A.P. history books are known for inspiring stories of Founding Fathers and militiamen fighting for freedoms. But there are a few infamous crimes that have shaken and jolted the nation to earn a place in the national archives. Here are 10 of the most storied crimes in U.S. HISTORY.
10 The Man Who Won The Lottery But Lost It All (2009)
Winning the lottery can change your life, but for Abraham Shakespeare of Florida, that’s not always the case. After winning a $30 million jackpot on Nov. 15, 2006, Shakespeare, a former garbage man and day laborer, was rich. After paying out the $17 million lump sum, Shakespeare went on a legendary spending spree.
Among the early beneficiaries of his wealth were his stepfather, who received a million dollars, and his three stepsisters, who each received a quarter of a million! But as fate would have it, Shakespeare’s wealth also attracted Dorice “DeeDee” Moore, who wanted to help him “manage” his money. Two years after the lottery, Shakespeare disappeared and as the family grew nervous, so did his killer.
To cool the family down, Moore forged a letter telling the family that Shakespeare was doing well. The only problem was that Moore didn’t realize Shakespeare was illiterate, and that’s the slip that got her arrested. Police reported that Shakespeare was killed on April 6-7, 2009, and in January 2020, they discovered his body on Moore’s property.
9 The Man Who Committed An Almost-Perfect Murder (1971)
What would you do if you were about to lose everything because of debt? In 1971, John List of New Jersey murdered his mother, wife and three children and disappeared for 18 years!
After being arrested for his crimes in 1989, John List confessed to murdering his family for financial and religious reasons. List explained that the murders were motivated by a bleak financial future and the belief that his family had strayed from religion. List murdered the family to ensure that their souls would go to heaven.
Before his arrest, John List assumed a new identity and was even remarried, hiding from the law. He was found only after his story was highlighted on the TV show “America es Most Wanted.” John List was later sentenced to five consecutive prison terms and died in 2008 at the age of 82.
8 The Largest Cash Heist In American History (1997)
Is there such a thing as a perfect heist? The Dunbar armored car heist is the largest cash heist in United States history, involving a gang of five childhood friends who teamed up to steal $18.9 million.
The crime, orchestrated by Allen Pace in 1997, occurred at the Dunbar Los Angeles armored car depot where Pace worked. After recording surveillance cameras, the gang ambushed the guards and then robbed the vault using a U-Haul truck as a getaway.
Like masterminds, the crew would launder the money through legitimate businesses. Yet one member, Eugene Hill, made a mistake by spending money with the original money bands. After Hill’s arrest and confessions, the rest of the crew was apprehended, tried, and convicted. Of all the Heist money, only $9 million was ever recovered.
7 Guilty Until Proven Innocent (1931)
America’s history of racial injustice runs deep, and one crime in history reveals its dark side. In 1931, nine African American Alabama teenagers were accused of raping two white women, a legal battle that drew both national and local attention.
In the landmark case involving lynch mobs, a rushed trial and an all-white jury, the boys were pinned for a racial incident on a train. After refusing to get off the “white man’s” train, the African-American teens were arrested. Later, two white women claimed to have been raped.
While one woman later denied her story, 8 of 9 boys were found guilty of rape and sentenced to death. The case revealed racial tensions in the U.S. and injustices against minorities. More than eight decades later, the state of Alabama admitted that the Scottsboro boys were all innocent.
6 Smart Students That Set Up The Perfect Crime (1924)
Would you commit a crime just for the thrill of it? Nathan Freudenthal Leopold Jr. and Richard Albert Loeb students at the University of Chicago tried to commit the perfect crime to prove they were smart.
Leopold and Loeb, wealthy and privileged college students, wanted to prove they were intellectually superior by committing the perfect crime. They planned to kidnap and murder a child. After identifying 14-year-old Frank, Loeb’s cousin, the two beat him to death and dumped his body.
The only mistake was that Leopold’s glasses fell at the scene, and since they had unique hinges, the clue solved the case for the detectives. After their arrest, they admitted to murdering the child for the “thrill.” So much to be a perfect crime!
5 My Brother’s Keeper: Murders In Cedar Falls (1976)
Do you believe brothers can murder each other in cold blood? In the “Cain and Abel” murders in Cedar Falls, Jerry Mark was accused of murdering his brother and his family.
The case, involving Leslie Mark, his wife, and the deaths of two children, gained public attention after Mark, the brother, became the prime suspect. Investigations later revealed that Jerry possessed the same bullets that killed his brother’s family and even lied about them.
While Jerry Mark was found guilty of committing the murders, recent DNA evidence excluded him from the crime scene, bringing a new twist to the case. In 2005, a judge ordered a retrial or release, but Jerry continues to serve life, having lost his appeals.
4 Pretty Boy Frees Nash in Kansas City Shootout (1933)
What happens when a notorious criminal, mobsters and police are brought together? Chaos. The Union Station Massacre, also known as the Kansas City Massacre, is one of the most notable shootings.
During the massacre, which took place on June 17, 1933, famed bank robber Frank Nash was being taken back to jail when gunmen attacked the escort. In the ensuing shootout, four lawmen and Nash were dead. According to the FBI, the gunmen included Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd, Adam Richetti and Vernon Miller, Kansas’ most notorious criminals.
A year after the crime, both Miller and Floyd were killed under different circumstances. At the same time, Richetti was arrested and later executed in prison. Although this dramatic event is not popular enough, it is the crucial case that shaped J. Edgar Hoover’s career. He was the lead investigator of the shooting.
3 The 19-year-old Serial Killer (1958)
The 1958/59 Charles Starkweather murder spree in Nebraska is one of the most disturbing in history. The dark story begins when Starkweather, who was only 19, took his 13-year-old girlfriend, Caril Fugate, from her home. After Starkweather met resistance from Fugate’s stepfather and mother, he shot her and later strangled their two-year-old daughter.
After the incident, Starkweather and Fugate remained in the home for six days before fleeing. Fugate later denied this account, claiming she was taken hostage by her boyfriend. When they drove to the home of a family friend, the two killed him and later drove off the property with another couple who also ended up dead.
They killed three more people, after which they engaged in a chase with police that ended in their arrest. Starkweather killed a total of eleven people, including two family dogs. Starkweather met his death by electrocution, while Fugate was released in his 70s.
2 Who Shot Me? – Taking Down an O.G. (1996)
He was famous and brilliant, and at only 25 years old, he was one of the most successful artists in America. In an unfortunate twist, Tupac Shakur met his untimely death in Los Angeles while driving alongside his girlfriend and manager Marion “Suge” Knight.
After an altercation following Mike Tyson’s 1996 fight, Tupac and Knight drove away, but when their car stopped at a red light, they were ambushed. In the events that followed, the car carrying Shakur and Knight was shot 13 times, with the rapper being hit six times. Six days later, Shakur succumbed to his injuries.
While gang rivalries were blamed for the crime, it remains one of the most famous crimes in history. To this day, the shooter or her motive has never been discovered, leading to many conspiracy theories. Some people still believe that Shakur is still alive.
1 Master Manipulator, Notorious Serial Killer (1989)
Theodore Robert Bundy, popularly known as Ted Bundy, is considered one of the most notorious serial killers of all ages. Bundy, a psychology major from the University of Washington, is considered responsible for the deaths of 36 women, though the number is believed to be higher.
Using his ammunition of faking injuries, Bundy lured victims by pretending to be injured after which he overpowered and abducted his victims. Bundy’s notoriety grew from his ability to travel across states where he would murder while moving, making him a wanted man in many states.
Bundy, who repeatedly escaped, was eventually convicted in Florida, where he was electrocuted in 1989. His larger-than-life image has made him the subject of countless studies and publications, as his story continues to shock many.
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