Monday, February 8, 2016

Actor Sal Mineo was Murdered (February 12, 1976)

This week (February 8-14) in crime history – Nevada carried out first execution by lethal gas (February 8, 1924); Adolph Coors, heir to the Coors Brewery fortune was kidnapped (February 9, 1960); Former Boxing champ Mike Tyson was convicted of rape )February 10, 1992); Former Yugoslavia President Slobodan Milosevic’s war crimes trial began (February 12, 2002); Actor Sal Mineo was murdered (February 12, 1976); Serial killer Tom Luther began raped and beat hi first victim (February 13, 1982); The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (February 14, 1929)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -



On February 12, 1976, actor Sal Mineo was stabbed to death in Hollywood, California. Mineo was walking behind his apartment when neighbors heard his screams for help. Some described a white man with brown hair fleeing the scene. Mineo was a famous teen actor in the 1950s. He co-starred with James Dean in both Rebel without a Cause and Giant. The transition to adult roles did not come easily for Mineo, but he later appeared in small roles in such films as The Longest Day and Escape from the Planet of the Apes, and consistently performed guest spots on television series. On the night he was killed, Mineo was returning from rehearsing for a play.

For two years, the police searched in vain for clues to the killer’s identity. At first, they suspected that Mineo’s work for prison reform had put him in contact with dangerous felons. Then their focus shifted to Mineo’s personal life. Investigators had discovered that his home was filled with pictures of nude men but the homosexual pornography also failed to turn up any leads.

Then, out of the blue, Michigan authorities reported that Lionel Williams, arrested on bad check charges, was bragging to cellmates that he had killed Mineo. Although he later retracted his stories, at about the same time, Williams’ wife in Los Angeles told police that he had come home the night of the murder drenched in blood. However, there was one major discrepancy, Williams was black with an Afro and all of the eyewitnesses had described the perpetrator as a white man with long brown hair.

Fortunately, the police were able to unearth an old photo of Williams in which his hair had been dyed brown and processed so that it was straight and long. In addition, the medical examiner had made a cast of Mineo’s knife wound and police were able to match it to the description of the knife provided by Williams’ wife. Lionel Williams was convicted of murdering Mineo and sentenced to life in prison.

Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of seven nonfiction books that includes the soon to be released In the Company of Evil Thirty Years of California Crime 1950-1980 and the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:





Monday, February 1, 2016

Heiress Patty Hearst was Kidnapped (February 4, 1974)

This week (February 1 – 7) in crime history – Serial killer Ted Bundy claimed his second victim (February 1, 1974); King Carlos I of Portugal was assassinated (February 1, 1908); Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor was found shot to death (February 2, 1922); Barnett Davenport committed mass murder in Connecticut (February 3, 1780); Old West outlaw Belle Star was murdered (February 3, 1889); Heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped (February 4, 1974); Byron de la Beckwith was convicted in the murder of Medger Evers (February 5, 1974); Mary Kay Letourneau was sent back to prison for parole violations (February 6, 1998); French writer Emile Zola was brought to trial for libel (February 7, 1898)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -
On February 4, 1974, 19 year-old Patty Hearst, the granddaughter of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped from her apartment in Berkeley, California. Her boyfriend, Stephen Weed, was beaten and tied up along with a neighbor who tried to help. Witnesses reported seeing a struggling Hearst being carried away blindfolded, and she was put in the trunk of a car. Neighbors who came out into the street were forced to take cover after the kidnappers fired their guns to cover their escape.
Three days later, the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a small U.S. leftist group, announced in a letter to a Berkeley radio station that it was holding Hearst as a “prisoner of war.” Four days later, the SLA demanded that the Hearst family give $70 in foodstuffs to every needy person from Santa Rosa to Los Angeles. This done, said the SLA, negotiation would begin for the return of Hearst. Patty’s father, Randolph Hearst hesitantly gave away some $2 million worth of food. The SLA then called this inadequate and asked for $6 million more. The Hearst Corporation said it would donate the additional sum if the girl was released unharmed.
In April, however, the situation changed dramatically when a surveillance camera took a photo of Hearst participating in an armed robbery of a San Francisco bank, and she was also spotted during a robbery of a Los Angeles store. She later declared, in a tape sent to the authorities, that she had joined the SLA of her own free will.
On May 17, Los Angeles police raided the SLA’s secret headquarters, killing six of the group’s nine known members. Among the dead was the SLA’s leader, Donald DeFreeze, an African American ex-convict who called himself General Field Marshal Cinque. Patty Hearst and two other SLA members wanted for the April bank robbery were not on the premises.
Finally, on September 18, 1975, after crisscrossing the country for more than a year, Hearst, or “Tania” as she called herself, was captured in a San Francisco apartment and arrested for armed robbery. Despite her claim that she had been brainwashed by the SLA, she was convicted on March 20, 1976, and sentenced to seven years in prison. She served 21 months before her sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter. After leaving prison, she returned to a more routine existence and later married her bodyguard. She was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in January 2001.
Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of seven nonfiction books that includes the soon to be released In the Company of Evil Thirty Years of California Crime, 1950-1980 and the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Vampire of Sacramento Claimed his Final Victims (January 27, 1978)

This week (January 25-31) in crime history – The BTK Killer sent message to Kansas TV station (January 25, 2005); Charles Manson and three followers were convicted of murder (January 25, 1971); The Mad Butcher of Cleveland claimed his third victim (January 26, 1936); Richard Chase, The Vampire of Sacramento claimed his final victims (January 27, 1978); Spree killers Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate murdered three victims in Nebraska (January 28, 1958); Teenager Brenda Spencer opened fire at San Diego school killing two and injuring dozens (January 29, 1979); Mohandas Gandhi was assassinated (January 30, 1948); The McMartin Preschool molestation trial began (January 31, 1990)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -

On January 27, 1978, serial killer Richard Chase, murdered his final victims Evelyn Miroth, Daniel Meredith, as well as Miroth’s 6-year-old nephew in Sacramento, California. Chase who would be nicknamed “The Vampire of Sacramento “sexually assaulted Miroth with a knife before killing her and mutilating her body. He removed some of the organs of the body and filled them with blood before taking them with him. Meredith was found shot in the head.
The previous year, the 28-year-old Chase had been found in a Nevada field, naked and covered in cow’s blood. His behavior did not come as a complete surprise to those who knew him. As a child, he had been known to kill animals. He had been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for most of his life. A year prior to the killings, Chase was released because his psychiatrist found that Chase had a handle on his problems.
Upon his arrest, several days after the triple homicide, police found that Chase’s apartment was filled with human blood that suggested he had been drinking it for some time. His other murder victims included Ambrose Griffin (December 29, 1977) and Terry Wallin (January 23, 1978). In 1979, Chase’s trial began and his defense attorney argued insanity but the jury found him to be sane and convicted him of six counts of first-degree murder and sentenced him to death in the gas chamber. On December 26, 1980, Chase killed himself in his cell at San Quentin with an over dose of prescription medications.
Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of seven nonfiction books that includes the soon to be released In the Company of Evil Thirty Years of California Crime, 1950-1980 and the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:

Monday, January 18, 2016

Alger Hiss was Convicted of Perjury (January 21, 1950)


This week (January 18-24) in crime history – Washington DC mayor Marion Barry was arrested on drug charges (January 18, 1990); Nazi Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyons was arrested in Bolivia (January 19, 1983); Notorious World War II traitor, Tokyo Rose was pardoned by President Ford (January 19, 1977); NFL Pro football player and convicted murderer Rae Carruth was born (January 20, 1974); Carl Switzer, who played Alfalfa in the “Our Gang” series was killed (January 21, 1959); Alger Hiss was convicted of perjury (January 21, 1950); Murder of Garrison, Texas police officer was filmed on dash board camera (January 23, 1991); Confession of Emmit Till’s murderers was published in Look magazine (January 24, 1956)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -
On January 21, 1950, former State Department official Alger Hiss was convicted of perjury. He was convicted of having perjured himself in regards to testimony about his alleged involvement in a Soviet spy ring before and during World War II. Hiss served nearly four years in jail, but steadfastly protested his innocence during and after his incarceration.

The case against Hiss began in 1948, when Whittaker Chambers, an admitted ex-communist and an editor with Time magazine, testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee and charged that Hiss was a communist in the 1930s and 1940s. Chambers also declared that Hiss, during his work in the Department of State during the 1930s, had passed him top secret reports.

Hiss appeared before HUAC and vehemently denied the charges, stating that he did not even know Chambers. Later, after confronting Chambers face to face, Hiss admitted that he knew him, but that Chambers had been using another name at the time. In short order, Chambers produced the famous “Pumpkin Papers,” copies of the documents he said Hiss passed him during the 1930s. They were dubbed the “Pumpkin Papers” because Chambers kept them hidden in a pumpkin in his pumpkin patch.

Charges and countercharges about the spy accusations soon filled the air. Defenders of Hiss, such as Secretary of State Dean Acheson, declared that President Truman’s opponents were making a sacrificial lamb out of Hiss. Truman himself declared that HUAC was using “red herrings” to defame Hiss. Critics fired back that Truman and Acheson were “coddling” communists, and that Hiss was only the tip of the iceberg. They claimed that communists had penetrated the highest levels of the American government.

Eventually, Hiss was brought to trial. Because the statute of limitations had run out, he was not tried for treason. Instead, he was charged with two counts of perjury, for lying about passing government documents to Chambers and for denying that he had seen Chambers since 1937. In 1949, the first trial for perjury ended in a deadlocked jury. The second trial ended in January 1950 with a guilty verdict on both counts. The case would also propel congressmen and future President Richard Nixon into the spotlight for his dogged persecution of the case.

The battle over the Hiss case continued long after the guilty verdict was handed down. Though many believed that Hiss was a much-maligned official who became a victim of the anticommunist hysteria of the late-1940s, others felt strongly that he was a lying communist agent. Until his death at the age of 92 on November 15, 1996, Hiss never deviated from his claim of innocence.

Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of seven nonfiction books that includes the soon to be released In the Company of Evil Thirty Years of California Crime, 1950-1980 and the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:

Monday, January 11, 2016

Albert Fish, the Infamous "Moon Maniac" was Executed (January 16, 1936)

This week (January 11-17) in crime history – Joran van der Sloot confessed to murder in Peru (January 11, 2012); Arthur “Doc” Barker was killed while attempting to escape Alcatraz (January 13, 1939); Old West lawman Wyatt Earp died (January 13, 1929); America’s most notorious traitor Benedict Arnold was born (January 14, 1741); Isle Koch, the infamous Witch of Buchenwald was sentenced for war crimes (January 15, 1951); Bill Cosby’s son was murdered (January 16, 1997); Albert Fish, the notorious Moon Maniac was executed (January 16, 1936); The Great Brinks Robbery (January 17, 1950); Gary Gilmore was executed (January 17, 1977)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -



On January 16, 1936, Albert Fish was executed at Sing Sing prison in New York. Dubbed the “Moon Maniac,” Fish was one of America’s most notorious serial killers. Authorities believe that Fish killed as many as 10 children and then ate their remains. Fish went to the electric chair with great anticipation, telling guards, “It will be the supreme thrill, the only one I haven’t tried.”

Fish was convicted of the 1928 murder of 10-year-old Grace Budd in Westchester County, New York. He strangled the girl and then carved up her body with a saw. Six years later, Fish wrote Budd’s mother a letter in which he described in detail killing the girl and then preparing a stew with her flesh that he ate over the next nine days. The letter was traced back to Fish.

A psychiatrist who examined Fish stated, “There was no known perversion that he did not practice and practice frequently.” Most disturbingly, Fish was obsessed with cannibalism. He carried writings about the practice in his pockets. After his arrest, Fish confessed to the murders of other young children whom he claimed to have eaten. Although nearly everyone agreed that he was insane, including the jury deciding his fate, he was nevertheless sentenced to death in the electric chair. Reportedly, his last statement was a handwritten note filled with filthy obscenities.

Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the award winning author of seven nonfiction books that includes the soon to be released In the Company of Evil Thirty Years of California Crime, 1950-1980 and the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:





Monday, January 4, 2016

Hillside Strangler - Angelo Buono was Sentenced (January 9, 1984)


This week (January 4-10) in crime history – The Boston Strangler claimed his final victim (January 4, 1964), United Mine Workers Union leader Jock Yablonski and his family were found murdered (January 5, 1970), Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked (January 6, 1994), Six-year-old Suzanne Degnan was kidnapped from her home in Chicago (January 7, 1946), Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 13 others were shot at a rally in Tucson (January 8, 2011), Hillside Strangler – Angelo Buono was sentenced to life in prison (January 9, 1984), Old West outlaw Frank James was born


Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -



On January 9, 1984, Angelo Buono, one of the Hillside Stranglers, was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the rape, torture, and murder of 10 young women in Los Angeles. Buono’s cousin and partner in crime, Kenneth Bianchi, testified against Buono to escape the death penalty.

Buono, a successful auto upholsterer, and Bianchi began their serial crime spree in 1977 when Bianchi moved from New York to live with his cousin. They started talking about how the prostitutes that Buono often brought home would hardly be missed by anyone if they disappeared. Idle speculation quickly led to action and the pair raped and strangled their first victim, Yolanda Washington, on October 17.


Within a month Buono and Bianchi had attacked three other women and developed a trademark method of operation. They picked up the women in their van, drove them back to Buono’s house where they were sexually assaulted in all manners, tortured, and strangled to death. The duo then dumped the bodies along freeways and hillsides in the Los Angeles area. Thus, they earned the nickname the “Hillside Strangler.” The press erroneously assumed that the murders were the work of one man.


Following the death of the 10th victim in February 1978, the murders suddenly stopped. Buono and Bianchi were no longer getting along, even with their common hobby. Bianchi moved to Washington and applied for a job at the Bellingham Police Department. He didn’t get the job, but became a security guard instead. However, he couldn’t keep his murderous impulses in check and killed two college students. A witness who had seen the two girls with Bianchi came forward and the case was solved.


Bianchi, who had seen the movies Sybil and The Three Faces of Eve many times, suddenly claimed to have multiple personalities. He blamed the murders on “Steve,” one of his alternate personalities. Psychiatrists examining Bianchi quickly dismissed his ruse and Bianchi then confessed to the Hillside Strangler murders, testifying against Buono to avoid the death penalty in Washington.


During his trial, Buono fiercely insisted on his innocence, pointing to the fact that there was no physical evidence tying him to the crimes. Buono’s house was so clean that investigators couldn’t even find Buono’s own fingerprints in the home. But after more than 400 witnesses testified, Buono was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Angelo Buono died from a heart attack on Sept. 21, 2002 at the age of 67. Kenneth Bianchi was denied parole in September 2005 and remains in prison in Washington state.


Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”


Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of seven nonfiction books that includes In the Company of Evil Thirty Years of California Crime, 1950-1980 and the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California. 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:






Monday, December 14, 2015

Lynette Squeaky Fromme was Sentenced for the Attempted Assassination of President Ford (December 17, 1975)

This week (December 14-20) in crime history – Mass shooting at Newtown, Connecticut elementary school (December 14, 2012); Nazi Adolf Eichmann was sentenced to death for war crimes (December 15, 1961); Federal Judge Robert Vance was killed by terrorist bomb (December 16, 1989); Lynette Squeaky Fromme was sentenced for attempting to assassinate President Ford (December 17, 1975); The Howard Beach hate crime (December 20, 1986)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -


On December 17, 1975, a federal jury in Sacramento, California, sentenced Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, to life in prison for her attempted assassination of President Gerald R. Ford. On September 5, a Secret Service agent wrestled a semi-automatic .45-caliber pistol from Fromme, who brandished the weapon at the President as he walked through the grounds of the California State Capitol in Sacramento. Fromme, was a follower of convicted murderer Charles Manson.

Seventeen days later, Ford escaped injury in another assassination attempt when 45-year-old Sara Jane Moore fired a revolver at him as he left the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Moore, a leftist radical who once served as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a history of mental illness. She was arrested at the scene, convicted, and also sentenced to life in prison.

In trial, Fromme pleaded not guilty to the “attempted assassination of a president” charge, arguing that although her gun contained bullets, it had not been cocked, and therefore she had not actually intended to shoot the president. She was convicted, sentenced to life in prison, and sent to the Alderson Federal Correctional Institution in West Virginia.

Fromme remained a dedicated disciple of Charles Manson and in December 1987 escaped from Alderson Prison after she heard that Manson, also imprisoned, had cancer. After 40 hours roaming the rugged West Virginia hills, she was caught on Christmas Day, about two miles from the prison. Five years were added to her life sentence for the escape. She was eventually released on parole in August 2009.

Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com as is the author of seven nonfiction books that includes the soon to be released In the Company of Evil Thirty Years of California Crime, 1950-1980 and the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:


http://www.amazon.com/Company-Thirty-Years-California-1950-1980/dp/076435003X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1450114401&sr=8-2&keywords=michael+thomas+barry


http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Mayhem-Shocked-California-1849-1949/dp/0764339680/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1450114401&sr=8-1&keywords=michael+thomas+barry