  While in prison, Wallace confessed to the murders of Domer and McLaughlin, leading investigators to a nearby pasture where they found a .22-caliber pistol, identified as the weapon used in both murders. Wallace also confessed to two additional murders in North Carolina. He died in prison.

1942Wilbert Rideau – is an American author, journalist, radio correspondent, TV and film documentary filmmaker. He was convicted of first-degree murder in 1961 during a bank robbery and was sentenced to death. He spent 44 years in Angola Prison in Louisiana, where he began to educate himself by reading numerous books.  During his 12 years on death row, Rideau was held in solitary confinement. After the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that states had to rework their death penalty statutes due to constitutional concerns, his sentence was amended in 1972 to life in prison.  After being returned to the general prison population, Rideau served for more than 20 years as editor of The Angolite, the magazine written and published by prisoners at Louisiana State Prison (Angola). He was the first African-American editor of any prison newspaper in the United States. Under his leadership, the magazine won the George Polk Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for its reporting.  Rideau appealed his case four times. The Supreme Court of the United States and lower courts ordered a total of three new trials. He was convicted again of murder two more times, in 1964 and 1970, each time by all-male, all-white juries. In 2005, Rideau was tried a fourth time and was unanimously convicted by the jury of the lesser charge of manslaughter. He was sentenced to the maximum of 21 years; as he had already served nearly 44 years, he was freed.  Rideau has written several books and edited compilations of articles. He participated in making two documentaries, including The Farm: Angola, USA (1998), about the lives of six men at Angola, including himself. A Life magazine article in March 1993 referred to Rideau as “the most rehabilitated prisoner in America.”

1948Alan Joseph Legere – also known as the Monster of the Miramichi, was born on February 13, 1948, in Chatham Head, New Brunswick, Canada. He is a convicted rapist, arsonist, and serial killer.  On the evening of June 21, 1986, Legere and two accomplices, Todd Matchett and Scott Curtis, robbed a convenience store in Black River Bridge, New Brunswick. The owners, an elderly couple named John and Mary Glendenning, were severely beaten, and Mary was sexually assaulted. John Glendenning was beaten to death. Legere, Matchett, and Curtis were subsequently arrested and convicted for this crime.  While serving his murder sentence at the Atlantic Institution maximum security penitentiary in Renous-Quarryville, Legere was transported to the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont Regional Hospital in Moncton, New Brunswick, for the treatment of an ear infection on May 3, 1989. He managed to escape from the hospital and remained at large for seven months.  During this time, he committed four additional murders in and around the towns of Chatham and Newcastle, and other communities along the Miramichi River. The individuals he murdered were Annie Flam (May 29, 1989; during this incident, Flam’s sister was also assaulted); sisters Linda and Donna Daughney (October 13, 1989; Legere set fire to the Daughney home before leaving), and Father James Smith (November 16, 1989).  Legere was recaptured and convicted for these crimes. He is currently serving his sentence in Canada’s maximum security Special Handling Unit. His case was notable for being one of the first in Canada to use DNA fingerprinting, although his lawyers argued that the relatively shallow gene pool of the Miramichi region could easily lead to false positives.

1952Dusty Ray Spencer – is a convicted murderer who was sentenced to death for the murder of his wife, Karen Spencer.  In December 1991, Karen asked Dusty to move out of their home. On December 10, 1991, Dusty confronted Karen about money she had withdrawn from their painting business account. This confrontation escalated into a physical altercation where Dusty choked, hit, and threatened to kill Karen. Dusty was arrested after Karen reported the incident to the police. Dusty later called and threatened Karen from jail.  On January 4, 1992, Dusty returned to Karen’s home and got into a fight with her. During the fight, Dusty hit Karen with a clothes iron. When Karen’s teenage son, Timothy Johnson, tried to intervene, Dusty hit him with the iron as well. Dusty then fled the house and left town.  On January 18, 1992, Dusty returned to Karen’s house. Timothy was awakened by a commotion and found Dusty hitting Karen in the head with a brick in the backyard. Timothy tried to shoot Dusty, but the rifle misfired. Dusty then pulled up Karen’s nightgown and made a lewd comment to her. Dusty was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of his wife. He appealed his conviction for first-degree murder and the attendant sentence. His sentence was affirmed by the Supreme Court. Dusty is currently a prisoner under the sentence of death.

1958Russell Ernest Boyd – is a convicted murderer who was sentenced to death for the murder of Judith Falkenstein, 30, in Clark County, Indiana, USA. The murder took place on August 27, 1982, and involved strangulation with a belt.  Boyd was sentenced to death on October 4, 1983. However, his death sentence was vacated on September 10, 1993, and he was resentenced to 80 years in prison on November 5, 1993.  On the day of the murder, when the victim’s 10-year-old daughter returned home in the afternoon, she found the living room window open, the couch pulled away from the window, and $117 missing from the mantel. She went upstairs and found her mother nude and suspended from the bedroom dresser. A belt was pulled tightly around her neck, with the other end knotted and wedged inside the dresser. She was bruised and cut.  Boyd was identified by several neighbors in the area at the time of the murder, and friends testified he had suddenly come into a lot of money. Property from a previous burglary was found in a dumpster where Boyd was staying with a friend. After first denying any involvement, Boyd later confessed to committing the first burglary, and to entering the house on the afternoon of the murder, but claimed to have entered the bedroom only to find Falkenstein already dead.  Boyd was convicted of Murder, Felony-Murder, and Burglary. His conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court. He is currently serving his sentence in prison.

1961Duane Eugene Owen – was an American convicted murderer who killed Karen Slattery and Georgianna Worden in Delray Beach and Boca Raton, Florida in 1984.  On March 24, 1984, Owen stabbed to death and raped 14-year-old Karen Slattery in Delray Beach. Two months later, on May 29, he raped and beat to death 38-year-old Georgianna Worden in Boca Raton. Owen was arrested the day after Worden’s murder on a burglary charge. He confessed to the murders of Slattery and Worden after his arrest.  Owen was sentenced to death for the murders twice in two separate trials. Additionally, he received three life sentences for other violent crimes. Owen was executed by lethal injection for the murder of Worden on June 15, 2023. His case was notable for being one of the first in Florida to use DNA fingerprinting.

1963Celeste Beard Johnson – more commonly known as Celeste Beard, was born on February 13, 1963, in Culver City, California. She is an American convicted murderer who is serving a life sentence at the Lane Murray (SHU) in Gatesville, Texas, for the 1999 murder of her millionaire husband, Steven Beard.  Celeste’s biological parents are unknown. She met her birth mother only once and was told, “I am not your mother, I was just your incubator.” She claimed that her adoptive parent, Edwin Johnson, physically abused her as a child and that she attempted suicide during puberty. At age 17, Johnson became pregnant and gave birth to twins, Jennifer and Kristina, with her abusive first husband, Craig Bratcher. Bratcher committed suicide in 1996.  Johnson married twice more before meeting Steven Beard while she was a waitress at a country club in Austin, Texas. Beard, a retired Fox Broadcasting executive and self-made multi-millionaire more than twice her age, was a widower whose wife had died of cancer. Johnson moved in with Beard after he convinced her that he would legally adopt her daughters. They were married on February 18, 1995, with Beard’s family and friends suspicious that Johnson had married him for his money.  On October 3, 1999, Beard was shot in the stomach while he was asleep at their home in Westlake Hills, Texas. Beard was later released from the hospital but succumbed to a blood clot on January 22, 2000. Local police tied the shooting to Tracey Tarlton whom Johnson had met at Saint David’s Pavilion, a mental health facility, after Johnson was admitted there for depression. Johnson and Tarlton had begun a friendly relationship, often inviting each other to dinner or to just ‘hang out’. Over time, they had realized that they both wanted an intimate relationship but Johnson had repeatedly told Tarlton that it would only be possible if they murdered Beard. This all turned out to be a sickening lie. Tarlton confessed to the shooting and was arrested at home six days after the shooting, and subsequently charged with assault. The police began to hear that Johnson had spoken negatively about Beard. Their attorney, David Kuperman, refused to allow police to interview Beard while he was hospitalized due to his grave condition. Tarlton remained silent until July 2000, when she read in a local newspaper that Johnson had remarried six months after Beard’s death and realized that their relationship had been a sham.

1969William Alfred Murray – was an American criminal who was executed for the murder of Rena Ratcliff, a 93-year-old woman.  On February 10, 1998, less than four months after being released on “shock probation” while serving a ten-year sentence for burglary, Murray broke into Ratcliff’s home in Kaufman County, Texas. While he was rummaging through the bedroom looking for things to steal, Ratcliff woke up and struck Murray on the back of his head with her cane or walker. Murray responded by beating her on her head, raping her, and strangling her with an Ace bandage. He then stole some change from a jar – about $10 – and a small knife and left.  Murray was being questioned about another burglary in the area when he told the officer that he wanted to confess to another crime. He then admitted to Ratcliff’s murder. He was executed by lethal injection in Texas on September 17, 2008. His final words were, “I’m sorry for what I did. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. The Lord has forgiven me. I’ll be there waiting for y’all, all right? God Bless.”

1979Anders Behring Breivik – also known as Fjotolf Hansen, was born on February 13, 1979, in Oslo, Norway. He is a Norwegian far-right domestic terrorist known primarily for committing the 2011 Norway attacks on July 22, 2011. In these attacks, he killed eight people by detonating a van bomb at Regjeringskvartalet in Oslo, and then killed 69 participants of a Workers’ Youth League (AUF) summer camp, in a mass shooting on the island of Utøya.  Breivik was a member of the Progress Party from 1999 to 2006 and chaired the local Vest Oslo branch of the party’s youth organization in 2002. He joined a gun club in 2005. He left the Progress Party in 2006. A company he founded was later declared bankrupt. He had no declared income in 2009 and his assets were 390,000 kroner (equivalent to $72,063), according to Norwegian tax authority figures. He financed the terror attacks with a total of €130,000; nine credit cards gave him access to credit.  After Breivik was found psychologically competent to stand trial, his criminal trial was held in April 2012. In July 2012 Breivik was found guilty of mass murder, causing a fatal explosion, and terrorism. Breivik was sentenced to the maximum civilian criminal penalty in Norway, which is 21 years imprisonment through preventive detention, allowing the possibility of one or more extensions for as long as he is deemed a danger to society. Breivik announced that he did not recognize the legitimacy of the court and therefore did not accept its decision—he decided not to appeal, saying this would legitimize the authority of the Oslo District Court. Yet, he applied for parole in 2022, which the Court rejected, and subsequently appealed the rejection.


Alphonse Bertillon

1906William Williams – born around 1877 in St Ives, Cornwall, England, was a Cornish miner who immigrated to the United States and worked in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He is known for being the last person executed by the state of Minnesota.  In 1904, while hospitalized for diphtheria, Williams befriended local teenager John Keller, who was also recovering from the same disease. Over the next two years, they lived together in Saint Paul and took two trips to Winnipeg, Canada. However, Keller’s father did not approve of their relationship and forbade his son from traveling with Williams. This led to a series of letters from Williams to Keller, expressing his love and making threats if Keller did not join him in Winnipeg.  In April 1905, in a fit of rage, Williams shot Keller and Keller’s mother in their home. Keller was killed instantly, and his mother died from her injuries a week later. Williams was arrested and tried for premeditated murder. Despite pleading not guilty by reason of “emotional insanity,” his defense was rejected. On May 19, 1905, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by hanging.  His execution on February 13, 1906, was botched, leading to his unintentional strangulation. This incident increased support for the abolition of capital punishment in Minnesota, which was eventually abolished in 1911. Williams remains a significant figure in the history of capital punishment in the United States.

1914Alphonse Bertillon – was a French criminologist and anthropologist who created the first system of physical measurements, photography, and record-keeping that police could use to identify recidivist criminals. Before Bertillon, suspects could only be identified through eyewitness accounts and unorganized files of photographs.  Bertillon’s anthropometric system called signaletics or bertillonage, identified individuals by measurements of the head and body, shape formations of the ear, eyebrow, mouth, eye, etc., individual markings such as tattoos and scars, and personality characteristics. Bertillon’s system was superseded by fingerprinting as the primary method of identification, though it remains an excellent means of furnishing a minutely descriptive portrait, valuable to investigators. Bertillon wrote extensively on his method, one work being La Photographie judiciaire (1890).  Bertillon also created many other forensics techniques, including the use of galvanoplastic compounds to preserve footprints, ballistics, and the dynamometer, used to determine the degree of force used in breaking and entering. The nearly 100-year-old standard of comparing 16 ridge characteristics to identify latent prints at crime scenes against criminal records of fingerprint impressions was based on claims in a 1912 paper Bertillon published in France.  Bertillon was born in Paris. He was the son of statistician Louis-Adolphe Bertillon and the younger brother of the statistician and demographer Jacques Bertillon. After being expelled from the Imperial Lycée of Versailles, Bertillon drifted through a number of jobs in England and France, before being conscripted into the French army in 1875. Several years later, he was discharged from the army with no real higher education, so his father arranged for his employment in a low-level clerical job at the Prefecture of Police in Paris. Thus, Bertillon began his police career on 15 March 1879 as a department copyist. Being an orderly man, he was dissatisfied with the ad hoc methods used to identify the increasing number of captured criminals who had been arrested before. This, together with the steadily rising recidivism rate in France since 1870, motivated his invention of anthropometrics. He did his measurements in his spare time. He used the famous La Santé Prison in Paris for his activities, facing jeers from the prison inmates as well as police officers. Bertillon died 13 February 1914 in Paris.

1954Guillaume Seznec – was born in Plomodiern, Finistère, in 1878. He was the head of a sawmill at Morlaix and found guilty of false promise and of the murder of the wood merchant Pierre Quéméneur, conseiller général of Finistère. This case is known as the Seznec Affair, a controversial French court case of 1923–1924.  Quéméneur had strangely disappeared on the night of 25 to 26 May 1923 during a business trip from Brittany to Paris with Seznec. The trip was linked to the sale of stocks of cars left behind in France after the First World War by the American Army to the Soviet Union. Despite the body never being recovered, it was decided to pursue only the murder hypothesis. Seznec became the prime suspect as the last person to have seen Quéméneur alive and was arrested, charged, and imprisoned.  Seznec was found guilty on 4 November 1924. During his eight-day trial, nearly 120 witnesses were heard. The avocat général had demanded the death penalty, but since premeditation could not be proved, he was instead condemned to hard labor in perpetuity. He was taken to the prison of St-Laurent-du-Maroni in French Guiana in 1927 and transferred to the Îles du Salut penal colony in 1928.  Throughout the trial and for the rest of his life, Seznec never stopped proclaiming his innocence. His descendants fought to have the case reopened and clear his name. All their attempts have failed until today. The “commission de révision des condamnations pénales” nevertheless accepted, on 11 April 2005, a reopening of Guillaume Seznec’s conviction for murder. This decision could open the way to an eventual annulling of his conviction in 1924.  Seznec returned to Paris in 1948 after benefiting from a remission in his sentence in May 1947. In 1953, in Paris, he was reversed into by a van, which then drove off, and died of his injuries on 13 February 1954.

1984Andre Stander – was born on 22 November 1946 in Transvaal, South Africa. He was the son of Major General Francois Jacobus Stander, a prominent figure in the South African Prison Service. Despite being a less-than-average student at school and failing his matric, he was pressured by his father into joining the police force.  Stander enrolled at the South African Police Training College near Pretoria in 1963, graduating at the top of his class. Shortly afterwards, he joined the Kempton Park criminal investigation department. He quickly rose through the ranks and earned a reputation as the youngest captain on the force.  However, Stander’s career took a dramatic turn in 1977 when he began robbing banks during his lunch breaks. Between 1977 and 1980, he is believed to have stolen nearly a hundred thousand rand from nearly 30 banks. His audacious crimes earned him notoriety as one of the most infamous bank robbers in South Africa’s history. He would often return to the scene of the crime as an investigating officer, further adding to his infamy.  On 6 May 1980, Stander was arrested and sentenced to 75 years in prison. However, since many of the charges in the sentence ran concurrently, he faced an actual sentence of 17 years. While in prison, he met Allan Heyl and Lee McCall and together they formed the Stander Gang. They carried out a series of daring prison escapes and dramatic bank robberies. At their peak, they would rob as many as four banks per day.  Stander was killed on 13 February 1984 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S. His life and crimes were later portrayed in the 2003 film “Stander”, with American actor Thomas Jane playing the titular role.

2002Nikolay Alekseyevich Soltys – was born on May 19, 1974, in Shumsk, Ukrainian SSR. He was a Ukrainian fugitive who was charged by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California in a Federal Bureau of Investigation arrest warrant. The federal charges were for Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution and there were California arrest warrants for six murders of his family members in and around the Sacramento area in August 2001.  Soltys was known to have had violent episodes towards his parents. Residents from Soltys’ former hometown of Shumsk in Western Ukraine described him as a shoemaker with violent and unpredictable behavior. At the time, Shumsk was a small religious town with a population of 5,000 residents. The town had four churches: two Orthodox churches from different branches, one Roman Catholic and one Pentecostal. Soltys and his parents belonged to the Pentecostal congregation. His parents joined a wave of Ukrainian religious population seeking refuge to the United States. Having successfully been granted refugee status in the U.S. by the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), his parents migrated to New York.  On August 20, 2001, Soltys, a Ukrainian immigrant, drove to the home of his aunt and uncle where he killed the couple and his two young cousins. Later on, Soltys stabbed his 23-year-old pregnant wife to death in their North Highlands home. He then drove his three-year-old son to a deserted field, attracted him to a box of toys, and then murdered him and left him there. Soltys’ car was found at night in the vicinity of his mother’s house, and in a search of the vehicle, a note with information on the location of his son was found. Soltys had driven to his mother’s house and picked up his son after killing five other relatives. On 23 August he became the 466th fugitive to be placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. On August 30, Soltys was arrested in the backyard of a family member’s home without incident in Citrus Heights, California. He committed suicide in Sacramento County Jail on February 13, 2002.



Bruno Hauptmann

1777 – The Marquis de Sade is arrested without charge

1866 – Jesse James holds up his first bank, stealing $15,000 ($290,255.66 at 2023 rates) from Clay County Savings Association in Liberty, Missouri

1907 – English suffragettes storm the British Parliament and 60 women are arrested

1917 – Dutch exotic dancer Mata Hari is arrested in Paris on suspicion that she is a German spy

1935 – Bruno Richard Hauptmann is found guilty of the kidnap & murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr, son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh.  Hauptmann would proclaim his innocence to the very end.

1989 – Oklahoma football player Charles Thompson is charged with selling cocaine, he would be sentenced to 2 years in prison at a later date

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