On January 2, 1981, Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper was apprehended by British police, ending one of the largest manhunts in history. For five years, investigators had pursued every lead in an effort to stop the serial killer who terrorized Northern England. Sutcliffe was spotted in a stolen car with a prostitute and arrested by Sergeant Robert Ring. Near the scene of the arrest police found a hammer and knife, the Yorkshire Ripper's weapons of choice. Sutcliffe confessed to the murders when confronted with this evidence.
On December 31, 1984, Bernhard Goetz, who was dubbed the "subway vigilante" after he shot four young black men on a New York City subway train, turns himself in at a police station in Concord, New Hampshire. Goetz claimed that the men, all of whom had criminal records, were trying to rob him and that he had acted in self-defense. At the time, New York was in the midst of a crime wave and Goetz was viewed by some people as a hero, an ordinary citizen fighting back against his attackers.
On December 30, 1916, Rasputin, a self-fashioned Russian holy man, is murdered by Russian nobles eager to end his sway over the royal family. Rasputin won the favor of Czar Nicholas II and Czarina Alexandra through his ability to stop the bleeding of their hemophiliac son, Alexei.
On December 28, 1793, Thomas Paine is arrested in France for treason. Though the charges against him were never detailed, he had been tried in absentia on December 26th and convicted. Before moving to France, Paine was an instrumental figure in the American Revolution as the author of Common Sense, writings used by George Washington to inspire the American troops. Paine moved to Paris to become involved with the French Revolution, but the chaotic political climate turned against him, and he was arrested and jailed for crimes against the country.
On December 27, 2007, Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan and the first democratically elected female leader of a Muslim country was assassinated. A polarizing figure at home and abroad, Bhutto had spent three decades struggling to stay afloat in the murky waters of Pakistani politics. To many of her supporters, she represented the strongest hope for democratic and egalitarian leadership in a country unhinged by political corruption and Islamic extremism.
On December 26, 1946, mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel opens The Flamingo Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 40-acre facility wasn't complete and Siegel was hoping to raise some revenue with the grand opening. Well-known singer and comedian Jimmy Durante headlined the entertainment, with music by Cuban band leader Xavier Cugat. Some of Siegel's Hollywood friends, including actors George Raft, George Sanders, Sonny Tufts and George Jessel were in attendance.
On December 25, 1996, six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey is killed in her Boulder, Colorado, home. John and Patsy Ramsey, her parents, called police at 5:52 the following morning to report that their daughter was missing. Although police found a ransom note demanding $118,000, the money would never be necessary, because the young girl’s body was found under a blanket in the basement that afternoon. The crime soon became a national sensation.