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 – Good Friday bombings of 1936 terrorized area

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

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: january 28, 1982

On this date in 1982, US Army Brigadier General James Dozier was rescued by Italian police. Dozier, who had been kidnapped by Italian Red Brigades terrorists 42 days earlier, was being held in an apartment in the northern Italian city of Padua. After determining the General’s location, the Italian police sent in the NOCS, a special operations unit trained in hostage rescue. A bulldozer was started near the building to cover the noise of the rescuers as they moved into position. A 12-man NOCS team stormed the apartment and overpowered the terrorists without firing a shot, rescuing the General, and taking five of his captors into custody.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – James L. Dozier

Wikipedia – Red Brigades

NY Times – General Dozier Freed in Major Red Brigades Defeat

SpecWarNet – NOCS

this day in crime history: december 30, 1905

On this date in 1905, former Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg was killed by a bomb that was rigged to a gate at his home. While in office, Steunenberg took a tough stand against the Western Federation of Miners during a period of labor unrest. Former WFM member Albert Horsley (a/k/a Harry Orchard) was arrested for the crime. Legendary Pinkerton detective James McParland headed up the investigation. McParland pressured Horsley into implicating three high-ranking WFM officials as co-conspirators. Horsley was ultimately convicted of Steunenberg’s murder, but his testimony against the other men was discredited. Two of them were acquitted at trial, and charges were dropped against the third. Albert Horsley was sentenced to death by the court, but the sentence was later commuted to life in prison. He died in prison in 1954 at the age of 87.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Frank Steunenberg

Wikipedia – Albert Horsley

Find a Grave – Frank Steunenberg

Idaho Meanderings: Steunenberg, Trial of the Century, Labor, Legal, Political History