this day in crime history: june 15, 1933


On this date in 1933, William Hamm Jr., heir to the Hamm’s Brewery, was kidnapped by the Barker-Karpis gang in St. Paul, MN. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of $100,000, which they received. After the ransom was paid, Hamm was released near Wyoming, MN.

The Barker-Karpis gang’s crime spree would continue as the government arrested and unsuccessfully prosecuted Chicago bootlegger Roger Touhy and members of his gang (thanks to informants working for Touhy’s rival, Al Capone). The true culprits were eventually located and prosecuted, thanks in large part to the emerging forensic science of latent fingerprint examination.

Further reading:

FBI – Latent Prints in the 1933 Hamm Kidnapping

Placeography – Hamm Brewery, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Wikipedia – Alvin Karpis

this day in crime history: june 14, 1962

On this date in 1962, Anna E. Slesers was found dead. She was believed to be the first victim of the notorious serial killer known as the Boston Strangler, who may, or may not, have been Albert DeSalvo (pictured above). In fact, the murders may have been committed by more than one person. DeSalvo’s confession was the only significant piece of evidence that linked him to the crimes. He died in 1973, while serving time in prison on unrelated offenses.

Further reading:

Crime Museum – The Boston Strangler

Wikipedia: Boston Strangler

The Boston Strangler (1968)

this day in crime history: june 13, 1966


On this date in 1966, the US Supreme Court decided Miranda v. Arizona. This decision would result in the warning given to criminal suspects that cops, crooks, and fans of police procedurals know by heart.

Further reading:

Opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court, June 13, 1966

Wikipedia – Miranda v. Arizona

For those who miss the pre-Miranda days, here’s a little taste of how it was done old school by Sergeant Joe Friday in the 1954 big-screen version of Dragnet.

this day in crime history: june 12, 1962

On this date in 1962, prison officials at Alcatraz discovered that inmates Frank Morris, and brothers John and Clarence Anglin had apparently escaped from the federal prison. The escape took over two years to plan and execute. The escapees used stolen materials to make a raft to escape on and dummies to place in their bunks. They tunneled from their cells into the prison ventilation shaft, through which they climbed up to the roof of the prison. They climbed down from the roof, made it to the water, and paddled away on their homemade raft. The men were never found and were presumed drowned in San Francisco Bay.

Further reading:

“The Great Escape from Alcatraz”

FBI Files: Alcatraz Escape

IMDb: Escape from Alcatraz

this day in crime history: june 11, 2001

McVeigh

On this date in 2001, Timothy McVeigh was executed by lethal injection at the US Penitentiary in Terre Haute, IN. McVeigh was sentenced to death for the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, OK in which 168 people were killed. McVeigh declined to give a final statement in the execution chamber. His last meal included two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Further reading:

This Day in Crime History: April 19, 1995

Wikipedia – Timothy McVeigh

FOX News – Timothy McVeigh Put to Death for Oklahoma City Bombing

this day in crime history: june 10, 1977

On this date in 1977, James Earl Ray, the man who assassinated Martin Luther King, escaped from the maximum security Brushy Mountain State Prison in Tennessee.

The escape happened after dinner. A disturbance began in the recreation yard of the prison. As the corrections staff was distracted, Ray and six other inmates scaled the wall on the opposite side of the yard using a makeshift ladder.

One of the inmates, who had injured himself in the escape, was captured just outside the prison wall. The remainder were captured over the course of the next two days. Ray was tracked down by bloodhounds. He was found hiding in a pile of leaves five miles from the prison.

James Earl Ray died in prison in 1998 at the age of seventy. Brushy Mountain State Prison was closed in 2009.

Further reading:

TimeASSASSINS: Capture in the Cumberlands

Wikipedia – James Earl Ray