February 3 – What happened today?

Births

Elizabeth Holmes

1881Carl Hau – was an early 20th-century German lawyer who was found guilty of murdering his mother-in-law. His sensational trial in 1907 sparked the Hau Riot, the biggest street riot of its kind in German history.  Hau was born on February 3, 1881, in Grosslittgen near Wittlich in southwest Germany, close to the Luxembourg border. His father, Johan Baptist Hau, was a bank director. Carl’s mother died when he was three. He was educated in Trier and was studying Law at the University of Freiburg when in 1901 he contracted tuberculosis. He went to the Mediterranean island of Corsica to recover, where he met a widow, Josephina Molitor, a mother of seven children, and her two youngest daughters, Lina and Olga.  In June 1901, Carl and Lina ran off together to Switzerland, taking 2000 marks from her savings. An incident occurred in which Lina was shot in the chest, but this was said to be part of a suicide pact. On recovery, in August 1901, Mrs. Molitor allowed them to marry. The couple moved to the US and settled in Washington D.C., where Hau resumed his studies in Law and graduated BA in 1904, and was admitted to the bar early in 1906. Some American newspapers list him as a professor at George Washington University.  In 1904, he obtained a post as Secretary to the Turkish Consul in Washington, Hermann Schoenfeld, which required a trip to Istanbul. His task was to promote the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and the State Fair of 1904. Lina received a large allowance from the estate of her late father which was set up to be paid annually. In 1905, Lina asked (at Carl’s request) that the whole amount be paid as a lump sum.  In 1906, Carl had to make a second trip to Turkey and he suggested that Lena and their young daughter spend some time with her mother in Baden Baden while he was in Istanbul. Six years after the wedding, both she and her daughter were dead, and the bridegroom stood accused of the murder of his mother-in-law. Hau’s trial was a sensation, and when the guilty verdict was announced on July 22, 1907, riots erupted in the streets of Karlsruhe, Germany. Hau was sentenced to death in 1907 and was commuted to life in prison in 1914. He was released in September 1924 and committed suicide by shooting himself in Tivoli, Italy, on March 12, 1926.

1904Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd – was a notorious American bank robber. Born on February 3, 1904, in Bartow County, Georgia, he was active in the West and Central states, and his criminal activities were widely reported in the press during the 1930s.  Floyd’s family relocated to Oklahoma in 1911, where they settled in Akins. Initially a farmer, Floyd was driven into a life of crime due to poverty. At the age of 18, he committed his first crime by stealing $3.50 from a local post office. He was later apprehended for a payroll robbery in St. Louis, Missouri, on September 16, 1925, and was sentenced to five years in prison. He served three and a half years before being granted parole.  Upon his release, Floyd associated himself with criminals in the Kansas City underworld. Over the next few years, he carried out a series of bank robberies, during which he earned the nickname “Pretty Boy”. He was viewed favorably by the public as it was believed that he burned mortgage documents during his robberies, thereby freeing many from their debts.  Floyd’s life came to an end when he was pursued and killed by a group of Bureau of Investigation agents, led by Melvin Purvis. Despite his criminal activities, Floyd was seen by some as a hero, a tragic figure, and even a victim of the harsh economic conditions of the Great Depression in the United States.

1955Charles Walton Wright – In 1985, Wright received a death sentence following his conviction on two charges of first-degree murder. Prosecutors asserted that he fatally shot Gerald Mitchell, 33, and Douglas Alexander, 27, in a North Nashville park during a disagreement over drugs.

1958Tyrone Earl Walton – Walton faced conviction for utilizing a sawed-off shotgun in the 1987 homicide of Richard Cooper, 45, during a robbery at a North Portland convenience store where Cooper served as the manager. Prosecutors argued that Walton engaged in store robberies to sustain a drug addiction. Remarkably, Walton’s sentence was among the nearly two dozen overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1989.  Fun fact: Despite the crime, Walton only gained $79 from the robbery.

1962Sedrick Cobb – American rapist & murderer who was originally sentenced to death but when Connecticut abolished the death penalty he was resentenced to life without parole

1966David Francis Bieber – also known under the alias Nathan Wayne Coleman, is an American convicted murderer and a fugitive from the United States.  Bieber is originally from Fort Myers, Florida, the son of a middle school principal. After leaving school, he was briefly a US Marine before being discharged for going AWOL. Bieber became a drug dealer and bodybuilder. On 9 February 1995 a fellow bodybuilder, Markus Mueller, was shot and killed in Fort Myers. Police arrested Bieber, thinking he had hired a hitman, but later released him due to lack of evidence. In November 1995, Bieber’s former girlfriend Michelle Marsh was attacked by the same gunman who had attacked Mueller. All four shots missed. Bieber fled the state, assuming the identity of Nathan Wayne Coleman by stealing the identity of a deceased child who died in the 1970’s and escaped the country in 1996.  Bieber entered the United Kingdom on 26 September 1996 through the port of Ramsgate, Kent using a false passport. He was given a six-month visa, but it was extended until his marriage to Denise Horsley in Kendal, Cumbria.  He murdered police constable (PC) Ian Broadhurst and attempted to murder PCs Neil Roper and James Banks on 26 December 2003 in Leeds, England, sparking a nationwide search before he was captured. He was given a whole life sentence after being found guilty of murder in December 2004 and the trial judge recommended that he should never be released; however, in 2008 this sentence was reduced to a minimum term of 37 years by the court of appeal, after which he could apply for parole.

1968Joseph Daniel Burns – Burns and Phillip Hale, in the company of Michael McBride, the Tupelo motel manager, opted to pilfer the motel’s cash when asked to assist in counting it. Hale confessed in court that he struck McBride, leaving him on the ground. Upon returning, he found Burns assaulting McBride with a knife, fork, and Phillips head screwdriver. Hale testified that McBride questioned, “Why me?” throughout the stabbing. The stolen funds were later spent at Tunica casinos the following weekend. Burns was executed in July 2010. Hale, an accomplice, received a life sentence for homicide/murder in 1997 and was paroled in 2008. 

1984Elizabeth Holmes – is an American former biotechnology entrepreneur who was convicted of fraud in connection to her blood-testing company, Theranos. The company’s valuation soared after it claimed to have revolutionized blood testing by developing methods that needed only very small volumes of blood, such as from a fingerprick. In 2015, Forbes named Holmes the youngest and wealthiest self-made female billionaire in the United States on the basis of a $9-billion valuation of her company.  In the following year, as revelations of potential fraud about Theranos’s claims began to surface, Forbes revised its estimate of Holmes’s net worth to zero, and Fortune named her in its feature article on “The World’s 19 Most Disappointing Leaders”. The decline of Theranos began in 2015 when a series of journalistic and regulatory investigations revealed doubts about the company’s claims and whether Holmes had misled investors and the government.  In 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Theranos, Holmes, and former Theranos chief operating officer (COO) Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani with raising $700 million from investors through a “massive fraud” involving false or exaggerated claims about the accuracy of the company’s blood-testing technology; Holmes settled the charges by paying a $500,000 fine, returning 18.9 million shares to the company, relinquishing her voting control of Theranos, and accepting a ten-year ban from serving as an officer or director of a public company.  In June 2018, a federal grand jury indicted Holmes and Balwani on fraud charges. Her trial in the case of U.S. v. Holmes, et al. ended in January 2022 when Holmes was convicted of defrauding investors and acquitted of defrauding patients. She was sentenced to serve 11¼ years in prison, beginning on May 30, 2023. She and Balwani were fined $452 million to be paid to the victims of the fraud.

 

Deaths

Annie Walters & Amelia Sach

1889Belle Starr – Myra Maybelle Shirley Reed Starr, better known as Belle Starr, was born on February 5, 1848, on her father’s farm near Carthage, Missouri. Most of her family members called her May. Her father, John Shirley, prospered raising wheat, corn, hogs, and horses. Her mother, Elizabeth “Eliza” Hatfield Shirley, was John Shirley’s third wife and a distant relative to the Hatfields of the famous family feud.  In the 1860s, Belle’s father sold the farm and moved the family to Carthage, where he bought a livery stable and blacksmith shop on the town square. May Shirley received a classical education and learned piano while graduating from Missouri’s Carthage Female Academy, a private institution that her father had helped to found.  During the American Civil War, May’s older brother, John A. M. “Bud” Shirley, was active in Jasper County among the irregular forces known as bushwhackers, guerilla bands organized to resist the federal troops who had been sent to compel Missouri to join the American Civil War against the Confederacy. May was reputed to have supported her brother in these efforts, perhaps as a spy, but without any evidence, exactly how and to what extent is obscured by the much-embroidered and heavily disputed Belle Starr legend.  Belle Starr gained national notoriety as an American outlaw after her violent death. She associated with the James–Younger Gang and other outlaws. She was convicted of horse theft in 1883. She was fatally shot in 1889 in a case that is still officially unsolved. Her story was popularized by Richard K. Fox — editor and publisher of the National Police Gazette — and she later became a popular character in television and films.

1903Amelia Sach & Annie Walters – also known as the Finchley baby farmers, were two British murderers active in the early 20th century.  Amelia Sach was born Frances Amelia Thorne in Hampreston, Dorset, on 5 May 1867. She was the fourth child of ten and had three sisters. She married a builder named Jeffrey Sach in 1896 and had a daughter named Lilian. Sach was a qualified midwife and operated a “lying-in” home on Stanley Road and later at Claymore House on Hertford Road, both in East Finchley, London. Around 1900, she began to advertise that babies “could be left” and took money for adoptions.  Annie Walters’ background is less known, but she had been married and seems to have had a drinking problem. She would periodically advertise herself as a sick nurse. On her arrest, she was determined to be “feeble”, that is to say, feeble-minded.  The pair were caught after Walters raised the suspicions of her landlord in Islington who was a police officer. They were charged with the murder of a male infant, the child of a young woman named Galley. Both ladies pleaded not guilty. Their trial took place on the 15th and 16th of January 1903 before Mr Justice Darling. The jury took just 40 minutes to find them both guilty and they were subsequently taken to Holloway prison to await execution. Amelia Sach had to be carried to the scaffold, while Annie Walters remained quite calm. It was to be the last double female hanging in Britain. The bodies of Amelia and Annie were buried in unmarked graves inside the walls of Holloway prison.

1998Karla Faye Tucker – was an American woman who became infamous for her crimes and subsequent execution. Born and raised in Texas, Tucker had a troubled childhood and turned to drugs and crime at a young age. In 1983, she and her boyfriend, Daniel Garrett, were involved in a burglary that escalated into a brutal double murder. The victims were Jerry Lynn Dean and Deborah Thornton.  Tucker’s weapon of choice, a pickaxe, became a chilling detail that haunted the public’s perception of her. She was convicted of her crimes in 1984 and sentenced to death, making her the first woman to be sentenced to death in Texas since the Civil War.  While on death row, Tucker underwent a transformation that drew the attention of the world. She became a born-again Christian, expressing deep remorse for her actions and dedicating herself to helping others. Her transformation was so profound that it sparked a global campaign to commute her death sentence to life imprisonment. Despite the pleas from around the world, Tucker was executed by lethal injection in 1998.  Tucker’s story is a complex one, marked by violence, redemption, and the ongoing debate about the death penalty. Her life continues to be a subject of discussion and study, serving as a stark reminder of the power of transformation and the unyielding nature of the justice system.

 

Events

Lana Clarkson

1933 – 7 members of a family in Tomahawk, Kentucky strangled Mrs. Lucinda Mills, age 72, in what was described as a cult sacrifice

1967 – Ronald Joseph Ryan, the last person to be executed in Australia is hung in Pentridge prison

1971 – NYPD officer Frank Serpico is shot, he is best known for reporting corruption in the police department and the circumstances of his shooting have been called into question

1982 – Legendary porn star John Holmes is ordered to stand trial for murder

1998 – Mary Kay Letourneau, 36, former teacher violates probation with the 14-year-old father of her baby

1998 – Karla Faye Tucker is executed in Texas, the first woman executed since 1984

2003 – American actress Lana Clarkson is shot & killed by legendary music producer Phil Spector at Spector’s house in Alhambra, California

2013 – Christopher Dorner, a fired police officer began a series of shootings, killing four

2014 – Two students are shot and killed in a school shooting in Moscow

2016 – Lord Lucan’s death certificate is granted, 42 years after he disappeared following the murder of nanny Sandra Rivett

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