20
Oct
14

this day in crime history: october 20, 1981

On this date in 1981, members of the Black Liberation Army and several former members of the Weather Underground robbed a Brinks armored car in Nanuet, NY. The robbery resulted in the deaths of a Brink’s guard and two police officers.

The incident began when the Brinks truck was making a pick-up at the Nanuet Mall. The robbers ambushed the guards, killing guard Peter Paige and wounding his partner, Joe Trombino. Trombino managed to get off one shot before he was hit, but failed to hit any of the robbers.

After the attack on the guards, the robbers took $1.6 million and fled the scene in a van. The went to a nearby parking lot where the ditched the van and made their getaway in a car and a U-haul truck that were waiting for them. A college student who lived across the street saw the robbers making the switch and called the police.

Police spotted the getaways vehicles at an on-ramp to the New York State Thruway. As they approached the U-Haul, they suspected they may have had the wrong vehicle. The two people in the cab of the truck were white, but all of the robbers were described as black. The driver of the U-Haul, former Weather Underground member Kathy Boudin managed to convince the police that she was innocent. As they lowered their guard, several armed men emerged from the back of the truck and opened fire. Nyack Police Officers Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown were killed. Officer Brian Lennon was injured. Lennon managed to return fire but wasn’t able to hit any of his attackers.

Boudin fled the scene on foot, but was apprehended by an off-duty corrections officer. Former Weather Underground members Samuel Brown, Judith Clark and Chris Dobbs were arrested after the crashed there getaway while fleeing the shootout scene.

Police traced the license plates of the getaway car to an apartment in New Jersey. A search of the apartment yielded weapons, bomb-making materials, and blueprints for NYPD stations in Manhattan. They also found an address in Mt. Vernon, NY, not far from the robbery scene. When they searched that location, they found weapons and some bloody clothes.

After running the license plates of cars seen near the Mt. Vernon address, they managed to track down two of the robbers, BLA members Samuel Smith and Sekou Odinga. When NYPD detectives tried to pull the two men over, they crashed while trying to flee. After a shootout with police, Smith was killed, while Odinga was taken into custody.

The investigation continued with several more arrests following over the next few years. The last suspect arrested was former Weather Underground member Marilyn Buck, who had rented one of the apartments that the gang had used. It was Buck’s blood that was found on the clothes at the Mt. Vernon apartment. She had apparently shot herself by accident when she tried to draw her gun during the shootout with the Nyack police officers after the robbery.

The participants were all tried and convicted. All received lengthy prison sentences. Kathy Boudin was paroled in 2003. Marilyn Buck was released in 2010 and died of cancer shortly afterword.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Brink’s Robbery (1981)

Crime Library – Ambush: The Brinks Robbery of 1981 

ODMP pages – Waverly Brown and Edward O’Grady

19
Oct
14

this day in crime history: october 19, 1982


On this date in 1982, maverick auto executive John Z. DeLorean was arrested at a hotel near the Los Angeles airport. DeLorean was charged in connection with a $24 million cocaine transaction that he took part in to save his failing company. (Rumors that the $24 million in cocaine were needed to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity it takes to travel through time are, to this day, unconfirmed.) DeLorean maintained that he had been entrapped by an informant working for the FBI. The jury agreed, and Delorean was acquitted (even though his defense team had called no witnesses). His business, DeLorean Motors, wasn’t so fortunate. The British government, which had partnered with DeLorean in the venture, shut it down in November of 1982.

John DeLorean died of a stroke in 2005 at the age of 80.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – John DeLorean

The Citizen, Auburn, NY (October 20, 1982) – DeLorean faces cocaine charges

17
Oct
14

this day in crime history: october 17, 1931

On this date in 1931, Chicago mob boss Al Capone was convicted in federal court on charges of income tax evasion. Judge James H. Wilkerson surprised Capone and his attorneys by passing a sentence of eleven years in prison, about double the usual sentence for similar crimes. In addition, he assessed $150,000 in fines and court costs against Capone. Adding insult to injury, the judge denied Capone’s motion to stay out of prison while his appeal was in the works. Capone was on a train to Leavenworth prison a week after his conviction. He would not make parole until late 1939.

Further reading:

Binghamton Press, October 24, 1931 – Al Capone Gets 11 Years, Must Pay $150,000

Crime Library – Al Capone

Mario Gomes – My Al Capone Museum 

17
Oct
14

friday movie quote

ma

“Hospitable my ass. Get off my porch!”

-Ma (Ruth Gordon), Every Which Way But Loose (1978)

15
Oct
14

sir, do you know how fast you were going?

On this date in 1997 — fifty years and a day after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier — RAF pilot Andy Green became the first person to break the sound barrier on land. His jet-powered ThrustSSC topped out at 763 miles per hour. The record was set in Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Since seeing is believing, here’s a video of Green’s record-setting drive.

14
Oct
14

this day in crime history: october 14, 1912

On this date in 1912, New York saloon keeper John F. Schrank shot former President Teddy Roosevelt in Milwaukee, WI. Roosevelt, who was running for president on the Bull Moose party ticket, was in Milwaukee to give a speech. Prior to the speech, he had dinner with advisers at the Hotel Gilpatrick. As he left the hotel, supporters waiting outside cheered him. Also waiting for the former president was John Schrank, armed and ready for action. As Roosevelt turned and waved to the crowd before getting into his car, Schrank aimed a pistol at Roosevelt’s head. Just before he pulled the trigger, a spectator named Adam Bittner struck Schrank’s arm, spoiling his aim. The bullet struck Roosevelt in the chest, hitting a glasses case and a fifty page speech before lodging in the former president’s body.

The crowd pounced on Schrank and began pummeling him. The beating continued until Roosevelt stood up and implored the crowd to show mercy to the man. The police arrived and took Schrank into custody. Roosevelt eschewed a trip to the hospital, and vowed to give his speech “if it’s the last thing on earth I do.” Roosevelt arrived at the Milwaukee Auditorium several minutes later and gave his speech to 10,000 supporters, the bullet still lodged in his chest. Roosevelt eventually lost the election, coming in second to Woodrow Wilson. The incumbent, Republican William Howard Taft, came in third; the only incumbent president ever to do so. The bullet remained lodged in Roosevelt’s body for the rest of his life (on the lower left in the x-ray photo above).

John Schrank, who claimed the assassination attempt was done per the instructions of the ghost of President William McKinley, was (unsurprisingly) declared insane. He spent the rest of his life in mental institutions. He died of natural causes in 1943 at the Central State Mental Hospital in Waupun, Wisconsin.

Further reading:

Classic Wisconsin – John Schrank

Wikipedia – John Flammang Schrank

Wikipedia – Theodore Roosevelt

12
Oct
14

this day in crime history: october 12, 1978

On this date in 1978, 20 year old Nancy Spungen, girlfriend of former Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious, was found dead in the bathroom of her room at the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan. Spungen had been stabbed in the lower abdomen.  The murder weapon was a knife that belonged to Vicious (real name John Simon Ritchie).

Police arrested Vicious, who gave conflicting accounts of what happened.  Some versions pointed to his innocence, others implicated him in the murder.  There were numerous theories as to who else may have killed Nancy, with most theories involving a drug deal gone bad.

The case never went to trial.  On February 2, 1979, while out on bail, Sid Vicious died of a heroin overdose .  He was 21 years old at the time.

Further reading:

Crime Library – Punk Rock Romeo and Juliet

Find A Grave – Nancy Spungen

Wikipedia – Nancy Spungen




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