January 16 – What happened today?

Births

Sara Jane Olsen

1930Clarence Ray Allen – He claimed to be of Choctaw heritage, which meant he laid claim to being a member of the Muskhogean Indian tribe, which included the Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole tribes. The Allen family was poor, so Ray grew up picking cotton. However, Ray was ambitious and later moved to Fresno, California, where he got married and started his own security company. His company flourished, and he went from renting a shack for $75 per month to owning a ranch where he raised fancy show horses – Thoroughbreds and Arabians – owned an airplane and had a swimming pool in his backyard.  Despite his success, Ray turned to crime, forming his own gang, which he called the Ray Allen Gang. The gang began a series of carefully planned robberies, hitting both residences and businesses. Ray orchestrated the robberies and seemed to have a knack for it. In 1974, Ray determined to rob Fran’s Market in Fresno. Not only did Ray know the people who owned the store, they were friends of his. The robbery was successful, but things changed when one of the accomplices revealed the crime to the store owner’s son.  Allen was an American criminal and proxy killer who was executed in 2006 at the age of 76 by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison in California for the murders of three people. Allen was the second-oldest inmate at the time to be executed in the United States since 1976. Allen was already serving a life sentence for one murder when he was convicted of organizing the killing of three more people from prison, including a witness who had testified against him.

1947Sara Jane Olson – born Kathleen Ann Soliah on January 16, 1947, is an American far-left activist who was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) in 1975. The group disbanded and she was a fugitive for decades before being arrested.  Born in Fargo, North Dakota, while her family was living in Barnesville, Minnesota, Soliah moved to Southern California when she was eight. She attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she initially majored in English. After graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in theater, Soliah moved to Berkeley, California, with her boyfriend, James Kilgore. There, she met Angela Atwood at an acting audition where they both won lead roles. They became inseparable during the play’s run. Atwood tried to sponsor Soliah as a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a leftist group she had joined. Soliah, Kilgore, and Soliah’s brother Steve and sister Josephine followed the SLA closely without joining.  In 2001, she pleaded guilty to attempted murder related to a failed bombing plot. In 2003 she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder related to the death of a customer during a botched bank robbery the SLA committed in California. Known then as Soliah, she was also accused of helping a group hide Patty Hearst, a kidnapped newspaper heiress, in 1974. After being federally indicted in 1976, Soliah was a wanted fugitive for several decades. She lived for periods in Zimbabwe and the U.S. states of Washington and Minnesota. While in Minnesota, she legally changed her name to Sara Jane Olson, married, and had a family.  Arrested in 1999, she pleaded guilty in 2001 to two counts of possessing explosives with intent to murder, and in 2003 to second-degree murder, both stemming from her SLA activities in the 1970s. She was sentenced to 14 years in prison. She was mistakenly released for five days in March 2008 due to an error made in calculating her parole and was re-arrested. She was released on parole on March 17, 2009. On November 4, 2020, Olson was arrested along with several others for blocking Interstate 94 in Minneapolis during a protest.

1955Malcolm Joseph Thomas Clarke – He was found guilty of two murders and one rape. His first victim was Theresa Verity Crowe, 22, whom he killed on June 19, 1980, in her flat after proposing to her hours earlier. His second victim was a 6-year-old girl named Bonny Clarke (not related to him), whom he murdered in her bedroom in Northcote, Melbourne, in 1982. He raped, suffocated, and stabbed his young victim. Clarke was arrested in 2002 for Bonny’s murder. He was also investigated for other unsolved sex attacks. Clarke volunteered as a guard on the “Puffing Billy” tourist train from 1994 to 2002. He was found guilty on June 16, 2004, in the VIC Supreme Court and was sentenced to life in jail with a minimum of 25 years non-parole. He was 51 years old at the time of his sentencing.

1960Marco Furlan – He had a fairly normal upbringing during his childhood. In high school, he met and befriended Wolfgang Abel, who was born in Düsseldorf, Germany on March 25, 1959. The two friends would join the group ‘Ludwig’. They often talked about ‘cleaning up the world’ by getting rid of people like prostitutes, sinful priests, drug addicts, etc.  Furlan and Abel’s criminal career together began on August 25, 1977, in Verona, when they burned a drug addict named Guerrino Spinelli alive with four Molotov cocktails. Between the next seven years, the duo would murder 27 more people, including drug addicts, homosexuals, prostitutes, etc. At each of the spots where bodies were found, they left the ‘Ludwig’ signature on walls, or on paper next to the bodies.  On March 4, 1984, the duo checked themselves into a disco ‘Hotel’. In their bags, they had gasoline, they planned to hunt down any wrongdoers in the place. But, guards confiscated the bags and found the gasoline. When police found out that the duo were in the ‘Ludwig’ group, they connected them to the murders and they were arrested and charged with the murders. Furlan and Abel claimed that the police put the gasoline in the bag to frame them for being the killers, and said they were using Furlan and Abel as scapegoats. Either way, the duo were sentenced to 27 years in prison. In 2008, Furlan and Abel lived through their 27-year sentence and were released back into the public.

1975Wang Qiang – was one of the most notorious murderers and rapists in Chinese history. He was convicted of 45 murders and 10 rapes. Wang’s crimes were particularly heinous, involving brutal acts of violence and sexual assault. His victims ranged in age and gender, reflecting a lack of a specific target demographic. Wang’s reign of terror lasted for several years, causing widespread fear and panic in the communities he targeted. His capture brought relief to many, but the memory of his crimes continues to haunt those affected. Wang was sentenced to death for the murders and executed in November 2005. His case serves as a chilling reminder of the capacity for human cruelty and the importance of vigilance and justice in society.

1979William Josef Berkley – is a notable figure, but his story is a tragic one. Born in 1979, Berkley’s early life was marked by a rebellious spirit. He was known as a self-professed marijuana-smoking, baggy-jeans-wearing, ‘sarcastic smart ass.’ His birthplace was Germany, where his father was posted with the US Army.  However, Berkley’s life took a dark turn in March 2000. He committed a heinous crime, robbing and abducting Sophia Martinez, an 18-year-old girl, after she stopped at a cash point to withdraw some money. The teenager’s body was later found abandoned outside El Paso, Texas. This event marked a tragic end to a young life and a grim chapter in Berkley’s own story.

 

Deaths

Ma Barker

1935Ma Barker – Beverley Spearman, better known as Ma Barker, was born on October 8, 1873, in Ash Grove, Missouri, U.S. She was the mother of several American criminals who ran the Barker–Karpis Gang during the “public enemy era” when the exploits of gangs of criminals in the Midwestern United States gripped the American people and press.  She was married to George Barker in 1892 and the couple had four sons: Herman (1893–1927), Lloyd (1897–1949), Arthur (1899–1939), and Fred (1901–1935). Barker’s sons committed crimes as early as 1910 when Herman was arrested for highway robbery after running over a child in the getaway car. Over the next few years, Herman and his brothers were repeatedly involved in crimes of increasing seriousness, including robbery and murder. They were inducted into major crime by the Central Park gang.  Barker gained a reputation as a ruthless crime matriarch who controlled and organized her son’s crimes. J. Edgar Hoover described her as “the most vicious, dangerous, and resourceful criminal brain of the last decade”. She has been presented as a monstrous mother in films, songs, and literature. However, those who knew her insisted that she had no criminal role and that Hoover created the allegations to justify her shooting by the FBI in 1935. Reports are consistent that Kate Barker’s role in her sons’ crimes was falsely created by the media to increase newspaper and media sales.  She died on January 16, 1935, due to a gunshot wound in Ocklawaha, Florida, U.S.

1936Albert Fish – born Hamilton Howard Fish on May 19, 1870, in Washington, D.C., was an infamous American serial killer, rapist, child molester, and cannibal. He committed at least three child murders from July 1924 to June 1928. Fish was also known by several monikers, including the Gray Man, the Werewolf of Wysteria, the Brooklyn Vampire, the Moon Maniac, and The Boogey Man.  Fish’s father was American, of English ancestry, and his mother was a Scots-Irish American. His father was forty-three years older than his mother and aged 75 at the time of his birth. Fish was the youngest child and had three living siblings: Walter, Annie, and Edwin. He wished to be known as “Albert” after a dead sibling and to escape the nickname “Ham & Eggs” that he was given at an orphanage in which he spent much of his childhood.  Fish’s family had a history of mental illness. His uncle had mania, one of his brothers was confined in a state mental hospital, a paternal half-brother suffered from schizophrenia, and his sister Annie was diagnosed with a “mental affliction”. Three other relatives were diagnosed with mental illnesses, and his mother had “aural and/or visual hallucinations”.  Fish was apprehended on December 13, 1934, and put on trial for the kidnapping and murder of Grace Budd. He was convicted and executed by an electric chair on January 16, 1936, at the age of 65. His most notorious act was the kidnapping and murder of Grace Budd in 1928, which led to his capture after he sent a chilling letter to the Budd family detailing the crime.

1997Ennis William Cosby, born on April 15, 1969, was the only son of the renowned American comedian Bill Cosby and his wife, Camille Cosby. He was their third child and had four sisters: Erika, Erinn, Ensa, and Evin. Ennis was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Southern California, Pennsylvania, and New York City. He attended George School, a private boarding school outside Philadelphia, where he played football, basketball, lacrosse, and track and field.  Ennis struggled with undiagnosed dyslexia, which caused low grades and friction with his parents, both of whom had advanced educational degrees. His dyslexia was diagnosed when he entered Morehouse College in Atlanta, where a friend encouraged him to be tested. He then spent a summer semester in Putney, Vermont, undergoing intensive academic training at Landmark College, a private university established exclusively for students with learning disabilities.  Ennis’s life was tragically cut short on January 16, 1997, near Interstate 405 in Los Angeles, California. He was shot in the head by 18-year-old Mikhail Markhasev in a failed robbery attempt while he was changing a tire on his car. Ennis was 27 years old at the time of his murder.  His death resulted in significant media coverage, public outrage, and an outpouring of support for the Cosby family. An acquaintance of the shooter, seeking the $100,000 reward offered by the National Enquirer, provided information that led to Markhasev’s arrest in March 1997. Subsequently, Markhasev was tried and convicted of first-degree murder and attempted robbery on July 7, 1998, and was sentenced to life in prison the following month. Markhasev maintained his innocence until 2001 when he admitted to committing the murder and asked that appeals in his case stop.

2012Loren Herzog – born on December 8, 1965, in Linden, California, was one half of the infamous serial killer duo known as the “Speed Freak Killers”. Herzog and his partner, Wesley Shermantine, were initially convicted of four murders, three of which were joint convictions. However, they are suspected to be responsible for the deaths of as many as 72 people in and around San Joaquin County, California. The duo earned the moniker “Speed Freak Killers” due to their habitual methamphetamine abuse.  Herzog and Shermantine grew up in the town of Linden, California, and lived on the same street. They spent much of their childhood exploring the San Joaquin County countryside and were both avid hunters and fishermen. They graduated from Linden High School in 1984. Herzog and Shermantine took pleasure in bullying other people, as well as drinking alcohol and using drugs, especially methamphetamine, in their apartment in nearby Stockton, California.  Herzog was apprehended on March 17, 1999. His convictions included murder (4 counts, overturned), voluntary manslaughter, accessory to murder (3 counts), and furnishing amphetamine. His initial criminal penalty was 78 years, but this was overturned, and he was sentenced to 14 years, paroled after 11 years.  Herzog died on January 16, 2012, in Susanville, California, by suicide. His crimes and the subsequent investigations have left a lasting impact on the communities affected.

2021Phil Spector – was born on December 26, 1939, in New York City, U.S. He was an American record producer and songwriter, best known for his innovative recording practices and entrepreneurship in the 1960s. Spector developed the Wall of Sound, a production style that he described as a “Wagnerian” approach to rock and roll. This style is characterized by its diffusion of tone colors and dense orchestral sound. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in pop music history and one of the most successful producers of the 1960s.  Spector moved to Los Angeles as a teenager and began his career in 1958 as a founding member of The Teddy Bears, for whom he penned “To Know Him Is to Love Him”, a U.S. number-one hit. In 1960, after working as an apprentice to Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Spector co-founded Philles Records, and at the age of 21 became the youngest-ever U.S. label owner at the time. He produced acts such as The Ronettes, The Crystals, and Ike & Tina Turner, and typically collaborated with arranger Jack Nitzsche and engineer Larry Levine. The musicians from his de facto house band, later known as “The Wrecking Crew”, rose to industry fame through his hit records.  In the early 1970s, Spector produced the Beatles’ Let It Be and several solo records by John Lennon and George Harrison. By the mid-1970s Spector had produced eighteen U.S. Top 10 singles for various artists. His chart-toppers included the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”, the Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road”, and Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”. Spector helped establish the role of the studio as an instrument, the integration of pop art aesthetics into music (art pop), and the genres of art rock and dream pop.  His honors include the 1973 Grammy Award for Album of the Year for co-producing Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh, a 1989 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a 1997 induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2004, Spector was ranked number 63 on Rolling Stone’s list of the greatest artists in history.  Phil Spector’s life took a dark turn in the early 2000s. On the morning of February 3, 2003, American actress Lana Clarkson was found dead inside the Pyrenees Castle, the Alhambra, California mansion of Phil Spector. Clarkson had met Spector while working at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. Her body was found slumped in a chair with a single gunshot wound to her mouth with broken teeth scattered over the carpet. Spector’s driver, Adriano de Souza, said Spector came out of the house holding a gun and said “I think I killed someone”. However, Spector’s fingerprints were not on the supposed murder weapon.  The prosecution alleged that Spector had previously pulled a gun on four women. In each case, he had been drinking and was romantically interested in the woman, but grew angry after the woman spurned him. The prosecution argued that the testimony of the other women was important in demonstrating a “common plan or scheme”. The defense sought to prevent the women from providing such testimony. Though the law generally forbids the introduction of evidence showing a defendant’s previous transgressions, the judge ruled the testimony “can be used to show lack of accident or mistake”.  Spector was tried for the murder of Clarkson in 2007. On September 26 of that year, a mistrial was declared due to a hung jury, with ten jurors of twelve favoring conviction. He was tried again for second-degree murder beginning on October 20, 2008. On April 13, 2009, the jury found Spector guilty of murdering Clarkson. On May 29, 2009, he was sentenced to nineteen years to life in state prison. Spector died in a prison hospital in 2021.

 

Events

Paul McCartney

1980 – Singer-Songwriter Paul McCartney is arrested at Tokyo International Airport for possession of marijuana; he was sent to jail for 9 days before being deported.

1981 – Boxer Leon Spinks is mugged, and his assailants even take his gold teeth!

1984 – Paul & Linda McCartney are arrested in Barbados for possession of marijuana

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