this day in crime history: june 2, 1919


On this date in 1919, eight bombs exploded in seven different US cities. The bombs, thought to have been the work of followers of Italian anarchist Luigi Galleani, were targeted at people perceived as outspoken critics of the anarchists. The targets, which included the home of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer (pictured above) were located in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Boston, and Patterson, NJ. None of the intended targets was killed, but two innocent people died in the explosions.

The June 2nd attacks were part of a campaign of violence that began two months earlier. The Bureau of Investigation (precursor to the FBI) conducted an exhaustive investigation, but were unable to solve the crimes. Later that year, the Justice Department conducted a series of raids and deportations of immigrants believed to be a threat to national security.

Further reading:

FBI Famous Cases: 1919 Bombings

Wikipedia – 1919 United States anarchist bombings

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this day in crime history: may 22, 1962

CA-Flt11
Photo from Wikipedia, taken by 09er

On this date in 1962, Continental Airlines Flight 11, enroute from Chicago to Kansas City, MO, crashed in Unionville, MO, killing all 45 of the Boeing 707’s occupants.

Several eyewitness accounts described an explosion at the rear of the plane while it was over Centerville, IA. Once it became apparent that an explosive device might be involved, the FBI was called in. They discovered that one of the passengers had purchased an inordinate amount of life insurance just prior to the flight. In addition to insurance, Thomas G. Doty also purchased six sticks of dynamite before his trip. The married father of a five year old daughter was facing prison time for an armed robbery.

Investigators believed that the bomb had been hidden in the rear lavatory on the starboard side of the plane. The explosion tore the tail section off the 707, which caused it to crash.

In July 2010, a memorial was erected in Unionville, MO.

Further reading:

Pitch News – Fifty years ago this week, Continental Flight 11 fell out of the sky over Unionville

Wikipedia – Continental Airlines Flight 11

Continental Airlines Flight 11 Facebook Page

Continental Airline Flight 11 Blog

this day in crime history: may 18, 1927


On this date in 1927, Bath, MI became the scene of the largest school mass-murder in U.S. history. The massacre began when school board member Andrew Kehoe became upset over an increase in the school tax that he blamed for his financial ruination.

Kehoe began by killing his wife and detonating fire bombs in his farm buildings. While firefighters worked to put out the fires on Kehoe’s property, Kehoe went to the Bath Consolidated School, where he detonated bombs he had previously planted in the school.

Kehoe left the scene after the explosion, but returned a short while later. He saw the school superintendent standing outside the school watching rescue and recovery efforts and called to him. As the superintendent approached the car, Kehoe detonated a bomb inside the car. The blast killed Kehoe, the superintendent, two local men, and an 8 year old boy who had managed to escape the school bombing.

The Bath School Disaster resulted in 45 dead and 58 injured. In 1975, a park dedicated to the victims was built on the former site of the school.

Further reading:

Smithsonian.com – The 1927 Bombing That Remains America’s Deadliest School Massacre

Wikipedia – Bath School Disaster 

this day in crime history: april 19, 1995


On this date in 1995, a terrorist bomb was detonated outside the federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, including 19 children under the age of six. Almost 700 people were injured.

An hour and a half after the bombing, an Oklahoma State Trooper pulled over a car that did not have a license plate. The driver, Timothy McVeigh, was arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon. McVeigh was soon linked to the bombing by forensic evidence. The investigation led to accomplices Terry Nichols, Michael Fortier, and Fortier’s wife Lori. McVeigh, Nichols and Fortier met while they were in the Army. They were motivated by the deadly raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, TX by the FBI in 1993. The bombing took place on the anniversary of the raid.

McVeigh and Nichols were both convicted of murder and conspiracy. McVeigh was sentenced to death. He was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001. Nichols was sentenced to life without possibility of parole. He is currently housed at the Administrative Maximum (ADX) facility at the Florence Federal Correctional Complex in Florence, CO.

Michael Fortier agreed to testify against McVeigh and Nichols in exchange for immunity for his wife and a lighter sentence for him. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and a $75,000 fine. He was released after 10 1/2 years and disappeared into the witness protection program.

Some people believe that there were more people involved with the bombing. Theories include involvement by members of militia groups and middle eastern terrorists. The FBI dismisses these theories and considers the case closed.

Further reading:

Oklahoma City Memorial & Museum

Wikipedia – Oklahoma City bombing

Were There More OKC Conspirators?: The Elohim City Connection (Presents evidence of militia group involvement in the bombing)

JaynaDavis.com – From Middle America To The Middle East (Presents evidence of a Middle Eastern connection to the bombing)

this day in crime history: april 10, 1936

1936bomb

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:

Citensvoice.com – Mail bomb spree by disgruntled coal miner marks 75th anniversary

timesleader.com – 80 years ago, Luzerne county hit by Good Friday Bombings

this day in crime history: march 6, 1970

wxunderground

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: february 26, 1993

WTC1993

On this date in 1993, a truck bomb was detonated under the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. Six people were killed and over a thousand were injured.

A massive task force was quickly assembled to search for the culprits. A vehicle identification number (VIN) that was found at the scene matched a rental truck that was reported stolen on the day of the bombing. FBI agents arrested Islamic extremist Mohammad Salameh as he was trying to get his deposit back from the rental company. Three more suspects were quickly rounded up. Agents also found a storage locker containing a large amount of cyanide gas. All four men were charged, tried and convicted of the bombing.

The investigation led to the arrest of another terrorist cell that was planning multiple attacks in and around New York. Ramzi Youseff, the mastermind of the bombing remained at large, as did co-conspirator Abdul Rahman Yasin.

In 1995, Diplomatic Security Service agents arrested Ramzi Yousef in Pakistan. At the time, Yousef was planning multiple bombings of US airliners. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

On September 11, 2001, terrorists financed by Yousef’s uncle, Khalid Sheik Mohammad, used hijacked airliners to knock down both WTC towers.

Further reading:

FBI – First Strike: Global Terror in America

US News & World Report – The 1993 World Trade Center Bombing: A New Threat Emerges

Wikipedia – 1993 World Trade Center Bombing

FBI Wanted Poster – Abdul Rahman Yasin