this day in crime history: may 17, 1974


On this date in 1974, six members of the Symbionese Liberation Army were cornered by police in a house in Los Angeles. The police announced their presence via bullhorn. An older man and a small child walked out of the house. The man told police that no one else was inside. After several attempts to communicate with the remaining occupants, police fired tear gas into the building. SLA members responded with automatic weapons fire. In the ensuing battle, the building caught fire. All six SLA members, the group’s leader, Donald “Cinque” Defreeze, Nancy Ling Perry, Angela Atwood, Willie Wolfe, Patricia Soltysik and Camilla Hall, were killed in the shootout.

Further reading:

Crime Museum – Patty Hearst Kidnapping

CNN.com – Patty Hearst Profile

Wikipedia – Symbionese Liberation Army

this day in crime history: february 22, 1974

samuel-byck

On this date in 1974, unemployed salesman Samuel Byck attempted to hijack a DC-9 at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport. His intended destination: Washington DC. His plan: Crash the plane into the White House in order to kill President Richard Nixon. Byck shot and killed an airport security guard before he boarded the plane. Once he was on the plane, he shot the pilot and copilot when they told him they couldn’t take off until the wheel blocks were removed. The pilot survived, but the copilot later died from his wounds. Byck was shot and wounded by police. He committed suicide before he could be taken into custody.

Further reading:

IMDB page for the movie The Assassination of Richard Nixon

IMDB page for the movie The Plot to Kill Nixon

Wikipedia article on Samuel Byck

this day in crime history: february 4, 1974

On this date in 1974, 19 year old heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped from her Berkeley, CA apartment by members of the Symbionese Liberation Army. The following April, she was photographed holding a weapon during a San Francisco bank robbery. She was eventually arrested in September of 1975. She would later claim she was brainwashed by the SLA. The jury at her trial didn’t buy it, and she was convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Her sentence was eventually commuted to 7 years, and she was granted a pardon in 2001.

Further reading:

Crime Museum: Patty Hearst Kidnapping

Wikipedia – Patty Hearst

PBS – The Taking of Patty Hearst

this day in crime history: december 25, 1974

1600PennAve

On this date in 1974, Marshall Fields crashed his Chevy Impala through the Northwest gate of the White House in Washington, DC. Fields, who was dressed in Arab clothing, claimed he was the Messiah. He displayed what appeared to be a bomb strapped to his body and threatened to detonate it. After a four hour standoff with police, Fields surrendered. After his surrender, police discovered that his bomb was really made up of common road flares. They also discovered he was not really the Messiah. I guess you just can’t believe a raving lunatic. Not even on Christmas.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – List of White House security breaches

Yonkers, NY Herald Statesman“Break-in sparks review”

History.com – A History of White House Attacks

this day in crime history: november 13, 1974

HighHopes

On this date in 1974, 23 year old Ronald “Butch” DeFeo, Jr. walked into Henry’s Bar in Amityville, NY and announced that he thought his parents had been shot. Several people left the bar with him and went to his house to check on his parents. As it turns out, they were dead in their bed. The police were called. When they arrived, they searched the house and discovered that DeFeo’s four younger siblings, two brothers and two sisters, were also dead in their respective beds. All six family members had been shot.

DeFeo, a known troublemaker and drug abuser, spun a tale for police about a mob hitman killing his parents. As the investigation progressed, details of DeFeo’s story didn’t hold up. He eventually confessed to all six of the murders.

At trial, DeFeo and his attorney, William Weber, attempted an insanity defense. The jury didn’t buy it, and Defeo was convicted of six counts of second degree murder. He was given six consecutive twenty-five to life sentences. DeFeo is currently incarcerated at Green Haven Correctional Facility. His next parole hearing is in July 2017.

If this story sounds familiar, it’s probably because it was this crime, and DeFeo’s attempt at an insanity defense, that were the inspiration for the story of The Amityville Horror.

Further reading:

The Amityville Murders

Wikipedia – Rondald DeFeo, Jr.

Amityville: Horror or Hoax

this day in crime history: may 17, 1974


On this date in 1974, six members of the Symbionese Liberation Army were cornered by police in a house in Los Angeles. The police announced their presence via bullhorn. An older man and a small child walked out of the house. The man told police that no one else was inside. After several attempts to communicate with the remaining occupants, police fired tear gas into the building. SLA members responded with automatic weapons fire. In the ensuing battle, the building caught fire. All six SLA members, the group’s leader, Donald “Cinque” Defreeze, Nancy Ling Perry, Angela Atwood, Willie Wolfe, Patricia Soltysik and Camilla Hall, were killed in the shootout.

Further reading:

Crime Museum – Patty Hearst Kidnapping

CNN.com – Patty Hearst Profile

Wikipedia – Symbionese Liberation Army

this day in crime history: february 22, 1974

On this date in 1974, unemployed salesman Samuel Byck attempted to hijack a DC-9 at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport. His intended destination: Washington DC. His plan: Crash the plane into the White House in order to kill President Richard Nixon. Byck shot and killed an airport security guard before he boarded the plane. Once he was on the plane, he shot the pilot and copilot when they told him they couldn’t take off until the wheel blocks were removed. The pilot survived, but the copilot later died from his wounds. Byck was shot and wounded by police. He committed suicide before he could be taken into custody.

Further reading:

IMDB page for the movie The Assassination of Richard Nixon

IMDB page for the movie The Plot to Kill Nixon

Wikipedia article on Samuel Byck