Soul Asylum’s Runaway Train- The story behind it.

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This is a very personal blog for me.Not because I was personally involved in it, because I wasn’t, but because it really touched me emotionally. Although I am don’t suffer from depression myself that is really what the song is about,depression and the effects it has especially on teenagers and young adolescents.

I first heard the song on the radio and fell in love with it, but that made the song not unique because I have fallen in love with thousands of songs.It was only after I saw the video of it , it had a profound impact on me, it really gave me the goosebumps.

The music video for “Runaway Train” featured photographs and names of missing children in the style of a public service announcement. At the end of the video, lead singer Dave Pirner appeared and said, “If you’ve seen one of these kids, or you are one of them, please call this number” before a missing children telephone helpline number appeared.

Below is the video but alas without the message at the end, for some reason it is impossible to find a version with the message, but even without that you will appreciate what the video is telling you.

A few days after I had seen the video I saw news footage saying that one of the children in the video had been found because of it. Those goosebumps were back and a few teardrops to complement them.

Finally a music video with real value. I have listened to the song many of time afterwards. not realizing the story didn’t end there.

Earlier this week I looked up the story behind the missing children again, because cynical me doesn’t always take heed to all news reports. Since this was going back for more than 2 decades I just wanted to re-assure the more mature me that the finding of this 1 missing child just wasn’t an urban myth.

Turned out it wasn’t just 1 child, in total 26 children were re-united with their families after being featured in the video.(and whiles I am writing this the goosebumps are back)

Unfortunately not all of them were found alive.

Polly Klaas

Polly Klaas was a 12-year-old girl who went missing in October 1993, a few months after the song had peaked on the charts. The case made national news, drawing more attention to the issue of missing and exploited children.Polly_Klaas

It was later learned the Klaas was abducted and murdered. by Richard Allen Davis. On October 1, 1993, Polly Klaas and two friends were having a slumber party. Late in the evening, Richard Allen Davis entered their bedroom, carrying a knife. He tied both friends up, pulled pillowcases over their heads and told them to count to 1,000. He then kidnapped the scared Klaas. Davis was caught and arrested and admitted to strangling Polly.After a long, tumultuous trial, Davis was convicted on June 18, 1996 of first-degree murder and four special circumstances (robbery, burglary, kidnapping and a lewd act on a child) in Klaas’ death.A San Jose Superior Court jury returned a verdict of death. At his formal sentencing by a judge, Davis provoked national outrage by taunting his victim’s family, extending both middle fingers at a courtroom camera and later saying that Klaas’ last words just before he killed her were that her father molested her.

Curtis Huntzinger

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Below is some of the timeline of his case.

Early May, 1990 — 14-year-old Curtis Huntzinger reportedly tells his parents he has been molested by family acquaintance Stephen Hash, then 35, for whom Curtis was working.

May 11, 1990 — Curtis reportedly recants the allegations when asked about them by then-Blue Lake Police Chief Donald Trumble.

May 18, 1990 — Curtis, an Arcata High School freshman, is last seen at his sister’s Blue Lake home and is reported missing the next day. It is initially believed by authorities that Curtis, who had some trouble in school and a recent brush with the law, ran away from home. Trumble said at the time he was confident Curtis was not a victim of foul play.

April 1999 — Thomas Michael Fox, who was serving life in prison for the killing of 11-year old Danny Williams of Eureka, reportedly confesses to having killed Huntzinger. As a part of the confession, Fox reportedly admitted to shooting Huntzinger and fingered the accomplices who he said helped him bury the boy.

April 24, 1999 — During a confrontation with Huntzinger’s mom, Nancy, family acquaintance Stephen Daniel Hash reportedly admits to killing Curtis Huntzinger, even taking Nancy Huntzinger to her son’s burial site. Hash, however, refuses to talk to law enforcement about the case.

Over the ensuing weeks, police investigators search Hash’s property, even removing the floor boards of his house and sending its carpets to the Department of Justice Crime Lab for testing. The area where Hash claimed to have buried Huntzinger is scoured by dozens of members of the California Conservation Corps, police and the Huntzinger family. Several bones, including a vertebrae, are found, and believed to be those of Curtis Huntzinger. “This could be over in a few weeks,” then Blue Lake Police Chief Floyd Stokes said. The bones are later determined to be animal remains, and the case goes dormant.

Dec. 3, 2008 — Hash is arrested on suspicion of voluntary manslaughter by District Attorney’s Office investigators after reportedly giving a “complete confession” and showing them where Huntzinger was buried.

Dec. 9, 2008 — Investigators find a body believed to be Huntzinger’s located off old State Route 299 between Blue Lake and Korbel in the location Hash had led them to. The body is sent to the Humboldt County Coroner for an autopsy. where it is confirmed that the remains are those of Curtis.

Thomas Dean Gibson

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The last image in all three U.S. versions of the song is Thomas Dean Gibson, who disappeared from Glendale, Oregon, in 1991 at the age of 2. He is still missing as of 2014, and age-progressed photos of him at age 19 and age 21 were released in 2009 and 2012, respectively, by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.His father, Larry Gibson, a former deputy sheriff, was convicted of second degree manslaughter for accidentally shooting his son to death when he shot at a stray cat in his front yard even though no remains were ever found. He steadfastly denies killing his son and has worked on finding him since being released from prison in 1996.

The version shown in Australia showed a number of young backpacking tourists whose families were looking for them. Several of them turned out to be victims of Ivan Milat, the Backpacker Murderer.

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Dinah McNicol & Vicky Hamilton

 

The UK version of the video featured Vicky Hamilton and Dinah McNicol, who each went missing in 1991. Their remains were found in 2007 at a house in Margate. Peter Tobin has since been convicted of both murders.

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Also featured in the UK version was Mark Bartley, a runaway who went missing in 1992. He was recognised in the video by a man who knew Bartley was staying in the tenant’s house below them, but was unaware of his missing status. By the time the police arrived, Bartley and the man he was living with were gone. It is unknown what happened to him after this.

Although Soul Asylum had been formed in 1983 the album Grave Dancers Union which includes Runaway Train, was there only successful album.Soul_Asylum_Grave_Dancer's_Union

 

Released in 1992. The album spent 76 weeks on the Billboard music charts and was certified triple-platinum in 1993, establishing Soul Asylum as one of the most successful rock groups of the first half of the 1990s.

At the 1994 ceremony, this won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song, which went to its writer, Dave Pirner. Dave didn’t attend the ceremony, as he didn’t like the idea of proclaiming one song superior to another. When he won, Meat Loaf accepted the award on his behalf.

The band is still touring. They may not be considered as the best band ever, and musically this might be the case. But I believe they deserve a lot more credit for what they achieved with that 1 song which has changed the lives of so many.

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Ha Ha said the Clown-John Wayne Gacy the real “It”

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With Stephen King’s  “It” taking cinemas by storm it is time to have a look at the real Clown Killer. John Wayne Gacy.

Although Pennywise is a total fictional character(well at least I hope so) there are similarities between him and John Wayne Gacy.

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John Wayne Gacy was convicted of the torture, rape, and murder of 33 males between 1972 until his arrest in 1978. He was dubbed the “Killer Clown” because he entertained children at parties and hospitals as “Pogo the Clown.” On May 10, 1994, Gacy was executed by lethal injection.

Stephen King’s It was published in 1986, not long after the Gacy case and prosecution would have played out all over the media. King says his direct inspiration was the idea writing a story about a troll under a bridge, but he had also said he wanted to play on a childhood fear of clowns. That fear was probably driven into overdrive when moms told their kids in the ’80s to behave, or a killer clown like Gacy might get them, as a cautionary tale.

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Notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy was born on March 17, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois. The son of Danish and Polish parents, Gacy and his siblings grew up with a drunken father who would beat the children with a razor strap if they were perceived to have misbehaved; his father physically assaulted Gacy’s mother as well. Gacy’s sister Karen would later say that the siblings learned to toughen up against the beatings, and that Gacy would not cry.

The boy suffered further alienation at school, unable to play with other children due to a congenital heart condition that was looked upon by his father as another failing. Gacy later realized he was attracted to men, and experienced great turmoil over his sexuality

Gacy worked as a fast-food chain manager during the 1960s and became a self-made building contractor and Democratic precinct captain in the Chicago suburbs in the 1970s. Well-liked in his community and a clown performer at children’s parties, Gacy also organized cultural gatherings. He was married and divorced twice and had biological children and stepchildren.

Yet Gacy had a dark side: he was convicted in 1968 and given a 10-year prison term for the sexual assault of two teen boys. He was released on parole in the summer of 1970, but was arrested again the following year after another teen accused Gacy of sexual assault. The charges were dropped when the boy didn’t appear during the trial. By the middle of the decade, two more young males accused Gacy of rape, and he would be questioned by police about the disappearances of others.

It was later discovered that he had committed his first known killing in 1972, taking the life of Timothy McCoy after luring the teen to his home.

On December 11, 1978, 15-year-old Robert Piest went missing. It was reported to police that the boy was last seen by his mother at the store he worked at as he headed out to meet Gacy to discuss a potential job.

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On December 21, a police search of Gacy’s house in Norwood Park Township, Illinois, uncovered evidence of his involvement in numerous horrific acts, including murder. It would later be determined that Gacy had killed 33 boys and young men, the majority of whom had been buried under the house and garage, while others would be recovered from the nearby Des Plaines River.

Gacy lured his victims with the promise of construction work, and then captured, sexually assaulted and eventually strangled most of them with rope. When he killed, he sometimes dressed as his alter ego “Pogo the Clown.”

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Gacy’s trial began on February 6, 1980, with a prosecution team headed by William Kunkle. With Gacy having confessed to the crimes, the arguments were focused on whether he could be declared insane and thus remitted to a state mental facility. Gacy had told police that the murders had been committed by an alternate personality, while mental health professionals testified for both sides about Gacy’s mental state.

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Ultimately found guilty of committing 33 murders after a short jury deliberation, Gacy became known as one of the most vicious serial killers in U.S. history. He was sentenced to serve 12 death sentences and 21 natural life sentences. He was imprisoned at the Menard Correctional Center for almost a decade and a half, appealing the sentence and offering contradictory statements on the murders in interviews. Though he had confessed, Gacy later denied being guilty of the charges and had a 900 number set up with a 12-minute recorded statement of his innocence. He took up visual art as well, and his paintings were shown to the public via an exhibition at a Chicago gallery.

As both anti–death penalty forces and those in favor of the execution made their opinions known, John Wayne Gacy died by lethal injection on May 10, 1994, at the Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois.

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There have been lingering concerns that Gacy may have been responsible for the deaths of others whose bodies have yet to be found, and the Cook County sheriff’s office has pushed to search a Chicago apartment building where Gacy once worked as a maintenance employee.

Cook County authorities are also using DNA evidence to try to identify six of Gacy’s victims, who remain unidentified. On August 1, 2017, one of those men, “Victim No. 24,” was identified as 16-year-old James “Jimmie” Byron Haakenson. Haakenson had left home in St. Paul, Minnesota, and traveled to Chicago to begin life in the city.

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On August 5, 1976, he called his mother to let her know he had arrived, however, police believe Gacy killed him shortly thereafter. In 1979, Haakenson’s mother had contacted authorities to find out if her son was one of Gacy’s victims, however, she didn’t have dental records and the department lacked sufficient resources to identify him as a victim. Haakenson’s mother died in the early 2000s, but other family members provided DNA samples in 2017, and authorities made an immediate match to “Victim No. 24.”

Through his membership in a local Moose Club, Gacy became aware of a “Jolly Joker” clown club whose members—dressed as clowns—would regularly perform at fundraising events and parades in addition to voluntarily entertaining hospitalized children. By late 1975, Gacy had joined the Jolly Jokers and created his own performance characters: “Pogo the Clown” and “Patches the Clown”.

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Gacy designed his own costumes and taught himself how to apply clown makeup, although some professional clowns noted the sharp corners Gacy painted at the edges of his mouth are contrary to the rounded borders that professional clowns normally employ, so as not to scare children.Gacy is known to have performed as Pogo or Patches at numerous local parties, Democratic party functions,

(Gacy with First Lady Rosalynn Carter in 1978, six years after the killings began. A pin indicating special Secret Service clearance is visible on his jacket)

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charitable events, and at children’s hospitals. He is also known to have arrived, dressed in his clowning garb, at a favorite drinking venue named “The Good Luck Lounge” on several occasions with the explanation he had just performed as Pogo and was stopping for a social drink before heading home.

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William Kemmler-First execution by electric chair.

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At Auburn Prison in New York, the first execution by electrocution in history was carried out against William Kemmler, who had been convicted of murdering his lover, Matilda Ziegler, with an axe.

William Kemmler was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Both of his parents were immigrants from Germany and both of them were alcoholics.After dropping out of school at age 10, having learned neither how to read nor write, Kemmler worked in his father’s butcher shop. His father died from an infection that he received after a drunken brawl and his mother died from complications of alcoholism. After his parents died, he went into the peddling business and earned enough money to buy a horse and cart, although at this point he was becoming a heavy drinker.

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In one episode involving him and his friends after a series of drunken binges, he said he could jump his horse and cart over an eight-foot fence with the cart attached to the horse. The attempt was a failure, and his cart and goods destroyed in the incident. He was known to friends as “Philadelphia Billy” due to his drinking binges that were very well known around the saloons in his Buffalo neighborhood. Kemmler was reportedly slender, with dark brown hair. He spoke both English and German.

Electrocution as a humane means of execution was first suggested in 1881 by Dr. Albert Southwick, a dentist.

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Southwick had witnessed an elderly drunkard “painlessly” killed after touching the terminals of an electrical generator in Buffalo, New York. In the prevalent form of execution at the time–death by hanging–the condemned were known to hang by their broken necks for up to 30 minutes before succumbing to asphyxiation.

In 1889, New York’s Electrical Execution Law, the first of its kind in the world, went into effect, and Edwin R. Davis, the Auburn Prison electrician, was commissioned to design an electric chair. Closely resembling the modern device, Davis’ chair was fitted with two electrodes, which were composed of metal disks held together with rubber and covered with a damp sponge. The electrodes were to be applied to the criminal’s head and back.

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On August 6, 1890, William Kemmler became the first person to be sent to the chair. After he was strapped in, a charge of approximately 700 volts was delivered for only 17 seconds before the current failed. Although witnesses reported smelling burnt clothing and charred flesh, Kemmler was far from dead, and a second shock was prepared. The second charge was 1,030 volts and applied for about two minutes, whereupon smoke was observed coming from the head of Kemmler, who was clearly deceased. An autopsy showed that the electrode attached to his back had burned through to the spine.

Dr. Southwick applauded Kemmler’s execution with the declaration, “We live in a higher civilization from this day on,” while American inventor George Westinghouse, an innovator of the use of electricity, remarked, “They would have done better with an axe.”

 

Anthony and William Esposito-Mad Dog killers

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It was the New York police commissioner who would nickname brothers Anthony and William Esposito ‘the mad dog killers,’ a description that would catch on in the press. On Jan. 14, 1941, the Esposito brothers held up office manager Alfred Klausman for the $649 payroll he was carrying, shooting and killing him in the elevator of an office building in Manhattan. What followed was a spectacular mid-day gun chase along Fifth Avenue, with the pair running and shooting in and out of department stores and taxis — William, shot in the leg, fell to the ground, and while pretending to be dead surprised, shot and killed the policeman who chased him.

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The Police man was Police Officer Edward Maher. Bizarrely enough on the 14th of January 1921 Officer Maher had lost his wife, leaving leaving the young cop to raise the couple’s infant son alone.

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Fifth Avenue shoppers and pedestrians overtook William, beating him unconscious, and police arrested Anthony in a convenience store nearby.

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(Anthony Esposito on Jan. 16, 1941, as he was brought before a police identification line-up)

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During their trial, the brothers made an effort to convince the court they were insane; they barked, howled and made other animal noises, drooled and banged their heads on the table. But the barking and drooling wasn’t compelling evidence to the jury, and the brothers were both found guilty of first-degree murder. The two continued their behaviors, including speaking in gibberish and undertaking a hunger strike, while incarcerated at Sing Sing until both were put to death by electrocution in 1942.

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They were executed  on March 12 1942 by electric chair five minutes apart at Sing Sing for the January 14, 1941 slaying of Officer  Maher and Alfred Klausman.

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Both brothers were in such fragile health that they had to be brought into the death chamber in wheelchairs because they had refused all food for the past 10 months that was not fed them forcibly

D.B. Cooper-Probably the perfect crime

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One afternoon a day before Thanksgiving in 1971, a guy calling himself Dan Cooper (the media mistakenly called him D.B. Cooper) boarded Northwest Airlines flight #305 in Portland bound for Seattle.

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He was wearing a dark suit and a black tie and was described as a business-executive type. While in the air, he opened his brief case showing a bomb to the flight attendant and hijacked the plane. The plane landed in Seattle where he demanded 200K in cash, four parachutes and food for the crew before releasing all the passengers. With only three pilots and one flight attendant left on board, they took off from Seattle with the marked bills heading south while it was dark and lightly raining. In the 45 minutes after takeoff, Cooper sent the flight attendant to the cockpit while donning the parachute, tied the bank bag full of twenty dollar bills to himself, lowered the rear stairs and somewhere north of Portland jumped into the night. When the plane landed with the stairs down, they found the two remaining parachutes and on the seat Cooper w

On the afternoon of Thanksgiving eve, November 24, 1971, a man carrying a black attaché case approached the flight counter of Northwest Orient Airlines at Portland International Airport. He identified himself as “Dan Cooper” and purchased a one-way ticket on Flight 305, a 30-minute trip to Seattle.

Cooper boarded the aircraft, a Boeing 727-100 (FAA registration N467US), and took A seat In the rear of the passenger cabin. He lit a cigaretteand ordered a bourbon and soda. Eyewitnesses on board recalled a man in his mid-forties, between 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) and 6 feet 0 inches (1.83 m) tall. He wore a black lightweight raincoat, loafers, a dark suit, a neatly pressed white collared shirt, a black necktie, and a mother of pearl tie pin.

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Flight 305 was approximately one-third full when the aircraft took off on schedule at 2:50 pm, PST. Cooper handed a note to Florence Schaffner, the flight attendant situated nearest to him in a jump seat attached to the aft stair door. Schaffner, assuming the note contained a lonely businessman’s phone number, dropped it unopened into her purse. Cooper leaned toward her and whispered, “Miss, you’d better look at that note. I have a bomb.

The note was printed in neat, all-capital letters with a felt-tip pen. Its exact wording is unknown, because Cooper later reclaimed it, but Schaffner recalled that it indicated he had a bomb in his briefcase, and wanted her to sit with him.Schaffner did as requested, then quietly asked to see the bomb. Cooper cracked open his briefcase long enough for her to glimpse eight red cylinders (“four on top of four”) attached to wires coated with red insulation, and a large cylindrical battery.After closing the briefcase, he dictated his demands: $200,000 in “negotiable American currency”;four parachutes (two primary and two reserve); and a fuel truck standing by in Seattle to refuel the aircraft upon arrival.Schaffner conveyed Cooper’s instructions to the pilots in the cockpit: when she returned, he was wearing dark sunglasses.

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The pilot, William Scott, contacted Seattle-Tacoma Airport air traffic control, which in turn informed local and federal authorities.

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The 36 other passengers were told that their arrival in Seattle would be delayed because of a “minor mechanical difficulty”.Northwest Orient’s president, Donald Nyrop, authorized payment of the ransom and ordered all employees to cooperate fully with the hijacker. The aircraft circled Puget Sound for approximately two hours to allow Seattle police and the FBI time to assemble Cooper’s parachutes and ransom money, and to mobilize emergency personnel.

Schaffner recalled that Cooper appeared familiar with the local terrain; at one point he remarked, “Looks like Tacoma down there,” as the aircraft flew above it. He also correctly mentioned that McChord Air Force Base was only a 20-minute drive (at that time) from Seattle-Tacoma Airport. Schaffner described him as calm, polite, and well-spoken, not at all consistent with the stereotypes (enraged, hardened criminals or “take-me-to-Cuba” political dissidents) popularly associated with air piracy at the time. Tina Mucklow, another flight attendant, agreed. “He wasn’t nervous,” she told investigators. “He seemed rather nice. He was never cruel or nasty. He was thoughtful and calm all the time.” He ordered a second bourbon and water, paid his drink tab (and attempted to give Schaffner the change), and offered to request meals for the flight crew during the stop in Seattle.

FBI agents assembled the ransom money from several Seattle-area banks—10,000 unmarked 20-dollar bills, most with serial numbers beginning with the letter “L” indicating issuance by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and most from the 1963A or 1969 series and made a microfilm photograph of each of them.Cooper rejected the military-issue parachutes offered by McChord AFB personnel, demanding instead civilian parachutes with manually operated ripcords. Seattle police obtained them from a local skydiving school.

At 5:24 pm Cooper was informed that his demands had been met, and at 5:39 pm the aircraft landed at Seattle-Tacoma Airport.

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Cooper instructed Scott to taxi the jet to an isolated, brightly lit section of the tarmac and extinguish lights in the cabin to deter police snipers. Northwest Orient’s Seattle operations manager, Al Lee, approached the aircraft in street clothes (to avoid the possibility that Cooper might mistake his airline uniform for that of a police officer) and delivered the cash-filled knapsack and parachutes to Mucklow via the aft stairs. Once the delivery was completed, Cooper permitted all passengers, Schaffner, and senior flight attendant Alice Hancock to leave the plane.

During refueling Cooper outlined his flight plan to the cockpit crew: a southeast course toward Mexico City at the minimum airspeed possible without stalling the aircraft—approximately 100 knots (190 km/h; 120 mph)—at a maximum 10,000 foot (3,000 m) altitude. He further specified that the landing gear remain deployed in the takeoff/landing position, the wing flaps be lowered 15 degrees, and the cabin remain unpressurized.Copilot William Rataczak informed Cooper that the aircraft’s range was limited to approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 km) under the specified flight configuration, which meant that a second refueling would be necessary before entering Mexico. Cooper and the crew discussed options and agreed on Reno, Nevada, as the refueling stop. Finally, Cooper directed that the plane take off with the rear exit door open and its staircase extended. Northwest’s home office objected, on grounds that it was unsafe to take off with the aft staircase deployed. Cooper countered that it was indeed safe, but he would not argue the point; he would lower it himself once they were airborne.

An FAA official requested a face-to-face meeting with Cooper aboard the aircraft, which was denied.The refueling process was delayed because of a vapor lock in the fuel tanker truck’s pumping mechanism,and Cooper became suspicious; but he allowed a replacement tanker truck to continue the refueling—and a third after the second ran dry.

At approximately 7:40 pm, the 727 took off with only Cooper, pilot Scott, flight attendant Mucklow, copilot Rataczak, and flight engineer H. E. Anderson aboard. Two F-106 fighter aircraft scrambled from nearby McChord Air Force Base followed behind the airliner, one above it and one below, out of Cooper’s view.

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A Lockheed T-33 trainer, diverted from an unrelated Air National Guard mission, also shadowed the 727 until it ran low on fuel and turned back near the Oregon–California state line.

After takeoff, Cooper told Mucklow to join the rest of the crew in the cockpit and remain there with the door closed. As she complied, Mucklow observed Cooper tying something around his waist. At approximately 8:00 pm a warning light flashed in the cockpit, indicating that the aft airstair apparatus had been activated. The crew’s offer of assistance via the aircraft’s intercom system was curtly refused. The crew soon noticed a subjective change of air pressure, indicating that the aft door was open.

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At approximately 8:13 pm the aircraft’s tail section sustained a sudden upward movement, significant enough to require trimming to bring the plane back to level flight. At approximately 10:15 pm Scott and Rataczak landed the 727, with the aft airstair still deployed, at Reno Airport. FBI agents, state troopers, sheriff’s deputies, and Reno police surrounded the jet, as it had not yet been determined with certainty that Cooper was no longer aboard; but an armed search quickly confirmed that he was gone.

After hijacking an aeroplane and extorting $200,000 from the FBI, DB Cooper coolly made his escape via parachute.

Many suspect he died on the descent. That theory was strengthened in 1980 when an 8-year-old boy stumble open three wads of rotting $20 bills with serial numbers matching the cash given to Cooper.

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However, his body was never found leading to countless theories about who he was and what might have happened.

 

 

The Lindbergh baby kidnapping

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On the evening of March 1, 1932 Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr., eldest son of aviator Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, was abducted from the family home in the town of Highfields, in East Amwell, New Jersey.

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Lindbergh, who became an international celebrity when he flew the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927, and his wife Anne discovered a ransom note demanding $50,000 in their son’s empty room.

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The kidnapper used a ladder to climb up to the open second-floor window and left muddy footprints in the room.

The Lindberghs were inundated by offers of assistance and false clues. Even Al Capone offered his help from prison. For three days, investigators found nothing and there was no further word from the kidnappers. Then, a new letter showed up, this time demanding $70,000.

The ransom was packaged in a wooden box that was custom-made in the hope that it could later be identified. The ransom money included a number of gold certificates – gold certificates were about to be withdrawn from circulation,and it was hoped this would draw attention to anyone spending them. The bills were not marked but their serial numbers were recorded.

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The kidnappers eventually gave instructions for dropping off the money and when it was delivered, the Lindberghs were told their baby was on a boat called Nelly off the coast of Massachusetts. After an exhaustive search, however, there was no sign of either the boat or the child. Soon after, the baby’s body was discovered near the Lindbergh mansion.

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He had been killed the night of the kidnapping and was found less than a mile from home. The heartbroken Lindberghs ended up donating the mansion to charity and moved away

The kidnapping looked like it would go unsolved until September 1934, when a marked bill from the ransom turned up. The gas station attendant who had accepted the bill wrote down the license plate number because he was suspicious of the driver. It was tracked back to a German immigrant and carpenter, Bruno Hauptmann. When his home was searched, detectives found a chunk of Lindbergh ransom money.

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Hauptmann claimed that a friend had given him the money to hold and that he had no connection to the crime. The resulting trial was a national sensation. The prosecution’s case was not particularly strong; the main evidence, besides the money, was testimony from handwriting experts that the ransom note had been written by Hauptmann. The prosecution also tried to establish a connection between Hauptmann and the type of wood that was used to make the ladder.

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Still, the evidence and intense public pressure were enough to convict Hauptmann and he was electrocuted in 1935. In the aftermath of the crime—the most notorious of the 1930s—kidnapping was made a federal offense.

The murder of the toddler James Bulger

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This is probably one of the most disturbing murder cases in history. The fact that the victim was a toddler is awful enough but knowing  that two 10-year-old’s, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson from England, who killed and mutilated the body of the 2-year-old James Bulger, makes it nearly unfathomable.Even more disturbing is that the killers have been released from jail with new identities.

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The fact that the suspects were so young came as a shock to investigating officers, headed by Detective Superintendent Albert Kirby, of Merseyside Police. Early press reports and police statements had referred to Bulger being seen with “two youths” (suggesting that the killers were teenagers), the ages of the boys being difficult to ascertain from the images captured by CCTV.

Forensic tests confirmed that both boys had the same blue paint on their clothing as found on Bulger’s body. Both had blood on their shoes; the blood on Thompson’s shoe was matched to Bulger’s through DNA tests. A pattern of bruising on Bulger’s right cheek matched the features of the upper part of a shoe worn by Thompson; a paint mark in the toecap of one of Venables’s shoes indicated he must have used “some force” when he kicked Bulger.

The boys were each charged with the murder of James Bulger on 20 February 1993,[7] and appeared at South Sefton Youth Court on 22 February 1993, when they were remanded in custody to await trial. In the aftermath of their arrest, and throughout the media accounts of their trial, the boys were referred to as ‘Child A’ (Thompson) and ‘Child B’ (Venables).While awaiting trial, they were held in the secure units where they would eventually be sentenced to be detained indefinitely.

On that fateful day, the troubled boys were skipping school and wandering around a busy mall, stealing sweets, batteries and a bucket of paint – items that were later to be found at the murder scene. Casually observing children, they were looking for a child to abduct. The plan was to lead the victim to a busy road and push him into the path of oncoming traffic.

On February the 12th, 1993. James was out shopping with his mother in the New Strand Shopping Centre near Kirkby, England.

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His mother Denise was briefly distracted inside a butcher’s shop on the lower floor of the center. A minute later she realized her son had disappeared. James had been wandering by the open door of the shop when Thompson and Venables caught his attention and lured him out of the mall at 3:42 pm.

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Denise panicked and headed to the mall’s security office. She described her son’s appearance and what was he wearing: a blue jacket and grey sweat suit, a blue scarf with a white cat on it and a t-shirt with the word ‘Noddy’ on it. For security, it was a routine day. They often had to announce the description of a lost child over the loudspeaker so that parents could reunite with their child at the information centre. But what started off as a lost child in the mall, turned out to be one of the most prolific missing child cases in the history of the UK.

At 4:15 pm, the local Police Station was notified.

Sometimes he ran ahead, other times he fell behind. The boys were walking around aimlessly until they reached a nearby canal and proceeded to go under a bridge to an isolated area. There, they dropped James on his head. Venables and Thompson ran away, leaving the toddler crying. A lady saw James sobbing and assumed he was just playing with the local kids.

In his utter innocence, bruised and crying, James followed the boys once again. Several witnesses saw them and later described a boy crying and older boys kicking him. No one intervened, thinking that older brothers were just fooling around and watching over their younger sibling..

At approximately 5:30 pm, after more than a two-mile hike, Venables and Thompson decided to go to the railway tracks to finish the business. Between 5:45p m and 6:30 pm, James was brutally murdered.

The assault began with the boys pouring the stolen paint from the mall into James’ eyes. They pulled off his pants and underwear, mutilated his foreskin and inserted batteries into his anus. They kicked, threw stones and eventually smashed his skull with an iron bar. When they believed James was dead, they laid his body on the tracks, covering his bleeding head with bricks and rubbish, making it look like an accident.

They left just before the train came. The forensic pathologist of the case, Dr. Alan Williams, stated that James suffered so many injuries – 42 in total – that he was not able to confirm any one of them as the fatal blow, beyond the fact that he had died before the train cut his body in half.

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Police got a hold of the CCTV footage of James’ abduction. The disappearance made the evening news and calls immediately poured in. Two days later, the severed body was found lying on the tracks. When the circumstances became public, the crime scene was flooded with hundreds of bouquets of flowers. The tabloids denounced the people who had seen the abduction but had not intervened to aid him.

Three days later, a breakthrough came when a woman recognised Venables on the released low-resolution photo from the CCTV footage. The tip-off led to an arrest and the boys were taken to separate police stations where they gave a total of 20 interviews over three days.

The boys confessed and were found guilty on the 24th of November, 1993, and received the sentence that would keep them behind bars for at least until they reached the age of 25. This decision made Venables and Thompson the youngest convicted murderers in modern English history and the youngest convicted murderers of the 20th century.

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In 1999, lawyers for Thompson and Venables appealed to the European Court of Human Rights that the boys’ trial had not been impartial, since they were too young to follow proceedings and understand an adult court. The European court dismissed their claim that the trial was inhuman and degrading treatment, but upheld their claim they were denied a fair hearing by the nature of the court proceedings. The European Court also held that Michael Howard’s intervention had led to a “highly charged atmosphere”, which resulted in an unfair judgment.On 15 March 1999, the court in Strasbourg ruled by 14 votes to five that there had been a violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights regarding the fairness of the trial of Thompson and Venables, stating: “The public trial process in an adult court must be regarded in the case of an 11-year-old child as a severely intimidating procedure”.

In September 1999, Bulger’s parents applied to the European Court of Human Rights, but failed to persuade the court that a victim of a crime has the right to be involved in determining the sentence of the perpetrator.

The European court case led to the new Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, reviewing the minimum sentence. In October 2000, he recommended the tariff be reduced from ten to eight years, adding that young offender institutions were a “corrosive atmosphere” for the juveniles.

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In June 2001, after a six-month review, the parole board ruled the boys were no longer a threat to public safety and could be released as their minimum tariff had expired in February of that year. The Home Secretary David Blunkett approved the decision, and they were released a few weeks later on lifelong licence after serving eight years.

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Both men “were given new identities and moved to secret locations under a “witness protection”-style programme.”  This was supported by the fabrication of passports, national insurance numbers, qualification certificates and medical records. Blunkett added his own conditions to their licence and insisted on being sent daily updates on the men’s actions.

The terms of their release include the following: they are not allowed to contact each other or Bulger’s family; they are prohibited from visiting the Merseyside region;curfews may be imposed on them and they must report to probation officers. If they breach these rules or are deemed a risk to the public, they can be returned to prison.

An injunction was imposed on the media after the trial, preventing the publication of details about the boys. The worldwide injunction was kept in force following their release on parole, so their new identities and locations could not be published.

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Blunkett stated in 2001: “The injunction was granted because there was a real and strong possibility that their lives would be at risk if their identities became known.

In the months after the trial, and the birth of their second son, the marriage of Bulger’s parents, Ralph and Denise, broke down; they divorced in 1995. Denise married Stuart Fergus and they have two sons together. Ralph also remarried and has three daughters by his second wife.

On 2 March 2010, the Ministry of Justice revealed that Jon Venables had been returned to prison for an unspecified violation of the terms of his licence of release. The Justice Secretary Jack Straw stated that Venables had been returned to prison because of “extremely serious allegations”, and stated that he was “unable to give further details of the reasons for Jon Venables’s return to custody, because it was not in the public interest to do so.”On 7 March, Venables was returned to prison on suspected child pornography charges.

In November 2011, it was reported that officials had decided that Venables would stay in prison for the foreseeable future, as he would be likely to reveal his true identity if released. A Ministry of Justice spokesman declined to comment on the reports. On 4 July 2013, it was reported that the Parole Board for England and Wales had approved the release of Venables.

On 3 September 2013, it was reported that Venables had been released from prison

 

I don’t like Mondays

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“The silicon chip inside her head got switched to overload” is the opening line from  the Irish new wave/punk  band Boomtown Rats song “I don’t like Monday”

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The song was based on true events. On this day 38 years ago 16 year old Brenda Spencer went on a killing spree she killed two men and wounded nine children as they entered the Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego.

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Spencer blazed away with rifle shots from her home directly across the street from the school. After 20 minutes of shooting ,she barricaded herself inside her home for several hours .Police surrounded Spencer’s home for six hours before she surrendered. Asked for some explanation for the attack, Spencer allegedly said, “I just don’t like Mondays. I did this because it’s a way to cheer up the day. Nobody likes Mondays.”

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Spencer was only 16 years old at the time of her murderous attack. She was a problem child who was widely known as a drug abuser with a violent streak. She repeatedly broke the windows at the Cleveland school with her BB gun. Still, her father gave her a .22 semi-automatic rifle and ammunition as a Christmas gift at the end of 1978.

This seemed to inspire Spencer into more grandiose plans, and she started telling her classmates that she was going to do something “to get on TV.” When Monday morning rolled around, Burton Wragg, the principal of Cleveland Elementary, was opening the gates of the school when Spencer started firing her rifle from across the street. Wragg and custodian Michael Suchar were killed. “I just started shooting. That’s it. I just did it for the fun of it,” explained Spencer.

Spencer’s hatred for the first day of the school week was later memorialized by Bob Geldof, the leader of the rock group The Boomtown Rats, in the song, “I Don’t Like Mondays.”

 

Spencer was tried as an adult, and pled guilty to two counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon, is currently serving a term of 25 years to life at the California Institution for Women in Corona, California. She has been denied parole four times, most recently in 2005.

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The Murder of Theo van Gogh

theo_van_goghThe 2nd of November will mark the 12th anniversary of the murder of Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam.

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TheodoorTheovan Gogh (23 July 1957 – 2 November 2004) was a Dutch film director, film producer, television director, television producer, television presenter, screenwriter, actor, critic and author.

Theo van Gogh was born on 23 July 1957 in The Hague, Netherlands to Anneke and Johan van Gogh. His father served in the Dutch secret service (‘AIVD’, then called ‘BVD’). Theo van Gogh was the great-grandson of Theo van Gogh, the brother of painter Vincent van Gogh

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Van Gogh worked with the Somali-born writer and politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali to produce the short film Submission (2004), which criticized the treatment of women in Islam.

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On 2 November 2004, Van Gogh was murdered by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim. The last film Van Gogh had completed before his death, 06/05, was a fictional exploration of the assassination of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn.

Working from a script written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Van Gogh created the 10-minute short film Submission. The movie deals with violence against women in some Islamic societies; it tells the stories, using visual shock tactics, of four abused Muslim women. The title, Submission, is a translation of the word “Islam” into English. In the film, women’s naked bodies, with texts from the Qur’an written on them in henna, in an allusion to traditional wedding rituals in some cultures, are veiled with semi-transparent shrouds as the women kneel in prayer, telling their stories as if they are speaking to Allah.

In August 2004, after the movie’s broadcast on Dutch public TV, the newspaper De Volkskrant reported that the journalist Francisco van Jole had accused Hirsi Ali and Van Gogh of plagiarism, saying that they had appropriated the ideas of Iranian-American video artist Shirin Neshat, whose work used Arabic text projected onto bodies.

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Following the broadcast, both Van Gogh and Hirsi Ali received death threats. Van Gogh did not take the threats seriously and refused any protection. According to Hirsi Ali, he said, “Nobody kills the village idiot”, a term he frequently used about himself.

Van Gogh was murdered by Mohammed Bouyeri while cycling to work on 2 November 2004 at about 9 o’clock in the morning, in front of the Amsterdam East borough office (stadsdeelkantoor), on the corner of the Linnaeusstraat and Tweede Oosterparkstraat.

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The killer shot Van Gogh eight times with an HS2000 handgun. Bouyeri was also on a bicycle and fired several bullets, hitting Van Gogh and two bystanders.

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Wounded, Van Gogh ran to the other side of the road and fell to the ground on the cycle lane. According to eyewitnesses, Van Gogh’s last words were “Don’t do it, don’t do it.” or “Have mercy, have mercy, don’t do it, don’t do it.”Bouyeri walked up to Van Gogh, who was on the ground, and calmly shot him several more times at close range.

Bouyeri cut Van Gogh’s throat with a large knife and tried to decapitate him, after which he stabbed the knife deep into Van Gogh’s chest, reaching his spinal cord. He attached a note to the body with a smaller knife. Van Gogh died on the spot.The two knives were left implanted. The note was addressed to and contained a death threat to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who went into hiding. It also threatened Western countries and Jews, and referred to ideologies of the Egyptian organization Takfir wal-Hijra.

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The killer, Mohammed Bouyeri, a 26-year-old Dutch-Moroccan citizen, was apprehended by police after a chase, during which he was shot in the leg. Authorities have alleged that Bouyeri has terrorist ties with the Dutch Islamist Hofstad Network. He was charged with the attempted murder of several police officers and bystanders, illegal possession of a firearm, and conspiring to murder others, including Hirsi Ali. He was convicted at trial on 26 July 2005 and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

In 1995, Mohammed Bouyeri finished his secondary education and subsequently went on to the “Nyenrode College ” in Diemen. He changed his major several times and left after five years without obtaining a degree.

A second generation migrant from Morocco, Bouyeri used the pen name “Abu Zubair” for writing and translating. On the Internet he often posted letters and sent e-mail under this name.

At an early age he was known to the police as a member of a group of Moroccan “problem-youth”. For a while he worked as a volunteer at Eigenwijks, a neighbourhood organization in the Slotervaart suburb of Amsterdam. He started to radicalize shortly after his mother died and his father re-married in the fall of 2003. The September 11 attacks and the war in Iraq contributed to his radicalization.

He started to live according to strict Islamic rules. As a result he could perform fewer and fewer tasks at Eigenwijks. For example, he refused to serve alcohol and did not want to be present at activities attended by both women and men. Finally, he put an end to his activities at Eigenwijks altogether.

He grew a beard and began to wear a djellaba.

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He frequently visited the El Tawheed mosque where he met other radical Muslims, among whom were suspected terrorist . With them he is said to have formed the Hofstad Network, a Dutch terrorist cell.

He claims to have murdered van Gogh to fulfill his duty as a Muslim. Serving as witness in another court case involving the Hofstad group in May 2007, Bouyeri for the time expressed in more depth his thoughts regarding Islam. Here he said that armed Jihad was the only option of Muslims in the Netherlands and that democracy was always a violation of Islam because laws cannot be produced by humans but only by Allah

The murder sparked a violent storm of outrage and grief throughout the Netherlands. Flowers, notes, drawings and other expressions of mourning were left at the scene of the murder.

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I think that Mohammed Bouyeri is more of a deranged psychopath then anything else. Someone with a warped sense of entitlement.

 

 

The Wigwam Murder- A WW2 Murder Case.

August Sangret (28 August 1913 – 29 April 1943) was a French-Canadian soldier  of North American Indian ethnic origin, convicted and subsequently hanged for the September 1942 murder of 19-year-old Joan Pearl Wolfe in Surrey, England. This murder case is also known as the Wigwam Murder.

The murder of Joan Pearl Wolfe became known as “the Wigwam Murder” due to the fact the victim had become known among locals as “the Wigwam Girl” through her living in two separate, improvised wigwams upon Hankley Common in the months preceding her murder, and that these devices proved to have been constructed by her murderer.The case also involved the famous British Pathologist Professor Keith Simpson.

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On 7 October 1942, two soldiers were strolling on Hankley Common (near Godalming, Surrey) when they noticed an arm protruding from a mound of earth. A badly decomposed fully-clothed woman was found to have been loosely buried up on the mound.

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Professor Keith Simpson concluded that the woman had been stabbed with a hooked-tipped knife, and that she was then killed with a heavy blunt instrument. He also deduced that the attack had occurred elsewhere, and the woman’s corpse dragged to the ridge where it was buried. The woman was eventually identified as Joan Pearl Wolfe, who was living rough in a crude shelter made of tree branches, and so the newspapers gave her the nickname of “Wigwam Girl”.

The police search of Hackney Common found the dead woman’s Identity Card and a letter to a Canadian soldier called August Sangret. The letter informed Sangret that she was pregnant.

Wolfe became engaged to a Canadian soldier: Francis Hearn. Hearn returned to Canada promising to marry her; she wore a ring that he had given her and she sometimes referred to herself as his wife.

On 17 July 1942, the day after Hearn left for Canada, Wolfe met Sangret for the first time in a pub in Godalming. They talked and walked through a local park. They had sex that night and parted company having arranged to meet again. As very often happened, Wolfe did not keep her next date, but Sangret met her again by chance a few days later when she seemed to be on a date with another soldier named Hartnell. The three conversed for some time and then Hartnell left. Sangret and Wolfe met regularly.

My Dear August,

Well, my dear, I hope I am forgiven for not turning up to see you last night, but I was in the police station five hours and they did not help me. I was walking along the road and suddenly came over queer. I fainted for the first time in my whole life. The brought me to the hospital here. They are going to examine me. I shall know whether I am all right or not then. I hope you will come and see me, as I really want to see you very much and being in bed all day is awful. You can come any night between 6-7 p.m. and Sunday afternoon. Please try and come. I have your picture on the locker beside me. The nurses know you are my boy friend, they told me to tell you to come and see me. You have to tell them my name and ask for Emergency Ward. Well, hoping to see you soon, I will say au revoir. God bless you. Love Joan.

Wolfe was not ill; she was, apparently, pregnant.

(Although pathologists who later examined Wolfe’s body were unable to determine whether she had been pregnant at the time of her death, had she been so at the time she wrote this letter on 26 July, Sangret—having known Wolfe for just nine days—could not have fathered the child. If Wolfe was indeed pregnant, the father of the child would likely have been Francis Hearn.)

When Wolfe was released from hospital, the couple spent a great deal of time together. Sangret made a shack or wigwam in woodland behind the officers lines.

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Here Wolfe would stay most of the time and Sangret would visit whenever he could, including many nights when he should have been in camp. The couple talked about their future plans, including marriage. When they could not meet, Wolfe sent letters to Sangret that would be read out by Sergeant Hicks. Wolfe got work, but she was totally unreliable and her various employments only lasted a few days. Wolfe drifted away for a few days to London and soon after she returned she was again picked up by the police and spent a few more days in hospital — not because she was ill, but simply so that she would be looked after.

When Wolfe returned, the couple were discovered in a wigwam by Private Donald Brett, a soldier attached to the military police. Brett told them to disassemble the wigwam and move away. Wolfe was once again taken to a hospital by the police. By the time she returned, Sangret had built a second wigwam made waterproof with his rain cape and gas cape. When Wolfe returned, the couple walked into town to try to find a room in town without success. That evening, Wolfe was detained by the military police who questioned her; she was sent to a hospital again and Sangret was arrested for “keeping a girl in camp”.

The couple had to explain themselves to the authorities, they explained that their plans included getting married and they were treated sympathetically. On leaving hospital, Wolfe again returned to Sangret. They tried again to find a room in town, but ended up sleeping together in an unlocked cricket pavilion. Over the next two weeks, they spent a number of nights at the old pavilion and then, on 14 September, Wolfe disappeared. The affair between Sangret and Wolfe had lasted 81 days.

Sangret was arrested and taken to Godalming police station. He was interviewed at length by inspector Edward Greeno. The questioning went on for days and Sangret’s statement, which was then the longest statement ever made, took a policeman five days to write out in longhand. Sangret was charged with Wolfe’s murder.

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When the police interviewed Sangret, he admitted having intimate relations with the girl and living with her tree wigwam. A heavy birch branch, with blood stains, was found near the body’s grave. Sangret’s recently washed battledress was found to have blood stains. Finally on 27 November 1942, a hooked-tip knife was found blocking a waste pipe.

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August Sangret was charged with Wolfe’s murder and tried during February 1943. He was found guilty of murder, with a recommendation to mercy, and sentenced to death by hanging. The Home Secretary choose to disregard the jury’s recommendation. Sangret was hanged at Wandsworth Prison on 29 April 1943

Preliminary hearings were held at Guildford on 12, 13, 19 and 20 January 1943. With the committal proceedings complete, Captain Creasey noted in his diary that the case was “medium strong, circumstantial case only.”

The judge finished his summary with the words:

That the girl (Wolfe) was murdered is not in dispute; that she was murdered by some man is also quite plain; and the only question you have to determine is: Have the Crown satisfied you beyond all real doubt that the prisoner, August Sanget, is the man who murdered her?

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I can only conclude by saying what I said at the beginning; when dealing with a case of circumstantial evidence you must be satisfied beyond all doubt before you find the prisoner guilty. If you come to the conclusion that, on the facts as proved to you, no real doubt is left in your minds that his was the hand which slew this unhappy girl, then you will convict him.

The jury, who took two hours to reach their verdict, made a strong recommendation to mercy. Before sentence of death was passed, Sangret declared, “I am not guilty. I never killed that girl.”

Sanget’s appeal was heard on 13 April. The appeal was dismissed and the jury’s appeal for mercy was not a matter for the courts, but for the Home Secretary. Then Home Secretary Herbert Morrison found the jury’s recommendation surprising, even inexplicable. Seeing no good reason to interfere, he let the law take its course.

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Sangret was held in the condemned cell at Wandsworth Prison where he was hanged on 29 April 1943.

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In his memoirs, published in 1960, Edward Greeno made his opinion quite clear:

I had interviewed thousands of people in this case and seventy-four of them went into the witness-box. The case was so watertight that, as Sir Norman Kendal said later, Sanget’s appeal against the death sentence ‘was almost a farce’.

One small doubt remained. Sanget murdered the girl because she was expecting his child—but was she? Was she expecting anybody’s child?

The doctors didn’t think so on the occasion that the police sent her to hospital, and when her body was found it was too late to tell.

But this is certain: Sangret did murder her. He confessed before he died, and this is where I quarrel with the rules. It is never announced when a murderer confesses. But why not? There are always cranks and crackpots to argue that some wicked policeman has framed some poor fellow. So why make an official secret of the fact that the policeman did his job?

Due to the Army not discharging Sangret before his execution, he is commemorated on the Brookwood Memorial.

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