January 5 – What happened today?


Roy Gardner

1829Sir Roger Tichborne was born in Paris in 1829 into the Tichborne family, an old English Catholic family who had been prominent in Hampshire, England since before the Norman Conquest. Raised mainly in France, Roger spoke English with a strong French accent. He was given an impressive education and was known to be a worldly man.  At the age of 20, he joined the 6th Dragoon Guards in Dublin but sold his commission three years later in 1852. In 1853, his father became the 9th baronet after his two elder brothers died.  On April 20, 1854, at age 25, Tichborne finished up a tour of South America and boarded the Bella, a ship headed from Rio De Janeiro to Jamaica. Four days later, its wreckage was found off the Brazilian coast, devoid of any survivors. Roger Tichborne was presumed to have died in this shipwreck.  However, his mother clung to a belief that he might have survived and after hearing rumors that he had made his way to Australia, she advertised extensively in Australian newspapers, offering a reward for information. This led to one of the most celebrated legal cases of the 19th century, known as the Tichborne case. A man known as Thomas Castro or Arthur Orton came forward claiming to be Roger Tichborne. Although he failed to convince the courts and was convicted of perjury, the case captivated Victorian England in the 1860s and 1870s.

1884Roy Gardnerwas an infamous American criminal active during the 1920s. He was known for his audacious heists, having stolen a total of more than $350,000 in cash and securities during his criminal career. Not only was he a skilled thief, but Gardner also had a knack for escaping from custody, further adding to his notoriety. His exploits and daring escapes earned him a place in the annals of American criminal history. Gardner’s life of crime came to an end on January 10, 1940.

1933Nestor Pirotte known as “The Crazy Killer”, was a notorious Belgian serial killer active in the 20th century. Born on January 5, 1933, in Sosoye, Namur, Belgium, Pirotte was considered one of the deadliest Belgian criminals before Marc Dutroux.  The son of a chatelain’s gamekeeper and a seamstress, Pirotte often boasted about being the child of a lord and had the vocabulary and manner of high society. He began his criminal activities during his military service, stealing from his comrades and looting coffers around the city. He was convicted for the first time at the age of 20.  Pirotte committed his first murder on April 20, 1954, after learning that his great-aunt had sold some cattle. He was sentenced to death for this crime, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Pretending to be a madman so he could be interned, Pirotte was sent to a specialized psychiatric facility. After 13 years of incarceration, he was released on parole.  Shortly after his release, Pirotte resumed his murders. He pretended to be the Count of Ribaucourt and shot the manager of a bank in Genval in the head. After being arrested again, Pirotte feigned a suicide attempt by throwing himself off a wall six meters high.  Pirotte was released again after 10 years and found a job in a broadcasting store. However, he soon returned to his criminal activities. He killed again while pretending to be the Count of Meeûs d’Argenteuil and sought to sell the furniture of his castle. His victim was a Brussels antique dealer.  Pirotte was sentenced to death in 1984, but this was once more commuted to life in prison. He tried to escape in 1992 but failed. After nearly 40 years behind bars, Nestor Pirotte died from a heart attack on July 29, 2000.

1942Henry John Burnett was the last man to be hanged in Scotland, and the first in Aberdeen since 1891. He was tried at the high court in Aberdeen from 23 to 25 July 1963 for the murder of merchant seaman Thomas Guyan. His execution, at HM Prison, Craiginches, Aberdeen, was performed by hangman Harry Allen.  Burnett was born on January 5, 1942. He had a history of severe mental illness and suicide attempts. He fell in love with Margaret Guyan, a colleague, who was estranged from her husband Thomas Guyan. Margaret and Burnett moved into a rented room on Skene Terrace in May 1963. Burnett, fearing that Margaret would leave him, would lock her in the flat out of jealousy.  On May 31, Margaret met Thomas Guyan seeking a divorce. However, they decided to give their marriage another try. When Margaret told Burnett about her decision to return to her husband, he held a knife to her throat. Thinking he had killed Margaret when she fainted, Burnett fled from the flat to his brother’s house where he grabbed a shotgun.  Margaret escaped and made her way to her grandmother’s flat at 14 Jackson Terrace where Thomas Guyan was waiting. Ninety minutes later, Burnett appeared at the flat. As Thomas Guyan opened the door, he was met by Burnett holding a shotgun. Burnett shot Guyan in the face, killing him instantly.  Burnett was sentenced to death at the High Court in Aberdeen on July 25, 1963, for murdering Thomas Guyan. At 8 a.m. on August 15, 1963, he was hanged at Craiginches Prison. He was just 21 years old when his life was extinguished.

1954Drew Petersonis a retired American police sergeant who became infamous for his involvement in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Ann Cales Peterson, and for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. He served in the Bolingbrook, Illinois police department for more than 30 years.  Peterson graduated from Willowbrook High School in Villa Park, Illinois in 1972. He briefly attended the College of DuPage in 1974 before moving to Virginia to train as a military police officer. In 1977, he began his career with the Bolingbrook Police Department. In 1978, he was assigned to the Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad and received a “Police Officer of the Year” award from the department.  In March 2004, Kathleen Savio was found dead in a bathtub with a large wound on her scalp and bruises on her body. Initially ruled as an accidental drowning, the case was reopened when Stacy Ann Peterson disappeared in October 2007. In light of Stacy Ann’s disappearance, Peterson was indicted for Savio’s murder after a second autopsy showed evidence of a struggle.  Peterson was found guilty of murdering Kathleen Savio and was sentenced to 38 years in prison on February 21, 2013. In February 2015, he was charged with two additional felonies — solicitation of murder and solicitation of murder for hire —for attempting to have James Glasgow, the state’s attorney handling his prosecution, killed. He was convicted on May 31, 2016, and sentenced to an additional 40 years on July 29, 2016.  Despite his convictions and imprisonment, Peterson continues to deny all allegations against him.

1962Cecil Barriner is a convicted murderer from Dent County, Missouri, USA. He was initially sentenced to death on May 5, 1999, for the murder and robbery of two women in 1996. However, his sentence was later commuted to life in prison in 2004.  In December 1996, fearing that he had failed a urinalysis test for controlled substances and that his probation would be revoked, Barriner planned to rob Candy Sisk and her grandmother Irene Sisk. Barriner had been in a relationship with Candy’s mother, Shirley Niswonger, from 1993 until 1996 and believed that the Sisks were financially well-off.  On December 15, 1996, Barriner visited the Sisks’ residence in Tallapoosa, Missouri. When he found no one at home, he left a note on their door. The next day, Candy reported to her aunt that a man had been to their house claiming to have a Christmas gift for her from her mother who was in jail. The man was driving a white Ford Taurus.  Barriner’s case went through several trials due to issues with the admission of evidence and allegations of third-party guilt. His conviction and death sentence were overturned twice by the Missouri Supreme Court. In his third trial in November 2004, Barriner was found guilty again but was sentenced to life without parole.


Donald Leroy Evans

1976Mal Evans a road manager and personal assistant for the Beatles, tragically lost his life on January 5, 1976. On that fateful day, Evans was at his rented duplex in Los Angeles when his girlfriend called the police. She reported that he was confused and had a gun. When the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers arrived at the scene, they found Evans holding what they believed to be a rifle. In reality, it was an air pistol. Unfortunately, the officers misinterpreted the situation and shot Evans, who died instantly from the six shots fired.  The aftermath of Evans’ death was notably chaotic. Many of his personal possessions went missing during the ensuing police investigation, including the manuscript of his memoir. His remains were cremated and sent to his family in the U.K. by his friend, Harry Nilsson.  Evans’ death was a tragic end to a life that had been closely intertwined with one of the most famous bands in history. His contributions to the Beatles and the music industry are remembered even today.

1993Westley Alan Dodd was born on July 3, 1961, in Toppenish, Washington. He was the oldest of Jim and Carol Dodd’s three children. Dodd claimed he was never abused or neglected as a child. However, he also claimed that the words “I love you” were never said to him as he grew up, nor could he ever remember saying them.  At the age of 13, Dodd began exposing himself to children in his neighborhood. By the time he entered high school, Dodd had progressed to child molestation, beginning with his younger cousins, and then neighborhood children he offered to babysit, as well as the children of a woman his father was dating.  In 1989, Dodd sexually assaulted and murdered three young boys in Vancouver, Washington. He was arrested later that year after a failed attempt to abduct a six-year-old boy at a movie theatre. Dodd wrote detailed accounts of his murders in a diary that was found by police.  After pleading guilty to the charges of murder, he received the death penalty. After refusing an automatic appeal, he was executed by hanging on January 5, 1993. This was the first legal hanging in the United States since 1965.

1999Donald Leroy Evans was born on July 5, 1957, in Watervliet, Michigan, USA. He was an American serial killer who murdered at least three people from 1985 to 1991. He was known for confessing to killing victims at parks and rest areas across more than twenty U.S. states.  Evans was convicted of his first crime in Galveston, Texas, for the rape of a local woman in 1986. He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison but served only five. After his parole in 1991, he returned to Galveston and took work as a desk clerk in a motel but was discharged after parole officials objected to a convicted sex offender working in a motel setting.  Evans was arrested while he was employed aboard a fishing boat for the murder of a 10-year-old girl that he had raped and kidnapped. He eventually faced a new arrest warrant when a former girlfriend filed a complaint to police about threats of violence. Evans stayed ahead of law enforcement officials briefly by stealing a car and fleeing to Mississippi.  He committed the crime for which he would receive the death penalty: the rape and murder of 10-year-old Beatrice Louise Routh on August 1, 1991. Evans seized the homeless girl from a Gulfport park and sexually assaulted her before strangling her to death and dumping her corpse in a rural area.  Arrested soon afterward, Evans confessed to abducting the girl, and he was remanded to a federal prison in Colorado on kidnapping charges. On August 16, 1993, a jury trial in Mississippi convicted Evans of sexual battery and murder; three days later, the same jury refused an option to grant him life imprisonment and sentenced him to the death penalty.  While in custody, Evans claimed responsibility for killing more than 70 other people in 22 states. Most of the murders and rapes were committed at rest stops and public parks. The authorities were originally skeptical of Evans’s claims, but two of his descriptions were perfect matches to unsolved cases across Florida.  In 1995, Evans pleaded guilty to the 1985 strangulation death of Ira Jean Smith in exchange for a life sentence. He successfully escaped the Harrison County Jail in June 1993 but was recaptured a short time later hiding in a shed.  Donald Leroy Evans died on January 5, 1999, at the age of 41 at Mississippi State Penitentiary due to stab wounds.


Bonnie Parker

1930 – Bonnie Parker meets Clyde Barrow for the first time at Clarence Clay’s house

1971 – Former World Heavyweight Champion Boxer Sonny Liston’s body is found and foul play is suspected.

1993 – Westley Alan Dodd is executed by hanging, the first since 1965

1998 – Vandals decapitate Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid

2001 – A report that reveals that former general practitioner Harold Shipman has potentially killed hundreds of patients is commissioned by the British Government

2022 – Louisiana Governor John Bell Edwards pardons Homer Plessy for buying a whites-only train ticket in 1892. (Resulted in US Supreme Court case Plessy v Ferguson 1896)

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