Monday, January 26, 2015

Vampire of Sacramento Claimed Final Victims - January 27, 1978



This week (January 26-February 1) in crime history – The Mad Butcher of Cleveland claimed third victim (January 26, 1936); The Vampire of Sacramento claimed final victims (January 27, 1978): Charles Starkweather and his teenage girlfriend kill three during their murderous crime spree (January 28, 1958); Brenda Spencer kills two and injures none in San Diego school shooting (January 29, 1979); Indian Prime Minister Mohandas Gandhi was assassinated (January 30, 1948); Guy Fawkes jumped to his death just prior to his execution (January 31, 1606); Ted Bundy murdered Lynda Ann Healy (February 1, 1974); King Carlos I of Portugal was assassinated (February 1, 1908).

Highlighted crime story of the week -

On January 27, 1978, Richard Chase, who becomes known as the "Vampire of Sacramento," murdered Evelyn Miroth , Daniel Meredith, as well as Miroth's 6-year-old son and 22-month-old nephew, in Sacramento, California. Chase sexually assaulted Miroth with a knife before killing her and mutilating her body. He removed some of her organs and cannibalized them. The previous year, the 28-year-old Chase had been found in the desert, 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, drinking the blood of a bird on one occasion. He had been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for most of his life.

Chase’s first known victim, Ambrose Griffin, 51, was killed in a drive-by shooting in December 1977 in the drive way of his home. He committed his second known homicide on January 23, 1979, when entered the East Sacramento home of 22-year-old Teresa Wallin, who was shot to death and then mutilated and partially cannibalized. After several tips from the public, Chase was apprehended on February 1, at his apartment. Police found his home covered in blood and filth. On May 8, 1979, a jury found him guilty of six counts of first-degree murder and sentenced him to death. Chase committed suicide in his cell at San Quentin prison on December 26, 1980 by taking an over dose of anti-depressant medication.

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 six nonfiction books that includes 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 link:

Friday, January 23, 2015

J.D. Salinger Died - January 27, 2010



This week (January 23-29) in Literary history – Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott was born (January 23, 1930); Edith Wharton was born (January 24, 1862); Virginia Woolf was born (January 25, 1882); Robert Burns was born (January 25, 1759); Oscar Wilde’s “Duchess of Padua” premiered in New York City (January 26, 1891); Dante was exiled from Florence (January 27, 1302); Lewis Carroll was born (January 27, 1832); French author Collette was born (January 28, 1873); Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” was published (January 28, 1813); Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” was published (January 29, 1845).

Highlighted Story of the Week –

On January 27, 2010, J.D. Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye, the classic American novel about a disillusioned teenager, died of natural causes at the age 91. Prior to his death, the best-selling writer spent some 50 years shunning the spotlight and living reclusively at his home in Cornish, New Hampshire.

Jerome David Salinger was born on January 1, 1919, in New York City, the second of two children. As a teen, he flunked out of a Manhattan private school and was sent to Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania. The school would later serve as a model for Pencey Prep, which Salinger’s famous character Holden Caulfield is expelled from in The Catcher in the Rye.

In 1939, Salinger enrolled in a writing course at Columbia University, and soon began publishing his short stories in magazines. In 1941, after previous rejections, he sold his first essay “Slight Rebellion off Madison” to The New Yorker. This story marked the first appearance of Holden Caulfield; however, the magazine put off publishing the story until 1946. After being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942 during World War II, Salinger saw combat duty in Europe. Back in New York after the war, he continued writing, and by the late 1940s was a regular contributor to The New Yorker.

In 1951, The Catcher in the Rye was published and became a best-seller. As The New York Times described the book in Salinger’s obituary: “With its cynical, slangy vernacular voice (Holden’s two favorite expressions are “phony” and “goddam”), its sympathetic understanding of adolescence and its fierce if alienated sense of morality and distrust of the adult world, the novel struck a nerve in cold war America and quickly attained cult status, especially among the young.

Having achieved literary success and fame, Salinger soon soured on it. He ordered his publisher to remove his photograph from his book’s back jacket, and in 1953, he moved from Manhattan to New Hampshire, where he built a tall fence around his property and rarely gave interviews to the media. The Catcher in the Rye was the only novel ever published by Salinger, who married three times and had two children. Salinger died on January 27, 2010 at his home and his burial location is unknown.

Check back every Friday for a new installment of “This Week in Literary History.”

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books and includes Literary Legends of the British Isles and America’s Literary Legends. 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/Literary-Legends-British-Isles-Writers/dp/0764344382/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422030229&sr=8-1&keywords=michael+thomas+barry


http://www.amazon.com/Americas-Literary-Legends-Burial-Writers/dp/0764347020/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1422030229&sr=8-2&keywords=michael+thomas+barry

Monday, January 19, 2015

Charles Manson was Convicted of Murder - January 25, 1971


 
This week (January 19-25) in crime history – President Ford pardoned Tokyo Rose (January 19, 1977); Klaus Barbie, “The Butcher of Lyons” was arrested in Bolivia (January 19, 1983); Iran Hostage Crisis ended (January 20, 1981); Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer was shot and killed (January 21, 1959); Alger Hiss was convicted of perjury (January 21, 1950); Ted Kaczynski pleaded guilty to the Unabomber crimes (January 22, 1998); Look magazine published the confessions of Emmett Till’s murderers (January 24, 1956); BTK Killer sends chilling message to Kansas TV station (January 25, 2005); Charles Manson and three followers were convicted of the Tate-LaBianca murders (January 25, 1971). 

Highlighted crime story of the week -  

On January 25, 1971, Charles Manson was convicted, along with followers Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, and Patricia Krenwinkel, of the brutal 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders. In 1967, Manson, a lifetime criminal, was released from a federal penitentiary in Washington State and traveled to San Francisco, where he attracted a following among rebellious young women with troubled emotional lives. Manson established a cult based on his concept of "Helter Skelter," an apocalyptic philosophy predicting that out of an imminent racial war in America would emerge five ruling angels: Manson, who would take on the role of Jesus Christ, and the four members of the Beatles. Manson convinced his followers that it would be necessary to murder celebrities in order to attract attention to the cult. 

On the night of August 9, 1969, with detailed instructions from Manson, four of his followers drove up to Hollywood Hills home of director Roman Polanski and his wife, actress Sharon Tate. Polanski was not home at the time but several friends of Tate’s were staying the night. During the next few hours, Manson’s followers engaged in a murderous rampage that left five dead, including a very pregnant Sharon Tate, three of her friends, and the 18-year-old son of the caretaker of the estate. The next night, Manson followers murdered Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their home in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles; this time, Manson went along to make sure the killings were carried out correctly. The cases went unsolved for over a year before the Los Angeles Police Department discovered the Manson connection. Various members of his cult confessed, and Manson and five others were indicted on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. 

In January 1972, Manson and three others were found guilty, and on March 29 all four were sentenced to death. The trial of another defendant, Charles "Tex" Watson, was delayed by extradition proceedings, but he was likewise found guilty and sentenced to death. In 1972, the California Supreme Court abolished the death penalty in California, and Manson and his followers' death sentences were reduced to life imprisonment. 

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 six nonfiction books that includes 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 link.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Edgar Allan Poe was Born - January 19, 1809



This week (January 16-11) in English literary history – Anne Bronte was born (January 17, 1820); Benjamin Franklin was born (January 17, 1706); A.A. Milne was born (January 18, 1882); Rudyard Kipling married Carrie Balestier (January 18, 1893); Rudyard Kipling died (January 18, 1936); Edgar Allan Poe was born (January 19, 1809); Robert Frost read a poem at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration (January 20, 1961); George Orwell died (January 21, 1950); George Lord Byron was born (January 22, 1788); Francis Bacon was born (January 22, 1561). 

Highlighted story of the week -  

On January 19, 1809, Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Poe’s father and mother, both professional actors, died before the poet was three years old, and John and Frances Allan raised him as a foster child in Richmond, Virginia. John Allan, a prosperous tobacco exporter, sent Poe to the best boarding schools and later to the University of Virginia, where, after less than one year of school, he was forced to leave the university when Allan refused to pay Poe’s gambling debts. 

Poe then returned briefly to Richmond, but his relationship with Allan deteriorated. In 1827, he moved to Boston and enlisted in the United States Army. His first collection of poems, Tamerlane and Other Poems, was published that same year. In 1829, he published a second collection entitled Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems. Neither volume received significant critical acclaim. Following his Army service, Poe was admitted to the United States Military Academy, but he was again forced to leave for lack of financial support. He then moved into the home of his aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter Virginia in Baltimore, Maryland. 

Poe began to sell short stories to magazines around this time, and, in 1835, he became the editor of the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond. In 1836, he married his cousin, Virginia, who was fourteen years old at the time. Over the next ten years, Poe would edit a number of literary journals and it was during these years that he established himself as a poet, and short story writer. He published some of his best-known stories and poems, including “The Fall of the House of Usher," “The Tell-Tale Heart," “The Murders in the Rue Morgue," and “The Raven.” After his wife’s death from tuberculosis in 1847, Poe’s lifelong struggle with depression and alcoholism worsened. He returned briefly to Richmond in 1849 and then set out for an editing job in Philadelphia. For unknown reasons, he stopped in Baltimore. On October 3, 1849, he was found in a state of semi-consciousness. Poe died four days later of “acute congestion of the brain.” He was buried at Westminster Burial Ground in Baltimore.  

Check back every Friday for a new installment of “This Week in English Literary History.” 

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Literary Legends of the British Isles and soon to be released America’s Literary Legends. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Carole Lombard Died in Plane Crash - January 16, 1942



This week (January14-20) in Hollywood History – Marilyn Monroe married Joe Dimaggio (January 14, 1954); Hal Roach was born (January 14, 1892); Ray Bolger died (January 15, 1987); Carole Lombard died in plane crash (January 16, 1942); John Wayne married Esperanza Baur (January 17, 1946); Oliver Hardy was born (January 18, 1892); Cary Grant was born (January 18, 1904); Danny Kaye was born (January 18, 1913); Hedy Lamarr died (January 19, 2000); Audrey Hepburn died (January 20, 1993); Sharon Tate married Roman Polanski (January 20, 1968). 

Highlighted Story of the Week – 

On January 16, 1942, actress Carole Lombard and wife of Clark Gable was killed in a plane crash. Gable and Lombard met in 1932 during the filming of No Man of Her Own. He was just starting out on his trajectory as one of Hollywood’s top leading men and she was a talented comedic actress trying to prove herself in more serious roles. Both were married at the time, Gable to a wealthy Texas widow 10 years his senior and Lombard to actor William Powell and neither showed much interest in the other. When they met again, three years later, Lombard had divorced Powell and Gable was separated from his wife, and things proceeded quite differently. Much to the media’s delight, the new couple was open with their affection. In early 1939, Gable’s wife finally granted him a divorce, and he married Lombard that April. 

In January 1942, shortly after America’s entrance into World War II, Howard Dietz, the publicity director of the MGM film studio, recruited Lombard for a tour to sell war bonds in her home state of Indiana. Gable, who had been asked to serve as the head of the actors’ branch of the wartime Hollywood Victory Committee, stayed in Los Angeles, where he was set to begin filming Somewhere I’ll Find You with Lana Turner. Dietz advised Lombard to avoid airplane travel, because he feared for its reliability and safety, and she did most of the trip by train, stopping at various locations on the way to Indianapolis and raising some $2 million for the war effort. 

On the way home, however, Lombard didn’t want to wait for the train, and instead boarded a TWA DC-3 in Las Vegas with her mother, Elizabeth Peters, and a group that included MGM publicity agent Otto Winkler and 15 others. Shortly after takeoff, the plane veered off course. Warning beacons that might have helped guide the pilot had been blacked out because of fears about Japanese bombers, and the plane smashed into a cliff near the top of Potosi Mountain. Search parties were able to retrieve Lombard’s body, and she was interred in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. 

Hysterical with grief and adrift in the empty house he had shared with Lombard, Gable drank heavily and struggled to complete his work on Somewhere I’ll Find You. He was comforted by worried friends, including actress Joan Crawford. That August, Gable decided to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corp. He spent most of the war in the United Kingdom, and flew several combat missions (including one to Germany), earning several decorations for his efforts. He would remarry twice more, but when he died in 1960 Gable was interred at Forest Lawn, next to Lombard. 

Check back every Wednesday for a new installment of “This Week in Hollywood History.” 

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that includes Fade to Black Graveside Memories of Hollywood Greats, 1927-1950. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Doc Barker was Killed While Escaping from Alcatraz - January 13, 1939



This week (January 12-18) in crime history – Malcolm X’s daughter was arrested for conspiracy to kill Louis Farrakhan (January 12, 1995); Doc Barker was killed while attempting to escape prison (January 13, 1939); Old West lawman Wyatt Earp died (January 13, 1929); Notorious traitor Benedict Arnold was born (January 14, 1741); Bill Cosby’s son was murdered (January 16, 1997); Moon Maniac, Albert Fish was executed (January 16, 1936); The Great Brinks Robbery (January 17, 1950); Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry was arrested in drug sting (January 18, 1990). 

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -  

On January 13, 1939, Arthur "Doc" Barker was killed while trying to escape from Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco Bay. Barker, of the notorious "Bloody Barkers" gang, was spotted on the rock-strewn shore of the island after climbing over the walls. Despite the fact that guards were ordering him to surrender, Barker continued tying pieces of wood together into a makeshift raft. As he waded into the water, the guards shot and killed him. Doc Barker, along with his brothers Herman, Lloyd, and Fred, and their mother, the infamous Ma Barker, formed one of the more formidable criminal gangs of the 1920s and 1930s. Carrying out a series of bank robberies and kidnappings throughout the Midwest, Ma shrewdly paid off officials in towns all over the region, allowing the gang to avoid the law for long stretches of time. 

In 1934, with their pictures in all of the newspapers, Doc and Fred Barker tried to change their appearance through plastic surgery. They enlisted Dr. Joseph Moran to conduct the operations, including removing their fingerprints. But the plan was a disaster, and each ended up with terrible scars and infected fingers. Dr. Moran was adopted into the gang as a matter of necessity, but when he started to talk about their activities to a prostitute, the Barkers killed him. On January 8, 1935, FBI agents, led by Melvin Purvis, captured Doc Barker in Chicago, Illinois. As he searched Barker, Purvis reportedly asked, "Where's your gun?" Barker replied, "Home—and ain't that a place for it?" Eight days later, Fred and Ma Barker were pinned down at their hideout in Florida. A massive gun battle left both of them dead. 

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 Murder & 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 link:

Friday, January 9, 2015

Jack London was Born - January 12, 1876



This week (January 9-15) in English literary history – Virginia Woolf bought home in the Bloomsbury section of London (January 9, 1924); Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett began corresponding (January 10, 1845); Sinclair Lewis died (January 10, 1951); Edmund Burke was born (January 12, 1729); Jack London was born (January 12, 1876); Agatha Christie died (January 12, 1976); James Joyce died (January 13, 1941); Jonathan Swift was ordained a priest (January 13, 1695); Edmund Spenser died (January 13, 1599); John Steinbeck married Carol Henning (January 14, 1930); Lewis Carroll died (January 14, 1898); Margery Fleming died (January 15, 1803). 

Highlighted Story of the Week -  

On January 12, 1876, Jack London, the illegitimate son of astrologer William Chaney and Flora Wellman was born in San Francisco. His father abandoned the family, and Jack, whose last name at birth was Chaney, later assumed his stepfather's surname, London. From an early age, London struggled to make a living, working in a cannery and as a sailor, oyster pirate, and fish patroller. He also spent time as a hobo, riding trains. During the national economic crisis of 1893, he joined a march of unemployed workers and later spent a month in jail for vagrancy. After his prison term, the 17-year-old London resolved to further his education. He completed an entire high school equivalency course in one year and enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley, where he read voraciously for a year. He dropped out to join the 1897 gold rush in the Alaskan Klondike. 

While in Alaska, London began writing stories about the region. In 1900, his first collection of stories, The Son of the Wolf, was published. Three years later, his story The Call of the Wild made him famous around the country. London continued to write stories of adventure amid the harsh natural elements. During his 17-year career, he wrote 50 fiction and nonfiction books. He settled in Northern California about 1911, having already written most of his best work. London, a heavy drinker, died on November 22, 1916 at his home from an apparent over dose of morphine. Whether this was intentional or not has been debated by scholars for years. His ashes were interred at his home now known as the Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen, California.  

Check back every Friday for a new installment of “This Week in English Literary History.” 

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Literary Legends of the British Isles and the soon to be released America’s Literary Legends. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: