Crime

Photo of the Day

A newsman wears a rubber mask similar to that worn by bandits who robbed Brink’s armored car firm in Boston Jan, 1950. The reporter points to nameplate on first of six locked doors opened by the gunmen. The Mask was one of several purchased in joke shops by newsmen and police to see if they resembled description given by Brink’s employees. PHOTO: AP Photo

The Great Brinks Robbery

They left few clues. It was almost the perfect crime. Almost…

For a long time, the armed heist known as the Brink’s Holdup was the most successful robbery in United States history. It took place in Boston’s North End on 165 Prince Street at the headquarters of Brink’s Incorporated on January 17, 1950. The job was meticulously planned and brilliantly executed, and the thieves made off with over $2 million. The robbers were local heroes; Boston for some reason has a longstanding love affair with bank robberies.

Tony Pino, a lifelong criminal, was the mastermind behind the audacious theft. Together with Joe McGinnis, he assembled a group that meticulously planned the heist. They staked out the depot for a year and a half to figure out when it was holding the most money. Then, the gang stole the plans for the depot’s alarm system and returned them before anyone noticed that they were missing.

The criminal team held repeated rehearsals, with each man wearing blue coats and Halloween masks. On January 17, they finally put their plan into action. Inside the counting room, the gang surprised the guards and tied up the employees. Multiple canvas bags, weighing more than half a ton, were filled with cash, coins, checks, and money orders. Within 30 minutes, the Brinks robbery team was gone–taking $2.7 million with them.

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14 Mar 1991, Londonderry, New Hampshire, USA — photo/The (Nashua) Telegraph Pamela Smart, centre, leaves the Derry church after her husband, Greg’s, funeral. — Image by © Nashua Telegraph/ZUMA Press/Corbis

Before O.J., it was the Trial of the Century

Accused of seducing 15-year-old William “Billy” Flynn and threatening to stop having sex with him unless he killed her husband

Two of the Americas most sensational murder trials are separated by four years and 3,000 miles.

On the surface, the Pamela Smart trial couldn’t be more different than the O.J. Simpson case. One involved a group of white teenagers from a blue-collar town; the other centred on a wealthy, famous black man. One ended in a conviction, the other in an acquittal.

The connection is an attractive blonde. An insatiable press. Accused killers who said they were only trying to conduct their own investigation. (Even “OJ” — Pamela Smart and some of the teenagers involved in the murder were working together on an orange juice commercial.)

And a public that still remembers where they were when it all happened.

Nothing in New Hampshire’s history had prepared the court for a case like this one. This was the Trial of the Century four years before O.J. took the famous ride in his white Ford Bronco.

Smart’s trial was the first to be broadcast live from start to finish.

During the Smart trial at the old Rockingham County Superior Court in Exeter, all the parking spaces were filled by press and spectators before the court opened. Latecomers (that is, those who arrived after 7 a.m.) usually found themselves hiking in from parking lots about a quarter of a mile away. Spectators and reporters drew tickets based on first-come, first-served to get into the courtroom. The unlucky ones spilt out into an adjoining room and watched the proceedings on a television perched on top of a Pepsi machine.

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Photo of the Day

The Papin sisters committed horrendous murders in Le Mans, France. Christine and Lea grew up in a dysfunctional family, witnessing violence and various forms of molestation. They were inseparable, even though they were rarely seen talking to each other. This gave off an eerie impression as the two sisters looked as though they were telepathic.

The Papin Sisters

In the north-west of France, there is a city by name of Le Mans, which is known for little more than a famous car race that takes place once a year: the “24 Hours of Le Mans.” Sisters Christine and Léa Papin gifted the city with a degree of infamy that would otherwise never have been achieved. But instead of being known for a grand and auspicious accomplishment, the Papin sisters are notable only for murdering, in a most gruesome way, their domestic employer and her daughter in 1933.

These two women were presented as monsters in the press of the day. Mental illness, dysfunctional relationships, and exploitative working conditions played a part in a double murder in Le Mans, France – one that sent shockwaves through French society.

Christine and Léa Papin, sisters and servants in the provincial French town of Le Mans, murdered their mistress and her daughter one evening in 1933 when a blown fuse had plunged the house into darkness.

The crime was grisly — the dead women’s eyes had been torn out and their bodies horribly mutilated — and more scandalous still for the familiarity that had linked killers and victims. The sisters had been ideal maids, serving Monsieur and Madame Lancelin for some seven years. Christine, the elder, was particularly prized for her needlework and cooking. During their brief trial, which caused a national sensation, they were revealed to be lovers, locked in an incestuous and deadly folie à deux.

A studio portrait taken a few years earlier showed them carefully coiffed and wearing identical dark dresses with white lace collars. In mug shots after the crime, they appear as dishevelled harpies with wild eyes and hair undone. Were they mad women or agents of the class struggle? Opinions differed, but a jury of 12 men quickly found the sisters (who had immediately confessed) criminally responsible. The more passive Léa was given 10 years’ hard labour; Christine’s death sentence was commuted to life in prison, though she died in an asylum four years later.

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Christian Longo (left) led into a courtroom in 2002 before he was convicted of murdering his wife and three children and then escaping to Mexico to party. (PAT SULLIVAN/AP)

This Psychopath Doesn’t Justify a Hollywood Finale

Warning: Some Parts in this Story, People May find Disturbing.

In February 2002, New York Times Magazine writer Michael Finkel received a startling piece of news: a young man named Christian Longo wanted for killing his entire family, had been captured in Mexico, where he’d taken on a new identity: Michael Finkel of the New York Times.

The next day, on page A-3 of the Times, came another troubling item: a note from the editors explaining that Finkel, having falsified parts of an investigative article, had been fired. Nonetheless, the only journalist Longo would speak with was the real Michael Finkel, and so Finkel placed a call to Oregon’s Lincoln County jail, intent on getting the true story. So began a bizarre and intense relationship—a reporting job that morphed into a shrewd game of cat-and-mouse.

He’s infamous at this point, and sadly, it’s not for good reason: Christian Longo is the man responsible for the brutal murder of his wife and children in Oregon more than a decade ago. He’s also the man that stole the identity of a disgraced New York Times journalist, Michael Finkel, while on the run from authorities. The story of this disturbed man and the writer he wooed his tale of tragedy has been fictionalised for the big screen in the movie True Story.

If you’re not familiar with the story: After standing trial in Oregon for the murder of his wife, MaryJane (maiden name Baker), and children, Zachery, Sadie and Madison, Longo was sentenced to death by lethal injection on April 16, 2003. Now 43 years old, he is currently carrying out the judgement on death row at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. No date has currently been set of his execution.

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Photo of the Day

Marion, Mrs Parker, Marjorie. [Photo courtesy LAPL]

The Tragic Tale of Marion Parker

 Warning, some parts of this story are disturbing.

It is every parent’s most horrific nightmare: a child’s violent death at the hands of a predator.

Nearly five years before the internationally reviled kidnapping of aviator Charles Lindbergh’s 20-month-old son in New Jersey in 1932, Angelenos reacted with that same horror and fear at the abduction and murder of a local girl, 12-year-old Marion Parker she went to school in a wealthy part of Los Angeles. The perpetrator swiped her and proceeded to send her family notes entitled ‘Death’ and simply signed ‘The Fox’, hence his self-titled nickname.

The grisly crime that left the child lifeless, dismembered and discarded along the streets of Los Angeles triggered one of the biggest manhunts in the West, and the first insanity plea under a new state law. National press coverage turned the 1927 tragedy into what many then considered the “crime of the century.”

Because the child and her parents, Geraldine and Perry Parker, were not global celebrities, the grim deeds are now mostly forgotten, eclipsed by more recent outrages. But few have been more revolting.

Angelino Heights is an odd little neighbourhood. Old market buildings, charming Victorian homes, and wood frame homes in all states of repair sit high on a hill, cut off from the badlands by the buzzing 101 Freeway. In the heart of Los Angeles, minutes from downtown there is now called the Brownstone Lofts, an imposing red brick apartment building that seems too massive for its quaint surroundings. It was pretty hard to believe that within this gentrified building, where one-bedroom apartments go for over $2,000 a month, the grisliest, strangest murder took place. Adding to the strangeness, for reasons that will soon become apparent, is the fact that just down the road, there is a little street called Marion Avenue.

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Photo of the Day

Brian Wells heads out of the PNC Bank in the Summit Towne Centre after robbing it of $8,702. Wells is carrying the cash in a white canvas bag; in his left hand is a homemade cane-shaped shotgun. He is sucking on a lollipop he grabbed while in the bank. The collar bomb is protruding from under his white T-shirt. He had demanded $250,000 from the chief teller but left with whatever money she could give him. ERIE TIMES-NEWS, via FBI

The Twists and Turns of the Collar-Bombing Case

He sat on the road with his legs twisted under him and his hands cuffed behind his back. His oversized glasses drooped as he cried for help.

Brian Wells, a pizza deliveryman, was caught in a bizarre bank robbery. He had walked in with a bomb strapped to his neck, and now no one wanted to help him. No one knew what was going on or seemed to understand how a simpleton got involved in such a vicious plot.

Except for Wells. He knew he had been double-crossed.

Brian Wells delivered pizzas for a living. He was a quiet, unassuming man, one of the most trusted drivers for Mama Mia Pizzeria in Erie, Pa. But on Aug. 28, 2003, he walked into an Erie bank and handed the teller a holdup note.

This was no garden-variety stickup. When police caught Wells in a nearby parking lot, he began to beg for his life.

They grab him and they handcuff him and throw him onto the ground,

Mr Wells starts pleading with them, “He says, ‘Listen, there’s a bomb strapped to my neck. I was forced to wear it at gunpoint. It’s going to explode, I’m not lying to you.'”

Wells said a group of men accosted him and forced him to carry out the heist. After delivering the money, he would receive clues to help him disarm the bomb.

Wells wasn’t lying. A few seconds later, the bomb went off, killing him almost instantly.

It was one of the most diabolical bank robbery schemes in history, known by the FBI as COLLARBOMB, Major Case #203.

It did not go according to plan.

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Photo of the Day

The eight nurses killed by Richard Speck on July 14, 1966, in Chicago were, top from left, Gloria Davy, Suzanne Farris, Merlita Gargullo and Mary Ann Jordan. Bottom row from left are Patricia Matusek, Valentina Pasion, Nina Jo Schmale and Pamela Wilkening.

Eight Honour Nurses Slain in 1966

A couple of days after his basement flooded, John Schmale finally mustered the energy to head downstairs and investigated the damage.

In the basement’s dim overhead light, a big, brown cardboard box caught his eye, a box so soggy its bottom was ready to fall out. He lugged it upstairs. He opened it.

Inside sat four square, off-white boxes labelled “Kodak,” and on top of them lay a sheet of thin pink paper. He instantly recognised his mother’s cursive handwriting.

With a rush of excitement and a pang of dread, he read her pencilled note: “Nina South Chicago Hospital.”

Nina. His little sister. One of eight young nurses killed in a Chicago townhouse on July 14, 1966, by a man who became notorious: Richard Speck.

“I don’t believe this,” Schmale said to his wife on that day half a century later, gazing inside the box. “What do I have here?”

What he had, in this mysterious box he had inherited when his father died, were four carousels of slides, many of them corroded, warped, mouldy, ravaged by water and time. He unearthed his ancient 35 mm slide projector, marvelled that the bulb still worked and began projecting images on a wall.

There, next to his kitchen near the village of Mahomet, 140 miles south of Chicago, the lost women flickered back to life.

Clicking from slide to slide, Schmale stepped into his sister’s vanished world. It was a world of hair curlers, hair spray cans, ashtrays, manual typewriters, textbooks, sheath dresses, corsages, cluttered rooms, a place where young women laughed, hugged, studied, ate, teased each other’s hair.

He couldn’t identify everyone he saw, but at the photo of the familiar woman in the familiar yellow two-piece bathing suit, he felt his heart clench.

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“Don’t Take Candy from Strangers”

Isn’t Just a Phrase

“Don’t take candy from strangers” is a popular admonition that parents give to children. Many years ago, when the United States of America was not a superpower, the story of two brothers, Charlie Ross and Walter Ross, unfolded. Collectively, they were soon to be known as the reason why you must not accept candies from strangers. On July 1, 1874, two little boys were abducted in front of their family’s mansion. It was the first kidnapping for ransom in the history of the United States. And it would be the major event of its kind until the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.

Whether it is the fruity lozenge or chocolates, candies/lollies have always been a favourite treat of children. They are also a perfect item to lure children and remain the wicked minds’ guidebook to abduct them.

Sadly, Charlie and Walter were the first ones in the history of America who fell into the trap.

Charley Ross (age four) was lured from his Philadelphia home by the strangers offering candy; the boy was never found.  Candy has frequently been used to lure a child into a stranger’s car, so parents also admonish never to take rides with strangers.  In the 1910-1920s, children were admonished not to take candy from strangers for an additional reason—the candy was feared to be poisoned, often with morphine or cocaine to create an addiction.

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The solution is simple: issue a shotgun to every store owner

The ratbags know that Police are stretched, they also know that dud and criminal friendly judges will apply just a light hand of justice.

Northland police are defending their handling of a youth crime spree in Kaikohe at the weekend.

Officers have made one arrest, after a gang of youngsters raided a liquor store on Friday night and a larger mob attacked the doors of the town’s Mobil service station.

Residents said today that youth crime, including car theft and burglary, was out of control in mid-Northland and had been for some time.

Kaikohe Community Patrol coordinator Tony Taylor said people were frustrated, but felt powerless to act.

“There’s nothing we can do about it,” he said.   Read more »

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I could solve this problem for less than $1600

Radio NZ reports:

A Christchurch dairy owner says he has spent about $26,000 trying to make his shop more secure following a spate of robberies.

The Woolston dairy has been targeted eight times in just seven months.

The store is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and was most recently robbed last Wednesday.

Police and WorkSafe have been looking at whether more can be done to make the store safer for staff.

Store owner David Lee said he was doing everything he could to stop the place from being a target.

“We’ve spent about $26,000 on putting in a safe room, a cigarette dispensing machine, upgrading the security cameras and seeing what else we can do, so… I think whatever we are going to do the [robbers] are just going to find a different way, if they want to come in.”    Read more »

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