January 23 – What happened today?

Births

Christian Longo

1929Romulus Veres – also known as “The Man with the Hammer”, was a notorious serial killer from Romania. He was born on January 23, 1929, in Cluj, Romania. During the 1970s, he was charged with five murders and several attempted murders. Despite the severity of his crimes, he was never imprisoned due to being diagnosed with schizophrenia. He blamed the Devil for his actions.  Vereș’s criminal activities spanned from September 11, 1972, to February 14, 1974. His victims were all women, ranging in age from 16 to 21. The crimes were so brutal and shocking that they led to a three-year-long forensic investigation during which four thousand people were questioned.  Despite the horrific nature of his crimes, urban myths inflated the number of his victims to 200 women, but the actual number was much smaller. This confusion probably arose due to the lack of attention this case received in the Communist press of the time.  Instead of serving time in prison, Vereș was institutionalized in the Ștei psychiatric facility in 1976. He remained there until his death on December 13, 1993.

1961Tracy Lane Beatty – He was a convicted murderer from Texas, United States. Beatty was found guilty of murdering his mother, Carolyn “Callie” Click, who was 62 years old at the time of her death. The murder took place two days before Thanksgiving in 2003, following an argument in her East Texas mobile home.  Beatty had a history of criminal behavior. In September 2003, he was paroled from prison after serving a 15-year sentence for automobile theft. Shortly after his release, he moved in with his mother. Despite their tumultuous relationship, which included several instances of assault, his mother was initially excited about him moving in with her. However, their relationship quickly deteriorated, leading to daily arguments and fights.  On November 25, 2003, Beatty strangled his mother to death. Following the murder, he stole her car, drained her credit and bank accounts to buy drugs and alcohol, gave away her personal items, and buried her body in a shallow grave behind her mobile home.  Beatty was arrested, convicted of capital murder, and sentenced to death. He spent several years on death row, actively challenging his conviction and sentence in state and federal court. However, all his appeals were denied. Beatty was executed by lethal injection on November 9, 2022, at the age of 61. His final words before his execution were “See you on the other side”.

1962Richard Lynn Bible – was a notorious figure who was arrested in June 1988 on charges unrelated to the murder of Jennifer Wilson. However, on August 5, 1988, he was indicted by a Coconino County grand jury in the murder case of 9-year-old Jennifer Marie Wilson. He faced charges of murder, kidnapping, and child molestation. Bible was later executed in Arizona for molesting and fatally bludgeoning Jennifer Wilson in 1988. His case was widely covered in the media and left a significant impact.

1974Christian Longo – is a convicted murderer who killed his wife and three children in Oregon in December 2001. He was raised in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan. At the age of 19, in 1993, Longo married 26-year-old Mary Jane Baker and had three children with her. The Longo family often encountered financial difficulties due to his reckless spending habits.  The family lived in Newport, Oregon. Christian was employed at a local Starbucks, while Mary Jane was a full-time mother and an active member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses church. The couple devoted their time to raising their three young children and enjoyed sailing and jigsaw puzzles in their spare time.  The bodies of the Longo family were found in late December 2001. Four-year-old Zachary Longo was found in Lint Slough, and three-year-old Sadie was found less than a mile offshore in the Pacific Ocean. Mary Jane and their two-year-old daughter Madison were found five days later, stuffed nude in suitcases found in the water near a ramp at Embarcadero Marina. An autopsy revealed that Sadie and Zachary were killed by asphyxiation, while Mary Jane Longo and Madison had been strangled.  After he fled the United States, Longo was recognized at a hotel in Cancún, Mexico. A federal arrest warrant issued in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon charged him with multiple counts of aggravated murder and unlawful flight. He left the hotel and was captured six days later without incident in the small town of Tulum, Quintana Roo, about 80 miles south of Cancún. He was taken into U.S. custody at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. He was sentenced to death in 2003, which was later commuted to life without parole.

 

Deaths

Ken Eto aka Tokyo Joe

1897Elva Zona Heaster – known as Zona, was born in 1876 in Greenbrier, West Virginia, United States. Her parents were Jacob Heaster and Mary Robinson. In October 1896, Zona met a blacksmith named Erasmus Stribbling Trout Shue, often referred to as Edward, and they soon got married. However, their marriage wasn’t well-received by Zona’s mother, Mary Jane Robinson Heaster, who was opposed to her daughter’s romance with an older man.  On January 23, 1897, Zona was found dead in her home. The cause of death was initially listed as “childbirth”. However, her mother, Mary Jane Heaster, claimed to have seen Zona’s ghost at her bedside. According to Mary Jane’s story, Zona insisted that Erasmus had murdered her. Armed with the story allegedly told to her by the ghost, Mary Jane Heaster visited the local prosecutor, John Alfred Preston, and spent several hours in his office convincing him to reopen the matter of her daughter’s death.  An autopsy was conducted on Zona’s body on February 22, 1897, in the local one-room schoolhouse. The autopsy lasted three hours and found that Zona’s neck had been broken. According to the report, “the discovery was made that the neck was broken and the windpipe mashed. On the throat were the marks of fingers indicating that she had been choked. The neck was dislocated between the first and second vertebrae. The ligaments were torn and ruptured. The windpipe had been crushed at a point in front of the neck.”  Erasmus Shue was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife. During his time in jail, more information about his past came to light. He had been married twice before: his first marriage had ended in divorce, with his wife accusing him of great cruelty; his second wife had died under mysterious circumstances less than a year after they were married. Zona was his third wife, and Shue began to talk of wishing to wed seven women; he freely spoke of this ambition while in jail and told reporters that he was sure he would be let free because there was so little evidence against him.  Zona’s case is popularly known as the Greenbrier Ghost, and she is remembered as a young woman who was murdered in 1897. Her case is unique as it is the only known case in which testimony from a ghost helped convict a murderer.

1957Willie Edwards – was a 24-year-old African American, husband, and father of two, who was tragically murdered by members of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. Born on November 13, 1932, in Lowndes County, Alabama, Edwards was a hardworking man who had recently been hired as a driver for Winn-Dixie, a supermarket chain.  On the night of January 22, 1957, a small group of Klansmen, armed with pistols and a rifle, abducted Edwards. They believed, without any substantiated evidence, that Edwards was involved with a white woman. After being beaten and driven around Montgomery, Edwards was forced to jump off the Tyler-Goodwin Bridge into the Alabama River, falling 125 feet to his death. His body was discovered washed up on the shores of the river three months later. Due to decomposition, officials initially stated that it was impossible to determine the cause of his death.  In 1976, State Attorney General Bill Baxley reopened the Edwards case. Four people were arrested and charged with Edwards’s murder: Sonny Kyle Livingston Jr., Henry Alexander, James York, and Raymond Britt Jr. Britt broke the long silence with his affidavit, describing how he, along with the three other men, beat Edwards and forced him to jump off the bridge. However, Alabama Judge Frank Embry dismissed the charges, stating that “merely forcing a person to jump from a bridge does not naturally and probably lead to the death of such person.”  In 1997, Edwards’s daughter, Malinda, requested the District Attorney, Ellen Brooks, to re-investigate her father’s death. The District Attorney agreed and began working with the new medical examiner, Dr. James Lauridson. It was found that Edwards’s death was caused by a forced jump into the Alabama River in 1957. Therefore, Edwards’s cause of death was changed from unknown to homicide. In 1999, the District Attorney presented the new case before a Montgomery County Grand Jury, which subsequently affirmed that Edwards’s death was indeed caused by the KKK, but declined to indict anyone specifically for the crime.  Willie Edwards Jr.’s tragic story is a stark reminder of the racial violence that plagued the United States during the mid-20th century. His legacy lives on through his family and the continued fight for racial justice.

1962Erzsebet Papp – also known as “The Nicotine Killer” or by her married name “Mrs. János Holhos”, was a Hungarian serial killer born on January 28, 1935, in Penészlek, Hungary. She was one of two daughters born to farmers János and Julianna Papp, who also had two sons. Erzsébet was considered an intelligent woman in comparison with her peers but was also considered to have a warped sense of morals.  Between 1957 and 1958, Papp poisoned four people with nicotine. All of her killings were carried out using a formula mixing nicotine in tobacco leaves provided by her unsuspecting brother, a fruit grower, and using the concoction on her unsuspecting victims, who were all killed for menial reasons.  Her first victim was 5-year-old Ilona Tarnóczi in Pereces, who, according to the investigators, had been a victim of opportunity. At the time, Papp was experimenting with her poison, first giving it to a dog and then mixing it in a brandy bottle, which she gave to the little girl. The high amounts of nicotine quickly made Tarnóczi dizzy and unable to walk, making Papp drag her to the road, where Ilona collapsed. When she was found, police quickly wrote off the death as drowning, and closed the case.  Papp’s second victim was her best friend, Mrs. József Fürtös, whom she had decided to kill after the former began spreading unsavory rumors about her. In what appeared to be an attempt at reconciliation, she brought Fürtös a bottle of pálinka, which had secretly been laced with nicotine. When Fürtös’ body was found, an autopsy was conducted that revealed that she had been pregnant, and her death was written off as a botched abortion attempt.  Her third murder was that of her husband István Rostár, an alcoholic who often verbally abused her when he was drunk. In August 1957, Rostár offered that they go to a restaurant in Lillafüred for dinner. When he wasn’t looking, Papp poisoned his drinks with nicotine, and due to his alcoholic tendencies, Rostár drank it without a second thought, collapsing not long after. After an autopsy was conducted on the body, the coroner erroneously concluded that the cause of death was the result of alcohol poisoning due to the high levels of alcohol in his blood, the strong smell of gastric acid, and the discoloration of the gastric mucosa present in alcoholics.  Erzsébet Papp was then arrested and charged with fourfold murder, but then released, as the authorities had insufficient evidence to detain her. This changed during the course of the investigation, as they gathered witness testimony that increasingly weighed in favor of her guilt. Papp was then rearrested and charged anew, and despite initially protesting her innocence, she eventually broke down and confessed to all four murders. At trial, Papp was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment, but upon appeal to the Curia, she was resentenced to death. On January 23, 1962, she was executed in Miskolc.

1997Randy Greenawalt – born on February 24, 1949, in Hannibal, Missouri, was an American serial killer and mass murderer. He initially worked as a truck driver, which led to his first murders in 1974. Greenawalt was arrested and convicted for two murders, one at a rest stop in Arkansas and the other in Flagstaff, Arizona. He was originally sentenced to life imprisonment for these crimes.  However, Greenawalt later became notorious for escaping from prison along with fellow murderer Gary Tison and his three sons. After their escape, they embarked on a two-week killing spree through Arizona and Colorado that left six people dead in 1978. This case served as the basis for the Supreme Court decision Tison v. Arizona.  Greenawalt was promptly sentenced to death after his recapture and was executed on January 23, 1997. His life and crimes have been the subject of significant attention and study.

2004Ken Eto – is a former Japanese-American mobster who was associated with the Chicago Outfit, a notorious organized crime syndicate. Born on October 19, 1919, in Tokyo, Japan, Eto eventually became a prominent figure in the criminal underworld.  Eto, also known by the nickname “Tokyo Joe,” played a significant role in the Chicago Outfit during the mid-20th century. He was involved in various criminal activities, including racketeering, gambling, and loan sharking. Eto’s criminal career reached its peak during the 1960s.  One notable aspect of Ken Eto’s story is his survival of an assassination attempt. In 1983, Eto was shot three times in the head but miraculously survived. This event earned him the nickname “The Jinx” within the criminal underworld due to his apparent ability to escape death.  Following the attempt on his life, Eto decided to cooperate with law enforcement, providing valuable information about the inner workings of organized crime. His cooperation led to the conviction of several high-profile mob figures. Eto’s testimony played a crucial role in dismantling the criminal activities of the Chicago Outfit.  Ken Eto’s life and experiences provide a glimpse into the complex and often dangerous world of organized crime in the mid-20th century. His decision to cooperate with law enforcement marked a significant turning point in his life, showcasing the challenges and choices individuals face within the realm of organized crime.

2012Anthony “Tony” Capo – was an American hitman in the DeCavalcante crime family who later became a government witness and entered the Witness Protection Program. His aliases included Marshall Beach, Mathew Beach, and Wade Beach.  Capo was a resident of South Beach, Staten Island, and became an associate of the DeCavalcante crime family during the early 1980s under powerful Elizabeth, New Jersey faction leader Giovanni Riggi. He was involved in extortion and loansharking activities and was married with three children. In the 1980s, Capo attended school to become a certified Asbestos abatement worker. However, he later testified that he slept during class and allowed the school’s operator to take the test for him.  Sometime in the late 1980s, law enforcement listed Capo as a soldier in the DeCavalcante family. In 1989, Capo participated in the murder of Fred Weiss, a Staten Island, New York developer, and newspaper publisher. Weiss was under federal investigation for illegal dumping of medical waste and Gambino boss John Gotti was afraid that Weiss might become a government witness. As a favor to Gotti, the DeCavalcantes agreed to murder Weiss. On September 11, 1989, Capo drove DeCavalcante mobsters Vincent Palermo and James Gallo to Weiss’ apartment. Palermo and Gallo shot Weiss in the face as he was entering his car. Palermo and Gallo then re-entered Capo’s car, and Capo drove them away from the murder scene.  By 1990, Capo was working for John D’Amato and reputed Capo Anthony Rotondo of the New York faction in labor racketeering, illegal gambling, extortion, and loansharking activities. Capo also ran a DeCavalcante crew in New York City. Between 1986 and 1994, Capo also worked with reputed Gambino crime family mobster Joseph Watts in a loansharking racket that allegedly grossed more than $12 million.  In January 1992, Capo participated in the murder of acting boss D’Amato. Earlier in 1991, D’Amato’s girlfriend, retaliating against D’Amato over an argument, told Rotondo that D’Amato was an active bisexual. She described swinging encounters that D’Amato had in Manhattan sex clubs with both women and men. Rotondo shared this information with underboss Giacomo Amari, and consigliere Stefano Vitabile. As Capo himself described it in court testimony in 2003, “Nobody’s going to respect us if we have a gay homosexual boss sitting down discussing La Cosa Nostra business.”

 

Events

Annabella Sciorra

1978 – Belgian industrialist Baron Empain is kidnapped in Paris

2002 – Reporter Daniel Pearl is kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan, and subsequently murdered

2009 – The Dendermonde Nursery attack occurs in Dendermonde, Belgium

2016 – 8 museum workers from an Egyptian museum in Cairo are referred for prosecution for reattaching Tutankhamun’s beard with inappropriate glue

2018 – Gabriel Ross Parker is arrested for killing two classmates at Marshall County High School in Kentucky

2020 – Actress Annabella Sciorra testifies in court that Harvey Weinstein raped her 25 years ago at his trial in New York

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