January 7 – What happened today?


Israel Keyes

1896Joseph Douglas Ball was an American murderer and suspected serial killer. He is sometimes referred to as the “Alligator Man”, the “Butcher of Elmendorf”, and the “Bluebeard of South Texas”.  Ball was the great-great-grandson of John Hart Crenshaw, a notorious illegal slave trader, kidnapper, and illegal slave breeder in Gallatin County, Illinois. After serving on the frontlines in Europe during World War I, Ball started his career as a bootlegger, providing illegal liquor to those who could pay for it. After the end of Prohibition, he opened a saloon called the Sociable Inn in Elmendorf, Texas. He built a pond that contained six alligators and charged people to view them, especially during feeding time; the food consisted mostly of live cats and dogs.  Between 1936 and 1938, women in the area were reported missing, including barmaids, former girlfriends, and his wife. When two Bexar County deputy sheriffs went to question him in 1938, Ball pulled a handgun from his cash register and killed himself with a bullet through the heart. A handyman who conspired with Ball, Clifford Wheeler, admitted to helping Ball dispose of the bodies of two of the women he had killed. Wheeler led them to the remains of Hazel Brown and Minnie Gotthard. Few written sources from the era could verify Ball’s crimes.  Ball is known to have killed two women but is believed to have murdered as many as 20 women in the 1930s.

1903Thomas R. Limerickwas an American criminal born on January 7, 1902, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He grew up in a middle-class family until his father died when he was 15. His family was soon thrown into poverty, leaving Thomas, the oldest of five children, to find work.  Limerick joined a gang of bank robbers led by Maurice Denning based in Gage County, Nebraska in 1934. The gang robbed a National Guard Armory on August 23, 1934, and between October and November of that year, they robbed large banks in Hawarden, Iowa; Dell Rapids, South Dakota; and Superior, Nebraska. They also kidnapped three people during one of the robberies.  Limerick was arrested in a nightclub in St. Joseph, Missouri on May 25, 1935. He was initially sentenced to life imprisonment at Leavenworth Penitentiary but was later transferred to Alcatraz.  In the spring of 1938, Limerick, along with James Lucas and Rufus Franklin, planned an escape from Alcatraz. Their plan involved incapacitating an unarmed guard supervising a work detail on the top floor and escaping through a window to the rooftop. From there, they planned to incapacitate an armed guard and leave the island via a seized police boat.  They enacted their escape plan on May 23, 1938. They assaulted Custodial Officer Royal Cline with hammer blows to his head in the prison’s mat shop and proceeded to the roof. An armed guard shot both Franklin and Limerick while Lucas wasn’t shot. Other guards arrived at the scene and cornered Franklin, Limerick, and Lucas who then surrendered.  Cline died of his injuries the next day as did Limerick. Lucas and Franklin were tried for murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

1934Joseph Nasoalso known as Crazy Joe or the Double Initial Killer, was born on January 7, 1934, in Rochester, New York. After serving in the United States Air Force in the 1950s, he met his first wife. Their marriage lasted for eighteen years, but after the divorce, Naso continued visiting his ex-wife, who lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. The couple had a son who later developed schizophrenia, and Naso spent his later years caring for him.  Naso took classes in various San Francisco colleges in the 1970s and lived in the Mission District of San Francisco and then in Piedmont, California, in the 1980s. He lived in Sacramento between 1999 and 2003 and finally settled in Reno, Nevada in 2004, where he was arrested in 2011. He worked as a freelance photographer and had a long history of petty crimes such as shoplifting, which he committed even in his mid-seventies. His acquaintances nicknamed him Crazy Joe for his behavior.  Naso is an American serial killer and serial rapist sentenced to death for the murders of four women. He was also implicated in the murders of other women. His crimes spanned from January 10, 1977 – August 14, 1994. Some of his confirmed victims include 18-year-old Roxene Ashby Roggasch who was found dead on January 10, 1977; Carmen Lorraine Colon, 22, found on August 13, 1978; Sharileea Patton, 56; Sara Dylan; and Pamela Ruth Parsons, 38.

1947James Paul Collierwas a convicted murderer who was executed by lethal injection in Texas on December 11, 2002. Born on January 7, 1947, Collier’s criminal history began with a plan to kidnap his 13-year-old daughter from the home of her stepfather, Phillip Hoepfner, on March 14, 1995.  Armed with a shotgun, Collier fired his first shots through the glass storm door of Hoepfner’s home. He then entered the house and killed Timothy Don Reed, 31, and Reed’s mother, Gwendolyn Joy Reed, 51. Neither of the victims was related to Collier or involved in any dispute with him. Collier was arrested nine days after the incident in New Mexico.  During his trial in 1996, Collier insisted on defending himself. Prior to these murders, he had been convicted of two counts of selling narcotics in September and October 1970, robbery in July 1971, and assault in March 1987.  Collier’s final meal request included 30 jumbo shrimp with cocktail sauce, a baked potato, French fries, a T-bone steak, a chocolate malt, one gallon of vanilla ice cream, and three cans of Big Red. However, he was given fried fish, chicken fried steak, a baked potato, and ice cream. In his final words before execution, Collier expressed appreciation for the hospitality and respect shown to him. He also complimented the quality of his last meal.

1978Israel Keyeswas an American serial killer, bank robber, burglar, arsonist, kidnapper, and sex offender who committed a series of violent crimes from 1996 to 2012. He was born in Richmond, Utah on January 7, 1978, to Heidi Keyes and John Jeffrey Keyes. He was the second of ten children in a family that initially practiced Mormonism but later converted to radical Christianity.  Keyes grew up in a small, one-room cabin in Stevens County, north of Colville, Washington. The family lived without running water or electricity and were isolated from society. As a child, Keyes attended the Ark, a church that taught Christian Identity values associated with anti-Semitism. He abandoned Christianity in his teens and later started believing in Satanism.  Keyes joined the U.S. Army on July 9, 1998, and served at Fort Lewis, Fort Hood, and in Egypt. He was discharged as a rank specialist from Fort Lewis on July 8, 2001. During his service, he received several army honors including the Army Achievement Medal, the Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar, the Air Assault Badge, the Army Service Ribbon, and the Expert Infantryman Badge.  After his military service, Keyes started a construction business named Keyes Construction in Alaska in 2007. His criminal activities began as early as 1996 with the violent sexual assault of a teenage girl in Oregon. As a serial killer, he targeted victims who happened to cross his path rather than sticking to a specific profile.  Keyes was arrested in March 2012 and charged with the murder of Samantha Koenig, a barista in Anchorage, Alaska. During the investigation that ensued, Keyes confessed to killing Samantha and seven other murders including those of Bill and Lorraine Currier. The FBI later revealed that Keyes had murdered at least 11 people.  While awaiting trial for his crimes in December 2012, Keyes committed suicide in his prison cell.


Nicky “Black” Grancio

1761Dorcas “Darkey” Kellywas an Irish brothel keeper and alleged serial killer who was burned at the stake in Dublin in 1761. She was a madam who operated the Maiden Tower brothel on Copper Alley, off Fishamble Street in the southwest part of Dublin, Ireland. Kelly was convicted of killing shoemaker John Dowling on St. Patrick’s Day 1760. She was executed by partial hanging and burning at the stake on Gallows Road (modern Baggot Street) on January 7, 1761. After her execution, she was waked by prostitutes on Copper Alley; thirteen of them were arrested for disorder and sent to Newgate Prison, Dublin.  An account of the 1773 execution of the murderer Mrs Herring at Tyburn, London, gives an idea of what Kelly’s execution may have been like: She was placed on a stool something more than two feet high, and, a chain placed under her arms, the rope around her neck was made fast to two spikes, which, being driven through a post against which she stood, when her devotions were ended, the stool was taken from under her, and she was soon strangled. When she had hung about fifteen minutes, the rope was burnt, and she sunk till the chain supported her, forcing her hands up to a level with her face, and the flame being furious, she was soon consumed.  A 1788 account in the World newspaper claims that her brothel was investigated by the authorities and that investigators then found the corpses of five men hidden in the vaults. However, this does not appear in any contemporary account of her trial and execution and appears to be a later embellishment.  Various legends grew up around Kelly after her execution. The most common story is that she became pregnant with the child of Dublin’s Sheriff Simon Luttrell, 1st Earl of Carhampton, a member of the Hellfire Club and probable client of Kelly’s Maiden Tower. She demanded financial support from him. He responded by accusing her of witchcraft and of having killed their baby in a Satanic ritual. The body was never found. Darkey was then burnt at the stake.  A pub on Fishamble Street, near where her brothel once stood, is named Darkey Kelly’s.

1973Mark Essexknown as the “New Orleans Sniper”, was an American serial sniper and black nationalist. He was born on August 12, 1949, in Emporia, Kansas, the second of five children born to Mark Henry and Nellie (née Evans) Essex. He was raised in a close-knit and religious household. His father was a foreman in a meat-packing plant and his mother counseled preschool-age children in a program for disadvantaged children.  Essex developed a passion for the Cub Scouts and an aptitude for music, playing the saxophone in his high school band. He also developed a passion for hunting and fishing in the rivers and streams within and around the city and developed ambitions to become a minister in his teens.  Essex joined the U.S. Navy on July 9, 1998, and served at Fort Lewis, Fort Hood, and in Egypt. He was discharged as a rank specialist from Fort Lewis on July 8, 2001. During his service, he received several army honors including the Army Achievement Medal, the Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar, the Air Assault Badge, the Army Service Ribbon, and the Expert Infantryman Badge.  Essex’s criminal activities began as early as 1996 with violent sexual assault of a teenage girl in Oregon. As a serial killer, he targeted victims who happened to cross his path rather than sticking to a specific profile.  Essex is known for two separate attacks in New Orleans on December 31, 1972, and January 7, 1973. He killed a total of nine people, including five police officers, and wounded twelve others. Essex is believed to have specifically sought to kill white people and police officers due to racism he had previously experienced while enlisted in the Navy. His increasingly extremist anti-police, black supremacist, and anti-white views are believed to have solidified following a November 1972 violent clash between Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputies and student civil rights demonstrators.  Essex was killed by police in the second armed confrontation on January 7, 1973.

1976Sebastiao Antonio de Oliveiraalso known as The Monster of Bragança, was a Brazilian rapist and serial killer who committed at least eight rapes and five murders in the Bragança region in two periods: between 1953 and 1963, and between 1974 and 1975. His case shocked the 1970s society in Bragança Paulista.  His date and place of birth are uncertain. According to some reports, he was born in Tuiuti on October 7, 1915, while others named the city Amparo and the year 1916. Since childhood, he experienced psychiatric problems that increased over the years. He married in 1938 and had several children. In the 1950s, his mental health problems got worse.  In 1953, Sebastião was in Atibaia when he lured an eight-year-old boy and raped him, leaving the child almost dead. Later that year, another child was found dead with signs of rape in the Bragança region. After being denounced, he was arrested and sentenced to prison at the Carandiru Penitentiary. Psychiatric examinations requested by the court led to his transfer at the Franco da Rocha Penal Hospital for treatment. Due to his good behavior, he was transferred to the Juqueri Psychiatric Hospital in 1958.  The following year, he fled Juqueri and wandered around until he settled in São Paulo. There, he lived in the Tatuapé neighborhood with his wife and daughter. On July 10, 1959, Sebastião kidnapped his daughter and fled. His wife warned the authorities, who searched São Paulo and the surrounding countryside because of De Oliveira’s history. The next day, after raping her, Sebastião abandoned his daughter at the Mogi-Mirim Road in Campinas and fled again.  In 1963, he was charged with the rape of another minor and arrested in Adamantina and was again sent to Franco da Rocha Penal Hospital. In 1969, a medical report classified him as a “pure bio-criminal with a sexopathic specialty” and Sebastião was transferred to the Taubaté Custody Hospital, where he remained until February 24, 1973, when he was released under surveillance.  The following year, he roamed and begged around the Bragança Paulista region until he settled in Bragança in mid-1974. In December 1974, Sebastião kidnapped, raped, and murdered six-year-old Maria Janete (on the 26th) and eight-year-old Valdir (on the 29th), also attempting to attack four other children between those dates.  Sebastião Antônio de Oliveira died on January 7, 1976.

1992Nicholas “Nicky Black” Granciowas a soldier in the Colombo crime family. He was born on March 29, 1927, in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. In the early 1990s, an internal war broke out in the Colombo crime family when Capo Vittorio Orena challenged imprisoned mob boss Carmine Persico for the leadership of the family. Nicky sided with the faction led by Orena, making him a prime target for the Persico loyalists.  On January 7, 1992, Nicky was killed in a drive-by shooting. He was in his Toyota at a set of red lights when Colombo hitmen pulled up beside him. Larry Mazza, one of the Colombo hitmen, stuck his shotgun out the window and shot Nicky at point-blank range, blowing his face onto the windshield. Greg Scarpa was also in the car but contrary to popular belief, he wasn’t the assassin. Scarpa was fumbling around with his jammed gun while Mazza completed the job.  Nicky’s death marked a significant event in the history of the Colombo crime family and left a lasting impact on its dynamics.

2014Thomas Knightalso known as Askari Abdullah Muhammad and Edwin Van Williams, was born on February 4, 1951, in Fort Pierce, Florida. He was an American fugitive who was executed in Florida for murder.  Knight’s life of crime began at a young age. When he was nine years old, he started getting into trouble with the law due to theft. By the time he turned fifteen, Knight had become a wanted man in his state and was sent to prison for burglary. That same year, he was committed to the Northeast Florida State Hospital in Macclenny, where he would be diagnosed with ‘drug intoxication’ and ‘paranoid personality disorder’.  On June 2, 1974, Knight forced a couple in Florida to withdraw $50K in cash and then murdered them. While awaiting trial for this murder, he and 10 other inmates escaped from prison and went on a crime spree during which he murdered a store clerk in an armed robbery. On December 12, 1974, the FBI added Knight to the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. He was apprehended on December 31st of the same year and was sentenced to death for the Miami murders in 1975.  While on death row at the Florida State Prison, Knight committed another murder. On October 12, 1980, he fatally stabbed state corrections officer Richard Burke with a sharpened spoon after the prison refused to let him see his mother during her first visit.  After spending thirty-nine years on death row, Knight was executed on January 7, 2014. His case has been referenced by supporters of capital punishment.

2016Oscar Ray Bolin Jrwas an American serial killer and convicted rapist who was executed in Florida for murder. He was born on January 22, 1962, in Portland, Indiana. His family consisted of laborers and carnival workers who were spread across multiple states including Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. His father used to beat him when he was a child and his mother once walked him to a school bus stop on a leash. Bolin frequently got into trouble with the law during his youth. In 1977, he committed theft in Ohio at the age of 15 and was arrested. He later moved to Florida in the early 1980s and began working as a carnival worker.  In 1986, Bolin kidnapped and murdered three young women in Tampa, Florida. He was later connected to a fourth murder in Texas in 1987. The murders went unsolved for nearly four years until the husband of his ex-wife called a tip line and implicated him. He maintained his innocence to the end.  In 1987, Bolin and two other men kidnapped and raped a 20-year-old waitress in Toledo, Ohio. Afterward, Bolin attempted to kill her with a gun, but the gun jammed. He let the woman go along a highway in Pennsylvania. Bolin was captured and was sentenced to 22 to 75 years in prison.  After spending twenty-eight years on death row, Bolin was executed on January 7, 2016.



Mark Essex

1611 – The trial of Hungarian aristocrat Elizabeth Bathory for killing & torturing hundreds of young women, she was later sentenced to house arrest for the rest of her life.

1923 – The Baltimore Sun warns of the presence of the Ku Klux Klan

1959 – American gangster Meyer Lansky flees Cuba for the Bahamas due to the Cuban revolution & rise of Fidel Castro

1962 – James Gilmore Jr disappeared & 23 years later and was found in the foundation of his childhood home

1973 – Mark Essex’s mass shooting comes to an end after he is shot by police more than 200 times on the roof of the New Orleans Holiday Inn hotel. He killed 9 people including 5 policemen.

2015 – A terrorist attack takes place on the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris killing 12 people and injuring a further 11

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