this day in crime history: march 4, 1944

On this date in 1944, it was the big adiós for Louis “Lepke” Buchalter and two of his henchmen. Lepke Buchalter and Albert “Mad Hatter” Anastasia ran the stable of killers that the media of the day tagged “Murder, Incorporated.” Buchalter, along with Murder, Inc. members Emanuel “Mendy” Weiss and Louis Capone (no relation to big Al), was convicted and sentenced to death for the killing of Brooklyn candy store owner Joseph Rosen. All three men were executed within minutes of each other in the electric chair at Sing Sing prison.

Further reading:

AmericanMafia.com – The Last Days of Lepke Buchalter, et al

Wikipedia – Murder, Inc.


this day in crime history: march 3, 1934

On this date in 1934, notorious bank robber John Dillinger escaped from the Lake County jail in Crown Point, IN. Dillinger, who had been arrested in Tucson, AZ in January, was awaiting trial for the murder of a police officer. On the morning of March 3rd, Dillinger pulled what was later reported to be a fake gun on jail guards and convinced them to open his cell. He and another inmate locked up the guards, grabbed some machine guns, and fled the jail with a deputy as a hostage. They made their way to a nearby garage, where they stole Sheriff Lillian Holly’s (front row, far left in the above photo) brand new Ford V-8. Dillinger and company fled across the state line into Illinois. This turned out to be John Dillinger’s fatal mistake. He had taken a stolen car across state lines, which is a federal crime. He would soon have the full attention of the FBI – the kind of attention he could live without.

Further reading:

Crime Museum – John Dillinger

FBI Files – Famous Cases: John Dillinger

Time Magazine – Whittler’s Holiday

Wikipedia – John Dillinger


this day in crime history: march 1, 1932

On this date in 1932, Charles Lindbergh Jr., the 20 month old son of the famous aviator, was kidnapped from the family’s home near Hopewell, NJ. After weeks of negotiations, a ransom was paid and instructions were given where to find the child. The instructions, which directed the family to a nonexistent boat in Martha’s Vineyard, MA, were bogus. The boy’s body was found on May 12th in the woods near the Lindbergh home.

The investigation went on for two and a half years. In September of 1934, Bruno Richard Hauptmann was arrested after passing some of the gold certificates from the ransom. A search of Hauptmann’s home yielded over $13,000 of the ransom money. Hauptmann maintained his innocence, but was convicted of murder. He was executed by electrocution on April 3, 1936.

As a result of the Lindbergh case, the federal Kidnapping Act, also known as the Lindbergh Law, was passed making kidnapping a federal offense, falling under the jurisdiction of the FBI.

Further reading:

FBI Famous Cases – The Lindbergh Kidnapping

Crime Museum – The Lindbergh Kidnapping

Wikipedia – Lindbergh kidnapping


this day in crime history: february 28, 1997

On this date in 1997, LAPD officers patrolling North Hollywood saw two heavily armed masked men enter the Bank of America Branch on Laurel Canyon Blvd. Several minutes later the men left the bank with over $300,000 in cash. By that time, several other police units had arrived on the scene to provide backup. The robbers, Larry Phillips (above left) and Emil Matasareanu (above right) were ready for a confrontation with police; they were each carrying multiple weapons, had thousands of rounds of ammunition, and had taken phenobarbital prior to the robbery to calm their nerves. To make matters worse, they were both wearing body armor.

The robbers opened fire on the officers. In the ensuing gun battle, which lasted over 40 minutes, officers fired over 600 rounds, the robbers over 1000. Over-matched by the robbers’ superior firepower, officers went to a local gun store to procure better weapons.

The shootout ended with the death of both suspects. Ten officers and seven civilians were injured.

You can see pictures from my 2008 trip to the scene here.

Here’s a video about the robbery:

Further reading:

Wikipedia – North Hollywood shootout


review: 12 monkeys – the series


[Warning: Contains spoilers for the 1995 movie 12 Monkeys] Last fall, I wrote a post about the Syfy TV series based on the movie 12 Monkeys. After seeing the trailer, I was cautiously optimistic. Well, a couple weeks back, I binge-watched the first few episodes on Syfy On Demand. Six episodes in, I’ve been pretty happy with this show.

Turning a movie into a weekly series is always problematic, especially when the movie ends like 12 Monkeys. I mean, the main antagonist turns out to be a red herring, the protagonist dies, and the biological apocalypse he was trying to prevent happens as scheduled. Not much room to continue the story next week.

Fortunately, the writers have managed to find an interesting way to stretch out the story line by beefing up the mystery that Cole (played by Aaron Stanford in the series, Bruce Willis in the movie) has to solve in order to prevent the plague that will kill most of the world’s population. They’re also playing some with alternate timelines, which is cool. As long as they don’t cross the line into Bill and Ted territory.

One reservation I had about the show involved the casting of my favorite character from the movie. As I wrote previously:

I noticed that Brad Pitt’s character — my favorite in the movie — has been changed into a female. Having a raving paranoid-schizophrenic character portrayed by a gal who looks like a fashion model isn’t promising.

Well pass the hot sauce. The ketchup. Maybe some mustard (the spicy brown stuff, not the yellow). Time to eat my words. Jennifer Goines (Pitt’s character in the movie was named Jeffrey) is easily the most interesting character in 12 Monkeys. Actress Emily Hampshire manages to give Jennifer the right mix of vulnerability and unpredictable menace that I’m still not sure whether she is victim or villain. Or maybe a combination of both.


The rest of the cast is pretty solid too. Aaron Stanford plays the time-traveling Cole. Amanda Schull plays the present-day virologist assisting Cole in his mission to avert the plague. Kirk Acevedo plays Ramse, Cole’s buddy in 2043. He acts as the moral compass of the group, being the only one to ask if they really have any business messing with history. The principal antagonist is played by the great character actor Tom Noonan. Fans of AMC’s Hell on Wheels will remember his as Reverend Nathaniel Cole, the preacher with a dark past.

All in all, 12 Monkeys is an entertaining show. I’m hoping Syfy will give it a chance to find an audience. The cable networks are usually a little better about that than their broadcast counterparts, so I guess there is always hope for a season 2.

12 Monkeys airs at 9 PM on the Syfy network. You can check out the show’s official website here.

Cast members on Twitter:

Aaron Stanford

Amanda Schull

Emily Hampshire

Kirk Acevedo


friday movie quote


“I’m from another time, another world. I don’t even know what you people eat for lunch.”

-Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson), Trancers (1984)


this day in crime history: february 26, 1993


On this date in 1993, a truck bomb was detonated under the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. Six people were killed and over a thousand were injured.

A massive task force was quickly assembled to search for the culprits. A vehicle identification number (VIN) that was found at the scene matched a rental truck that was reported stolen on the day of the bombing. FBI agents arrested Islamic extremist Mohammad Salameh as he was trying to get his deposit back from the rental company. Three more suspects were quickly rounded up. Agents also found a storage locker containing a large amount of cyanide gas. All four men were charged, tried and convicted of the bombing.

The investigation led to the arrest of another terrorist cell that was planning multiple attacks in and around New York. Ramzi Youseff, the mastermind of the bombing remained at large, as did co-conspirator Abdul Rahman Yasin.

In 1995, Diplomatic Security Service agents arrested Ramzi Yousef in Pakistan. At the time, Yousef was planning multiple bombings of US airliners. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

On September 11, 2001, terrorists financed by Yousef’s uncle, Khalid Sheik Mohammad, used hijacked airliners to knock down both WTC towers.

Further reading:

FBI – First Strike: Global Terror in America

US News & World Report – The 1993 World Trade Center Bombing: A New Threat Emerges

Wikipedia – 1993 World Trade Center Bombing

FBI Wanted Poster – Abdul Rahman Yasin



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