January 1 – What happened today?


As we begin another year, let us see what has occurred on January 1st over the years.

Birth of the day

John Edgar Hoover was born in Washington D.C. on this day in 1895 to parents Anna Marie & Dickerson Naylor Hoover.  Hoover was born on Seward Square in Washington’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, surprisingly the laws in Washington at the time stated that a birth certificate must be obtained, and whereas his siblings had theirs, Hoover’ was not filed and registered until 1938.

After he had finished high school, young Hoover started working at the Library of Congress whilst taking night classes at George Washington University Law School where he would go on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law.

Hoover started working for the Department of Justice in July 1917 and rose exceedingly quickly through the ranks by the end of 1924 Hoover was named Director of the Bureau of Investigation, the predecessor to the FBI. 

Under Hoover’s command, he made many changes including firing those he considered to be political appointments including removing all females from the role of agent, he also changed the entire application and employment process.

During his time at the bureau, the FBI became a symbol of law enforcement in the United States, they would also offer and implement training and forensic services to other law enforcement departments at the Federal, State, and local levels.

J. Edgar Hoover died in his sleep on the 2nd May 1972, he had been the director of the FBI for 48 years and served under 8 presidents and 18 Attorney Generals.  Without Hoover, the FBI we know today would have been an entirely different entity.

Hoover Facts!

Hoover’s childhood nickname was “Speed” – this was possibly due to a stuttering problem he had and to combat this he was known to speak quickly.

Hoover was a Freemason and he reached the highest rank by 1955.

Hoover didn’t believe that women should be allowed to vote or be Federal Agents, so when he joined he fired all female agents, women would not be permitted to be agents until 1972, 2 months after Hoover’s death.

For many years, Hoover denied the existence of organized crime or the mob!

No one was safe from his prying, keeping files on celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin, John Lennon, comedy duo Abbot & Costello, and many many more.

Hoover was a consultant for film studio Warner Bros.

Hoover was a confirmed racist who actively tried to prevent Martin Luther King Day from becoming a holiday.

Ironically, at Hoover’s funeral, local kids stole flowers from his graveside. 


Clifford Robert Olson

1880Elmer McCurdy was an American bank and train robber who was killed in a shoot-out with police after robbing a Katy Train in Oklahoma in October 1911. His mummified body was first put on display at an Oklahoma funeral home and then became a fixture on the traveling carnival and sideshow circuit during the 1920s through the 1960s. After changing ownership several times, McCurdy’s remains eventually wound up at The Pike amusement zone in Long Beach, California where they were discovered by a film crew of The Six Million Dollar Man and positively identified in December 1976. In April 1977, Elmer McCurdy’s body was buried at the Summit View Cemetery in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

1895J Edgar Hoover – Former Director of the FBI – See above

1940Clifford Robert Olson born on January 1, 1940, was a convicted Canadian serial killer. He confessed to murdering 11 children and teenagers between the ages of 9 and 18 in the early 1980s. Prior to his killing spree, in 1976, Olson was serving a sentence for his crimes as a con artist. His victims included Christine Weller, 12, who was abducted on November 17, 1980, and Colleen Marian Daignault, 13, who vanished on April 16, 1981. His other victims ranged in age from 9 to 18 years old.  Olson was arrested on August 12, 1981, on suspicion of attempting to abduct two girls. By August 25, Olson had been charged with the murder of Judy Kozma. He reached a controversial deal with authorities, agreeing to confess to the 11 murders and show the RCMP the location of the bodies of those not yet recovered. In return, authorities agreed that C$10,000 for each victim was paid into a trust for his wife, Joan, and then-infant son, Clifford III.  In January 1982, Olson pleaded guilty to 11 counts of murder and was given as many concurrent life sentences to be served in Canada’s super-maximum security Special Handling Unit in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Quebec. He died in prison custody on September 30, 2011.

1947McArthur Breedlovealso known as McArthur Jenkins, was a convicted murderer and robber. He was born on January 1, 1947. His criminal activities culminated in 1974 and 1978, during which he committed multiple robberies and was convicted as a rapist.  One of his most notorious crimes occurred on November 6, 1978, when Breedlove broke into a Miami residence and stabbed Frank Budnick as he lay sleeping in his bed. Using a butcher knife he found in the home, Breedlove inflicted a single wound to Budnick’s upper chest, puncturing his lung and causing him to drown in his own blood.  Breedlove was arrested and charged with first-degree felony murder, burglary, grand theft, and petit theft. He was acquitted of the attempted murder of Carol Meoni, a second occupant of the home. On March 5, 1979, Breedlove was sentenced to death for the murder of Frank Budnick.  Prior to these events, Breedlove had been convicted of two rapes in California and was classified as a mentally disordered sex offender. His criminal history and subsequent trial have been subjects of legal scrutiny and public interest.

1977Patrick Soultanaborn on January 1, 1977, in Amsterdam, is a convicted Dutch murderer. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on July 25, 2013, for two murders and one attempted murder. In December 2014, he was resentenced to 25 years plus provision after an appeal.  His victims included Farida Nadjiebullovna Zargar, who was born in 1988 in Kemerovo, Russia. She was stabbed several times and then strangled by Soultana on August 5, 2010. Soultana declared to a witness that he intended to rob Zargar, but that he killed her because she started screaming. After Soultana killed Zargar, he sawed off her foot and buried it in a pot under his shed, burying her body in Mallebos afterward. On November 11, 2011, Zargar’s body was finally located when Soultana agreed to take police to the location where he had buried her.  Another victim was Nanda Kerklaan, born in 1966. She was found in a ditch at the Malledijk in Spijkenisse on the morning of January 28, 2010. She was badly injured and was barely conscious due to a head wound and severe hypothermia. She was resuscitated on the spot and transported to the hospital. After being examined, she appeared to have multiple cranial fractures, four broken ribs, and a collapsed lung. On February 2, 2010, Kerklaan died of her injuries.  On March 24, 2011, Soultana and a friend robbed a Polish man from Włocławek. In doing so, both men hit the man on the head several times with an iron bar, took his belongings, and left him for dead. The man survived the attack.


Fred West

1984Billy Hill – was an English criminal known for organized crime in London from the 1920s to the 1960s. Born in St Pancras, London, he grew up in a criminal family and engaged in violence from a young age, specializing in burglary and “smash-and-grab” raids in the 1930s. During WWII, he operated in the black market, dealing in food, petrol, and forged documents. He planned significant heists, including a postal van robbery and a bullion heist, all going unsolved. Hill also ran smuggling operations from Morocco. His memoir, “Boss of Britain’s Underworld,” described his use of the shiv and his mentorship of the Kray twins in their early criminal careers.

1995Fred West was an English serial killer who committed at least twelve murders between 1967 and 1987 in Gloucestershire, mostly with his second wife, Rose West. He preyed on vulnerable young girls and women, including two of his own children, and raped, tortured and dismembered them. He was arrested in 1994 but hanged himself in prison before his trial.  West was born into a family of farm workers in Herefordshire in 1941. He moved to Gloucester in 1962 and married Rose in 1972 when she was 18. This was his second marriage; his first was to Catherine Costello, also known as Rena, who was pregnant with another man’s child at the time. Costello left West in 1969 amid reports of violence and sexual abuse, and friends and family lost contact with her in 1971. West later admitted to her murder in 1994.  West and his wife tortured, raped, and murdered an unknown number of women over a 20-year period between 1967 and 1987. There are 12 known victims, with the couple jointly charged with 10 murders and Fred West charged with a further two. The victims included Anne McFall, who was pregnant with West’s child and disappeared in July 1967, and Costello’s eight-year-old daughter.  The remains of the victims were typically buried in the cellar or garden of the West residence in Gloucester, which became known as the “House of Horrors”. Fred is known to have committed at least two murders on his own; Rose is known to have murdered Fred’s stepdaughter, Charmaine. The couple were arrested and charged in 1994. Fred fatally asphyxiated himself while detained on remand at HM Prison Birmingham on 1 January 1995.

2007Leonard Fraser also known as The Rockhampton Rapist, was an Australian convicted serial killer. He was born in Ingham, Queensland on June 27th, 1951. When he was six, his family moved to Mount Druitt in Sydney. Fraser left school at 14 and was functionally illiterate. There was no indication that anything in Fraser’s childhood would have caused him to become a man with violent sexual leanings.  Fraser had a daughter in the 1970s with a woman named Pearl. Before a life sentence on 7 September 2000 for the abduction, rape, and murder of a 9-year-old girl, Keyra Steinhardt, in Rockhampton, Queensland, Fraser had spent almost 20 of the preceding 22 years behind bars for the rape of other women.  He even raped a terminally ill cancer patient, with whom he had been living in early 1997. He was subsequently charged with four murders. Police found many trophies of his victims in his flat; these included ponytails from three different women, which could not be traced to any of his known victims.  Fraser originally confessed to five murders in an apparent deal with police to avoid the general population in prison, but one of those victims was 14-year-old Natasha Ryan, who was found to be alive and living secretly with her boyfriend in a nearby town after being listed as a missing person for five years.  In June 2003, Fraser was sentenced to three indefinite prison terms for the murders of Beverley Leggo and Sylvia Benedetti, and the manslaughter of Julie Turner in the Rockhampton area in 1998 and 1999. At his trial, the judge described him as a sexual predator who was a danger to the community and his fellow inmates.  Fraser was being held at the Wolston Correctional Centre and, after complaining of chest pains, he was taken to a secure section of the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Woolloongabba, on December 26, 2006, where he died of a heart attack on January 1, 2007.

2008Salvatore Bonanno was born on November 5, 1932, in New York City. He was the first child of Joseph and Fay Bonanno. His father was the boss of the Bonanno crime family. Salvatore was educated in a Catholic boarding school in Tucson, Arizona, due to a severe mastoid ear infection. He attended the University of Arizona between 1950 and 1952 but did not graduate.  On August 18, 1956, Bonanno married Rosalie Marie Profaci, the daughter of Salvatore Lawrence Profaci Sr., who was the brother of Profaci crime family boss Joseph Profaci. The wedding was designed to cement an alliance between the two crime families.  Shortly after leaving university, Bonanno was inducted as a “made man” into the Bonanno family and was eventually appointed as consigliere by his father. However, many family members felt that Bonanno lacked experience and was too intellectual to lead effectively. These tensions only worsened when Bonanno advised his father against involving the family in the illegal narcotics trade.  In his later life, he became a writer and produced films for television about his family. He passed away on January 1, 2008.


Johnny Cash @ San Quentin

1847 – Michigan becomes the first state to abolish capital punishment

1881 – Dr. John Watson is first introduced to Sherlock Holmes

1906 – Driver’s licenses become mandatory in Dutch law

1958 – Johnny Cash plays the first of many free concerts behind bars at San Quentin, California. As an interesting aside, Country music star Merle Haggard was an inmate at the time.

1966 – It becomes law for all cigarettes sold in the United States to carry a warning that states “Caution Cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health”.

1972 – The South African police force enlists females as full members of the service for the first time.

1975 – H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, John N Mitchell & Robert Mardian are all convicted of various crimes related to the Watergate scandal.

1998 – It became law that all bars, clubs, and card rooms become smoke-free in California

2008 – In the state of New Hampshire, a new law comes into effect allowing civil unions for same-sex couples

2018 – California becomes the largest US state to legalize cannabis for recreational use

2019 – It becomes legal for same-sex couples to marry in Austria


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