1905 – Joseph Bonanno – also known as Joe Bananas, was an influential Italian-American crime boss of the Bonanno crime family, which he led from 1931 to 1968. He was born Giuseppe Carlo Bonanno on January 18, 1905, in Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, where his father was also involved in organized crime. At the age of three, Bonanno moved to New York City with his family, where he lived for about 10 years before returning to Italy. He later re-entered the United States in 1924 by stowing away on a Cuban fishing boat bound for Tampa, Florida. After the Castellammarese War and the murder of Salvatore Maranzano in 1931, Bonanno reorganized most of the crime family, which came to be known as the Bonanno family. At the age of 26, he became one of the youngest-ever bosses of a crime family. In 1963, Bonanno made plans with Joseph Magliocco to assassinate several rivals on the Mafia Commission. However, when Magliocco gave the contract to one of his top hitmen, Joseph Colombo, he revealed the plot to its targets. The Commission spared Magliocco’s life but forced him into retirement, while Bonanno fled to Canada. In 1964, he briefly returned to New York before disappearing until 1966. The “Banana War” ensued and lasted until 1968, when Bonanno retired to Arizona. Later in life, he became a writer, publishing the book ‘A Man of Honor: The Autobiography of Joseph Bonanno’ in 1983. Bonanno passed away on May 11, 2002, in Tucson, Arizona.
1934 – Charles Richardson – was born on January 18, 1934, in Brentford, Middlesex, to Eileen Elizabeth Mary (née Allen) and Charles Frederick Richardson. The family soon moved back to Camberwell, South London, where his younger brother, Edward G. “Eddie” Richardson, was born. Charlie and Eddie turned to a life of crime after their father deserted the family. Charlie Richardson was the head of the notorious Richardson gang, the main criminal rival to the Krays in the 1960s. The Richardson Gang was an English crime gang based in South London, England in the 1960s. Also known as the “Torture Gang”, they had a reputation as some of London’s most sadistic gangsters. Their alleged specialties included pulling teeth out using pliers, cutting off toes using bolt cutters, and nailing victims to floors using 6-inch nails. In 1967, Charlie was sentenced to 25 years following the so-called “torture trial” in which it was alleged that the gang’s victims were subjected to horrific violence. The Richardsons clashed with the Krays and there were two related killings in 1966: a Kray associate, “Dickie” Hart, was shot dead at Mr Smith’s club in Catford, south London, and a member of the Richardson gang, George Cornell, was murdered by Ronnie Kray at the Blind Beggar in east London. Charlie Richardson lived briefly in Canada but returned to the UK and embarked on a series of frauds involving bogus businesses and insurance scams. After visiting South Africa, he realized there was money to be made there in mining and exporting perlite. He also became involved with the South African secret service and was reported to have organized break-ins at the London offices of the Anti-Apartheid Movement and Amnesty International on their behalf. He passed away on September 19, 2012.
1945 – Steven Murray Truscott – At the age of 14, he was convicted and sentenced to death in 1959 for the rape and murder of his classmate Lynne Harper. Truscott had been the last known person to see her alive. He was scheduled to be hanged; however, the federal cabinet reprieved him and he was sentenced to life in prison and released on parole in 1969. Five decades later, in 2007, his conviction was overturned on the basis that key forensic evidence was weaker than had been portrayed at trial, and key evidence in favor of Truscott was concealed from his defense team. He was the youngest person in Canada to face execution. Lynne Harper was born to Leslie and Shirley Harper on August 31, 1946, in New Brunswick. She had one older brother, Barry Harper, who lived in Ohio, and a younger brother, Jeffrey. Her father was a schoolteacher before he joined the military in 1940. They relocated to the RCAF base at Clinton in July 1957. Lynne spent time going to Sunday school, Bible class, and Girl Guides. On June 9, 1959, Lynne—then 12 years of age—disappeared near RCAF Station Clinton, an air force base south of Clinton, Ontario in what is now Vanastra (roughly 80 kilometers north of London). Two days later, on the afternoon of June 11, searchers discovered her body in a nearby farm woodlot. Harper had been raped and had been strangled with her own blouse. Steven Truscott and Harper had been classmates in a combined grades 7/8 class at the Air Vice Marshal Hugh Campbell School located on the north side of the Air Force base. In the early evening of Tuesday, June 9, 1959, Truscott had given Harper a ride on the crossbar of his bicycle and proceeded from the vicinity of the school northwards along the County Road. The timing and duration of their encounter, and what happened while they were together, have been contentious issues since 1959. In court, the Crown contended that Truscott and Harper left the County Road before reaching the bridge over the Bayfield River and, in a wooded area beside the County Road (known as Lawson’s Bush), Truscott raped and murdered Lynne. Truscott has maintained since 1959 that he took Harper to the intersection of the County Road and Highway 8, where he left her unharmed.
1953 – Thomas Clyde Bowling Jr – He was an American convicted murderer who unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of his death sentence. Bowling was convicted and sentenced to death for the April 9, 1990, murders of Tina and Eddie Earley. Bowling shot the Earleys dead after ramming their car outside their small dry-cleaning business in the city of Lexington, Kentucky. Bowling also shot the couple’s two-year-old son, but the child survived. Thomas Bowling was arrested on April 11, in neighboring Tennessee. His car and a .357 caliber handgun were found hidden at his family’s home in rural Kentucky. Bowling’s attorneys pursued appeals and clemency on the grounds of potential innocence and mental retardation. Bowling was assessed at the age of 12 – 13 to have an IQ of 74 which, given the margin of error, placed him within the range for mental retardation. In addition, he had a documented history of adaptive deficits, being described as a “follower” and easily manipulated. Throughout school, his parents had to lay his clothes out for him and ensure that he bathed and maintained personal hygiene. Bowling was a slow learner throughout school; He spent three years in the ninth grade and failed health class three years in a row. Bowling’s lawyers also argue that there was no physical evidence placing him at the scene of the crime; an eye-witness failed to identify him; ballistics experts admitted the weapon linked to him was one of millions that could have been used in the crime; and while the car used in the crime was his, there was no proof that he was driving it at the time. Further, the state did not establish a motive for Thomas Bowling to kill the Earley couple, whom he did not know and had never met. The lawyers assert that a local family murdered the Earleys. According to the petition and accompanying police reports, Eddie Earley told police about a local Lexington family’s alleged drug activity, which resulted in an arrest. The family then had a motive for the shooting. Bowling’s lawyers argue that the family apparently used Bowling’s vehicle in the murder. On the day of the murders, Bowling was intoxicated and stated that he could not remember anything of that day. Apparently, however, he was told by members of the above family later that afternoon to take his car out of town. In 2004 Bowling sued the Kentucky State Department of Corrections along with fellow inmate Ralph Baze on the grounds that execution by lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Baze’s court case was Baze v. Rees. On April 16, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 7-2 vote, rejected the challenge to the use of lethal injections to execute prisoners. Bowling died of cancer at the prison nursing facility, aged 62, on March 21, 2015.
1956 – John Albert Burks – was found guilty and received a death sentence for the murder of Jesse Contreras, the proprietor of Jesse’s Tortilla Factory in Waco, Texas. The crime occurred during a robbery on January 20, 1989. Aaron Bilton, an accomplice, testified that he, Burks, and Burks’s half-brother Mark McConnell had driven to the factory in Mark’s car. Burks had previously expressed his plan to rob Jesse that day. He had even sought the help of others, but they had declined. Upon reaching the factory, Bilton went inside to ensure that Contreras was alone. Burks then instructed McConnell to drop him off and circle the block. Dressed in a dark stocking cap, Burks exited the car. Five minutes later, he returned to the car, holding his stocking cap which seemed to contain something. He laid down in the backseat, claimed that he hadn’t obtained anything, and instructed Mark to drive away. Bilton stated that he didn’t see Burks again until after his own arrest for the crime. His testimony was supported by eyewitness accounts and Burks’ own admissions. When the victim’s daughter, Gloria Contreras Diaz, arrived at the store, she found her mother attending to her father who was in pain and coughing up blood. Diaz stated that her father had told them that a masked African-American man had tried to rob him. When he resisted by throwing a trash can at the assailant, he was shot. Contreras succumbed to his injuries 27 days later. Despite his involvement, Bilton was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony. McConnell, on the other hand, refused the immunity deal, did not testify, and is currently serving a 40-year sentence for robbery and burglary. At the time of the murder, Burks, who had two previous burglary convictions, was on parole.
1957 – Lynford R Blackwood – was found guilty and sentenced to death for the murder of Caroline Thomas-Tynes in 1995, which he committed by strangulation. In his statement to the police, Blackwood disclosed that he and Caroline had been in an on-and-off relationship for a decade before it ended in late 1994. Shortly after their split, Caroline started a new relationship and became pregnant. On the morning of January 6, 1995, Blackwood went to return some sheets to Caroline. After a conversation, they had consensual intercourse. Post-coitus, they had an argument in bed. Caroline expressed her desire to end all contact with him and revealed that she had terminated six pregnancies during their relationship. Following this, Blackwood strangled Caroline. After the incident, Blackwood left Caroline’s house in her car, which he later deserted. He hitchhiked to St. Petersburg, where he was subsequently apprehended. Blackwood confessed to choking Caroline and placing a soap bar in her mouth but insisted that she was alive when he left. He seemed shocked and distressed when informed of Caroline’s death. Caroline’s body was discovered on the evening of January 6, 1995. She was found unclothed in her bedroom with a washcloth and a soap bar lodged in her throat. There were conflicting reports about the use of a pillow in the asphyxiation. Caroline had visible bruises and marks on her neck indicative of manual and ligature strangulation. A speaker wire found next to the bed matched the marks on her neck. The medical examiner stated that Caroline could have died from manual or ligature strangulation, suffocation from the objects in her throat, or a pillow being pressed over her face.
1982 – Ruby Franke is a former American family vlogger who ran the now-defunct YouTube channel called 8 Passengers. She documented her family life in Utah with her husband, Kevin, and their six children. The channel, which was created in early 2015, posted five days a week at 6:00 AM and had almost 2.5 million subscribers as of June 2020. It amassed 1 billion views. However, Franke faced criticism for her stern parenting style. In one instance, she took away her son’s bed for 7 months as a punishment. After the YouTube channel ended, Franke cohosted the Connexions podcast with her business partner Jodi Hildebrandt. On August 30, 2023, Franke was arrested in Washington County, Utah, and charged with six counts of aggravated child abuse under Utah law. The charges were related to the alleged abuse of two of her children who were found in an emaciated state with open wounds and duct tape around their extremities. The children were taken to a hospital, where the boy was treated for severe malnourishment and deep lacerations from being tied up with rope. The Utah Division of Child and Family Services took the boy and girl and two more of Franke’s children into care.
1984 – Seung-Hui Cho – was a mass murderer responsible for the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007. At the age of 8, Cho and his family immigrated to the United States, where they settled in Centreville, Fairfax County, Virginia. Cho was diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder with selective mutism, as well as major depressive disorder during his middle school years. Despite his struggles, he excelled academically, particularly in English and math. Cho attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, commonly known as Virginia Tech, as an undergraduate major in business information technology but later switched to English. During his time at Virginia Tech, several instances of his abnormal behavior and violent writings caused concern among teachers and classmates. On April 16, 2007, Cho carried out the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. He killed 32 people and wounded 17 others with two semi-automatic pistols. After the shooting, Cho died by suicide. The incident led to widespread criticism of the university’s handling of Cho’s mental health issues and gaps in mental health care and gun laws in Virginia. Despite the tragedy, the event led to significant improvements in campus safety protocols and mental health services across the United States.
1901 – Jimmy Governor – born around 1875 on the Talbragar River in New South Wales, was an Indigenous Australian who was declared an outlaw after committing a series of murders in 1900. His actions initiated a cycle of violence in which nine people were killed, either by Governor or his accomplices. Governor’s father, originally from the Namoi River region, was a hard-working and intelligent man who had arrived in the Mudgee region in the 1850s. His mother had been raised northeast of Mendooran and was the daughter of Jack Fitzgerald, a white Irish stockman, and an Aboriginal mother named Polly, who worked as a house servant. Governor received his schooling at a mission school and at Gulgong. He worked at Wollar before becoming a police tracker at Cassilis from 15 July 1896 to 18 December 1897. He returned to Wollar and, after woodcutting at Gulgong and wool-rolling at Digilbar, married Ethel Mary Jane Page, a 16-year-old white woman, at the Church of England rectory, Gulgong. In April 1900, after a variety of jobs, Jimmy got a contract for fencing from John Thomas Mawbey at Breelong, near Gilgandra. In July 1900, Governor and his accomplice Jack Underwood murdered four members of the Mawbey family and a schoolteacher at Breelong in what was then the Colony of New South Wales. Underwood was captured soon afterward, but the Governor brothers took to the bush. During the period they were at large, ranging over a large area of north-central New South Wales, the brothers committed further murders and multiple robberies. In October 1900, Governor was wounded and, a fortnight later, captured near Wingham. Four days after his brother’s capture, Joe was shot and killed north of Singleton. Governor was tried for murder and hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol in January 1901. Governor’s life and crimes formed the basis for Thomas Keneally’s 1972 novel The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, which explored themes of Aboriginal dispossession and racism. Fred Schepisi’s 1978 movie of the same name was an adaptation of Keneally’s novel.
1949 – Charles (Carlo) Ponzi – born Carlo Pietro Giovanni Guglielmo Tebaldo Ponzi on March 3, 1882, in Lugo, Italy, was an infamous Italian swindler who operated in the U.S. and Canada. His early life was a mix of menial jobs and criminal enterprise. He emigrated to the United States in 1903 with only $2.50 in his pocket, having gambled away the rest of his life savings during the voyage. Ponzi is best known for his fraudulent money-making scheme in the 1920s, which has since been named after him as a “Ponzi scheme”. He promised clients a 50% profit within 45 days or 100% profit within 90 days, by buying discounted postal reply coupons in other countries and redeeming them at face value in the U.S. as a form of arbitrage. In reality, Ponzi was paying earlier investors using the investments of later investors. This type of fraudulent investment scheme was not invented by Ponzi, but it became so identified with him that it now bears his name. His scheme ran for over a year before it collapsed, costing his “investors” $20 million. Ponzi may have been inspired by the scheme of William W. Miller, a Brooklyn bookkeeper who in 1899 used a similar deception to take in $1 million. Ponzi’s life of crime began early, with thefts from his parents and parish priests. He had several aliases including Charles Ponci, Carlo, and Charles P. Bianchi. Despite his criminal activities, Ponzi managed to learn English and perform odd jobs after arriving in America. Ponzi’s infamous legacy continues to impact the financial world, as his name is now synonymous with financial fraud schemes where funds from new investors are used to pay returns to earlier investors.
1978 – Walter H Thompson – Detective Inspector Walter Henry Thompson BEM was a British police officer who was best known as the bodyguard of Winston Churchill for eighteen years, between 1921 and 1935, and between 1939 and 1945 during World War II. Thompson reportedly saved Churchill’s life on numerous occasions. Thompson grew up in the working-class neighborhood of Brixton in south London. One of a family of thirteen children, he worked a number of jobs before becoming a PC in Bayswater. He initially operated out of the Paddington Green Police Station. When the suffragette movement exploded, the police expanded the Special Branch. Thompson took the admission test and passed, later becoming part of the huge surveillance effort, by Special Branch, of the suffragette movement, during which he got to know most of the women’s rights leaders. He eventually moved on to tracking anarchists, communists, and other foreign threats before he moved to the protection detail. When it was discovered that terrorists intended to kidnap government ministers, Detective Constable Thompson was assigned to Winston Churchill as his bodyguard. He occupied that function on and off between 1921 and 1932 until his initial retirement in 1935. During his time with Churchill, Thompson traveled over 200,000 miles and is reported to have saved Churchill’s life on some 20 occasions, including times when Churchill’s own foolhardiness exposed him to danger from shrapnel during the Blitz, plots by the IRA, Indian nationalists, Arab nationalists, Nazi agents, Greek Communists and the deranged. The stress of his duties during his time with Churchill caused Thompson to suffer a breakdown, which took him away from Churchill, but within weeks, Thompson had recuperated and returned to his duties. Thompson was so liked by Churchill that when Thompson’s daughter fell ill, Churchill arranged for her to be attended to by his own doctor and insisted that the invoice be sent to him for payment. The stress of the job, compounded by long absences away from his family, led to the dissolution of Thompson’s first marriage in 1929; during long hours waiting around whilst Churchill was in meetings, he grew close to and eventually married Churchill’s junior secretary, Mary Shearburn. While working at a grocer’s shop he had bought with his family, on 22 August 1939 he received a telegram that called him back into service as Churchill’s bodyguard. When he finally retired after the war, he published a memoir that made him famous in the United Kingdom and the Western world.
2018 – Anthony Allen Shore – was an American serial killer and child molester who was responsible for the murders of one woman and three girls. He was active from 1986 to 2000 and became known as the “Tourniquet Killer” because of his use of a ligature with either a toothbrush or bamboo stick to tighten or loosen the ligature. The instrument was similar to a garotte or a twitch, a tool used by farmers to control horses. Shore was born in Rapid City, South Dakota, to Robert and Deanna Shore. His parents were both in the military, and the family, which grew to include Shore and two younger sisters Laurel and Gina, moved frequently; they eventually settled in Houston, Texas. Shore’s parents fought constantly and engaged in extramarital affairs before finally divorcing in 1976. He later claimed that his father frequently beat him and that his mother molested him when he was 13. He exhibited antisocial behavior from a young age, killing a neighbor’s cat and harassing and molesting his female classmates and, sometimes, younger friends of his sisters. In 1983, Shore married Gina Lynn Worley; Shore and Worley had two daughters, Amber and Tiffany. The couple divorced a decade later. Shore married Amy Lynch in 1997; they divorced after she accused him of abuse. At his murder trial, Shore’s daughters testified that their father drugged, abused, and raped them. Shore’s first known victim was 15-year-old Laurie Tremblay, whom he killed on September 26, 1986. Tremblay was walking to school when Shore attacked her. After attempting to sexually assault her, Shore strangled her. He dumped her behind a Mexican restaurant in Houston. Shore sexually assaulted and strangled Maria del Carmen Estrada, 21, on April 16, 1992. Estrada was a Mexican immigrant, working as a nanny. Estrada’s body was found in the back of a Dairy Queen that same day. On October 19, 1993, Shore entered the home of 14-year-old Selma Janske, then bound and sexually assaulted her; he then fled the scene on foot. Shore beat, sexually assaulted, and strangled Diana Rebollar, 9, on August 8, 1994. She lived in the Houston Heights area of Houston, at the front of a small duplex. On the day of her death, she was seen at a local grocery store. Shore was sentenced to death in 2004, and executed by lethal injection on January 18, 2018.
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1951 – The 1st use of a lie detector in the Netherlands
1967 – Albert DeSalvo (The Boston Strangler) was sentenced to life in prison
1980 – Studio 54 owners Steve Rubell & Ian Schrager were sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for tax evasion and fined $20,000
1981 – Punk singer Wendy O. Williams is arrested in Milwaukee for on-stage obscenity
1990 – Washington DC Mayor Marion Barry is arrested for drug possessions in an FBI sting