Murder

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Mary Vincent walks her two dogs, Danny, left, and Mikey. Mary, in agonizing pain, bleeding profusely, did not die. She slowly made it to the road where a stranger rushed her to the hospital.

The Amazing Survival Story of Mary Vincent

 WARNING: This post contains details of violence and sexual assault

Lawrence Singleton was a monster. Anyone who kills an innocent human being in cold blood is a monster. Anyone who rapes another human being is a monster. And that was just where Lawrence Singleton’s crimes began. He earned the nickname The Mad Chopper for the worst possible reason. He wasn’t your ordinary cruel, sadistic maniac. He truly was a monster, with a resentment and hatred of humanity that makes someone like Ted Bundy look compassionate. Be glad Lawrence Singleton is no longer on this Earth — he was the closest thing to evil incarnate imaginable.

In 1998, a woman raised one of her metal prosthetic hands in court and pointed at Lawrence Singleton, who raped and mutilated her in California when she was a runaway teenager.

Singleton, then 70, showed no emotion during Mary Vincent’s 10 minutes of testimony as the only prosecution witness in the penalty phase of his trial for murdering a prostitute in Tampa.

“I was raped and I had my hands cut off,” Vincent said quietly of the 1978 attack, when she was 15. “He used a hatchet. He left me to die.”

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Marguerite Alibert. Marguerite began to make a living by seducing and courting wealthy men, and it was paying off well. She was receiving many valuable trinkets and gifts – along with a settlement from Andre Meller – but wanted more.

Murder at The Savoy Hotel

Marguerite Alibert’s story is one of gritty survival followed by a lucrative life of prostitution. She pulled herself up from a world of poverty to mingle among France’s elite, and accomplished her goal of turning affairs into large sums of money. She is commonly remembered as Maggie Meller, a surname she took from the man she claimed was her husband at 17.

In 1907, Marguerite met a man named Andre Meller. She was 17, he was 40. He was wealthy, and owned a stable full of horses – since Marguerite loved horses, that may very well have played a part in their romance. He bought her an apartment so they could conduct their relationship in private, and she took his last name. She claimed that they were married, but in reality Andre was still technically married to his first wife. Her lack of faithfulness ended the relationship in 1913. It was only one of four different surnames she would use throughout her exotic and exciting life.

She saw love not from a romantic’s point of view, but as a way to survive and thrive. Maggie Meller was even one of Prince Edward VIII’s mistresses, and went on to marry an Egyptian Prince. However, that monumental moment is where her story takes a murderous turn. Marguerite would go down in infamy as the princess who got away with murder.

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Lyle Menendez, right, is seen here as a young man in this undated family photo. When asked why she has chosen to speak out for the first time in support of her cousins, Diane Vander Molen said she wanted to defend them against the trial’s prosecutor’s claims that there had been no sexual abuse in the family. “I know for 100 percent that there was,” Vander Molen said. “Their privacy was everything to them. They were completely different people when nobody was around. And then Jose and Kitty would turn on the charm when they had people over, which wasn’t very often.”

The Dysfunctional Menendez Family

Nightmare on Elm Drive

If you thought you hated your parents. The crimes committed by Lyle and Erik Menendez in 1989 took teenage angst to terrifying levels when they shot and killed their mother and father, in one of the most brutal, high-profile crimes in American history. The Menendez brothers’ homicides at a well-to-do Beverly Hills mansion rattled American people and thrust the uncomfortable topic of sexual abuse into the national spotlight. Now serving life in prison, the brothers will never see each other or the free world again.

On August 20th, 1989, Joseph Lyle Menendez, 21, and his brother, Erik, 18, shot their parents Jose and Mary Louise “Kitty” Menendez multiple times with shotguns in the den of their $5 million Spanish-style Beverly Hills mansion. Jose was shot point-blank in the head as the couple lazed in front of the TV with ice cream and strawberries, and Kitty, after attempting to flee, was shot multiple times – to the point that she no longer resembled a person.

The Menendez Brothers case received an unprecedented amount of attention through Court TV coverage of the initial trials and as a result, many became fascinated by the story. Nearly 30 years after the murders, the Menendez brothers remain an intriguing fixture in true crime history because questions still remain. In particular, what made them do it?

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Phil Spector. Spector was known for his elaborate hairstyles and had worn wigs during his 2009 trial, the second for the case. His first trial, which took place in 2007, ended in a mistrial when the jury was deadlocked.

Mad Bad and Sad

Phil Spector

On 3 February 2003, a month before Phil Spector first met his third wife Rachelle, Lana Clarkson, a B-movie actress whom Spector apparently met in a Hollywood nightclub and taken home for drinks, was shot in the face in the Castle’s hallway. She died immediately.

The murder of Lana and the consequent trial of Phil Spector, the 60s rock ‘n’ roll genius who produced his first hit when he was 18, was the best show in Los Angeles at the time and the trial was the major topic of conversation out there.

“A few years earlier everyone in the country was gripped by the televised O. J. Simpson double-murder trial, and Phil Spector was no exception.

I was covering it for Vanity Fair and I was on TV constantly, on Larry King’s and Geraldo Rivera’s shows, talking about what had happened that day in court. As I remember it, Phil asked Ahmet Ertegun, the late rock ‘n’ roll impresario to arrange a meeting so we could talk about O.J. Phil was utterly riveted by the case. He knew every detail of the story and trial. We had three dinners together. I remember him as brilliant, fascinating to talk to, and sometimes scary. It was a well-known fact at that time that he had pulled guns on people; there were many stories to that effect. I personally knew two of the women who claimed they had been held prisoner in his house for several days. He carried a gun when we saw each other, but he never pulled it on me.”

-Dominick Dunne murder-trial correspondent for Vanity Fair

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While working at Cambridge Hospital as a nurse trainee, Jane Toppan impressed her co-workers with her friendly demeanour and cheerful disposition. This caused them to nickname her “Jolly Jane.” However, behind the scenes, Toppan enjoyed torturing her patients by switching their medications to opioids and experimented on them with morphine and atropine.

The Angel of Death

Some Nurses Shouldn’t be Trusted… The Stout Brunnet was no Florence Nightingale.

Female serial killers are relatively rare, but often more fascinating than male killers. Jane Toppan, known as an Angel of Death, is one of those killers.The conviction and confession of  trained nurse, Jane Toppan, in Massachusetts, adds another to the notable cases of human crime. In fact, it stands alone in some respects; there is no closely parallel case. This woman, who seems to have had the confidence of both physicians and patients during her career, enumerates thirty-one individuals whom she has poisoned while under her professional care, and mentions still others in whom her attempt was unsuccessful. That this woman should have passed for a model nurse, showing most, if not all, the good qualities of such a functionary, apparently loyal and reliable, and kind and attentive to those whose murder she was plotting, seems incomprehensible, but it is psychologically possible, as everyone with extended experience with morbid mentality can testify. Homicidal impulses can exist with the most perfect apparent amiability, though this case is unique in some of its features.

Jolly Jane Toppan was never going to have a perfect life. Surrendered to a Boston orphanage and hired out to a foster family by the age of six, she was doomed to, at best, a life of servitude. But no one could have anticipated the dark places her life would lead.

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Joseph Michael Swango (born October 21, 1954) is an American serial killer and former licensed physician. It is estimated that Swango has been involved in as many as 60 fatal poisonings of patients and colleagues, though he only admitted to causing three deaths.

A License to Kill

Doctor “Double-O Swango”

Joseph Michael Swango is a serial killer who, as a trusted doctor, had easy access to his victims. Authorities believe he murdered up to 60 people and poisoned countless others, including co-workers, friends, and his wife.

Though American doctor Michael Swango appeared to be handsome and congenial in nature, signs of his inner mental instability were noticeable to colleagues even while he was attending medical school. Swango’s classmates observed that he often worked on a scrapbook containing images of horrific, bloody disasters, and they worried that some of the basic anatomical knowledge expected from a physician was sorely lacking. However, no one knew how scary Swango really was until they discovered years later that he had killed between thirty and sixty of his patients.
As an intern in 1983, Swango’s patients started quietly dying after he had been in the room with him. Though nurses alerted hospital officials at Ohio State University, their cursory investigations revealed nothing, and Swango continued to practice medicine without reproach. He moved to Illinois, taking a job as an ambulance driver because he admitted that he liked seeing the blood and gore of accidents. It was there that his co-workers again became suspicious of him. Swango began slowly poisoning his co-workers with ant poison, sending them home sick with terrible stomach pains. After a particularly bad episode involving a tainted batch of doughnuts, his co-workers set a trap for Swango by leaving him alone in a room with a pitcher of iced tea. They later had the tea tested in a lab and found that Swango had indeed put ant poison in the tea.

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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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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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Sick Telephone Games

 “To me, she exemplified the word, give. She’d just give and give and give; no matter what it cost her … she spent her last hours giving and being concerned about others.”  

– Dorothy’s Brother Jim

“Ok,” the voice warned, “now you’re going to come my way, and when I get you alone, I will cut you up into bits so no one will ever find you.”

For months, Dorothy Jane Scott had been receiving phone calls at her workplace from the same mysterious caller. The voice sounded vaguely familiar, but she just couldn’t place it. Sometimes he expressed fawning adoration, and other times, resentment and violence. He let her know that he was trailing her wherever she went, and he described details of her daily activities to prove it. This volatile, unseen stalker so alarmed her that she took up karate and considered buying a handgun.

She was employed as a secretary for Swingers Psych Shop, in Anaheim, which was conveniently attached to Custom John’s Head Shop. Swingers and Custom John’s were jointly owned services of the area’s vestigial hippie culture, so one could pick up a “waterpipe” at the latter and then go soak in the groovy posters in the former’s blacklight room.
Dorothy worked in a back room office and led a life far less colourful than the tie-dye shirts and multicoloured bongs sold at the other end of the store. “As dull as a phone book,” one friend described it. She almost never left the house for recreation. She was religious. She rarely dated, if ever, and worked from morning till night, leaving her son Shawn in the care of her parents during business hours. She was a dependable worker, and by all accounts, a kind-hearted and compassionate person.

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In 1919, a song called The Mysterious Axman’s Jazz (Don’t Scare Me Papa) was written by Joseph John Davilla. Gumbo Ya-Ya: A Collection Of Louisiana Folk Tales, a book with a chapter about the Axe-Man, was released in 1945.

The Axeman of New Orleans

 Legend has it that residents tried using jazz to appease the serial killer, but not before he claimed the lives of local Italian grocers

Who’ll be next?” is the question being asked by

detectives and Italians of New Orleans.

— The Times-Picayune

It was the night of March 19, 1919, and Jazz played in New Orleans.

Music poured out of private residences, where wealthy white New Orleanians hired bands to play music popularised in a mixed race Red Light District. Nightclubs and bars were packed to the point of overflow. In a city known for its lively atmosphere, this may have been one of the most gig-heavy nights in history.

Yet the musicians weren’t playing for love or money. These concerts were born of fear, ordered by an axe-wielding maniac who claimed to have come straight from Hell. The Axeman had declared that he would murder anyone in New Orleans who was not listening to live jazz music on a particular night.

History is littered with mysterious assailants who appear from the dark shadows and terrorise the community, only to disappear almost as fast as they came. However, a case in New Orleans in 1918 leaves no doubt that a madman was on the loose. An assailant only known as the Axeman cut a swath through the Italian community of New Orleans, leaving fear and death in his wake. There is no doubt that the Axeman was a real figure and not an artefact created from common belief. Even so, his identity and motivations remain a mystery until this day.

The Axeman dispatched his victims with an axe and sent taunting letters to the press (a technique pioneered by the original evasive serial killer, Jack the Ripper).

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