this day in crime history: april 10, 1936


On this date in 1936 in Pennsylvania,  former union head Thomas Maloney unwittingly detonated a mail bomb that had been sent to him. The bomb was hidden inside a cigar box, and Maloney, a former union official, opened it on his kitchen table. His sixteen year old daughter and four year old son were with him when the bomb exploded. Maloney and his son eventually died from their wounds. The daughter was seriously injured and required lengthy hospitalization.

Maloney was not the only target of the bomber. Local school director Michael Gallagher was killed when he opened a similar package he had received in the mail. Former Sheriff Luther Kniffen, another intended victim of the bomber was spared when the bomb sent to him failed to detonate when he opened it. Three more bombs were intercepted before being opened. The press began referring to the incident as the Good Friday bombings.

By July 1st, the police had arrested coal miner Michael Fugmann for the bombings. His motive was believed to be revenge for the actions of his victims during recent labor conflicts.  Fugmann was tried the following September. He denied guilt, but was convicted after a two week trial and sentenced to death. He was executed in the electric chair at Rockview State prison on July 17, 1938.

Further reading: – Mail bomb spree by disgruntled coal miner marks 75th anniversary – 80 years ago, Luzerne county hit by Good Friday Bombings

this day in crime history: april 9, 1934

On this date in 1934, John Dillinger’s girlfriend, Evelyn “Billie” Frechette, was arrested by G-men in Chicago and charged with harboring a fugitive. An angry Dillinger vowed to break her out of jail, but a girlfriend of one of his gang members talked him out of it. He did pay for her legal defense, but she wound up being convicted anyway. Billie Frechette spent two years in federal prison. When she was released in 1936, she toured the country in a theatrical show called Crime Doesn’t Pay. Several members of Dillinger’s family were also featured in the show. I guess sometimes crime does pay after all.

Further reading:

Biography – Billie Frechette

Don’t Call Us Molls – Evelyn “Billie” Frechette

this day in crime history: april 7, 1994


On this date in 1994, FedEx employee Auburn Calloway attempted to hijack a company plane flying from Memphis, TN to San Jose, CA. Calloway, a flight crew member for FedEx, was a “deadheading” passenger on the flight. He had brought a guitar case on board that contained hammers and a spear gun. His plan was to use the hammers to subdue the crew, then to crash the plane so his family could collect on a $2.5 million life insurance policy. He chose hammers as his weapons so that the crew’s injuries would be consistent with the injuries that would be sustained in an air crash. The spear gun was to be used in case the hammers didn’t get the job done.

When Calloway attacked the crew, they fought back and managed to overpower him. They were able to land back in Memphis, where Calloway was taken into custody.

Auburn Calloway was charged with air piracy and attempted murder. He was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive life terms. He is currently incarcerated in the federal prison in Lompoc, CA. The flight’s crew, Dave Sanders, James Tucker, and Andrew Peterson, were awarded the Gold Medal for heroism by the Air Line Pilots Association. Due to their injuries, none of the crew members was able to return to commercial flying.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Federal Express Flight 705

Mental Floss – True Crime: The Man Who Hijacked a Cargo Jet

this day in crime history: april 4, 1968

On this day in 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, TN. The following June, a fugitive named James Earl Ray was arrested in London and extradited to the United States. Ray would eventually plead guilty to the murder. He later tried unsuccessfully to withdraw the plea. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison. Ray died in 1998 at the age of 70.

Further reading: – Martin Luther King Jr. Assassinated

Wikipedia – Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

this day in crime history: april 3, 1882

On this date in 1882, legendary outlaw Jesse James was shot and killed in St. Joseph, MO by an outlaw named Bob Ford. Ford and his brother Charley attempted to claim a reward that had been offered for James, but the only reward they received was arrest and indictment for murder. They pled guilty and were sentenced to death, but a pardon from the governor spared them the hangman’s noose.

Charley Ford, suffering from tuberculosis, committed suicide in 1884. Bob was killed in 1892, shot in the back by a man named Edward O’Kelley. Sounds like poetic justice to me.

Further reading:

Legends of America: Jesse James – Folklore Hero or Cold-Blooded Killer?

St. Joseph History – Jesse James

Wikipedia – Robert Ford (outlaw)