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Monday, 1 August 2016


An Ancient Roman punishment for the crime of parricide (the killing of a parent) was to severely scourge the criminal, sew them into a stout leather bag with a dog, a snake, a rooster, and a monkey, then throw the bag into the river.

French knight Gilles de Rais, one of the earliest known serial killers, was taken into custody in 1440 upon an accusation brought against him by the Bishop of Nantes.

When James Hamilton shot and killed James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray, regent for the infant King James VI of Scotland in 1570. it was the first recorded assassination using a firearm.

James Stewart, Earl of Moray, illegitimate 

America's first murderer, John Billington, came over on the Mayflower, got into a fight with another colonist, and shot him with a musket.

William Burke and William Hare carried out a series of infamous murders in Edinburgh in the 1820s, with the aim of supplying bodies for anatomist Dr Robert Knox too dissect. Hare turned king's evidence, and died a beggar in London in the 1860s; Burke was hanged, and in his confession, Burke exonerated Knox from all knowledge of his crimes. The incident caused the Anatomy Act (1832) to be passed, which regulated the supply of bodies to medical schools.

 Burke's execution in the Lawnmarket from a contemporary print

In one of the most sensational murder trials in US history, Lizzie Borden was accused of killing her wealthy father and hated step-mother with an axe on August 4, 1892. She claimed to have been outside in the barn at the time of the murder, and despite a wealth of circumstantial evidence Borden was acquitted of the double murder. She lived out her life in Fall River, and was buried alongside her father and step-mother.

The case is immortalised in the rhyme:

Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks;
And when she saw what she had done; she gave her father forty one.

In actuality, the police accused Borden of giving her father 10 whacks and her stepmother 19.

Lizzie Borden during the trial,

Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were wealthy students at the University of Chicago. In 1924 they were sentenced to life plus 99 years after strangling a boy for no reason other than to prove they could commit the perfect murder undetected. Their story was the basis of Alfred Hitchcock's 1948 movie Rope.

Loeb was killed in prison by a fellow inmate who had claimed Loeb tried to seduce him. One waggish reporter wrote he ‘ended his sentence with a proposition’.

In the 1940s, "The Lipstick Killer", William Heirens was convicted of killing 6-year-old Suzanne Degnan, Frances Brown and Josephine Ross. Heirens got his nickname because he wrote, "For heaven's sake, catch me before I kill more. I cannot control myself," on Brown's wall in lipstick.

The first live televised murder was on November 24, 1963, when Jack Ruby killed President John Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald while millions of viewers watched.

Ruby about to shoot Oswald who is being escorted by Dallas police detectives 

Ted Bundy was a law student who is believed to have killed at least 36 females, both adults and children, over a number of years. Convicted in 1979 on several charges, including the murder of a 12-year-old girl, he was sentenced to death. Bundy was executed in Florida in 1989 after a string of unsuccessful appeals.

Blondie's Debbie Harry thinks she once got into a car driven by Bundy. She recalled to Q magazine June 2011: "It was in the early '70s in New York and I was trying to catch a cab and there weren't any. This guy in a car was circling and circling and I got in. Silly me. You know when something doesn't feel right? It didn't feel right and it didn't smell right. This guy really needed to take care of his hygiene. The car was a mess and he had sawn the door handles off on the inside. Anyway, I got the window open and opened the door and got out. It was only much later on reading about him in the newspapers where they gave the modus operandi of his killings that the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I believe it was him."

Bundy in police custody on July 27, 1978

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore reported in 1989 that the leading cause of injury-related deaths of U.S. children under one year old was homicide.

Prostitute Aileen Wuornos was the first female serial killer in America. In 1992 she was charged with the shooting of seven middle-aged men at point blank range. She confessed to shooting her victims, but claimed that they had either raped or attempted to rape her while she was working as a prostitute, and that all of the homicides were committed in self-defense. Woornous was convicted and sentenced to death for six of the murders. She was eventually executed by lethal injection on October 9. 2002.

Aileen Wuornos

Polish writer, Krystian Bala, wrote a fictional novel in 2003 where he detailed a murder much similar to the one he'd committed three years previously. This novel played a huge part in solving that murder and he was later sentenced to jail for 25 years.

The murder of a woman just because of her gender is called femicide. Guatemala became the first country to recognize it as a crime in 2008.

November 25, 2012 was the first day since 1960 that there was no reported murder or manslaughter in New York City.
Chart of murders in the NYC area by year

East St. Louis has a higher murder rate than Honduras, the country with the highest murder rate in the world.

More than two-thirds of homicide victims in the UK are killed by partners, ex-partners or other family members.

Worldwide Males commit 95% of all homicides and make up 79% of all homicide victims.

If you're murdered in America, there's a 1 in 3 chance that the police won't identify your killer.

Less than one percent of murders in any given year are committed by serial killers.

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