January 8 – What happened today?


William Bonin

1843Frederick Abberlinewas born on January 8, 1843, in Blandford Forum, Dorset, England. He was the youngest son of Edward Abberline, a saddlemaker, sheriff’s officer, and clerk of the market, and his wife Hannah. After his father’s death in 1849, his mother opened a small shop and raised her four children alone.  Abberline initially worked as a clockmaker before moving to London, where he enlisted in the Metropolitan Police on January 5, 1863. His impressive work led to his promotion to Sergeant just two years later on August 19, 1865. He was promoted to Inspector on March 10, 1873, and transferred to H Division in Whitechapel three days later. On April 8, 1878, Abberline was appointed Local Inspector in charge of H Division’s CID.  Abberline is best known for his role in the investigation into the Jack the Ripper serial killer murders of 1888. His extensive knowledge of the area and its criminals made him a key figure in the case. Following the murder of Mary Ann Nichols on August 31, 1888, Abberline was seconded back to Whitechapel and placed in charge of the detectives investigating the murders.  Abberline was promoted to Inspector First-Class on February 9, 1888, and to Chief Inspector on December 22, 1890. He retired from the police on February 8, 1892, after receiving 84 commendations and awards. After his retirement, he worked as a private inquiry agent, including three seasons at Monte Carlo, before taking over the European Agency of the famous Pinkerton National Detective Agency of the United States, where he worked for 12 years.  Frederick George Abberline passed away on December 10, 1929. His life and career have left a lasting impact, and he is remembered as a prominent figure in British police history.

1946Miguel Angel Felix Gallardocommonly referred to by his aliases El Jefe de Jefes (“The Boss of Bosses”) and El Padrino (“The Godfather”), is a convicted Mexican drug kingpin and a former Federal Judicial Police agent. He was born on January 8, 1946, in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico.  Gallardo was one of the founders of the Guadalajara Cartel in the 1980s. Throughout the 1980s, the cartel controlled much of the drug trafficking in Mexico and the corridors along the Mexico–United States border. Gallardo was considered Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficker when he was arrested for the murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in 1985.  In the early 1980s, drug interdiction efforts increased throughout Florida, which was then the major shipping destination for illegal drug traffickers. As a result, the Colombian cartels began to utilize Mexico as their primary trans-shipment point. Rather than taking cash payments for their services, the smugglers in the Guadalajara Cartel took a 50% cut of the cocaine they transported from Colombia. This proved to be extremely profitable for them, with some estimating that the trafficking network, then operated by Gallardo, was pulling in approximately $5 billion annually.  Gallardo was arrested in 1989 and was serving his 40-year sentence at the Altiplano maximum-security prison but was transferred to a medium-security facility in 2014 due to his declining health. He was worth over $500 million when he was apprehended.

1947William Boninalso known as the Freeway Killer or the Freeway Strangler, was an American serial killer and twice-paroled sex offender who committed the rape, torture, and murder of a minimum of twenty-one young men and boys between May 1979 to June 1980. He was born on January 8, 1947, in Willimantic, Connecticut. Bonin’s parents were both alcoholics; his father, a World War II veteran, often physically abused his wife and children. His mother suffered from severe mood swings and spent much of her free time at a bingo parlor while her sons remained unattended at home.  Bonin became known as the “Freeway Killer” due to the fact that the majority of his victims’ bodies were discovered alongside numerous freeways in southern California. He shares this epithet with two separate and unrelated serial killers active in and around that same region in the 1970s: Patrick Kearney and Randy Kraft.  Unlike many serial killers, Bonin had multiple accomplices during his murder spree. Known accomplices included Vernon Robert Butts, Gregory Matthew Miley, William Ray Pugh, and James Michael Munro. In May 1980, Pugh was arrested for stealing cars and while in prison provided detectives details connecting the freeway murders to William Bonin in exchange for a lighter sentence.  After being placed under police surveillance for nine days, Bonin was arrested while in the process of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in the back of his van. Unfortunately, even while under surveillance, Bonin was able to commit one more murder before his arrest.  Bonin was convicted of fourteen of the murders linked to the “Freeway Killer” in two separate trials in 1982 and 1983. He spent fourteen years on death row before his execution by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison in 1996. Bonin was the first inmate in California to die by this method.

1961Robert William Claytonwas a Native American man who was convicted for the 1985 murder of Rhonda Kay Timmons. He was born in 1961 and was 24 years old at the time of the murder.  Rhonda Timmons, a 19-year-old woman, was killed on June 25, 1985, in her apartment in Tulsa. She had been stabbed and struck in the head. Clayton, who worked as a groundskeeper at the apartment block, was arrested. He made two statements implicating himself as the murderer. However, he later recanted these confessions and maintained that he did not kill Timmons.  At the time of his arrest, Clayton was a mentally impaired individual with an IQ of 68, indicating a learning disability. He also had a tendency to be dependent and submissive and was emotionally immature. He had dropped out of school when he was about 12 years old.  Despite the lack of physical or eyewitness evidence positively identifying Clayton as the killer, the confession was important to the prosecution. However, the trial jury did not hear the statement, as it had not been recorded. Instead, it heard the police officer’s recollection of it, which has itself raised concern.  Clayton was scheduled to be executed in Oklahoma on January 4, 2001, but was granted a stay one day before his execution date. The stay allowed him to pursue DNA tests on lost evidence recovered just days before he was to be strapped to a death row gurney at Oklahoma State Penitentiary. However, evidence testing by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation confirmed Clayton as the killer.  Clayton was executed by lethal injection on March 1, 2001. He was pronounced dead at 9:10 p.m. from a lethal dose of drugs. He was the ninth inmate executed in Oklahoma that year. In his final statement, Clayton maintained his innocence, stating, “You’re still killing an innocent man. May God have mercy on my soul.”

1967R. KellyHe is an American singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist who was one of the best-selling R&B artists of the 1990s and early 21st century. He started his career with a group called Public Announcement and later won a talent show that led him to pursue music. He is known for his gospel-tinged vocals and highly sexualized lyrics. His hit song “I Believe I Can Fly” won three Grammy Awards.  Kelly has been credited with helping to redefine R&B and hip hop, earning nicknames such as “the King of R&B”, “the King of Pop-Soul”, and the “Pied Piper of R&B”. He has released 18 studio albums and is known for hit singles such as “I Believe I Can Fly”, “Bump N’ Grind”, “Your Body’s Callin’”, “Gotham City”, “Ignition (Remix)”, “If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time”, “The World’s Greatest”, “I’m a Flirt (Remix)”, and the hip hop era “Trapped in the Closet”.  However, Kelly’s career has been overshadowed by numerous allegations of sexual abuse. In 2022, he was convicted of eight counts of sex trafficking and one of racketeering in a New York court. Months later, he was convicted of child sexual abuse in a second federal trial in Chicago. The jury found Kelly was the ringleader of a violent and coercive scheme that lured women and children for him to sexually abuse. The singer was also found to have trafficked women between different US states. Along with eight counts of sex trafficking, Kelly was found guilty of racketeering – a charge normally used against organized crime associations. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison for using his celebrity status to sexually abuse children and women. These convictions represent a victory for survivors of sexual violence, particularly those who may hesitate to speak out against abusers for fear of retribution.

1697Thomas Aikenhead was a Scottish student from Edinburgh, born on March 28, 1676. He was known for being the last person in Great Britain to be executed for blasphemy. Aikenhead was prosecuted and executed at the age of 20 under the Act against Blasphemy 1661 and Act against Blasphemy 1695. During his studies at the University of Edinburgh, he engaged in discussions regarding religion with his friends. Accounts from at least five of those friends formed the basis of the indictment. Aikenhead was indicted in December 1696 for maintaining in conversation that theology was a rhapsody of ill-invented nonsense, patched up partly of the moral doctrines of philosophers, and partly of poetical fictions and extravagant chimeras. He ridiculed the holy scriptures, calling the Old Testament Ezra’s fables, in profane allusion to Esop’s Fables. He also railed on Christ, saying, he had learned magic in Egypt, which enabled him to perform those pranks which were called miracles. He called the New Testament the history of the imposter Christ and said Moses was the better artist and the better politician, and he preferred Muhammad to Christ. He stated that the Holy Scriptures were stuffed with such madness, nonsense, and contradictions, that he admired the stupidity of the world in being so long deluded by them. He rejected the mystery of the Trinity as unworthy of refutation and scoffed at the incarnation of Christ.  The case was prosecuted by the Lord Advocate, Sir James Stewart, who demanded the death penalty in order to set an example to others who might otherwise express such opinions. On December 24, 1696, the jury found Aikenhead guilty of cursing and railing against God, denying the incarnation and the Trinity, and scoffing at the Scriptures. He was sentenced to death by hanging. This was an extraordinary penalty, as the statute called for execution only upon the third conviction for this offense; first-time offenders were to be sack-clothed and imprisoned. Aikenhead was executed on January 8, 1697.

1895Matti Haapojawas a notorious Finnish serial killer, born on September 16, 1845, in Isokyrö, Finland. His criminal career began with brawling and quickly escalated to horse theft. His first known murder occurred on December 6, 1867, when he stabbed his drinking partner, Heikki Impponen, during a drunken brawl. For this crime, he was sentenced to serve 12 years in prison at Turku.  Over the next decade, Haapoja escaped from prison four times, spending months at large on each occasion. His notoriety grew as he became known as a jail-breaker and thief. After his last escape, he petitioned for his sentence to be changed to exile in Siberia, which was granted, and he was sent to Omsk Oblast in 1880.  During his time in Siberia, he is reputed to have killed a man in 1886, after which he was exiled to East Siberia. Folk stories claim that during this time, Haapoja killed two other famous Finnish criminals, Anssin Jukka, and Kaappo Sutki, but these tales are likely false as they offer no conclusive proof.  Around 1889, Haapoja decided to escape Siberia and return to Finland. He later claimed that he intended to emigrate to America. He raised money for this escape by committing a series of robberies and murders. He probably killed at least three men and participated in the murder of a fourth.  The exact number of his victims is unknown. He was convicted of two murders and was scheduled for a trial for his third murder when he committed suicide in his cell on January 8, 1895. It is claimed that he confessed to 18 murders, but there are no details about this supposed confession, and the figure should be regarded as unreliable. Some sources estimate his total number of murders as 22-25. He also non-fatally wounded at least six men in knife fights.


Lita Grey

1902 – New York state assemblyman Francis G Landon gets a bill passed to criminalize men turning around on a street and “looking at a woman in that way”

1931 – Lita Grey, ex-wife of Charlie Chaplin was kidnapped & robbed along with retired boxer Georges Carpentier

1973 – Judge Sirica begins the trial of the Watergate burglars in Washington D.C.

1998 – Unabomber suspect Ted Kaczynski asks to act as his own lawyer

1998 – World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Ahmed Yousef sentenced to life

2011 – The attempted assassination of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords & the subsequent shooting in Casas Adobes, Arizona at a Safeway grocery store kills 6 & wounds 13 including Giffords

2016 – Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announces the recapture of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, 6 months after he escaped

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