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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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Wanted posters announced the $15,900 bounty on the brothers. Posters were distributed across the U.S. The three DeAutremont brothers destroyed a mail car and killed four men, including a Railway Post Office clerk, when they tried to rob a Southern Pacific train on October 11, 1923. After botching the robbery, the three fled the scene of the crime in a panic, leaving some items, including a pair of overalls, behind. The items left behind helped authorities learn the identities of the murderers.

The bottom portion of this wanted poster continues information on identifying each brother. Postal inspectors asked chemist Edward Heinrich to inspect the clues left behind by the robbers to see if he could tell them anything about the fugitives. Given a pair of overalls found at the crime scene, Heinrich developed a profile of a likely suspect.

Crime Does Not Always Pay

The D’Autremont Train Robbery

Most?people?think of train robberies as 19th century crimes, complete with Butch and Sundance blowing up a train car, or Jesse James and his gang taking on the evil railroad companies. However, one of the most violent and tragic train robbery attempts was in 1923. On October 11 of that year, three men, twins Roy and Ray DeAutremont and their younger brother Hugh ambushed Southern Pacific train #13 in southern Oregon, just as the train was emerging from a tunnel.

The young DeAutremont brothers and especially Ray felt they were born into a family that had been victimized by a corrupt society. It seemed only fair they follow a course of crime rather than work for a living.?Twins Ray and Roy were just twenty three when they attempted one of the most daring robberies in America. Their brother Hugh, who accompanied them, was a mere nineteen. The crime they committed in 1923 would have been laughable in its ineptitude had they not happened to kill four men during the debacle.

But what of their earlier criminal career? This too proves without doubt that the DeAutremont brothers should have stuck to a more legitimate career ? it seems that they just weren?t cut out to be criminal masterminds.

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Vincent walks her two dogs, Danny, left, and Mikey. Vincent and her two sons also have hamsters, fish and an ill-tempered parrot. Photo: Ron Wurzer/Seattle Post-Intelligence

Victims Get A Life Sentence

Shared DNA is Not a Reason to have a Relationship with a Monster

One night when she couldn’t sleep,?Mary Vincent?got out of bed and drew her face. Within an hour, her large, dark eyes were looking back at her, drawn in pencil and accompanied by handsome high cheekbones, firm jaw and generous mouth. She even drew the tiny dent on the tip of her nose.

Considering that she hadn’t drawn anything more demanding than a shopping list since childhood, her proficiency was remarkable, but not to her.

“I’ve always been good with my hands,” she said.

True — except she doesn’t have hands.

In a nation beset by violent crime, even the most spectacularly vicious acts often fade quickly from the public consciousness, as if some sort of collective repression simply buries images too ghastly to retain. Certain horrors, however, seize the imagination and provoke public outrage years after the hideous drama has been concluded.

Larry Singleton was convicted of raping 15-year-old Mary Vincent, hacking her forearms off, and leaving her for dead in a California canyon. It was an act so barbaric that it was never forgotten; when Singleton, was paroled he was hounded out of one community after another. Not one town would have him, and the outcry forced him to accept refuge within the walls of San Quentin Prison, where he remained for the duration of his parole.

Lawrence Singleton?s daughter didn?t want to believe her father was a monster, but the evidence was there and she said she had ?no doubt that he was guilty.? He had also physically attacked her as a teen so she knew first hand what his temper was like. She was 15 years old at the time of the crime.

The family of Singleton as well, and many others whose crimes become national and world news do have to face the public?s scorn.

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June 17, 1939: Weidmann is placed in the guillotine seconds before the blade falls. The crowd that witnessed the execution became quite unruly. Weidmann was beheaded outside of the prison Saint-Pierre in Versailles, during which spectators engaged in ?hysterical behaviour.? After the event the authorities finally came to believe that ?far from serving as a deterrent and having salutary effects on the crowds? the public execution ?promoted baser instincts of human nature and encouraged general rowdiness and bad behaviour?. IMAGE: POPPERFOTO/GETTY IMAGES

June 17, 1939: Weidmann is placed in the guillotine seconds before the blade falls. The crowd that witnessed the execution became quite unruly. Weidmann was beheaded outside of the prison Saint-Pierre in Versailles, during which spectators engaged in ?hysterical behaviour.? After the event the authorities finally came to believe that ?far from serving as a deterrent and having salutary effects on the crowds? the public execution ?promoted baser instincts of human nature and encouraged general rowdiness and bad behaviour?.?Photo Getty Images

Madame Guillotine

France’s last Public Execution

?The guillotine’s final day in the sun

The guillotine is the ultimate expression of Law? He who sees it shudders with an inexplicable dismay. All social questions achieve their finality around that blade.
?Victor Hugo,?Les Mis?rables

?This is the last public execution by guillotine, not the last execution by guillotine.

The above photograph was taken moments before the execution of Eugene Weidmann early on the morning of June 17th, 1939 outside the Saint Pierre prison at rue Georges Cl?menceau in Versailles, just outside of Paris. Weidmann had been convicted – after finally confessing to the crimes – of kidnapping and murdering six people, including a female American dancer. His taking responsibility for the murders spared the lives of his three accomplices but set Weidmann up for a date with?Madame Guillotine.

If you look carefully you can see Weidmann already strapped to the?bascule?and that he’s been tilted into position with the?lunette?closed around his neck. This was possibly less than 5 seconds before Jules-Henri Desfourneaux (just four months into the job of nation’s chief executioner) released the?d?clic?that sent a 90-pound steel razor blade slamming into Weidmann’s neck with a half-ton of force before coming to rest after falling for 1/70th of a second.

Debate still rages as to whether the victim is immediately rendered unconscious or if he/she has what might be up to 60 seconds of awareness after the head has been severed from the body before the brain finally runs out of whatever oxygen was in the head’s blood at the moment it was removed.

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Wendy Brown: Photo Jeff Maysh.

Wendy Brown: Photo Jeff Maysh.

Why One Woman Pretended to Be a High-School Cheerleader

At 33, Wendy Brown stole her daughter?s name, grabbed a pair of pom-poms, lived a teenage dream?then she went to jail for it

Wendy Brown had always dreamed of becoming a cheerleader when she was in high school. Unfortunately the dream never came true and she found herself in a position where she was 33-years-old and raising her 15-year-old daughter. Since Brown resembled her daughter and had access to her daughter?s ID, she used her daughter?s credentials to enrol in a high school and join the cheerleading squad.

On September 2, 2008, a shy, blonde transfer student strolled into Ashwaubenon High School in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The petite sophomore wore a pink hoodie and carried a new school bag decorated with hearts, eager to start the new term. But just 16 days later, she was standing in court wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and shackles, charged with identity theft. There, prosecutors revealed that Wendy Brown was not really 15, but a 33-year-old mother of two?who had stolen her teenage daughter?s identity in an attempt to relive her own high school days. In her weeks as a student, Brown had taken classes with students half her age. She had tried out for the Ashwaubenon High School cheerleading squad and even attended a pool party thrown by the cheer coach.

Television crews surrounded the courthouse and besieged Brown?s family at their home in Nevada. ?It was bad,? recalls her father, Joe. ?Every show that?s on in the morning called. ? Oprah didn?t call. She was the only one that didn?t call.?

A bespectacled Brown spoke like a teenager as she addressed the court: ?I just wanted to say that I?m sorry for what I?ve done,? she said softly. ?I feel bad about it. And I regret it. Um, I always have ? I am not a bad person. I just made a mistake.?

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Scan-76-e1441226008163Busting Out of Mexico

It Couldn?t Happen This Way In A Million Years

But It Did!

When the American inmates at Piedras Negras talked to Blake Davis, they sometimes caught themselves staring at the jagged, reddened scar that under?lined the ridge of his jaw. Blake Davis was ebullient, powerfully built, well liked by the other Americans. Even in moments of discouragement he some?how managed a rueful smile. ?Next week? was always the time of Blake?s anticipated departure from the Piedras Negras jail. He always had a scam.

Blake did not mind talking about his scar. He said he?d been arrested near Saltillo and charged with transporting 175 pounds of marijuana. For three weeks, Blake said, he was strapped naked to a bed while federales interro?gated him, until finally he signed a Spanish confession he could not read. While he was in prison at Saltillo, Blake claimed he bribed a warden for $2000, but when the tunneling started the war?den alerted the guards. Blake said he unwisely cried foul; the warden referred the matter to Mexican inmates who set upon Blake with crude knives and razor blades. Hence the scar. Blake?s tale of horror did not rate him special privileges in the Piedras Negras seniority system. When he was transferred there in Au?gust 1975, like all other new arrivals he took a seat on the floor.

When a Mexican attorney arranged his transfer from Saltillo, Blake thought he was destined for a federal prison in Piedras Negras called Penal. But Mexi?can officials claimed Penal was over?crowded, and they blamed Americans for a November 1974 breakout in which 24 prisoners tunnelled to freedom. Blake Davis was thus assigned to the Piedras Negras municipal jail. Inside the jail were five cells for men, one cell for women, and a drunk tank, each of which measured eight feet by nine. The win?dowless cells contained four bunks, a toilet, a water faucet, and from six to twelve sweating, panting, claustrophobic prisoners. Mexican national inmates were eventually transferred to Penal, but the Americans waited for enough seniority to occupy one of the bunks. When they moved around their cells they shuffled. They never breathed fresh air, never saw the sky.

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First claim: In an interview to be with CBS', Charles Cullen at first says he thought he was helping people by ending their suffering.

First claim: In an interview, Charles Cullen at first says he thought he was helping people by ending their suffering.

The Tainted Kidney

Charles Edmund Cullen (born February 22, 1960) is a former nurse who is the most prolific serial killer in New Jersey history and is suspected to be the most prolific serial killer in American history. He confessed to authorities that he killed up to 40 patients during the course of his 16-year nursing career. But in subsequent interviews with police, psychiatric professionals, and journalists Charles Graeber and Steve Kroft, it became clear that he had killed many more, whom he could not specifically remember by name, though he could often remember details of their case. Experts have estimated that Charles Cullen may ultimately be responsible for over 300 deaths, which would make him the most prolific serial killer in American history

Cullen, is serving eighteen consecutive life sentences in a New Jersey penitentiary. Behind bars, he can no longer take life, yet he?s found a way to give it?in the form of an organ transplant. But no one wants to give him the chance to play God again.

The Angel of Death looks sleepy. His face shows nothing. His eyes are closed. Charles Cullen sits motionless in the wooden defendant?s chair of the Somerset County Courthouse as, hour after hour, his victims? families take the stand. They read poems and show photographs, they weep and yell. If Cullen hears them, he doesn?t say; he never does. During his years in custody, Cullen has never apologized or made excuses. He has never issued a statement, offered a public word, never faced the families of his victims. In fact, the only reason he?s in court today is because he wants to give away one of his kidneys.

To that end, he has cut a deal with prosecutors, agreeing to appear at his sentencing on the condition that he be allowed to donate an organ to the dying relative of a former girlfriend. To many of the families of his victims, this deal is a personal insult?the man in shackles still calling the shots, the serial-killer nurse wanting to control the fate of yet another human life. But for the families of his New Jersey victims, this is the first and last chance to confront Charles Cullen. So they are here, and they are angry.

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Catt Family Bank Robbers: Father Ronald Scott Catt And 2 Children Suspected Of Multiple Heists.

Catt Family Bank Robbers : Father Ronald Scott Catt And 2 Children Suspected Of Multiple Heists.?Catt, 50, and his 20 year old son Hayden are alleged to have carried out the raids while 18 year old Abigail acted as the getaway driver.

I Would Only Rob Banks For My Family

The Catts of Katy, Texas seemed to be a normal, quiet, family before their secret lives as bank robbers were revealed.

Scott Catt, 50, and his 20-year-old son Hayden and 18-year-old daughter Abby stole $100,000 in two bank robberies before they were arrested at their apartment complex.

In a confessional prison interview, Scott Catt tells ?how he recruited his two children to become his accomplices in crime.

‘All I can tell you is that I thought it would help us as a family,’ Catt said.

‘I did it for the family,’ he said. ‘I swear to you, I would only rob banks for my family.’

Just after sunrise?on the morning of August 9, 2012, in the Houston suburb of Katy, Scott Catt, a fifty-year-old structural engineer, was awakened by the buzzing of his alarm clock in the master bedroom of the apartment he shared with his twenty-year-old son, Hayden, and his eighteen-year-old daughter, Abby. The apartment was in Nottingham Place, a pleasant, family-oriented complex that featured a resort-size swimming pool and a large fitness center.

Scott took a shower, dried off, and ran a brush through his closely cropped, graying hair. He put on a T-shirt, a pair of blue jeans, and some work boots and walked into the living room, where Abby and Hayden were waiting for him on the couch. Hayden was also wearing a T-shirt and jeans, along with some slip-on tennis shoes. His short dark hair was brushed forward, splayed over his forehead. Abby, whose highlighted blond hair fell to her shoulders, was wearing a blouse, black yoga pants, and flip-flops.

?Okay, kids,? Scott said. ?You ready??

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Crime Scene. A surveillance camera captured Peggy Jo Tallus, wearing men's clothes and a fake beard, during a robbery in 1992.

Crime Scene. A surveillance camera captured Peggy Jo Tallas, wearing men’s clothes and a fake beard, during a robbery in 1992.

Cowboy Bob?s Last Ride

?The Unlikely Bank Robber was Called ‘Grandmotherly’ and ‘A Kind Lady?…?

He wore a Western hat, never spoke a word, and robbed bank after bank. When the feds finally arrested him, they discovered that their suspect was actually a soft-spoken woman. They thought they?d never hear from her again? but she had other plans.

The story of Peggy Jo Tallas, by most accounts a kind-hearted woman who took care of her ailing mother and also had a successful and wild ride as a bank robber.

But Peggy Jo didn’t just rob a bank, According to the FBI, she was one of the most unusual bank robbers of her generation, a modern-day Bonnie without a Clyde who always worked alone…. She was also a master of disguise, her cross-dressing outfits so carefully designed that law enforcement officials, studying bank surveillance tapes, had no idea they were chasing a woman.

She was wild in her younger days, always looking to escape the humdrum for adventure. But as she matured, she had seemed to settle down. Never married, she lived with and cared daily for her ailing mother. No one would have suspected she would be the one to disguise herself as a man, rob lots of banks, and go to jail. Nor would they suspect she?d continue to rob them in her old age.

Outlaws and desperadoes have been giving lawmen headaches as long as there?re been banks to stick-up. There was ?Butch and Sundance,? ?Bonnie and Clyde,? and ?Pretty Boy? Floyd to name just a few.

But it was Cowboy Bob who bedeviled a onetime Texas FBI agent.?Bank robbers aren?t keen on having their pictures taken and Cowboy Bob wasn?t showing the bank security cameras much more than a 10 gallon hat, oversized shades, a mustache, and a Santa-length beard.

In the early ?90s he started knocking off one suburban Dallas bank after another. FBI man Steve Powell and his bank robbery unit saddled-up after the cool-as-can be bandit they dubbed Cowboy Bob.

Cowboy Bob?s M.O. rarely changed. Stroll in, slip the teller a note signaling this was a hold-up?no alarms, no tricks. Then without a word spoken, he?d calmly walk out with the stolen cash.

One time, Cowboy Bob even showed a little flair that might have tickled Butch Cassidy himself.?Every time, Cowboy Bob made a clean escape in a burnt orange Pontiac Grand Prix.? The license plate? always stolen? changed on every hold-up.

From May of ?91 to May of ?92 the 10-gallon bandit, described as a white male, about 5?10?, mid-40?s robbed four banks in the greater Dallas area.? He seemed to be grabbing money at will.

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Brianna

Forever Young

Electra, Texas?1985

She was a pretty girl, thin, with a spray of pale freckles across her face and light brown hair that curled just above her shoulders. The librarian at the high school called her ?a quiet-type person,? the kind of student who yes-ma?amed and no-ma?amed her teachers. She played on the tennis team, practicing with an old wooden racket on a crack-lined court behind the school. In the afternoons she waitressed at the Whistle Stop, the local drive-in hamburger restaurant, jumping up on the running boards of the pickup trucks so she could hear better when the drivers placed their orders.

Her name was Treva Throneberry, and just about everybody in that two-stoplight North Texas oil town knew her by sight. She was never unhappy, people said. She never complained. She always greeted her customers with a shy smile, even when she had to walk out to their cars on winter days when the northers came whipping off the plains, swirling ribbons of dust down the street. During her breaks, she?d sit at a back table and read from her red Bible that zipped open and shut.

There were times, the townspeople would later say, when they did wonder about the girl. No one had actually seen her do anything that could be defined, really, as crazy. But people noticed that she would occasionally get a vacant look in her blue eyes. One day at school she drew a picture of a young girl standing under a leafless tree, her face blue, the sun black. One Sunday at the Pentecostal church she stumbled to the front altar, fell to her knees, and began telling Jesus that she didn?t deserve to live. And then there was that day when Treva?s young niece J?Lisha, who was staying at the Throneberry home, told people that Treva had shaken her awake the previous night and whispered that a man was outside their room with a gun?which turned out to be not true at all.

But surely, everyone in town said, all teenage girls go through phases. They get overly emotional every now and then. Treva was going to turn out just fine. She didn?t even drink or smoke cigarettes like some of the other girls in town.

Then, that December, just as the Electra High School Tigers were headed toward their first state football championship and the town was feeling a rare surge of pride, Treva, who was sixteen years old, stopped working at the Whistle Stop. She stopped coming to school. ?She disappeared,? a former classmate said. ?And nobody knew where she went.?

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