This week (September 1-7) in crime history: Aaron Burr was acquitted of treason (September 1, 1807); Jean-Paul Akayesu was found guilty of genocide in Rwanda (September 2, 1998); Russian school siege ends in bloody shootout (September 3, 2004); Columbian rebels attack military base (September 4, 1996); Israeli athletes were taken hostage at the Munich Olympics (September 5, 1972); President Gerald Ford survives attempted assassination (September 5, 1975); Drew Peterson was convicted of murdering his 3rd wife (September 6, 2012); South African Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd was assassinated (September 6, 1966); President William McKinley was shot (September 6, 1901); Rapper Tupac Shakur was shot (September 7, 1996); Guillame Apollinaire was arrested for stealing the Mona Lisa (September 7, 1911); The James Gang was nearly wiped out in Northfield Minnesota (September 7, 1876).
Highlighted Crime of the Week -
On September 1, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford survives an attempt on his life in Sacramento, California. The assailant, Lynette Fromme, approached the president while he was walking near the California State Capitol and raised a .45 caliber handgun toward him. Before she was able to fire off a shot, Secret Service agents tackled her and wrestled her to the ground. After the assassination attempt, Ford stoically continued on to the Capitol to speak before the California legislature. The main topic of his speech was crime. Seventeen days later, another woman, Sarah Jane Moore, tried to assassinate Ford while he was in San Francisco. Her attempt was thwarted by a bystander who instinctively grabbed Moore's arm when she raised the gun. Although she fired one shot, it did not find its target.
Lynette Fromme, nicknamed "Squeaky," was a member of the notorious Charles Manson family. Manson and other members of his "family" were convicted and sentenced to prison for murdering former actress Sharon Tate and others in 1969. Subsequently, Fromme and other female members of the cult started an order of "nuns" within a new group called the International People's Court of Retribution. This group terrorized corporate executives who headed environmentally destructive businesses. Fromme herself was still so enamored of Manson that she devised the plot to kill President Ford in order to win Manson's approval.
Fromme was convicted of attempted murder and was sentenced to life in prison in West Virginia. She escaped in 1979, but was caught within 25 miles of the prison. Strangely, Ford's second would-be assassin, Moore, was imprisoned in the same facility and escaped in 1989. She turned herself in two days later and, like Fromme, was transferred to a higher-security penitentiary. Both women were eventually released on parole.
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemgazine.com and is the author of numerous books that include Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. The book was named the winner of the 2012 International Book Awards and a finalist in the 2012 National Indie Excellence Book Awards. For more information visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com.
His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: