January 27 – What happened today?

Births

Eoin/Ian Bailey

1886Francesco Raffaele Nitto – better known as Frank Nitti or “The Enforcer”, was born on January 27, 1886, in Angri, Campania, Italy. He was the second child of Luigi and Rosina Nitto and a first cousin of Al Capone. His father died in 1888 when Frank was two years old. Within a year, his mother married Francesco Dolendo. The family moved to the United States in June 1893 when Nitti was seven. The family settled at 113 Navy Street, Brooklyn, New York City.  Nitti attended public school and worked odd jobs after school to support the family. After the seventh grade, he quit school and worked as a pinsetter, factory worker, and barber. Al Capone’s family lived nearby, and Nitti was friends with Capone’s older brothers and their criminal gang (the Navy Street Boys). A worsening relationship with Dolendo urged him to leave home when Nitti was 14, in 1900, to work in various local factories.  Around 1910, at the age of 24, he left Brooklyn. He probably moved to Chicago around 1913, working as a barber and making the acquaintance of gangsters Alex Louis Greenberg and Dion O’Banion. He married Chicagoan Rosa (Rose) Levitt in Dallas, Texas, on October 18, 1917. By 1918, Nitti had settled there at 914 South Halsted Street. Nitti quickly renewed his contacts with Greenberg and O’Banion, becoming a jewel thief, liquor smuggler, and fence. Through his liquor smuggling activities, Nitti came to the attention of Chicago crime boss John “Papa Johnny” Torrio and Torrio’s newly arrived soldier, Al Capone.  Frank Nitti was an Italian-American organized crime figure based in Chicago. The first cousin and bodyguard of Al Capone, Nitti was in charge of all money flowing through the operation. Nitti later succeeded Capone as acting boss of the Chicago Outfit. He was boss more in name than fact, but he left a major stamp on the city’s Mafia organization by the time he killed himself to avoid prison time.  Frank Nitti died by suicide on March 19, 1943, in North Riverside, Illinois, U.S.

1931Buster Edwards – He was a British criminal and a member of the gang that committed the Great Train Robbery. He was also a former boxer and owner of The Walk-In Club.  Edwards was born in Lambeth, the son of a barman. After leaving school, he worked in a sausage factory, where he began his criminal career by stealing meat to sell on the post-war black market. During his National Service in the RAF, he was detained for stealing cigarettes. When he returned to south London, he ran a drinking club and became a professional criminal. He married June Rothery in 1952. They had a daughter, Nicolette.  He was involved in the theft of £62,000 from Comet House, the headquarters of British Overseas Airways Corporation at Heathrow Airport, in 1962. Many of the gang were captured, but Edwards escaped arrest. Many from the same gang were involved in the Great Train Robbery in August 1963.  The Great Train gang intercepted the Glasgow-London mail train in Buckinghamshire in the early hours of August 8, 1963. After tampering with the track-side signal lights, they stopped the train at Sears Crossing and moved the engine and high-value carriage to Bridego Bridge, near Cheddington, escaping with £2,600,000 of used banknotes. The driver, Jack Mills, was beaten over the head and suffered from related complications for the rest of his life.  Edwards and another gang member, Bruce Reynolds, took their families to Mexico. The money ran out, and Edwards’s family became homesick, so he negotiated his return to England in 1966. He was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in jail.  Edwards spent nine years in prison. After his early release in 1975, he ran a flower stall outside Waterloo station in London. He gave interviews to writer Piers Paul Read, persuading him to write in his 1978 book The Train Robbers that the robbery was led by German commando Otto Skorzeny, and that Edwards was the person responsible for hitting Jack Mills. Edwards later retracted these claims.  A film about his role in the Great Train Robbery called “Buster”, was made in 1988, with Edwards played by Phil Collins. Buster Edwards died on November 28, 1994, in Lambeth, London, England.

1957Yaser Abdel Said – is an Egyptian-American convicted murderer. He was a taxi driver by profession. Said married Patricia Owens in February 1987 when he was 30 and she was 15. They had two daughters, Amina (born in 1989) and Sarah (born in 1990), and a son named Islam Said, born in 1988.  Said was very controlling over his family and felt that his daughters Amina and Sarah dishonored the family, partially due to the fact that Amina had been dating a non-Muslim and rejected an arranged marriage. On January 1, 2008, he lured them into his taxi cab on the pretense of taking them out to eat, where instead, he fatally shot them. Their bodies were found in his abandoned taxi cab in Irving, Texas.  Said evaded arrest for the fatal shootings of his two daughters for 12 years, with six of those years being on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List for the fatal shootings. He was captured on August 26, 2020, in the town of Justin, Texas. His son, Islam, and Said’s brother, Yassein, were both arrested for aiding a fugitive.  Said was taken into federal custody by the FBI and was then transferred to Dallas County where he was held until his trial, which commenced in August 2022. Said was found guilty on August 9 after a week-long trial and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

1957Eoin/Ian Bailey – is a British journalist who became a prime suspect in the murder case of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, a 39-year-old French woman who was killed outside her holiday home in Ireland on the night of December 23, 1996. Bailey, who lived near Toscan du Plantier’s home in Ireland, was arrested twice by the Garda Síochána, the Irish police. However, no charges were laid as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) found there was insufficient evidence to proceed to trial.  Bailey first became a suspect two weeks after Sophie’s death, when a woman made an anonymous phone call to the police saying she had seen a man resembling Bailey acting strangely on a bridge near Sophie’s home on the night of her murder. Reports at the time stated that, when arrested, Bailey had deep scratches on his arms.  Despite never being charged in Ireland, Bailey was found guilty of the crime by French authorities 22 years after it happened. He was tried in absentia in France after winning a legal battle against extradition. In 2020, Ireland’s High Court ruled that Bailey could not be extradited. As of now, Bailey continues to live in Ireland.

1971Lam Kwok-Wai – is a notorious serial killer from Hong Kong. He was convicted of 10 rapes and three murders. His murder weapons were his bare hands; he referred to his right hand as his “fork”. He was given 11 life sentences.  Lam Kwok-wai grew up in Hong Kong’s Tuen Mun area, a region known for high rates of truancy and juvenile crime, and the widespread availability of various narcotics. He was raised with his father, stepmother, and four siblings in a 450-square-foot apartment in the Tai Hing House. His biological mother had left when he was three to live with another man. After years of juvenile delinquency and poor performance in school, Lam decided to drop out permanently at age 15. He spent a brief two-month sentence in a detention center at age 15. After the age of 18, he tried countless drugs, drank every day, and finally found enjoyment in illegal road racing.  His first rape occurred on April 24, 1992. Lam had been drinking heavily when he decided to follow a 19-year-old girl from her taxi and into the elevator of Oi Ming house. Over the next several months, he committed a series of rapes and murders, causing panic among the public and the press. His first murder victim was a 50-year-old department store assistant who was returning home from a mahjong game when she entered the elevator in the Yau Oi estate, where Lam followed her in. He raped and sodomized her after he killed her. Despite the high crime rates in Tuen Mun, such regularity was not common, leading to fear of the serial rapist on the loose.

 

Deaths

Arnold Squiteri

2000James Walter Moreland – On the night of October 9, 1982, Clinton Abbott and John Cravey were found dead in Cravey’s Eustace, Texas trailer home. Both victims had been repeatedly stabbed in the back. Cravey’s body was discovered on the floor near a blood-soaked couch in the living room, while Abbott’s body was found next to a bed in the rear bedroom. Two bloodied knives were located atop a dresser. The trailer bore no evidence of a struggle.  Four days later, on October 13, Moreland was apprehended by local law enforcement in Bedford, Indiana. In a trash can at Moreland’s sister’s residence, authorities discovered pieces of Cravey’s boots. Moreland subsequently confessed in writing to the Bedford police. He stated that he had been drinking and hitchhiking when Cravey and Abbott, who were in an old car, offered him a ride. He agreed to go back to Cravey’s trailer, where the three men continued to drink.  Moreland alleged that Cravey began making amorous advances towards him, including touching and rubbing his leg. When Moreland attempted to leave, he claimed that Cravey pulled down his pants, causing him to fall. As Moreland got up and adjusted his clothing, Cravey allegedly followed him into the kitchen. Feeling pursued, Moreland grabbed a knife from the kitchen table and stabbed Cravey. Moreland stated that he then headed for the exit, but was confronted by Abbott, who yelled at him. In a state of panic, Moreland ran towards Abbott and stabbed him in the bedroom doorway. He then returned to Cravey, took money from his wallet, and fled the scene.  At the time of their deaths, Abbott and Cravey had blood-alcohol levels of .24 and .19, respectively. Each victim had seven stab wounds concentrated in the upper middle section of their backs. The pattern of the wounds was so similar that it was almost difficult to distinguish between the two victims. The nature of the wounds suggested that they were inflicted on a person lying prone on a bed or couch by someone standing over them.  In response to Moreland’s claims, the prosecution presented several witnesses who knew Cravey. They testified that Cravey had never displayed homosexual behavior or made homosexual advances. Additional evidence indicated that Cravey was in poor health and was physically frail.

2003David Roland Waters – was a convicted criminal who played a key role in the abduction, kidnapping, extortion, and murder of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, her son, and her adopted daughter. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison for stealing more than $50,000 from American Atheists Inc. Waters had a history of criminal activities, including a murder arrest in 1965 and embezzlement from several companies in 1994. He passed away on January 27, 2003, at the age of 55.

2022Matthew Reeves – was born on December 13, 1977, in Selma, Alabama, U.S. He was an American convicted murderer who was executed by the state of Alabama for the 1996 murder of Willie Johnson Jr. Reeves’s case generated attention due to claims he was intellectually disabled, with an IQ score in the 60s.  On Wednesday, November 27, 1996, Reeves and his friends planned to rob a drug dealer. Reeves’ car broke down in Selma, Alabama, and Willie Johnson Jr., who had a pickup truck, offered to tow their car to Reeves’ house. Reeves rode in the bed of the truck. When they arrived at the house, Reeves stuck a shotgun through the cab window shot Johnson, and stole his money. At a party that evening, Reeves “pretended to pump a shotgun and jerk his body around mocking the way Johnson had died.” Johnson’s body was found inside his truck the following day, Thanksgiving morning. Reeves was arrested at a house a few hours after the murder. Two accomplices also involved in the crime, one of whom was his brother, were arrested a few days later. Both accomplices pointed the finger at Reeves and claimed he had been the shooter.  Reeves was sentenced to death on July 20, 1998. Reeves’ brother and co-defendant, Julius Reeves, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. A third defendant, Brenda Suttles was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Reeves’ lawyers argued that his trial lawyers provided ineffective assistance of counsel and “should have done more to try to show he is intellectually disabled.” They claimed that because of this Reeves should not face the death sentence. On July 2, 2021, the United States Supreme Court overturned the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that had vacated Reeves’ death sentence. The court decided in a 6–3 opinion, with the conservative majority reversing the circuit court. The Supreme Court stated that the Alabama state court had “correctly rejected claims that Matthew Reeves had ineffective counsel at trial because they did not hire a neuropsychologist to present evidence he is intellectually disabled.”  On November 18, 2021, the Alabama Supreme Court voted 8–0 to schedule Reeves’ execution for January 27, 2022. Reeves was scheduled to be executed on that date by lethal injection. On January 7, 2022, his execution was stayed on the grounds of a lawsuit. He sued the state, saying that the state did not accommodate his disability when it gave him a form asking him to choose whether he wanted to die by hypoxia or another method. However, he was executed by lethal injection on January 27, 2022, at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama. He was pronounced dead at 9:24 p.m. Reeves had no last words or meal.

2022Arnold Squiteri – born on February 2, 1936, was an American former acting boss and underboss of the Gambino crime family. He was born in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Squitieri was charged with conspiring to distribute heroin and was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison. He was released from prison in March 1999 and was promoted to underboss by John Gotti. In 2002, after the arrest of Gambino acting boss Peter Gotti, Squitieri became the new acting boss. While on parole from prison, Squitieri received a flat panel television as a gift from undercover FBI agent Joaquín “Jack” García. One evening, Squitieri was watching the TV series about the Cosa Nostra, The Sopranos (All Happy Families…). On the show, family boss Anthony Soprano wants to have a troublesome family member returned to prison. To do this, he sends the mobster a stolen TV set. Soprano then arranges for a parole officer to visit the man and arrest him for possessing stolen property. When the show was over, a frightened Squitieri gave away the TV and purchased his own. He passed away on January 27, 2022.

 

Events

Mike Tyson

1591 – Scottish schoolmaster Dr. John Fian burned for witchcraft at Castle Hill, Edinburgh by order of King James VI, part of the Berwick witch trials

1606 – The trial of Guy Fawkes & other conspirators begins, ending with their execution on January 31st

1671 – Welsh pirate Henry Morgan lands at the gates of Panama City

1992 – Boxer Mike Tyson goes on trial for rape

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