The remains of a young woman, cut in two at the waist with remarkable surgical precision, were discovered in a vacant lot on Norton Avenue in Los Angeles on Jan. 15, 1947. Slits were made from the corners of her mouth to her ears, leaving her with a macabre “Glasgow smile.” So began the Black Dahlia murder mystery.</br></br> Fingerprints were used to identify the victim: Elizabeth Short, 22, of Hyde Park, Mass. The photo to the left stems from an arrest in 1943 in Santa Barbara for underage drinking.</br></br> Hardened detectives, who had investigated crude mutilations, were amazed how the killer had carefully bisected the woman. They checked local medical students, but nothing connected them to the crime.</br></br> Detectives checked for links to serial killings, like the Cleveland Torso murders of the 1930s, but were unable to definitively connect the two crimes. </br></br> A couple of suspects emerged, including Dr. Walter Bayley, a surgeon who owned a home near the lot where Short was found, and Dr. George Hodel Jr., who ran a public health clinic. However, police were unable to link either men to the murder.</br></br> The case remains unsolved to this day.
With his wild staring eyes and his chilling lack of remorse for the brutal slayings carried out in his name, Charles Manson remains the very embodiment of evil nearly 50 years after the crimes that shocked the world.</br></br> The Manson Family, comprised of the self-proclaimed prophet of doom and his hippie disciples of death, were suspected of carrying out as many as 35 murders in the late 1960s.</br></br> Although Manson and his followers were convicted of seven of those killings — the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders — the nightmare portrayed at their Los Angeles trial effectively marked the end of the Summer of Love for a generation.</br></br> Manson wasn’t actually charged with killing anybody himself, but he was convicted through the joint-responsibility rule, which makes co-conspirators in murder equally to blame for the deaths.</br></br> On Jan. 25, 1971, Manson, who tattooed a Swastika on his forehead, was convicted and sentenced to death, but the punishment was automatically commuted to life in prison when a 1972 decision by the California Supreme Court temporarily eliminated the state’s death penalty.
At around 5 p.m. on Dec. 8, 1980, John Lennon was walking out of his New York apartment on his way to a recording session when a young fan asked him to autograph a copy of his new “Double Fantasy” album. This moment was captured in the photo on the left.</br></br> A smiling Lennon duly obliged and went on his way without giving the incident a second thought.</br></br> But when the ex-Beatle returned to his Dakota apartment bordering Central Park some five hours later with wife Yoko Ono, the same fan was waiting for him.</br> And this time, Mark David Chapman wanted much more than an autograph.</br></br> Moments after the couple walked past Chapman, he raised his .38 special revolver and fired five shots, four of them hitting Lennon in the back and left shoulder.</br></br> The former Beatle had just released his first record in years and was especially happy. Shot from behind, he didn’t have the slightest clue he was in any danger before his life was so cruelly snatched away at the age of 40.</br></br> Chapman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced on Aug. 24, 1981 to 20 years to life in prison. He remains behind bars, having been denied eight applications for parole.
It was called the “Trial of the Century” — the 1995 trial of popular football star O.J. Simpson for the brutal slaughter of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman.</br></br> It captivated and divided the nation — with millions of people tuning in to watch the nationally televised coverage and arguing over whether or not the once beloved athlete could have been capable of such a depraved and callous crime.</br></br> Nicole and Ron were butchered in the walkway outside Nicole’s townhome sometime before midnight on June 12, 1994. Nicole, who had two children with O.J. during their marriage, had been stabbed repeatedly in the head and neck and her throat had been slashed. Defensive wounds on her hands indicated she had tried to fight off her attacker. Ron, a waiter at a local restaurant who went to Nicole’s house that night to return a pair of glasses left at the eatery, also suffered multiple stab wounds.</br></br> Evidence at the scene pointed right to O.J., but he was found not guilty of the killings. He later was found responsible for their deaths in a civil suit brought by Ron Goldman’s family. </br></br> He’s currently serving a 33-year sentence in a Nevada prison for kidnapping and armed robbery stemming from a 2007 incident at a Las Vegas hotel in which O.J. and a group of cohorts tried to steal back some of his sports memorabilia from a collector — at gunpoint. He’s eligible for parole in 2017.
When Gianni Versace was gunned down on the steps of his $ 33 million Miami Beach mansion, the mourning extended way beyond the world of fashion.</br></br> The 50-year-old Italian designer benefitted greatly by the added spotlight thrown on his creations by his friendships and tie-ins with celebrities.</br></br> Versace developed strong relationships with stars from Princess Diana to Elton John, Madonna and Eric Clapton in the course of building his $800 million fashion empire.</br></br> Like everybody else, they were left distraught and dumbfounded by the style mogul’s sudden death on July 15, 1997.</br></br> Versace was murdered by spree killer Andrew Cunanan, a gay prostitute who had already killed four men in cold blood and was the subject of a massive police manhunt.</br></br> The gunman fired two bullets into the stunned designer’s head at close range as he tried to unlock his wrought iron gate, killing him instantly.</br> Cunanan, 27, used the same gun to kill himself on a houseboat eight days later.
Real estate scion Robert Durst may finally be facing justice, thanks to a combination of dogged police work, a cable TV documentary — and his own hubris.</br></br> Although he has long been considered a suspect in the 2000 execution-style slaying of his longtime friend Susan Berman, the 71-year-old wasn’t arrested until March 14, when he was apprehended at a New Orleans hotel and charged with first-degree murder. </br></br> In addition to the Berman murder, Durst is believed by many to be responsible for the disappearance of his wife, Kathie, in early 1982. A state police investigator had just reopened that case in the late 90s when Berman was murdered with a single gunshot to the back of the head on Christmas Eve 2000.</br></br> Durst’s already eccentric behavior became even more bizarre in the months leading up to Berman’s death. In what’s been called an attempt to avoid police interrogation, he moved to a boarding house in Galveston, Texas, and posed as a mute woman.</br></br> In 2001, he killed a neighbor named Morris Black, then dismembered him, stuffed his body in garbage bags and dumped them in Galveston Bay. At his trial, he claimed he killed Black in self-defense — and incredibly, he was acquitted.</br></br> Durst was the subject of an HBO miniseries, “The Jinx”, examining his life and crimes. On the eve of “The Jinx” finale, Durst was arrested by the FBI in New Orleans after the emergence of new evidence.
The evening of June 4, 2002, began as a normal one for the Smart household. The family — parents Edward and Lois and their six children — had attended an awards ceremony at 14-year-old Elizabeth’s school then returned home to their Salt Lake City, Utah, home, where they all retired to bed for the night.</br></br> Although the home was outfitted with an alarm system, Edward and Lois didn’t turn it on that night because if the kids got up and moved about the house it would trip the alarm. It was a decision they’d later regret.</br></br> In the early morning hours of June 5, a stranger slipped into the home unnoticed and into the bedroom Elizabeth shared with her 9-year-old sister, Mary Katherine. Placing one hand on her chest and a knife to her throat, he commanded Elizabeth to “get up quietly,” threatening to kill her and her family if she didn’t go along with him. Elizabeth did as she was told — and disappeared.</br></br> Her kidnappers, later identified as Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, were arrested on March 12, 2003 and Elizabeth Smart was found inside their home. Mitchell was sentenced to two life sentences and Barzee was sentenced to 15 years as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.</br></br> Today, Elizabeth, 27, is an outspoken activist in support of sexual predator legislation and educating children about violent and sexual crime.
For more than a decade, depraved monster Ariel Castro held three women prisoners inside his Cleveland home, where he beat, tortured, starved and raped them. Their incredible escape on May 6, 2013, was nothing short of a miracle.</br></br> On that afternoon, Castro, who normally locked up his Seymour Avenue home like a fortress, forgot to lock the outer front door, leaving the women — Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus, plus Amanda’s 6-year-old daughter with Castro — behind only a bolted storm door.</br></br> Despite years of being held in captivity, Amanda seized the opportunity and began screaming for help from neighbors she could see on the street. </br></br> Two of them kicked a hole in the bottom of the door large enough for Amanda and her child to squeeze through. Amanda frantically called 911 from a neighbor’s phone, and when police arrived, they found Michelle and Gina still inside the house.</br></br> Each of the women had been kidnapped not far from the home years earlier, after accepting a ride home from Castro. </br></br> Castro was arrested and sentenced to three consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole plus 1,000 years for his crimes. After serving just a month, he hanged himself in his jail cell with his bedsheets.
A decade after Natalee Holloway disappeared in 2005 on a high school graduation trip to Aruba, her family can only guess about the Alabama teen’s fate.</br></br> The vivacious 18-year-old graduate of a Birmingham-area high school was to return from the Dutch Caribbean vacation spot on May 30, 2005. But when classmates awoke that morning at their hotel, she was missing.</br></br> Natalee was last seen the previous evening leaving a popular nightclub with 17-year-old Joran van der Sloot, a high school honors student who was known to frequent the local party scene.</br></br> Van der Sloot claimed he had information about Natalee, but he changed his story several times, including a statement about selling the girl into slavery. He was arrested twice, but Aruban authorities couldn’t get enough evidence to put him on trial.</br></br> In May 2010, five years after Natalee disappeared, 21-year-old Stephany Flores was found bludgeoned to death in van der Sloot’s Lima hotel room.</br></br> Investigators learned van der Sloot met her at a local casino.</br></br> Van der Sloot fled to Chile, but he was extradited back to Peru. He pleaded guilty to killing the woman and was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
Who killed Meredith Kercher?</br></br> It wasn’t her American roommate Amanda Knox.</br></br> So said the highest court in Italy on March 27, when the convictions of Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were overturned after seven years of twists and turns in this perverse case that captivated not only the nation but the world.</br></br> Amanda Knox was a 20-year-old college student from Seattle, a self-described dork and yoga enthusiast, when she journeyed to Perugia, Italy, to attend the university. Life was good — she was learning Italian in the exquisite city and soon met a handsome young Italian who became her lover.</br></br> But the happiness turned to horror on the night of Nov. 2, 2007, when the body of Amanda’s roommate, British exchange student Meredith Kercher, was discovered in a pool of blood, raped, her throat cut.</br></br> So began the undoing of Knox, dubbed “Foxy Knoxy” by the press and imprisoned for four years as she waged a grueling legal battle in the high-profile killing of Kercher.</br></br> Knox’s first appeal took place in October 2011, when a court in Perugia threw out the couple’s convictions and declared them innocent after nearly four years in prison.</br></br> On Jan. 30, 2014, however, a court in Florence sensationally reinstated the 2009 murder and sexual assault convictions against Knox and Sollecito.</br></br> Now, Italy’s highest court in Rome has overturned last year’s convictions and declined to order another trial.
As Americans, we sometimes find ourselves drawn to all manner of true crime. Whether it be murder, kidnapping or missing persons, some of these horrific crimes achieved a notoriety beyond all others. In some instances, the crimes themselves were so dastardly they gripped us collectively as a nation. From the grisly slaying of “Black Dahlia” Elizabeth Short in 1947 and the Manson murders in the ’60s to the tragic killing of John Lennon in 1980 and the infamous O.J. Simpson “trial of the century” in the mid-1990s, here are ten shocking true crime cases ripped from the headlines.
With simple spring-piston operation and a streamlined design, the BlackHawk Elite air rifle pushes pellets...
by Personal Defense World / Aug 19, 2015