January 3 – What happened today?

Births

Phillip Carl Jablonski

1886Dr. Morris Bolber was a Russian-Jewish immigrant doctor in Pennsylvania in the 1930s. He was a member of the Philadelphia poison ring, a murder-for-hire gang led by Italian immigrant cousins, Herman and Paul Petrillo. Bolber was known as ‘Louie, the Rabbi’.  The basic murder method was conceived in 1932 by Dr. Morris Bolber and his good friend, Paul Petrillo. Using his medical expertise and mob connections, he would poison women’s husbands for a fee. The gang included other self-styled ‘fattuchieri/e’ (wise women, witches) such as Maria Carina Favato, Josephine Sedita, and Rose Carina, who offered superstitious, unhappily married, murderous or merely gullible women incantations, powders, and potions to adjust their lives.  These ‘love potions’ usually contained arsenic or antimony, and they were invariably accompanied by excessive insurance policies on the victims, often made out in favor of gang members rather than the supposed ‘poison widow’ beneficiaries. The gang embraced insurance agents and made highly successful use of the period’s widespread cheap insurance policies.  The Philadelphia poison ring killed between 30 to 50 people. Bolber turned state’s evidence and gang members, associates, and ‘dupes’ were brought to trial and mostly convicted to death sentences (later commuted) or varying prison sentences. Bolber was finally arrested in 1939 and sentenced to life in prison on May 25, 1939. He died in prison on February 9, 1954.

1891Fritz Heinrich Angerstein was born on January 3, 1891, in Dillenburg, German Reich, the seventh of ten children. His father worked as a carpenter and later as a steelworker, and was also the mayor of Dillenburg. From an early age, Angerstein suffered from tuberculosis and had a rib surgically removed. At the age of 14, Angerstein began working for a land surveying bureau, before being employed by the Nassauische Bergbau AG. Since 1917 he was procurator of a limestone mine in Haiger, which was taken over by the firm van der Zypen in 1920.  In 1911, Angerstein married Käthe Barth, a devout Methodist. The marriage was described as happy and Angerstein gave the impression of a loving and caring husband, even though he suffered under the ailing condition of his wife, who not only was afflicted with severe hysteria but also fell ill with an unknown intestinal disease in 1920. All the while Angerstein himself suffered from various types of tuberculosis. The couple had no children, though Angerstein’s wife miscarried six times.  The relationship with his mother-in-law was said to have been strained because they were unable to have any children and because of her poor treatment of his wife. Angerstein related that she often reduced her daughter’s diet to soup due to her ailments, though apparently she often scorched the meal, whereupon his wife wouldn’t eat anything at all. According to his own testimony, Angerstein once whipped his mother-in-law with a dog whip because of a burnt meal after his wife had run away because of her.  In 1921 Käthe wrote a letter to her husband, telling him that due to her illness, she couldn’t be the wife he needed. After Angerstein had talked to her about the matter they made the mutual decision to drown themselves since they were both sick at that time. However, when Angerstein was carrying his wife into the water and they were already halfway in, they heard someone sing a song, whereupon they came to their senses again and aborted their suicide attempt.  On December 1, 1924, Fritz Heinrich Angerstein killed eight people at his home in Haiger. He was executed by beheading on November 17, 1925.

1894Amerigo Dumini was born on January 3, 1894, in St. Louis, Missouri, United States, to Italian and British immigrants. He moved to Italy in 1913 and joined the army, renouncing his U.S. citizenship. During the First World War, he served as an assault trooper and was severely wounded and decorated. After the war, he became active in the Fascio of Florence organized by supporters of Benito Mussolini, taking pride in being referred to as “Sicario del Duce” (“Il Duce’s hitman”).  In 1924, Dumini entered the ranks of Ceka, the secret police which Mussolini based on the Soviet Cheka. Shortly thereafter, he led the group responsible for the 1924 assassination of Unitary Socialist Party leader Giacomo Matteotti. Following the political murder, he was abandoned by the fascist leadership, with the exception of Roberto Farinacci, who defended him during his trial. Despite Farinacci’s efforts, Dumini received a five-year prison sentence, of which he only served eleven months due to an amnesty ordered by Mussolini.  Once out of jail, Dumini attempted to blackmail the fascist leadership for rewards and payment of his legal fees. He was arrested again for “offending Il Duce” and sentenced to eight years in prison—substantially more than for the previous crime. Freed in 1927, Amerigo Dumini left for Italian Somaliland with a large state pension.  Dumini was later detained and interned on the Tremiti Islands. He left for the Italian colony of Libya where his pension was further increased. During World War II, he was captured by the British Army during the North African Campaign and sentenced to death as a spy. Despite being hit by seventeen bullets, he managed to survive and escape to safety in Tunisia during the night.  Upon returning to Italy, he was received with astonishment and offered yet another generous pension. He went into business as a transporter and bought a villa in a residential area of Florence. With the fall of Fascism in southern Italy in 1943, he joined the German-backed Italian Social Republic. Amerigo Dumini died on December 25, 1967.

1946Phillip Carl Jablonski was a convicted serial killer. He was born on January 3, 1946, and passed away on December 27, 2019. Jablonski’s criminal activities spanned from 1978 to 1991, during which he was found guilty of murdering five women in California and Utah. His victims included his wife and his mother-in-law. His modus operandi involved sexually assaulting his victims before killing them. Jablonski was sentenced to death in 1994 and spent the remainder of his life on death row in San Quentin State Prison, California. His cause of death was reported as unknown natural causes.

1949Sylvia Marie Likens was born on January 3, 1949, in Lebanon, Indiana, U.S. She was an American teenager who tragically became a victim of torture and murder. In 1965, Sylvia and her sister Jenny were left in the care of a family friend, Gertrude Baniszewski, while their parents were traveling for work. The Likens’ parents were both carnival workers and were often on the road. Sylvia’s brothers were put into the care of their grandparents, leaving Sylvia and Jenny to stay with Gertrude Baniszewski. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a temporary arrangement turned into a horrifying ordeal for Sylvia. She was subjected to three months of escalating abuse at the hands of Gertrude Baniszewski, many of Baniszewski’s children, and several neighborhood friends. The abuse included neglect, belittlement, sexual humiliation, beatings, starvation, lacerations, burns, and dehydration. Sylvia’s younger sister Jenny was occasionally forced to participate in her mistreatment through intimidation. Sylvia’s autopsy revealed 150 wounds across her body, including several burns, scald marks, and eroded skin. The official cause of her death was determined to be a homicide caused by a combination of subdural hematoma and shock, complicated by severe malnutrition. Sylvia Likens passed away on October 26, 1965, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her death is widely regarded by Indiana citizens as one of the most horrific crimes ever committed in their state.

1964Earl Russell Behringer was a convicted murderer born on January 3, 1964. His criminal activities were primarily based in Tarrant County, Texas, USA. On September 14, 1986, when Behringer was 22 years old, he committed a robbery that escalated to murder. He shot and killed a young couple, Janet Hancock, and her fiancé, Daniel Brennon Meyer, in the small town of Mansfield, Texas. The crime was reportedly over a mere $15.  Behringer was sentenced to death for his crimes. After spending 8 years incarcerated, he was executed on June 11, 1997. His last statement was reported to be “It’s a good day to die. I walked in here like a man and I am leaving here like a man. I had a good life. I have known the love of a good woman, my wife. I have a good family. My grandmother is the pillar of the community. I love and cherish my friends and family. Thank you for your love. To the Hancock family, I am sorry for the pain I caused you. If my death gives you any peace, so be it. I want my friends to know it is not the way to die, but I belong to Jesus Christ. I confess my sins.”

Deaths

Jack Ruby

1906Sarah Jane Robinson (née Tennant) was born on May 26, 1838, in Newtownhamilton, Ireland. Known as “The Boston Borgia,” she was an infamous serial killer who poisoned her family members and others from 1881 to 1886. Her accomplices in these crimes were Thomas R. Smith and Dr. Charles C. Beers. Robinson immigrated to Massachusetts with her sister when she was fourteen or fifteen years old. She married Moses Robinson in July 1858, and they had eight children together, five of whom survived infancy. The family moved around the Boston area throughout their marriage. From 1881 to 1886, several members of the Robinson family passed away from mysterious illnesses, all with similar symptoms such as excruciating stomach pain and vomiting. Each time, the sickly were attended to by Sarah Jane Robinson, who supervised the administration of all medicine. When the victims eventually needed medical attention, Robinson called a different physician each time. Robinson was initially sentenced to death for the poisoning of her brother-in-law, but the verdict was later changed to life imprisonment. She died behind bars on January 3, 1906.

1946William Joyce also known as Lord Haw-Haw, was an American-born fascist and Nazi propaganda broadcaster during the Second World War. He was born on April 24, 1906, in New York City, United States. His father was Michael Francis Joyce, an Irish Catholic from a family of tenant farmers in Ballinrobe, County Mayo, who had acquired U.S. citizenship in 1894. His mother was Gertrude Emily Brooke, who although born in Shaw and Crompton, Lancashire, was from a well-off Anglican Anglo-Irish family of physicians associated with County Roscommon.  A few years after William’s birth, the family returned to Salthill, County Galway. Joyce attended Coláiste Iognáid, a Jesuit school in County Galway. During the Irish War of Independence, Joyce was recruited while still in his mid-teens by British Army Captain Patrick William Keating to work as a courier for military intelligence personnel stationed in County Galway. After moving from New York to Ireland and subsequently to England, Joyce became a member of Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists (BUF) in 1932. He finally moved to Germany at the outset of the war where he took German citizenship in 1940. He replaced Mittler in 1939 as a broadcaster and became known for his propaganda broadcasts during the Second World War. At the end of the war, after capture, Joyce was convicted in the United Kingdom of high treason in 1945 and sentenced to death. The Court of Appeal and the House of Lords both upheld his conviction. He was hanged in Wandsworth Prison by Albert Pierrepoint on January 3, 1946, making him the last person to be executed for treason in the United Kingdom.

1967Jack Ruby originally named Jacob Leon Rubenstein, was born on April 25, 1911, in Chicago, Illinois. He was an American nightclub owner and alleged associate of the Chicago Outfit. Ruby had a troubled childhood and adolescence marked by juvenile delinquency and time spent in foster homes. As a young man, he sold horse-racing tip sheets and various novelties, then acted as a business agent for a local refuse collectors union that later became part of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Ruby is most known for murdering Lee Harvey Oswald on November 24, 1963, two days after Oswald was accused of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A Dallas jury found Ruby guilty and sentenced him to death. However, Ruby’s conviction was later appealed, and he was to be granted a new trial. Unfortunately, he became ill in prison, was diagnosed with cancer, and died of a pulmonary embolism on January 3, 1967. The Warren Commission concluded in September 1964 that Ruby acted alone in killing Oswald, shooting him on impulse and out of grief over Kennedy’s assassination. However, these findings were challenged by various critics who suggested that Ruby was involved with major figures in organized crime and that he was acting as part of an assassination plot against Kennedy.

1980Joy Adamson born Friederike Victoria Gessner on January 20, 1910, in Troppau, Silesia, Austria, was a renowned naturalist, artist, and author. She grew up in Vienna and was educated there, earning a music degree before studying sculpting and medicine. As a young adult, she considered careers as a concert pianist and in medicine.  Adamson married three times in the span of ten years. Her first marriage was to Viktor von Klarwill in 1935. She moved to Kenya in 1937 to escape the rising Nazi movement in Austria. In Kenya, she met and married botanist Peter Bally in 1938. Bally traveled through Kenya, studying its plant life, and Joy accompanied him. She began to paint their findings, which were eventually published in several books.  Her third and final marriage was to George Adamson, a game warden in an outlying area of Kenya. They spent the rest of their lives traveling through the Kenyan wilderness together.  Joy Adamson is best known for her conservation efforts associated with Elsa the Lioness. In 1956, George Adamson shot and killed a lioness who attacked him while trying to protect her three cubs. Two of the cubs were sent to a zoo, but the Adamsons kept the third cub, a small female that they named Elsa. They raised Elsa and then trained her to fend for herself in the wilderness.  Adamson’s book “Born Free,” which describes her experiences raising Elsa, was printed in several languages and made into an Academy Award-winning movie of the same name.  Tragically, Joy Adamson’s life came to an abrupt end when she was murdered on January 3, 1980, in Shaba National Reserve in Kenya. Her body was discovered by her assistant who initially assumed she had been killed by a lion. This was what was initially reported by the media. She was just a few weeks short of her 70th birthday.

2019Gao Chengyong – a Chinese criminal, was notorious for his gruesome crimes as a serial killer and rapist. He inflicted horrifying mutilations on the bodies of his victims, earning him the moniker “Chinese Jack the Ripper” in the Chinese media. He is believed to be responsible for the murders of eleven women spanning from 1988 to 2002. Following his conviction, Gao Chengyong was sentenced to death, and all his assets were confiscated. He met his fate through execution by an undisclosed method in January 2019.

Events

1946 – Due to his wartime cooperation, Charles “Lucky” Luciano’s sentence for pandering is commuted by Governor Thomas E Dewey on the condition that he allows himself to be deported to Italy for good.

1967 – Carl Wilson, singer-songwriter and co-founder of The Beach Boys is indicted for draft evasion

2019 – The Lifetime documentary “Surviving R Kelly” debuts

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