February 6 – What happened today?


Billy Gohl

1577Beatrice Cenci – was a young Roman noblewoman who lived a tragic life. She was the daughter of Ersilia Santacroce and Count Francesco Cenci, a man of great wealth but known for his violent temper and dissolute habits. After the death of her mother when Beatrice was just seven years old, she and her elder sister Antonina were sent to a small monastery, Santa Croce a Montecitorio for Franciscan Tertiary nuns in Rome.  The family lived in Rome at the Palazzo Cenci and also possessed a castle, La Rocca of Petrella Salto, a small village in the Abruzzi mountains northeast of Rome. The extended family living together included Count Francesco’s second wife, Lucrezia Petroni; Beatrice’s elder brother, Giacomo; and Bernardo, Francesco’s son from his second marriage.  According to legend, Francesco Cenci abused his first wife Ersilia Santa Croce, and his sons and repeatedly raped Beatrice. He was jailed for other crimes but was freed early because of his noble status. Beatrice tried to inform the authorities about his abusive behavior, but no effective action was taken. When he found out that his daughter had reported him, he sent Beatrice and Lucrezia away from Rome to live in the family’s castle at La Petrella del Salto.  In an attempt to escape the imprisonment and repeated rape meted out to her by him, Beatrice, her siblings, and their stepmother organized a plot to kill her father. In 1598, during one of Francesco’s stays at the castle, two vassals (one of whom had become Beatrice’s secret lover) helped them to drug him. They then bludgeoned Francesco to death with a hammer and threw the body off a balcony to make it look like an accident.  Eventually, his absence was noticed, and the papal police investigated. Beatrice’s lover was tortured and died without revealing the truth. Meanwhile, a family friend who was aware of the murder ordered the killing of the second vassal to avoid any risk. Nonetheless, the plot was discovered, and the four members of the Cenci family were arrested, found guilty, and sentenced to death. Despite outpourings of public sympathy, Beatrice was beheaded in 1599 after a lurid murder trial in Rome that gave rise to an enduring legend about her.

1873Billy Gohl – was a German-American alleged serial killer who, while working as a union official, allegedly murdered sailors passing through Aberdeen, Washington. He was suspected of dozens of murders until his capture in 1910.  Gohl was born in Germany and at some point in his adult life, he went to the Yukon chasing gold. However, he was unsuccessful, and on his return to Aberdeen, he took on work as a bartender. During this time, it was alleged that he may have been responsible for numerous murders. The bodies of migrant workers were found after washing up on the shores, and robbed of any valuables or money they were known to have.  Gohl was employed as a union official at the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific. Before this, he had been employed as a bartender after returning broke from the Yukon. Already an accomplished criminal, Gohl was accused of being responsible for many of the large numbers of deceased migrant workers that were found washed up on shore during his tenure as a bartender, as well as a number of other crimes.  In 1905, during the great waterfront strike, Gohl was charged with “assembling men under arms” and is also alleged to have forcibly abducted non-union crewmen from the schooner Fearless for which he was fined $1,250 in the Superior Court.  Gohl was spared from the death penalty by a request for leniency by the jury, he was sentenced to life in prison at Walla Walla State Penitentiary where he died in 1927 from lobar pneumonia and erysipelas complicated by dementia paralytic caused by syphilis.  Recent scholarship has cast significant doubt on the veracity of the accusations against Gohl, with historian Aaron Goings arguing that the numerous bodies discovered in Grays Harbor were the result of accidental deaths caused by unsafe conditions on the docks and in the timber industry and that Gohl was unjustly blamed for these deaths by influential local businessmen hoping to do away with a powerful figure in the local labor movement.

1897Louis Buchalter – was an American mobster and head of the Mafia hit squad Murder, Inc., during the 1930s. He was one of the premier labor racketeers in New York City during that era. His nickname “Lepke” was derived from “Lepkeleh”, which means “Little Louis” in Yiddish.  Buchalter was born to a Jewish family in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. His father, Barnett Buchalter, was a Russian immigrant who operated a hardware store. His mother, Rose Buchalter, called him “Lepkeleh”, which later became “Lepke”. He had one sister and three brothers; one brother eventually became a dentist, another brother a college professor and rabbi, and the third brother a pharmacist.  In 1909, when Buchalter was 12, his father died. In 1910, Buchalter finished elementary school and started a job selling theatrical goods. On the Lower East Side, he attended the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School, where he was an “honor roll” student. Soon after, his mother moved to Arizona for health reasons, leaving Buchalter in the care of his sister, Sarah.  Buchalter had several run-ins with the law, including arrests for burglary and assault, and served multiple sentences at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York, and Auburn Prison in Auburn, New York. Upon his release from prison in 1922, he started working with his childhood friend, mobster Jacob “Gurrah” Shapiro.  Buchalter is known for founding the murder-for-hire organization popularly known as Murder, Inc. He worked with key bosses of his day and helped build the mob we know today. He became the only major Mafia figure sent to the death chamber. Louis Buchalter was executed using the infamous “Old Sparky” electric chair after being sent “up the river” to Sing Sing Correctional Facility.

1910Carlos Marcello – born Calogero Minacore on February 6, 1910, in Tunis, French Tunisia, was an Italian-American crime boss of the New Orleans crime family from 1947 to 1983. He immigrated to the United States in 1911 and settled in an old plantation in the suburbs of New Orleans. Marcello turned to petty crime in his youth, especially in the French Quarter, which was also known then as Little Italy.  Marcello married into the family of Frank Todaro, an underboss of the New Orleans Mafia and an associate of Sylvestro “Silver Dollar Sam” Carolla, the head of the New Orleans Crime Family. This marriage elevated Marcello’s position in the crime family, and he became one of Carolla’s lieutenants.  In 1938, Marcello was arrested for selling more than 23 pounds of marijuana. Despite receiving a lengthy prison sentence and a fine of $76,830, he served less than ten months in prison thanks to a deal cut with former Governor Huey Long.  After his release, Marcello became associated with Frank Costello, the leader of the Genovese Crime family of New York. At that time, Costello was transporting slot machines to New Orleans. These machines did not have any legal permits. Hence, he needed help both in transportation and proper placements. Marcello, at the instruction of Carolla, not only provided the muscle power but also had them successfully placed in different business houses in New Orleans.  Marcello was known as “The Godfather” of the New Orleans Mafia for four decades and was a key opponent of Robert and John F. Kennedy’s 1960s anti-mob crusade. He passed away on March 3, 1993, in Metairie, Louisiana.

1946Arthur Paul Baird II – was a convicted murderer who was sentenced to death for the murder of his parents, Arthur P. Baird I and Kathryn Baird, on September 7, 1985. He also received a prison sentence of 60 years for the murder of his wife Nadine, who was seven months pregnant at the time, and a further eight years for the murder of the fetus.  Baird strangled his wife on their bed in their trailer home in Darlington, Indiana, for no apparent reason. He spent several hours watching TV and holding his wife’s body. Early the following morning, he went to his parents’ home nearby, and after feeding the chickens and getting a haircut from his mom, he stabbed them both to death with a butcher knife. He left after loading up his belongings and was arrested in Huntingburg, two hours away, the next day.  Baird was sentenced to death on March 13, 1987. However, his execution was scheduled for August 31, 2005, but was commuted to life in prison on August 29, 2005, on the grounds that he was mentally ill. Baird’s attorney sought a stay of execution on these grounds. He remained on death row from March 13, 1987, until his sentence was commuted.

1960Antonio Nathaniel Bonham – He is known for his involvement in a heinous crime that took place on the morning of July 9, 1981, in Houston, Texas. On that day, Bonham kidnapped Marie Jones McGowen, a 62-year-old business college teacher. He forced her into the trunk of her car and drove around for several hours before parking on an isolated stretch of road in southeast Houston. There, he raped McGowen and left her for dead.  Bonham’s actions were not only violent but also remorseless. After raping McGowen, he attempted to scare her by chasing her with the car. When she gave no response, he ran over her three times with the vehicle and fled the scene when he failed to get the car out of a ditch. McGowen’s mangled body was later discovered pinned under the car by her husband, who had been called by the Houston police to bring the vehicle’s spare keys.  Bonham was arrested when a set of keys belonging to the homes of his mother, father, and sister were found near the crime scene. His fingerprints also matched those found on the car. At the time of the crime, Bonham had recently been paroled from a ten-year sentence for aggravated robbery and had only been free for five weeks.  Despite his attorney’s claims that Bonham was drunk at the time of the crime and showed remorse for the killing, he was convicted for the abduction, rape, and murder of Marie Jones McGowen. He was executed on September 28, 1993, at the age of 33. His death sentence was carried out in Huntsville, Walker County, Texas, USA.

1970Zhou Kehua – He is known for his involvement in a series of murders and robberies. According to Chinese media, he is believed to be involved in at least nine murder and robbery cases.  Zhou’s life of crime began early. In 1985, at age 15, Zhou was jailed for 14 days on molestation charges. In 1991, Zhou stole a shotgun in Chongqing. Two years later, he was arrested and sentenced to Re-education through labor for illegal possession of firearms. In 1997, he purchased a Type 54 pistol near the border of mainland China and Burma in Yunnan Province. In 2005, he was jailed again for arms trafficking.  Zhou is suspected to have killed ten people and robbed millions of yuan in Jiangsu, Hunan, and Chongqing between 2004 and 2012. According to police investigators in Changsha, Zhou Kehua had been a mercenary soldier in Burma until 2004, which explained his familiarity with guns.  After a massive manhunt, Zhou was shot and killed by police on August 14, 2012. Despite repeated confirmations from Chongqing authorities, many Chinese were suspicious that the killed person was not Zhou Kehua, but instead a plainclothes policeman killed by accident.

1971Ronald Alain Janssen – He was the third child in a family of four. His father was a miner and his mother was a housekeeper. From early childhood, Janssen was teased at school for his lisp. His father was depressed and severe at the “tyrannical limit”. At home, Janssen was terrorized by his father. This fear caused him to have insomnia, which he kept throughout his life. He allegedly tried to murder his diabetic father by injecting him with a liquid instead of insulin. His mother Hilda had a strong relationship with her son, which dates from the time that his father was brutal with the family. When Hilda decided to divorce, all four children chose to continue living with their mother.  He studied at Hasselt and Leuven. In 1993, he graduated as an industrial engineer with distinction. That year he also met his future wife Natalie. In 1996, the couple moved to Genk, where Natalie found a job. After being active as a technical and production manager in a company in Genk, he turned to teaching in 1998. At Maaseik, he taught mechanics and computer science until 2000. In the middle of 2000, he moved with his wife and daughters to Loksbergen. Janssen then became a professor at Herk-De-Stad where he taught computer science, economics, technology, and applied mechanics. His wife left him in 2006, leaving Janssen to live alone. While in Loksbergen, neighbors would sometimes find him walking alone at night while everyone was sleeping.  Janssen is a Belgian serial killer who was sentenced to life imprisonment on October 21, 2011, for the murder of three people. The victims include Annick Van Uytsel, an 18-year-old Diest resident, who was returning to her home alone while riding a bike on April 27 to 28, 2007. Threatening her with a knife, Janssen kidnapped her and took her to his home, where he killed Van Uytsel with a hammer, then held her head underwater to make sure she did not survive. 70 police officers, 200 volunteers, and a helicopter began searching for the woman. A telephone terminal was activated by Annick’s GSM, and her mother called her while she was still at Janssen’s, which allowed the police to work in a specific sector where 4000 men between 35 and 40 years were interviewed, but the killer still managed to slip through the cracks.

1972Maurice Clemmons – He is known for his involvement in a series of crimes and his eventual death in a police encounter.  Clemmons’ life of crime began early. In 1989, at the age of 17, he was sentenced to more than 90 years in prison for eight felonies, including the robbery of an Arkansas State Trooper’s home from which he stole almost $7,000 worth of items, including a gun.  In 2009, Clemmons was arrested after he appeared in a Pierce County court trying to have his bench warrant thrown out. He was charged with second-degree rape of a child, as well as being a fugitive from Arkansas. At the time of his arrest, Clemmons made religiously-themed comments and referred to himself as “the beast”. He also told a police officer that President Barack Obama and LeBron James were his brothers, and Oprah Winfrey was his sister.  Clemmons was identified as the shooter in the November 29, 2009 murder of four police officers in Parkland, Washington. After evading police for two days following the shooting, Clemmons was shot and killed by a police officer in Seattle on December 1, 2009. His death marked the end of a life marked by crime and violence.



Heidi Fleiss

1891 – The first great train robbery by the Dalton gang takes place on the Southern Pacific #17

1928 – A woman dubbed Anna Anderson (possibly Franziska Schanzkowska) arrives in New York City, using the alias “Anastasia Tschaikovsky” and claims to be Grand Duchess Anastasia, daughter of Tsar Nicholas II

1951 – Radio commentator Paul Harvey is arrested for trying to sneak into Argonne National Laboratory, a nuclear test site located 20 miles west of Chicago

1961 – Jail, No Bail – Jail in movement starts in Rock Hill, South Carolina

1980 – Killer clown, John Wayne Gacy goes on trial

1981 – Manuela Witthuhn is murdered by the Golden State Killer

1984 – Mary Exzetta West is murdered by Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer

1996 – American madam Heidi Fleiss is scheduled to begin her 7-year jail sentence

1996 – Rapper Tupac Shakur is sentenced to up to 4.5 years in prison for a sexual assault conviction

1998 – Mary Kay LeTourneau, 36, a former teacher who violated probation by seeing the 14-year-old father of her baby, is sentenced to 7 years

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