this day in crime history: august 20, 1986

USPSmemorial
Memorial to the incident in Edmond, OK

On this date in 1986, Postal Service employee Patrick Sherrill went on a shooting spree in a post office in Edmonds, OK. Twenty people were shot, leaving fourteen dead and six injured. At the conclusion of his rampage, Sherrill turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. It is believed that the shooting may have been motivated by a reprimand that Sherrill had received the day before. The incident is often credited with inspiring the phrase “going postal.”

Further reading:

Murderpedia – Patrick Henry Sherrill

Wikipedia – Patrick Sherrill

Time“Crazy Pat’s” Revenge

this day in crime history: august 19, 1895

JWH-DOA

On this date in 1895, notorious gunman John Wesley Hardin, was shot and killed in El Paso, TX. Hardin was shot in the back of the head while playing dice. The shooter, John Selman, Sr, was a local constable.  The shooting was believed to have been motivated by an argument the two had earlier regarding the arrest of one of Hardin’s friends by Selman’s son.

Selman was arrested and charged with murder. The trial resulted in a hung jury. The matter was scheduled for retrial, but Selman died before that could happen. He was shot and killed during a dispute over a card game.

Further reading:

Murderpedia – John Wesley Hardin

Find a Grave – John Wesley Hardin

Wikipedia – John Wesley Hardin

friday movie quote

Hackman Enemy Lines

“Zero-six, you are a combat naval aviator, start acting like one! You’ve been shot down, life is tough. I am very sorry, but you pull yourself together. You do whatever it takes, create some angles between you and your pursuers. Use your training, use your head. Evade and survive, and we will bring you home. Do you understand? We will bring you home!”

-Admiral Reigart (Gene Hackman), Behind Enemy Lines (2001)

this day in crime history: august 15, 1914

JulianCarlton

On this date in 1914, Julian Carlton (pictured above) murdered seven people on the estate of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Carlton, a native of Barbados, was employed as a servant at Taliesin, Wright’s estate near Spring Green, WI. Wright was out of town on the day of the murders. Carlton struck during lunch. Several estate employees were in the dining room, Wright’s mistress and two children on a nearby screened in porch. Carlton bolted all but one of the dining room doors shut. He poured gas under the doors and started a fire. After starting the fire, he ran to the screened-in porch and murdered Martha “Mamah” Borthwick and her two children with an ax. He then waited outside the dining room and attacked the employees as they tried to escape the fire. Three employees and the thirteen year old son of the estate’s head carpenter were killed. Only two of the dining room’s occupants survived.

After the fire was under control, Wright’s neighbors went looking for Carlton. They found him hiding in the basement furnace room. He had attempted unsuccessfully to commit suicide by drinking muriatic acid. Carlton was brought to the local jail, and later made several court appearances. He died of starvation before coming to trial. He never gave a reason for the attack. Calrton’s wife Gertrude, who worked at the estate as a cook, claimed she did not know why her husband committed the murders.

Further reading:

Provedentia – The Taliesin Murders

Wikipedia – Frank Lloyd Wright

this day in crime history: august 14, 1936

Bethea

On this date in 1936, convicted rapist Rainey Bethea was executed by hanging in Owensboro, KY. In addition to the rape, Bethea also confessed to robbing and murdering his victim, 70 year old Lischia Edwards, but was never tried on those charges. A crowd of 20,000 people were on hand to witness the hanging. His hanging was the last public execution in the United States.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Rainey Bethea

Murderpedia – Rainey Bethea

this day in crime history: august 11, 1965

WattsRiot

On this date in 1965, a minor scuffle following a traffic stop in Los Angeles would escalate into what would become known as the Watts riots. The unrest would continue until August 17th. When it was all over, 34 people were killed, over 1000 injured, and 3400 arrested. Almost a thousand buildings, mostly businesses, were damaged or destroyed. Damage was estimated to be about $40 million.

Further reading:

Watts Rebellion (Los Angeles, 1965)

Wikipedia – Watts Riots