Brenda Ann Spencer
Brenda Ann Spencer was born on April 3, 1962. For Christmas 1978 her father, Wallace, had given her a .22 rifle as a present. A month later, on January 29, 1979, she achieved infamy when she began shooting at her school, Grover Cleveland Elementary in San Diego from her home, located across the street. Spencer shot principal Burton Wragg, 53, as he was trying to protect the children. Head custodian Mike Suchar, 56, died as he tried to help Mr. Wragg. In all, Spencer killed two and wounded eight children and a policeman.
Jan. 29, 2013 Associated Press
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — A decade after a raging fire swept through Southern California's San Bernardino foothills, an arsonist was sentenced to death for causing the deaths of five men who died of heart attacks.
It was an unusual legal interpretation of murder likely to be debated in appellate courts.
A lawyer for Rickie Lee Fowler, 31, suggested in arguments Monday that he could not have foreseen that anyone would die and said there was lingering doubt about whether he threw a road flare that was believed to have started the blaze. A second man was seen with him that night.
Superior Court Judge Michael Smith imposed the punishment recommended by a jury in spite of the fact that the victims did not die by Fowler's hand. They died of heart attacks allegedly brought on by the stress of evacuating their homes as flames raged.
Smith had the option of reducing Fowler's sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He declined.
"Today, after nearly ten years, justice has now been secured for the victims and their families, and those whose lives were affected by the actions of Rickie Lee Fowler," said District Attorney Michael Ramos.
Fowler was convicted in August of five counts of first-degree murder and two counts of arson.
Prosecutors said Fowler lit the fire in 2003 out of rage after he was thrown out of a house where his family was staying.
The blaze scorched more than 142 square miles in October 2003 and destroyed 1,000 buildings as it burned for nine days in the foothills above San Bernardino. The men died after their homes burned or as they tried to evacuate.
Jan. 28, 2013 Associated Press
ABUJA, Nigeria — A man who formerly helped oversee Nigeria's police pension program pleaded guilty Monday to stealing $145 million, but walked out of court a free man after agreeing to a plea bargain that saw him pay only a fraction of it back.
The plea deal given to John Yakubu Yusufu and read out in court sparked immediate anger across Nigeria, a nation where many feel government officials pilfer pension funds and oil revenue without any fear of prosecution. Yusufu will pay only a $14,000 fine, forfeit some properties and pay about $2 million in restitution, something that the nation's top anti-corruption agency immediately criticized.
Justice Mohammed Talba, who agreed to the plea deal in a Federal High Court, sentenced Yusufu to serve two years in prison. However, Talba said Yusufu could pay the fine and the restitution, which also includes turning over 32 properties he allegedly purchased with the stolen money.
In asking for the plea deal, Yusufu's defense lawyer, Theodore Bala Maiyakim, said his client had a serious heart condition.
"He has saved the time of my Lord and being a first offender, with no previous record of conviction, I urge the court to temper justice with mercy and sentence him with least possible terms," Maiyakim asked, according to an account provided by Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Prosecutor Rotimi Jacobs, however, called for Yusufu to serve prison time to "send out the message that the era of stealing public funds with impunity is gone."
Charles Starkweather & Caril Fugate
On January 28, 1958, Charles Starkweather, a 19-year-old high-school dropout from Lincoln, Nebraska, and his 14-year-old girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate, kill a Lincoln businessman, his wife and their maid, as part of a murderous crime spree that began a week earlier and would ultimately leave 10 people dead.
Jan. 27, 2013 NBC News
Two days after Christmas 2003: A man walking his dog through the woods on Whidbey Island in Washington state spots a yellow Chevy sports utility vehicle, its door open, its driver with a bullet in the head.
The victim is Russel Douglas, 32, and when police search his cell phone records, according to court documents, they find that he has recently been in touch with Peggy Sue Thomas – a 6-foot-tall, single mother of two who was crowned Ms. Washington in 2000.
She won the evening gown division at the national competition, where she proclaimed, according to a profile in the Seattle Weekly, that the greatest ethical challenge facing women was “raising children with morals, even with all the violence, sex and drugs in the media.”
Years after she graced the national stage with that sobering message, prosecutors alleged that she lured Russel Douglas, the estranged husband of a longtime friend, to the woods under the pretense of giving him a Christmas gift. There, investigators claimed, her lover shot Douglas point-blank.
On January 27, 1955, wealthy Russian businessman Serge Rubinstein is found dead by his valet. He had been tied up, gagged and strangled in the bedroom of his 5th Avenue New York apartment. He was the son of Dimitri Rubinstein financial lender of Tsar Nicolas II of Russia. During the revolution of 1917, his family fled the country with a fortune in diamonds.
Jan. 27, 2013 Huffington Post
A grand jury voted to indict JonBenet Ramsey's parents in 1999 on charges of child abuse resulting in death but the prosecutor never signed the indictment, according to a new report by The Daily Camera.
Then-Boulder District Attorney Alex Hunter told media back then that he did not believe his office had enough evidence to file any charges, though the Ramsey family remained prime suspects for years before being absolved in 2008.
Child abuse resulting in death charged with "knowingly and recklessly" is a Class II felony that could have resulted in up to 48 years in prison.
On Dec. 26, 1996, 6-year-old JonBenet was found bludgeoned and strangled to death in the basement of her family home. A ransom note from an anonymous group of individuals "that represent a foreign faction" asking for $118,000 in exchange for the safe return of JonBenet was found just hours before, but no call ever came from a kidnapper and it was never linked to a murderer.
The entire Ramsey family was cleared of any involvement in the murder of JonBenet back in 2008, thanks to then newly discovered DNA evidence, according to 9News. Patsy Ramsey, JonBenet's mother, died 2 years earlier in 2006 of ovarian cancer, tragically, she was still considered a possible suspect when she died.
Beginning in 2010, investigators reopened the case and launched a fresh round of interviews with witnesses that could provide more insight into the murder, according to ABC News, but nothing fruitful came of those interviews.
The DNA evidence still points to an "unexplained third party" that serves as a vague lead for authorities still pursuing the case, TIME magazine reported.
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With the purpose of writing about true crime in an authoritative, fact-based manner, veteran journalists J. J. Maloney and J. Patrick O’Connor launched Crime Magazine in November of 1998.
Their goal was to cover all aspects of true crime: from organized crime to serial killers, from capital punishment to prisons, from historical crimes to celebrity crime, from assassinations to government corruption, from justice issues to innocent cases, from crime films to books about crime. Read More