On January 21, 1959, Carl Dean Switzer, the actor who as a child played "Alfalfa" in the Our Gang comedy film series, dies at age 31 in a fight, allegedly about money, in a Mission Hills, California, home. Alfalfa, the freckle-faced boy with a warbling singing voice and a cowlick protruding from the top of his head, was Switzer's best-known role.
On January 20, 1974, Rae Carruth, a standout NFL football player who was convicted of hiring a hit man to kill his pregnant girlfriend, was born in Sacramento, California. On the night of November 15, 1999, Carruth, a receiver for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, and his girlfriend, Cherica Adams, 24, went to see a movie in Charlotte, North Carolina. Later that night, they each got into their own cars and began driving to Adams’ home. Carruth drove ahead of Adams, who was in her third trimester of pregnancy. Shortly after 12:30 a.m., a vehicle pulled alongside Adams’ car and she was shot four times.
On January 18, 1990, at the end of a joint sting operation by FBI agents and District of Columbia police, Mayor Marion Barry is arrested and charged with drug possession and the use of crack cocaine. At the Vista International Hotel in downtown Washington, Barry was caught smoking the substance on camera with Rahsheeda Moore, a woman who had agreed to set up Barry in exchange for a reduced sentence in an earlier drug conviction. "The bitch set me up! The bitch set me up!" he yelled as he was taken into custody.
On January 17, 1950, a team of 11 thieves, in a precisely timed and choreographed strike, steals more than $2 million from the Brinks Armored Car depot in Boston, Massachusetts. The Great Brinks Robbery, as it quickly became known, was almost the perfect crime. Only days before the statute of limitations was set to expire on the crime, the culprits were finally caught.
On January 16, 1936, Albert Fish was executed at Sing Sing prison in New York. The "Moon Maniac" was one of America's most notorious and disturbed killers. Authorities believe that Fish killed as many as 10 children and then ate their remains. Fish went to the electric chair with great anticipation, telling guards, "It will be the supreme thrill, the only one I haven't tried."
On January 15, 1951, Ilse Koch, wife of the commandant of the Buchenwald concentration camp, is sentenced to life imprisonment in a court in West Germany. Ilse Koch was nicknamed the "Witch of Buchenwald" for her sadistic treatment of prisoners.
On January 14, 1741, Benedict Arnold, America’s most notorious traitor was born in Norwich, Connecticut. Arnold, who was raised in a respected family, apprenticed with an apothecary and was a member of the militia during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). He later became a successful trader and joined the Continental Army when the Revolutionary War broke out between Great Britain and its 13 American colonies in 1775.