January 9 – What happened today?


Mehmet Ali Agca

1929Dorothea Puente was an American convicted serial killer who ran a boarding house in Sacramento, California. She was known for murdering her elderly and mentally disabled boarders and cashing their Social Security checks. Her criminal activities spanned from the mid-1980s until her arrest in 1988. Puente was convicted of three murders, although she was suspected of six more. Despite her criminal activities, she managed to evade suspicion from parole agents for several years. Her case attracted significant media attention and she was dubbed the “Death House Landlady”.

1950Sir Alec John Jeffreysis a renowned British geneticist. He is celebrated for his groundbreaking work in developing techniques for genetic fingerprinting and DNA profiling. These techniques are now used globally in forensic science to assist police detective work and to resolve paternity and immigration disputes.  Jeffreys’ journey into the world of genetics began at the University of Leicester, where he held the position of Professor of Genetics. His research at Leicester focused on exploring human DNA diversity and the mutation processes that create this diversity. He was one of the first to discover inherited variation in human DNA, which led him to invent DNA fingerprinting. This invention revolutionized the field of forensic DNA, providing invaluable tools for criminal investigations, paternity testing, and the resolution of immigration disputes. The impact of DNA fingerprinting has been extraordinary, directly affecting the lives of millions of people worldwide.  In 1984, while analyzing an X-ray film image of a DNA experiment, Jeffreys experienced a transformative “eureka moment.” The image revealed unexpected similarities and differences between the DNA of different individuals within his technician’s family. This discovery marked the birth of DNA fingerprinting.  Jeffreys’ work has received widespread recognition. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1986 and was knighted for services to genetics in 1994. He was also conferred the title of Honorary Freeman of the City of Leicester in 1993. His other awards include the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine (2004), the Lasker Award (2005), and the Heineken Prize (2006). In 2007, he was voted Morgan Stanley’s Greatest Briton.  Despite his retirement in September 2012, the legacy of Sir Alec Jeffreys continues to influence the fields of genetics and forensic science.

1965Carl Henry Bluewas a convicted criminal from Texas, United States, known for his violent crime of setting his ex-girlfriend on fire.  Blue’s life took a dark turn on September 1994, when he attacked Carmen Richards-Sanders at her apartment in Bryan, Texas, about 100 miles northwest of Houston. He doused her with gasoline and set her on fire, leading to her death. He also threw gasoline on a man present in the apartment, who survived the attack and later testified against Blue. Blue claimed that it was a prank gone wrong, but prosecutors argued that it was an intentional attack fueled by jealousy.  After the attack, Blue turned himself into the police and was subsequently arrested. During his trial, he admitted to the crime and was found guilty. He was sentenced to death for his actions.  On February 21, 2013, at the age of 48, Blue was executed by lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. His execution marked the first execution in Texas for that year. Despite the severity of his crime, Blue’s final words were reportedly of remorse and a plea for forgiveness.


Rizana Nafeek

2013Rizana Nafeekwas a Sri Lankan woman who was born on February 4, 1988, in Muttur, Sri Lanka. She was convicted and subsequently executed in Saudi Arabia for the murder of a four-month-old child, Naif al-Quthaibi.  Nafeek arrived in Saudi Arabia to work as a domestic helper on May 4, 2005. Her parents alleged that her passport was forged to adjust the year of birth to 1982, to avoid rules stopping those under the age of 18 from being recruited in Sri Lanka for work abroad.  On May 22, 2005, her employer’s four-month-old child Naif al-Quthaibi died while in Nafeek’s care. Nafeek was accused of murdering the child by smothering him following an argument with his mother. Nafeek claimed that she believed the baby had choked on a bottle by accident during feeding. The baby’s parents and Saudi police insisted that Nafeek was guilty of murder.  Nafeek was convicted in 2007 of the murder. She said that an initial confession was made under duress and without linguistic assistance. Supporters say that she also had no access to lawyers before her conviction.  Rizana Nafeek was executed on January 9, 2013. Her execution sparked international outcry and debates about the safety of expatriate workers in the Middle East and the poverty that drives people to seek work abroad.


Hougoumont Convict Ship

1868 – The last convict ship, the Hougoumont arrives in Fremantle, ending 80 years of penal transportation to Australia

1947 – Elizabeth “Betty” Short, the Black Dahlia is last seen alive

1984 – Braves pitcher Pascual Perez is arrested for cocaine possession

1984 – Angelo Buono is sentenced to life in prison for 9 counts of murder

1992 – Alison Halford, Assistant Chief Constable of Merseyside Police (Britain’s most senior policewoman) is suspended after allegations of misconduct

1998 – Boston Red Sox Mo Vaughn pleads not guilty to drunk driving

1998 – The decapitated head of the Danish Little Mermaid is returned

2015 – The perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris 2 days earlier are both killed after a hostage situation



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