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.
On December 23, 1948, Hideki Tojo, former Japanese premier and chief of the Kwantung Army, is executed along with six other top Japanese leaders for their war crimes during World War II. Seven of the defendants were also found guilty of committing crimes against humanity, especially in regard to their systematic genocide of the Chinese people.
Sunny & Claus von Bulow
On December 21, 1980, wealthy socialite Martha "Sunny" Crawford von Bulow is found in a coma at her Newport, Rhode Island mansion, from what initially appeared to be an insulin overdose. Following a long investigation, Sunny's husband, Claus von Bulow, was charged with two counts of attempted murder and was convicted in a sensational trial in 1982. His conviction was later overturned, and Claus was acquitted at a second trial in 1985.