On August 26, 1986, Jennifer Levin is found dead in New York City’s Central Park less than two hours after she was seen leaving a bar on the city’s Upper East Side with Robert Chambers. The tall, handsome Chambers was soon arrested and charged with murder. The tabloid media dubbed Chambers, who had attended Manhattan private schools, the “Preppy Killer.” The case shocked the city and raised questions about underage drinking, drug use and casual sex among New York’s privileged youth.
On August 24, 1896, outlaw Bill Doolin is killed by a posse at Lawson, Oklahoma. Born in Arkansas in 1858, William Doolin traveled west in 1881, finding work in Oklahoma at the ranch of Oscar D. Halsell. Halsell took a liking to the young Doolin and taught him to read and write, and eventually made him a foreman on the ranch. Doolin worked for several other ranchers in the next decade and he was widely considered trustworthy and capable.
Mark David Chapman
On August 24, 1981, Mark David Chapman is sentenced to 20 years to life for the murder of John Lennon. On December 8, 1980, Chapman shot and killed the 40-year-old singer, songwriter and peace activist, outside Lennon’s New York City apartment building, the Dakota, where he lived with his wife Yoko Ono and their young son Sean.
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti
On August 23, 1927, Italian-born anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are executed for murder. On April 15, 1920, a paymaster for a shoe company in South Braintree, Massachusetts, was shot and killed along with his guard. The murderers, who were described as two Italian men, escaped with more than $15,000.
On August 22, 1922, Irish revolutionary and Sinn Fein politician Michael Collins is assassinated in an ambush in west County Cork, Ireland. In the early part of the century, Collins joined Sinn Fein, an Irish political party dedicated to achieving independence for all Ireland. From its inception, the party became the unofficial political wing of militant Irish groups in their struggle to throw off British rule.
The West Memphis Three - Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley
On August 19, 2011, three men, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, who were convicted as teenagers in 1994 of the murders of three boys in Arkansas, are released from prison in a special legal deal allowing them to maintain their innocence while acknowledging that prosecutors had sufficient evidence to convict them.
Artists rendering of the Montana Vigilante hanging of Cyrus Skinner
On August 18, 1853, Cyrus Skinner, who would later be hanged by the Montana vigilantes, ends his first stay in the California state prison at San Quentin. Skinner was typical of the thieves and killers who terrorized the gold fields of Montana in the early 1860s. Born in Ohio in 1829, Skinner began robbing people as a teenager. He immigrated to California in 1850 and was promptly arrested for burglary. He served two years in San Quentin prison before being released on this day in 1853.