this day in crime history: march 10, 1980


On this date in 1980, Dr. Herman Tarnower, creator of the Scarsdale Diet, was shot and killed in his home in Purchase, NY. Tarnower’s killer was Jean Harris, headmistress of the prestigious Madeira School in McLean, VA. Harris had been in a romantic relationship with Tarnower since 1966. Harris was upset with Tarnower when she discovered he was also having an affair with a secretary in his office.

At trial, Harris claimed she had gone to Tarnower’s house to commit suicide, and that Tarnower was accidentally shot while trying to take the gun from her. The jury didn’t buy it. She was convicted of 2nd degree murder and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. Her sentence was commuted by Governor Mario Cuomo. She was released in 1993. She died in December 2012 at the age of 89.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Herman Tarnower

NY Post“Jean Harris, killer of Scarsdale diet doctor Herman Tarnower, dies at 89”


friday movie quote


” Ah. Well… I attended Juilliard… I’m a graduate of the Harvard business school. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and I had a pretty good time during that. I’ve seen The Exorcist about a hundred and sixty-seven times, and it keeps getting funnier every single time I see it! Not to mention the fact that you’re talking to a dead guy… Now what do you think? You think I’m qualified?”

-Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton), Beetlejuice (1988)

this day in crime history: march 8, 1952

On this date in 1952, clothing salesman Arnold Schuster was shot and killed outside his home in Brooklyn, NY.  A month earlier, Schuster had been riding the subway home from work when he recognized a fellow rider as wanted bank robber Willie “The Actor” Sutton.  Schuster followed Sutton from the subway to a nearby garage, where Sutton went to work changing the battery on his car.  Schuster then tipped off the police who arrested Sutton.

Schuster’s murder was never solved.  Years later, mob turncoat Joe Valachi testified that mob boss Albert Anastasia ordered the murder after seeing Schuster on the TV show I’ve Got a Secret.*  Anastasia had no connection to Sutton, he just hated “squealers”.  Five years later, Anastasia would find himself on the receiving end of a “hit”, orchestrated by rival boss Vito Genovese, and Anastasia’s underboss Carlo Gambino.

*While researching the 1947 Holmesburg Prison escape, I recently found something that pokes a major hole in Valachi’s story: I’ve Got a Secret premiered in June 1952, four months after Schuster’s murder. If Anastasia saw Schuster on TV, it couldn’t have been on that show.

For more on Sutton’s escape and the murder of Arnold Schuster, check out my true crime short, Over the Wall: The True Story of the 1947 Escape from Holmesburg Prison.

Holmesburg Prison Escape

Further reading:

Find a Grave – Arnold Schuster

Wikipedia – Arnold Schuster


this day in crime history: march 6, 1970


On this date in 1970, members of the Weather Underground accidentally detonated a bomb they were constructing in a Greenwich Village, NY townhouse. Three members of the group, Terry Robbins, Theodore Gold and Diana Oughton, were killed in the blast. Two more, Cathy Wilkerson and Kathy Boudin, were injured. Both survivors went on the run. Wilkerson surrendered to police in 1980. She served less than a year in prison. Boudin was later arrested in connection with the 1981 robbery of a Brinks armored truck in which two police officers and a Brinks guard were killed. She was convicted and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. In 2003, she was granted parole.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Greenwich Village townhouse explosion

New York Times“An Infamous Explosion and the Smoldering Memory of radicalism”

New York ObserverThe Weathermen Townhouse


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: – 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


friday movie quote

Guardians Galaxy Rocket

“You know, they told me you people were conceited douchebags, but that isn’t true at all… Oh shit. I’m using my wrong eye again, aren’t I? I’m sorry. That was meant to be behind your back.”

-Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)