this day in crime history: june 22, 2011

WnC-Busted

On this date in 2011, Whitey Bulger, the former head of Boston’s Winter Hill gang, was captured after sixteen years as a fugitive. For twelve of Bulger’s years on the run, he was featured on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. Bulger had been indicted on multiple counts of racketeering. The racketeering charges included complicity in nineteen murders.

Bulger, who had worked as an FBI informant since the 1970s, was tipped off to the indictments by his FBI handler, Special Agent John Connolly. Bulger and longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig skipped town and disappeared. The last credible sighting of the couple was in London in 2002.

In 2011, the FBI decided to change its tactics in locating the fugitive mobster. Instead of focusing their efforts on Bulger, they would focus on Greig, in hopes that they might hear from someone who had spotted her. A public service announcement was recorded and aired during daytime television programs. The strategy paid off rather quickly. A woman who had lived in Santa Monica recognized Greig and Bulger as former neighbors. According to the Boston Globe, the tipster was Anna Bjorn, an Icelandic model and actress who was Miss Iceland 1974. Bjorn was reportedly paid a $2 million reward for the tip.

Agents found Bulger at home when they arrived. They used a ruse to lure him from his apartment and placed him under arrest. They then entered the apartment and placed Greig under arrest for harboring a fugitive.

Bulger and Greig were returned to Boston for trial in federal court. Bulger was convicted on multiple counts of racketeering, including complicity in eleven murders. He received two life sentences plus five years. He is currently incarcerated at USP Coleman II. Greig pleaded guilty to harboring a fugitive and identity fraud and was sentenced to eight years. In April 2016, she was sentenced to an additional 21 months for contempt..

Further reading:

National Post – Accused Boston crime Boss Whitey Bulger Arrested

Daily Mail – Whitey Bulger tipster revealed

Wikipedia – Whitey Bulger

this day in crime history: june 17, 1933

On this date in 1933, three men — believed to be outlaw, and former lawman, Verne Miller, along with bank robbers Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd and Adam Richetti — attempted to free Frank “Jelly” Nash from Federal custody in Kansas City. A gunfight ensued, leaving three police officers, an FBI Agent, and Frank Nash dead.

FBI History: Famous Cases Kansas City Massacre – Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd

Wikipedia: Kansas City Massacre

Movie: The Kansas City Massacre (1975)

this day in crime history: june 16, 1999

On this date in 1999, middle class St. Paul, MN mom Sara Jane Olson was arrested after being profiled on America’s Most Wanted. As it turns out, the socially active mother of three had a secret identity. In a prior life, she was Kathleen Ann Soliah, a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army terrorist group.

Soliah had been in hiding since 1976, when she was indicted for her role in planting pipe bombs that were targeted at police officers in Los Angeles.

Olson eventually pleaded guilty to the explosives charges and to her role in a robbery that resulted in the death of a woman. She was sentenced to 14 years in prison, but her sentence was eventually reduced by a judge.

In 2008, Olson was erroneously released from prison due to a miscalculation by prison officials. She was rearrested and returned to prison. She was paroled in March of 2009 and was allowed to return to Minnesota to serve out her sentence.

Further reading:

CNN – ’70s radical Sara Jane Olson released from prison

Wikipedia – Sara Jane Olson

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 4, 1965

bigsprings

On this day in 1965, the Farmers State Bank in Big Springs, NE (pictured above, the building currently serves as the public library) was robbed.

The robber, Duane Earl Pope, had recently graduated from college in Kansas. He got the idea to rob the bank while working near Big Springs while he was in college.

Pope prepared for the heist by renting a car in Salina, KS. He drove to Nebraska armed with a  pistol. He watched the bank and waited for the morning rush of customers to leave. He then went inside, held all four of the bank’s employees at gunpoint and filled a briefcase with about $1600 in cash. Before leaving, he ordered the employees to get face down on the ground, then shot all four of them. Three died, the fourth survived, but was permanently paralyzed.

Pope drove back to Salina, where he returned the rental car. After that, he made a run for the border. Shortly after arriving in Tijuana, he crossed back into the US. He was hiding out in San Diego when he learned that he had been named as the prime suspect in the robbery/homicide back in Nebraska. He celebrated this event by traveling to Las Vegas for some gambling and partying.

Pope was added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. The next day after hitting the fugitive’s version of the big leagues, Pope went to Kansas City, MO and turned himself in. He gave police a full written confession. He was extradited from Missouri to Nebraska and was tried in both federal and state courts. Both convicted him of robbery and murder and sentenced him to death. His death sentences were commuted due to the Supreme Court’s Furman v. Georgia decision. He was incarcerated at the federal prison in Leavenworth, KS. until July 1, 2016. On that date he was released into the custody of Nebraska authorities who returned him to the Cornhusker State, where, he still owes three life sentences.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Duane Earl Pope

The McPherson College SpectatorLet Out and Locked Up

FBI – Photo of Duane Earl Pope

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

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