February 5 – What happened today?

Births

Belle Starr

1788Robert Peel – was a British Conservative statesman who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, simultaneously serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and twice as Home Secretary. He is regarded as the father of modern British policing, owing to his founding of the Metropolitan Police Service. Peel was one of the founders of the modern Conservative Party. The son of a wealthy textile manufacturer and politician, Peel was the first prime minister from an industrial business background. He earned a double first in classics and mathematics from Christ Church, Oxford. He entered the House of Commons in 1809 and became a rising star in the Tory Party. Peel entered the Cabinet as home secretary (1822–1827), where he reformed and liberalized the criminal law and created the modern police force, leading to a new type of officer known in tribute to him as “bobbies” and “peelers”.

1844Constance Kent – She was the fifth daughter and ninth child of Samuel Saville Kent, an Inspector of Factories for the Home Office, and his first wife Mary Ann.  In 1860, when she was just 16 years old, Constance confessed to the murder of her half-brother, Francis Saville Kent, who was only three years old at the time. The case was significant as it led to high-level pronouncements that there was no longer any ancient priest-penitent privilege in England and Wales.  The crime took place during the night of June 29-30, 1860. Francis disappeared from his father’s residence, Road Hill House, in the village of Rode, then in Wiltshire. His body was later found in the vault of a privy house on the property. The child, still dressed in his nightshirt and wrapped in a blanket, had knife wounds on his chest and hands, and his throat was slashed so deeply that he was almost decapitated.  Constance was initially arrested on July 16, 1860, but was released without trial due to public opinion against the accusations of a working-class detective against a young lady of breeding. After the investigation collapsed, the Kent family moved to Wrexham and sent Constance to a finishing school in Dinan, France.  Five years later, in 1865, Constance was prosecuted for the murder. She made a statement confessing her guilt to an Anglo-Catholic clergyman, the Rev. Arthur Wagner, and expressed to him her resolution to give herself up to justice. Wagner assisted her in carrying out the resolution, and he gave evidence of this statement before the magistrates.  Constance’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and she was released after serving twenty years. In later life, she changed her name to Ruth Emilie Kaye, became a nurse, and for twenty years was matron of a nurses’ home in East Maitland, New South Wales. She lived to the age of 100, passing away on April 10, 1944, in Strathfield, New South Wales, Australia.

1848Belle Starr – born as Myra Maybelle Shirley on February 5, 1848, in Carthage, Missouri, was an American outlaw who gained national notoriety after her violent death. She was often associated with the James–Younger Gang and other outlaws.  Belle Starr’s father, John Shirley, was a prosperous farmer who raised wheat, corn, hogs, and horses. Her mother, Elizabeth “Eliza” Hatfield Shirley, was John Shirley’s third wife and a distant relative of the Hatfields of the famous family feud. Belle Starr was called May by most of her family members.  During the Civil War, Belle’s older brother, John A. M. “Bud” Shirley, was active among the irregular forces known as bushwhackers, guerilla bands organized to resist the federal troops. After Bud’s death at the hands of federal troops in late June 1864, the Shirley family moved to Scyene, a small settlement southeast of Dallas, Texas.  Belle Starr was convicted of horse theft in 1883. Despite her criminal associations, apart from this conviction, she was not directly involved in many other criminal acts.  She was fatally shot on February 3, 1889, near Eufaula, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), in a case that remains 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.

1908Eugen Weidmann – was a German criminal and serial killer who was born into the family of an export businessman and went to school in Frankfurt. He was sent to live with his grandparents at the outbreak of World War I, during which time he started stealing. In his twenties, he served five years in Saarbrücken jail for robbery.  During his time in jail, Weidmann met two men who would later become his partners in crime: Roger Million and Jean Blanc. After their release from jail, they decided to work together to kidnap rich tourists visiting France and steal their money. They rented a villa in Saint-Cloud near Paris for this purpose.  Their first kidnapping attempt ended in failure because their victim struggled too hard, forcing them to let him go. In July 1937, they made a second attempt, Weidmann having made the acquaintance of Jean De Koven, a 22-year-old New York City dancer visiting her aunt in Paris. Weidmann then strangled and buried her in the villa’s garden. She had 300 francs in cash and $430 in traveler’s cheques, which the group sent Million’s mistress, Colette Tricot, to cash.  On September 1, 1937, Weidmann hired a chauffeur named Joseph Couffy to drive him to the French Riviera where he shot Couffy in the back of his neck and stole his car and 2,500 francs. The next murder came on September 3, 1937, after Weidmann and Million lured Janine Keller, a private nurse, into a cave in the forest of Fontainebleau with a job offer. Weidmann killed Keller with another fatal shot to the back of the neck, before robbing her body of 1,400 francs and a diamond ring.  Weidmann was apprehended on December 8, 1937. He was executed by guillotine in France on June 17, 1939, becoming the last person to be publicly executed in France.

1947Tamara Samsonova – known as the “Granny Ripper” and “Baba Yaga”, was born on February 5, 1947, in Uzhur, Krasnoyarsk Krai. After graduating from high school, she moved to Moscow and entered the Moscow State Linguistic University. After graduating, she moved to St. Petersburg, where she married Alexei Samsonova in 1971. For some time, she worked for the Intourist travel agency, in particular, at the Grand Hotel Europe.  In 2000, her husband disappeared under mysterious circumstances. She reported his disappearance to the police, but the searches yielded nothing. Fifteen years later, she reported his disappearance again to the investigative unit of the Fruzensky District in St. Petersburg.  After her husband’s disappearance, Samsonova began renting out a room in her apartment. According to investigators, she killed her tenant during a quarrel in 2003. She then dismembered his corpse and disposed of it on the streets of St. Petersburg.  In March 2015, Samsonova met 79-year-old Valentina Nikolaevna Ulanova. A friend asked Ulanova to shelter Samsonova for a time due to the fact that Samsonova’s apartment was being renovated, to which Ulanova agreed. Over time the relationship between the two deteriorated, and Ulanova eventually asked Samsonova to leave. After another conflict, Samsonova decided to poison Ulanova. Samsonova was arrested in July 2015 on suspicion of committing two murders with extreme cruelty. She is an Russian alleged serial killer who supposedly has schizophrenia and was previously hospitalized three times in psychiatric hospitals. She is being investigated in connection to a total of 14 murders.

1948Roy Norris – was one half of the infamous duo known as the “Tool Box Killers”. Norris spent his early life in and out of foster care, allegedly suffering neglect and sexual abuse. He joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 17, spending most of his service time in San Diego, California. He also spent four months in Vietnam but never saw combat.  In November of 1969, Norris was arrested for attempted rape when he attacked a female motorist. He was later diagnosed with severe schizoid personality by military psychologists and was honorably discharged from the Navy. In May 1970, while on bail for another offense, Norris violently attacked a female student on the campus of San Diego State University. Charged for the offense, Norris served almost five years at Atascadero State Hospital, classified as a mentally disordered sex offender.  Norris was released on probation in 1975, declared of “no further danger to others.” However, three months later, he raped a 27-year-old woman after dragging her into some bushes. In 1976, Norris was incarcerated in the same prison as Lawrence Sigmund Bittaker, bringing the future “Toolbox Killers” together.  Together with Bittaker, Norris committed the kidnapping, rape, torture, and murder of five teenage girls in southern California over a five-month period in 1979. The pair became known as the “Tool Box Killers” because the majority of instruments used to torture and murder their victims, such as pliers, ice picks, and sledgehammers, were items normally stored inside a household toolbox.  Norris accepted a plea bargain whereby he agreed to testify against Bittaker and was sentenced to life imprisonment on May 7, 1980, with the possibility of parole after serving thirty years. He died of natural causes at the California Medical Facility in February 2020.

1949Donald Albin Blom – He was an American citizen who was convicted of the murder of Katie Poirier in 1999. A registered sex offender, Blom was involved in five cases of kidnapping or sexual assault prior to Poirier’s murder. He was suspected of being a serial killer by case investigators.  Blom’s father abused him from the time he was very young until he was around 13 years old. By the time he reached adolescence, Blom was a heavy drinker and exhibited behavioral problems. In the 10th grade, he went to a reform school, where he often skipped classes.  In 1975, Blom kidnapped a 14-year-old girl, gagged her and raped her. He locked her in his car trunk, but she managed to escape and turn him in. Blom was tried and convicted. In 1978, he committed aggravated assault. In 1983, he was arrested for criminal sexual conduct. The same year, he threatened two teenage girls at knifepoint in a remote area, tied them to a tree, and put socks in their mouths. He choked and revived one of them several times and said he was going to rape them. The girls were rescued when a police officer saw their car parked the wrong way and investigated. Blom fled into the woods and later changed his appearance by dyeing his hair. He was arrested two months later when one of the girls recognized him. He pleaded guilty to the crime.  During an examination in 1992, a psychologist predicted that if Blom was not closely monitored, he would probably engage in additional antisocial behavior; however, Blom managed to change his name, get a job, and get married. By May 1999, he had six felony convictions, five of which involved kidnapping and sexual assault.  On May 26, 1999, 19-year-old Katie Elizabeth Poirier went missing from D. J.’s Expressway Conoco convenience store in Moose Lake, Minnesota, where she worked nights as a clerk. A grainy black-and-white surveillance video showed Poirier being forced out of the store around 11:40 pm by a man wearing jeans, a backward baseball cap, and a New York Yankees baseball jersey with the number 23 on the back.  Starting in 2021, Blom served his prison sentence at MCF-Oak Park Heights, a maximum-security facility in Stillwater, Minnesota. Before that, he spent about 4 years at the medium-security prison MCF-Faribault after having been transferred there from the maximum-security facility SCI Greene in Pennsylvania. He died on January 10, 2023, at Oak Park Heights Prison, Oak Park Heights, Minnesota, U.S.

 

Deaths

Suzanne Basso

1926Carl Hau – originally Karl Hau, was born on February 3, 1881, in Grosslittgen, near Wittlich, Germany. He was a German lawyer who was found guilty of murdering his mother-in-law, Josefine Molitor, in July 1907. His sensational trial sparked the Hau Riot, the biggest street riot of its kind in German history.  Hau was the son of bank director Johan Baptist Hau. His mother passed away when he was three years old. After graduating from Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium in Trier, he studied law at the University of Freiburg and Berlin. In 1901, he contracted tuberculosis and sought recovery in various places, finally ending up in Ajaccio, Corsica. There, he met Josefine Molitor and her daughters, Lina and Olga.  In June 1901, Carl and Lina eloped to Switzerland with 2000 marks from her savings. An incident occurred in Realp in the summer, where 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. This took place on August 18 in Mannheim. The couple moved to the US and settled in Washington D.C., where Hau resumed his studies in Law graduated BA in 1904, and was admitted to the bar early in 1906.  In 1904, he obtained a post as Secretary to the Turkish Consul in Washington, Hermann Schoenfeld, which required a trip to Istanbul that involved a journey through Europe. His task was to promote the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and the State Fair of 1904. 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 and they could then all spend time together when he had finished.  Carl Hau passed away on February 5, 1926, in Tivoli, Italy.

1958Lyda Southard – also known as Lyda Anna Mae Trueblood, was born on October 16, 1892, in Keytesville, Missouri. She was an American woman suspected of being a serial killer. It was believed that she had killed four of her husbands, a brother-in-law, and her daughter by using arsenic poisoning derived from flypaper to obtain life insurance money.  Southard married Robert Dooley on March 17, 1912. The couple settled with his brother Ed Dooley on a ranch in Twin Falls, Idaho, and had a daughter, Lorraine, in 1913. Lorraine died unexpectedly in 1915, and Edward Dooley died soon afterward in August 1915; the cause of death was ruled ptomaine poisoning. Robert Dooley subsequently fell ill and died of typhoid fever on October 12, 1915, leaving Southard as the sole survivor of the family. Southard collected on the life insurance policies of each person shortly after their death.  Two years after Robert Dooley’s death, Southard married William G. McHaffle. Shortly afterward, Southard’s three-year-old daughter fell ill and died, prompting the McHaffles to move to Montana. A year later, McHaffle suddenly fell ill with what was thought to be influenza and died in Montana on October 1, 1918. The death certificate stated the cause of death as influenza and diphtheria.  In March 1919, she married Harlen C. Lewis, an automobile salesman from Billings, Montana. Within four months of their marriage, Lewis fell ill and died from complications of gastroenteritis. Southard married for a fourth time in Pocatello, Idaho, to Edward F. Meyer, a ranch foreman, in August 1920. He mysteriously fell ill of typhoid and died on September 7, 1920.  Twin Falls chemist Earl Dooley, a relative of Southard’s first husband, began to study the deaths surrounding her. Along with a physician and another chemist, he soon discovered that Ed and Robert Dooley were murdered by arsenic poisoning. Twin Falls County Prosecutor Frank Stephan began an investigation and had the bodies of three of Southard’s husbands, her four-year-old daughter, and her brother-in-law exhumed.  Southard was apprehended in May 1921 and was convicted of second-degree murder. She was sentenced to 10 years to life in prison. Southard died on February 5, 1958, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

2007Ryoichi Sugiura – was a senior member of a group affiliated with the Sumiyoshi-kai, a Tokyo-based gang with a history of violent conflict with the Yamaguchi-gumi. He was a significant figure in the Japanese underworld. On February 5, 2007, Sugiura was shot in the head and chest while sitting in his car in Tokyo. His death sparked a series of shootings directed at Yamaguchi-gumi properties and raised fears of an all-out turf war in the capital. His murder is believed to have been part of a territorial struggle centered on Roppongi, a district of Tokyo packed with bars, restaurants, and commercial sex establishments. Sugiura’s gang, the Kobayashi-kai, was thought to be in charge of collecting protection money from businesses in Roppongi on behalf of the Sumiyoshi-kai. His death led to a massive aftermath and turf war in retaliation for the hit.

2011Hiroko Nagata – born on February 8, 1945, and passed away on February 5, 2011, was a Japanese radical leftist. She was often incorrectly referred to as Yōko Nagata. Nagata was found guilty of murder and received a death sentence in Japan. Her conviction was based on her involvement in the murder of her comrades from the United Red Army (URA) during a group purge in Gunma prefecture, Japan in February 1972.  As the vice-chairman of the URA, Nagata orchestrated the execution of 14 group members. The methods of execution included beatings and forced exposure to the harsh winter cold. A non-member of the URA who was present during the purge was also killed. Nagata was arrested on February 16, 1972, and subsequently tried and convicted for her role in the murders, leading to her death sentence. While on death row, Nagata succumbed to brain cancer on February 5, 2011, at the Tokyo Detention House.

2014Suzanne Margaret Basso – was an American woman convicted in the August 1998 torture and murder of 59-year-old Louis “Buddy” Musso, a mentally disabled man who was killed for his life insurance money. She was sentenced to death in October 1999.  Before her execution, Basso was held at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas, where all of the state’s female death row inmates are incarcerated. At the time of the crime, Basso lived in Jacinto City, Texas, a Houston suburb.  Suzanne Margaret Burns was born on May 15, 1954, to a family from Schenectady, New York. She was one of eight children born to Florence (née Garrow) and John Richard Burns. She was physically and sexually abused as a child. One story among the family is that when Florence caught her daughter with a pack of cigarettes, instead of making her smoke one, she made her eat them.  Burns married a Marine named James Peek in the early 1970s. Her name became “Sue Peek” as a result of her marriage. The Peeks had two children – a daughter born in 1973 and a son born in 1974. James Peek was arrested in 1982 for molesting his daughter and was convicted of taking indecent liberties with a child. In the early 1990s, the couple and the children moved into a residence in Houston. The family changed their surname to “O’Malley” and adopted an Irish-American identity. While in Houston she sometimes worked as a security guard in an apartment complex.  In 1993, Peek became romantically involved with a New Jersey man named Carmine Basso, who owned a company called Latin Security and Investigations Corp. She never divorced Peek, so was unable to marry Basso, who moved into her residence. Peek stayed in the house for a period before moving to another residence in Houston. Despite being unable to marry Basso, she changed her surname to “Basso” and began referring to Carmine as her husband.

Events

Juan Corona

1973 – Juan Corona is sentenced to 25 consecutive life terms for 25 murders

1981 – A military jury in North Carolina convicts Robert Garwood of collaborating with the enemy during the Vietnam war

1991 – A Michigan court bars Dr. Jack Kevorkian from assisting in suicides

1994 – The murderer of Medgar Evans, Byron de la Beckwith is sentenced to life, in Jackson, Mississippi, 30 years after the crime

1998 – Film producer Alberto Acciarito, is convicted of harassing his ex-wife Ingrid Rossellini

2015 – 70’s British rock star Gary Glitter (Paul Gadd) is convicted of child sexual abuse charges in London

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