this day in crime history: may 22, 1962

CA-Flt11

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: april 22, 1934

On this date in 1934, the FBI went toe to toe with John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and their gang in a shootout that left an FBI agent and a bystander dead.

The gang decided to hide out at the Little Bohemia Lodge in northern Wisconsin. The owner of the lodge managed to get word to the authorities. FBI agents were dispatched to the scene.

As the agents approached the lodge, the owner’s dogs began to bark. Since the dogs barked incessantly, their warning was ignored by the gang. A few minutes later, a car approached the agents. Thinking that the gangsters were inside, they opened fire in an attempt to shoot out the tires. Shooting high, which often happens when firing on full auto, they hit all of the occupants of the car, and killed one of them. To make matters worse, they had the wrong guys. Dillinger and his crew were still inside the lodge.

Barking dogs you can ignore, but submachinegun fire will get your attention every time. Dillinger and the boys heard the shots and knew that the heat was on. They opened fire on the agents from the lodge. After throwing some hot lead at the G-men, the gang bolted for the door. Dillinger and two of his guys turned one way and made a clean getaway. Nelson turned the other way, and wound up at a nearby house in a car with the owner of the lodge and a neighbor.

A car containing two of the FBI agents and a local constable approached Nelson. Nelson pointed his gun at them, and ordered them out of the car. When they complied, Nelson shot all three of them. Agent W. Carter Baum was killed; Agent J. C. Newman and local constable Carl Christensen were injured.

The final tally: two dead (one lawman and one innocent bystander), four injured (two lawmen and two bystanders), no gangsters in custody.

Further reading:

Crime Museum — John Dillinger

FBI History–Famous Cases: John Dillinger

FBI History–Famous Cases: “Baby Face” Nelson

FBI History–Hall of Honor: W. Carter Baum

Website for the Little Bohemia Lodge

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 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:

American Experience: Public Enemy #1 – Evelyn “Billie” Frechette, 1907-1969

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

this day in crime history: march 18, 1990

On this date in 1990, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, MA was robbed. It was just after midnight when two men dressed as police officers appeared at the museum’s door, claiming they had received a report about a disturbance at the museum. One of the two guards on duty that night let them in. Minutes later the guards were overpowered, bound with duct tape, and stashed in separate parts of the museum’s basement. The two bogus cops went to work stealing various items, including works by Rembrandt, Degas, and Manet. The estimated value of their haul: over $300 million. It was the largest art heist in US history. To date, the case remains unsolved, and none of the stolen works of art have been recovered.

Further reading:

FBI – Art Theft program

Boston.com – Secrets behind the largest art theft in history

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