Monday, August 22, 2016

Sacco & Vanzetti were Executed (August 23, 1927)

This week (August 22-28) in crime history – Irish revolutionary Michael Collins was assassinated (August 22, 1922); The Barker gang killed a Federal Reserve officer in Chicago (August 22, 1933); Sacco and Vanzetti were executed (August 23, 1927); Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik was sentenced (August 24, 2012); Old west outlaw Bill Doolin was killed (August 25, 1896); Preppy murderer Robert Chambers killed Jennifer Levin in Central Park (August 26, 1986); NFL star Michael Vick pleaded guilty to dog fighting (August 27, 2007); Lord Mountbatten was assassinated (August 27, 1979); Danny Rolling murdered two coeds at the University of Florida (August 28, 1990)

Highlighted crime story of the week -


On August 23, 1927, despite worldwide demonstrations in support of their innocence, Italian-born anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed for murder. On April 15, 1920, a paymaster for a shoe company in South Braintree, Massachusetts, was shot and killed along with his guard. The murderers, who were described as two Italian men, escaped with more than $15,000. After going to a garage to claim a car that police said was connected with the crime, Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested and charged with the crime. Although both men carried guns and made false statements upon their arrest, neither had a previous criminal record. On July 14, 1921, they were convicted and sentenced to die.

Anti-radical sentiment was running high in America at the time, and the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti was regarded by many as unlawfully sensational. Authorities had failed to come up with any evidence of the stolen money, and much of the other evidence against them was later discredited. During the next few years, sporadic protests were held in Massachusetts and around the world calling for their release, especially after Celestino Madeiros, then under a sentence for murder, confessed in 1925 that he had participated in the crime with the Joe Morelli gang. The state Supreme Court refused to overturn the verdict, and Massachusetts Governor Alvan T. Fuller denied the men clemency. In the days leading up to the execution, protests were held in cities around the world, and bombs were set off in New York City and Philadelphia.

In 1961, a test of Sacco’s gun using modern forensic techniques apparently proved it was his gun that killed the guard, though little evidence has been found to substantiate Vanzetti’s guilt. In 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation vindicating Sacco and Vanzetti, stating that they had been treated unjustly and that no stigma should be associated with their names.

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. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:


Monday, August 8, 2016

Carol Bundy Confessed Role in the Sunset Slayer Murders (August 11, 1980)

This week (August 8-14) in crime history – Six German saboteurs were executed in Washington (August 8, 1942); Sharon Tate and four others were murdered by Charles Manson’s followers (August 9, 1969); The severed head of Adam Walsh was found in Florida (August 10, 1981); Son of Sam was arrested (August 10, 1977); Carol Bundy confessed role in Sunset Slayer murders (August 11, 1980); Jonesboro school shooters pleaded guilty (August 11, 1998); Yosemite Slayer, Cary Stayner was born (August 13, 1961); Terrorist, Carlos the Jackal was captured (August 14, 1994)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -


On August 11, 1980, Carol Bundy, a nurse, confessed to co-workers her connection to the “Sunset Slayer,” the killer who had been murdering and mutilating young women in Hollywood, California, all summer. “I can’t take it anymore. I’m supposed to save lives, not take them,” she reportedly said. Her confession was relayed to police, who immediately arrested Douglas Clark, Bundy’s accomplice and boyfriend.

Bundy and Clark met in a North Hollywood bar in January. Clark was a self-described “king of the one-night stands.” But when he met Bundy, he soon discovered that she was willing to assist and indulge in his sick fantasies.

In June, Clark abducted two teenagers, sexually assaulted them, and then shot them in the head. He dumped their bodies off the freeway and then went home to brag about it to Bundy. Two weeks later, Clark struck again, killing two young women in separate incidents. In the second attack, Clark cut the head off the woman and took it home, insisting that Bundy apply cosmetics to it. Because most of his victims had been abducted from the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, the press had taken to calling the serial killer the “Sunset Slayer.”

Clark proved to be more of an influence than Bundy expected. When she blabbed about Clark’s activities to a former boyfriend, she felt compelled to kill the man to make sure that she wasn’t implicated. On August 5, Bundy stabbed John Murray to death and then cut off his head. Within a week, she was tearfully confessing to her fellow nurses. During his trial in 1981, Clark tried to pin all of the murders on Bundy, but the jurors found his story hard to believe and sentenced him to death. Bundy attempted an insanity defense, but she eventually pleaded guilty and received a sentence of 52 years-to-life.

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 books that includes In the Company of Evil Thirty Years of California Crime 1950-1980. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchase from Amazon through the following link:


Monday, July 25, 2016

Centennial Olympic Park Bombing (July 27, 1996)

This week (July 25-31) in crime history – Notorious California bandit Joaquin Murrieta was killed (July 25, 1853); Serial killer Ed Gein died (July 26, 1984); Adam Walsh was abducted (July 27, 1981); Centennial Olympic Park bombing (July 27, 1996); Son of Sam serial killer claimed first victims (July 29, 1976); Megan Kanka’s killer was charged with murder (July 30, 1994); Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa disappeared (July 31, 1975)

Highlighted crime story of the week -


On July 27, 1996, the XXVI Summer Olympics in Atlanta were disrupted by the explosion of a nail-laden pipe bomb in Centennial Olympic Park. The bombing, which occurred during a free concert, killed a mother who had brought her daughter to hear the rock music and injured more than 100 others, including a Turkish cameraman who suffered a fatal heart attack after the blast. Police were warned of the bombing in advance, but the bomb exploded before the anonymous caller said it would, leading authorities to suspect that the law enforcement officers who descended on the park were indirectly targeted. Within a few days, Richard Jewell, a security guard at the concert, was charged with the crime, but in October he was fully cleared of all responsibility in the bombing.

On January 16, 1997, another bomb exploded outside an abortion clinic in suburban Atlanta, blowing a hole in the building’s wall. An hour later, while police and ambulance workers were still at the scene, a second blast went off near a large trash bin, injuring seven people. As at Centennial Park, a nail-laden bomb was used and authorities were targeted. Then, only five days later, also in Atlanta, a nail-laden bomb exploded near the patio area of a crowded gay and lesbian nightclub, injuring five people. A second bomb in a backpack was found outside after the first explosion, but police safely detonated it. Federal investigators linked the bombings, but no suspect was arrested.

On January 29, 1998, an abortion clinic was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama, killing an off-duty police officer and critically wounding a nurse. An automobile reported at the crime scene was later found abandoned near the Georgia state line, and investigators traced it to Eric Robert Rudolph, a 31-year-old carpenter. Although Rudolph was not immediately found, authorities positively identified him as the culprit in the Birmingham and Atlanta bombings, and an extensive manhunt began.

Despite being one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives, Rudolph eluded the authorities for five years by hiding in the mountains in western North Carolina before finally being captured on May 31, 2003. As part of a plea agreement that helped him avoid a death sentence, Rudolph plead guilty to all three bombings, as well as the 1998 murder of a police officer, and was sentenced on July 18, 2005 to four consecutive life terms.

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. Visit Michael’s website at www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:

Monday, July 18, 2016

Review of The Hemingway Thief by Shaun Harris



In early December 1922, Ernest Hemingway was in Switzerland on assignment as a correspondent for the Toronto Daily Star, covering the Lausanne Peace Conference. The journalist and editor Lincoln Steffens was also there. Apparently, Steffens was impressed with Hemingway’s writing and asked to see more.

Hemingway cabled his wife, Hadley in Paris and asked her to bring all of his writings to Switzerland. She quickly packed all of his fiction and poetry, including carbon copies that she could find and hurried off to Gare de Lyon train station. At the station, she got a porter to carry her luggage to the train compartment. During the very brief period when the bags were out of sight, the valise with the manuscripts was stolen. 

So what did the thief do with the valise once he realized it only contained the scribblings of an unknown writer? Did he throw it into the Seine? Burn them? Hide them away in an attic? Or is there a more provocative and unforeseen twist? Of course, this is one of literatures great mysteries, these lost manuscripts of one of America’s greatest authors that today would be worth more than their weight in gold.

But what if they did survive? Shaun Harris tackles this literary “what if” in his debut novel The Hemingway Thief.

Henry “Coop” Cooper is a successful but discontented romance novelist who is questioning the trajectory of his career. He yearns to become a serious writer and is in need of a jumpstart that will propel his literary credibility.

To clear his mind he’s taken refuge at a low budget beach resort in Baja, Mexico, where he befriends the motel’s eccentric owner, Grady Doyle. The duo soon become entangled in a deadly escapade involving the theft of Ernest Hemingway’s original manuscript to A Moveable Feast, a rare piece of literary history that reveals provocative and unpublished clues to the possible location of a suitcase which contains a treasure trove of the author’s early unpublished works that were stolen in 1922.

In this suspense filled and surprisingly humorous novel of cat and mouse, Coop and company trek across the cartel-laden Sierra Madre in a ramshackle RV in search of Hemingway’s fabled suitcase, finding themselves out of their element at every turn. For Coop this experience could become the storyline of a book of a lifetime . . . that is if he can live long enough to write it. 

On a whole the plot construction of this south-of-the-border historical themed thriller was a little silly and occasionally confusing, although it most certainly was not predictable, which is always a pleasant surprise with a debut novel.

The story is filled with stereotypical crime thriller type characters, which is not a bad thing. The overall tone of sarcasm of the good guy protagonists Coop, Grady, and their cohorts (who are always ready with a witty wisecrack), reveal them to be more smart alecky than tough guys was a little bit over the top. Many readers will find the bloodthirstiness of antagonist, Newton Thandy, a conman, gunrunner, and rare book collector to be particularly unique and entertaining given that these “vocations” normally don’t coexist. 

On a whole the narrative moves swiftly along and is filled with numerous comical and poignant pop culture references. The premise of the book is quite exceptional, a blend of literary history and suspense, mixed with a pinch of comedy, buddy adventure, and crime thriller. Overall, The Hemingway Thief is a quick and worthwhile read for anyone interested in an amusing crime thriller or anything relating to Ernest Hemingway. 

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Seventh Street Books (July 19, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 163388175X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1633881754


  • Michael Thomas Barry's most recent book is In the Company of Evil: Thirty Years of California Crime, 1950–1980. He is the author of six other nonfiction books and is a columnist for CrimeMagazine.com.

    Click on the link to buy the book from Amazon:

    New York Journal of Books website and full review - click the link:

    Monday, June 27, 2016

    U.S. Supreme Court Struck Down the Death Penalty (June 29, 1972)

    This week (June 27-July 3) in crime history – Mormon leader Joseph Smith was murdered by angry mob (June 27, 1844); Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated (June 28, 1914); US Supreme Court struck down the death penalty (June 29, 1972); NBA star Kobe Bryant was accused of rape in Colorado (July 1, 2003); President James A. Garfield was shot (July 2, 1881)

    Highlighted crime story of the week -


    On June 29, 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled by a vote of 5-4 vote in the Furman v. Georgia case, that capital punishment, as it is currently employed on the state and federal level, is unconstitutional. The majority held that, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, the death penalty qualified as “cruel and unusual punishment,” primarily because states employed execution in “arbitrary and capricious ways,” especially in regard to race. It was the first time that the nation’s highest court had ruled against capital punishment. However, because the Supreme Court suggested new legislation that could make death sentences constitutional again, such as the development of standardized guidelines for juries that decide sentences, it was not an outright victory for opponents of the death penalty.

    In 1976, with 66 percent of Americans still supporting capital punishment, the Supreme Court acknowledged progress made in jury guidelines and reinstated the death penalty under a “model of guided discretion.” In 1977, Gary Gilmore, a career criminal who had murdered an elderly couple because they would not lend him their car, was the first person to be executed since the end of the ban. Defiantly facing a firing squad in Utah, Gilmore’s last words to his executioners before they shot him through the heart were, “Let’s do it.”

    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. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:


    Monday, June 20, 2016

    Serial Killer Melvin Rees Claimed his First Victim (June 26, 1957)

    This week (June 20-26) in crime history – Mobster Bugsy Siegel was gunned down in Los Angeles (June 20, 1947); Would-be assassin John Hinckley, Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity (June 21, 1982); Mobster Whitey Bulger was arrested in Los Angeles (June 22, 2011); Mob boss John Gotti was sentenced to life in prison for racketeering and murder (June 23, 1992); The Unabomber send bomb to Yale professor (June 24, 1993); Serial Killer Melvin Rees claimed first victim (June 26, 1957)

    Highlighted crime story of the week -

    On June 26, 1957, Margaret Harold was shot and killed while out for a drive with her boyfriend near Annapolis, Maryland. Her killer swerved in front of the couple’s car, approached with a .38 revolver, and shot Harold in the side of the face, while her boyfriend managed to escape. Investigating police found an abandoned building nearby, filled with pornographic pictures, but its full significance would not be revealed until nearly two years later.
    Early in 1959, the Jackson family was driving along a dirt road in Virginia, returning home, when they were forced to stop and abducted at gunpoint. Two months later, two men came across the bodies of Carroll Jackson and his one year-old daughter Janet, dumped in a remote area of Fredericksburg, Virginia. A short time later, Mildred Jackson and her five-year-old daughter Susan were found buried in a shallow grave, just outside the abandoned building that police had discovered when investigating Harold’s murder.
    Mildred had been brutally raped in the same room where the pornographic pictures had been found two years earlier. Since investigators were reasonably certain that the same killer had committed the murders, the media jumped on the story. Tips began to pour in, and although most of them were worthless, one pointed authorities towards Melvin Rees.
    Rees was eventually found in West Memphis, working as a piano salesman. Margaret Harold’s boyfriend picked him out of a lineup and a search of his home turned up a .38 pistol. The most damning evidence, however, was a note paper clipped to a newspaper article about Mildred Jackson in which Rees described his horrific crimes in detail.
    Detectives found evidence that linked Rees to the slayings of four other young women in the Maryland area as well. Rees was tried in February 1961 for the murder of Margaret Harold and in September 1961 for the murders of the Jackson family. He was convicted of both and sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1972, and he died in prison from heart failure in 1995.
    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. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:

    https://www.amazon.com/Company-Thirty-Years-California-1950-1980/dp/076435003X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466440572&sr=8-1&keywords=michael+thomas+barry

    Monday, June 6, 2016

    Notorious Hollywood Madame, Heidi Fleiss was Arrested (June 9, 1993)

    This week (June 6-12) in crime history – Civil rights activist, James H. Meredith was shot to death (June 6, 1966); Kennedy cousin, Michael Skakel was convicted on murder (June 7, 2002); James Earl Ray was arrested in London (June 8, 1968); Heidi Fleiss, the notorious Hollywood Madame was arrested (June 9, 1993); Bridget Bishop, the first defendant in the Salem Witch Trials was executed (June 10, 1692); Mobster henry Hill was born (June 11, 1943); Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were murdered in Brentwood (June 12, 1994)

    Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -

    On June 9, 1993, madam-to-the-stars Heidi Fleiss was arrested as part of a sting operation run by the Los Angeles Police and Beverly Hills Police Departments and the U.S. Justice Department. In the 1980s, Fleiss’ then-boyfriend introduced her to the leading Beverly Hills madam Alex Adams, who, according to Fleiss, taught her the tricks of the trade. Before long, Fleiss started a competing business, and when Adams was arrested in 1988, Fleiss took her spot as the leading provider of expensive prostitutes in Hollywood. As her business grew, she enjoyed the perks of celebrity, even as her rising profile attracted the attention of local authorities. On June 9, after she sent four of her employees (along with a quantity of cocaine) to fulfill an arrangement made with three “clients” (actually undercover agents), the 27-year-old Fleiss was arrested and charged with pandering, pimping and narcotics possession.
    Fleiss’ trial, during which she refused to name any of her agency’s high-profile clients (though testimony did reveal at least one of them, actor Charlie Sheen), was the talk of Hollywood. She pleaded not guilty to all the charges, and her lawyers argued that the authorities had entrapped her. In December 1994, a California grand jury found Fleiss guilty on three of five pandering counts and not guilty on the narcotics charge; she was sentenced her to three years in prison and ordered to pay a $1,500 fine. Fleiss also went on trial before a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy, money laundering and tax evasion. She was convicted in August 1995 on eight of the 14 counts and sentenced to 37 months in prison.
    All told, Fleiss served three years in prison, and was released in the fall of 1999. She later began a two-year relationship with the actor Tom Sizemore, star of films such as Heat, Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down. In 2003, Fleiss filed charges against Sizemore for violent abuse; he was convicted that August on six of 16 counts, including abuse, threat, harassment and vandalism. His initial sentence of six months in jail was eventually reduced to 90 days, plus mandatory drug rehab and domestic-violence and anger-management counseling. Fleiss, who has also struggled with drug abuse, has attempted to profit from her infamy by authoring several non-fiction books and in early 2008, Fleiss opened a Laundromat called Dirty Laundry in Pahrump, Nevada; she also announced plans to open a brothel catering to female customers.
    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 non-fiction books that includes In the Company of Evil Thirty Years of California Crime, 1950-1980. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: