On This Day in True Crime History – 30th November

Casting a light on November 30th in True Crime History, we uncover a mosaic of human experiences where tales of justice, tragedy, and infamy intertwine.

1796: ⛓️ Francis Morgan Gibbeted on Sydney Harbour’s Pinchgut Island

On this day in 1796, In the midst of Sydney Harbour lies the picturesque Pinchgut Island, known today for its iconic Fort Denison. But in the early days of the colony, this tiny island bore witness to a macabre chapter in history, with a convict named Francis Morgan meeting a gruesome fate there. 💀

Francis Morgan’s journey to Pinchgut Island began in 1793 when he arrived in the colony of New South Wales aboard the ship Sugar Cane, surviving the attempted convict mutiny on their way to Sydney.

Morgan had a dark past, having been tried for the murder of a man in Dublin, Ireland, and was caught wearing the victim’s watch. His sentence, initially death, was commuted to transportation for life. 🚢

However, upon reaching Sydney, Morgan’s violent tendencies emerged once more. In mid-October 1796, he brutally bashed a man named Simon Raven to death on the northern shores of the harbour. This heinous act led to his second encounter with a death sentence. ⚔️

As Francis Morgan awaited his execution, he received a chilling piece of news. His body would not find peace in death; instead, it would be hung in chains on Pinchgut Island, serving as a grim warning to others as required by the Murder Act of 1751. Morgan, stoicly commented favorably on the splendid view of the harbor he would have from his eerie perch, noting its unparalleled beauty. 🌅

For at least the next four years, Francis Morgan’s lifeless body endured the elements, suspended in the middle of Sydney Harbour—a haunting reminder of the consequences of a life gone terribly wrong. ⏳

This Day in True Crime History

1796: 🔒 John Lawler and Martin McEwin Hanged for Robbing the Public Stores

On this day in 1796 in Sydney was a sombre day full of executions. The newly formed bustling streets of Sydney saw John Lawler (convict) and Martin Mcewin (soldier) faced the hangman’s noose for robbing public stores.

Despite the seemingly minor offence of stealing food, they faced the same fate as that of a murderer, Francis Morgan, whose vile act of wilful murder darkened the colony’s early history. ⚖️🔓

Both John Lawler and Martin Mcewin were executed and found their eternal rest at Sydney’s first public cemetery known as the Old Sydney Burial Ground, a site now known as Town Hall in the heart of Sydney. The burial ground remained in use until January 1820. During the 28 years the cemetery operated some 2240 burials were added. Excavations of the Town Hall basement in 2008 identified 66 remaining graves in total. 🏛️

This Day in True Crime History

1900: 💔 Oscar Wilde’s Iconic Farewell

On this day in 1900, the world lost one of its most brilliant and controversial literary figures, Oscar Wilde. The renowned Irish writer and wit, known for his sharp humor and flamboyant style, spent his final days in a Paris hotel room.

Oscar Wilde’s life had taken a tragic turn when he was imprisoned for “gross indecency” due to his homosexual relationships. After his release, he fled to France to escape the judgmental eyes of Victorian England. He found himself in a modest hotel, facing the drab wallpaper that adorned his room.

Legend has it that, in his last moments, Wilde remarked on the wallpaper, saying, “One of us had to go.” It was a poignant and ironic statement, reflecting the profound struggles and conflicts he had faced in his life.

Oscar Wilde’s death marked the end of an era and the loss of a literary genius whose works continue to be celebrated today. His wit, humor, and unique perspective on society remain celebrated in the world of literature. 📖🎭🖋️

This Day in True Crime History

1962: 🕊️ Andrews Hanged in Grim Finale

On this day in 1962, a dark chapter in history concluded as Lowell Lee Andrews, a 22-year-old college student at the University of Kansas, faced execution by hanging for the horrifying murders of his mother, father, and sister. 💔🕊️

His shocking crimes unfolded on the night of November 28, 1958, when he callously shot and killed his own parents, William and Opal Andrews, along with his 20-year-old sister, Jennie, within the walls of their Wichita, Kansas, home. The nation was left in disbelief as the gruesome details of this family tragedy emerged.

Initially, Andrews attempted to deflect suspicion by reporting the murders to the police, deceitfully claiming that an unidentified intruder had committed the heinous act. However, law enforcement swiftly turned their attention towards Andrews as their investigation uncovered a web of damning evidence.

The pieces of the puzzle fell into place as it was revealed that Andrews had taken out a substantial life insurance policy on his family shortly before their deaths, a policy that promised a substantial windfall upon their demise. Moreover, the murder weapon was traced back to him, eroding the facade he had tried to maintain.

During his trial, the chilling truth emerged. Andrews confessed to the murders, divulging that he had been motivated by two sinister factors: the lure of insurance money and a desire for emancipation from what he perceived as his family’s suffocating control.

Justice was served as Lowell Lee Andrews faced his ultimate punishment, hanging at the Kansas State Penitentiary in Lansing, Kansas. ⚖️🪓🏚️

This Day in True Crime History

1989: 🌌 Aileen’s Fateful Beginnings

On this day in 1989, a chilling chapter in the life of Aileen Wuornos, one of America’s most infamous female serial killers, began. Aileen, who had a troubled past as a victim of abuse and exploitation, found herself on a path that would lead to a series of gruesome murders.

Aileen often resorted to prostitution to make a living, and on this fateful night, her client was Richard Mallory, a convicted rapist. According to Aileen, the encounter took a horrifying turn when Mallory attempted to assault her. In what she claimed was an act of self-defence, she shot him three times, ending his life.

However, this event marked the beginning of a series of killings by Aileen Wuornos. She went on to claim the lives of six more men, raising questions about her motivations and the transformation from victim to predator. While the first murder may have been driven by self-defence, subsequent acts left even sympathetic observers sceptical of her motives.

Many were left wondering whether Aileen was a serial killer, a victim, or both. She was on death row for a number of years before being executed in 2002. 📚🔍

This Day in True Crime History

2001: 🔒 Capture of the Green River Serial Killer

On this day in 2001, a significant breakthrough occurred in the pursuit of justice as Gary Ridgway, a notorious serial killer, was arrested. This arrest marked a pivotal moment in the effort to bring a remorseless murderer to justice.

Gary Ridgway, infamously known as the “Green River Killer,” eventually pleaded guilty to a staggering 49 murders. His crimes had terrorized the Pacific Northwest for years, and his capture was the result of relentless investigative work by law enforcement.

Ridgway’s journey to capture was not without its twists and turns. He had previously come to the attention of law enforcement, having been arrested in 1982 and 2001 on charges related to prostitution. It was in 1983 that he became a suspect in the Green River killings, a shadow that would follow him for years.

In 1984, Ridgway passed a polygraph test, which added a layer of complexity to the investigation. On April 7, 1987, police took hair and saliva samples from Ridgway, seeking to uncover any evidence that might link him to the string of murders.

Ridgway’s ability to pass a polygraph test was a chilling reminder of the challenges faced by law enforcement in bringing him to justice. Here are the polygraph questions and answers:

🔒 Gary, you have heard all the questions on this test, are there any you are going to lie to? NO
🔒 Regarding the deaths of prostitutes, have you told the police the complete truth about that? YES
🔒 Is your true last name Ridgway? YES
🔒 Have you ever caused the death of a prostitute? NO
🔒 Before you were 30 years old, did you ever physically injure anyone without provocation? NO
🔒 Were you born in the state of Utah? YES
🔒 Do you know of anyone who has killed a prostitute? NO
🔒 Before you were 30 years old, did you ever lie about someone to get them into serious trouble? NO
🔒 Have you taken any illegal drug or narcotic in the last 48 hours? NO

Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He entered a plea agreement in 2003 in exchange for a life sentence instead of facing the death penalty.. 📚🔍

This Day in True Crime History

2003: 🚴 Cyclist Ian Humphrey’s Tragic Death

On this day in 2003, a sombre event unfolded on Kapunda Road in South Australia, forever etching itself into the annals of controversy. It was the day when cyclist Ian Humphrey lost his life in a collision with a vehicle driven by Eugene McGee, an incident that would raise significant questions about justice and accountability. 😢

The Controversy Unfolds:

Hit-and-Run Drama: Eugene McGee, a prominent Adelaide lawyer, struck and killed Ian Humphrey with his vehicle. Shockingly, he did not stop at the scene of the accident and failed to render assistance to the injured cyclist. This hit-and-run aspect of the incident immediately raised concerns and garnered public attention. 🚗🏴‍☠️

Delayed Surrender: Adding to the controversy was the fact that Eugene McGee turned himself into the police more than six hours after the collision. This delay in coming forward added to the mystery and left questions about his actions and intentions during those critical hours. ⏰🤔

Alcohol Consumption: Reports indicated that McGee had consumed at least four or five glasses of wine over lunch on the day of the incident. He was not subjected to a blood alcohol test, raising concerns about whether alcohol impairment played a role in the collision. 🍷🍻

Legal Proceedings and Public Outrage:
Eugene McGee faced legal proceedings in the wake of these shocking events. However, the outcome of the trial left many deeply dissatisfied. He was found guilty of driving without due care and was fined $3,000, with his driver’s license suspended for a year. This verdict and the relatively lenient penalty fueled public outrage. ⚖️😡

Calls for Accountability:
The trial’s outcome and the perceived inadequacy of the penalty sparked widespread protests and demands for greater accountability. Hundreds of cyclists and victims’ rights groups rallied, expressing their dissatisfaction with the state’s justice system. 📢👥

A Royal Commission Investigates:
In response to the controversy and public pressure, the South Australian Government ordered a Royal Commission to investigate the incident comprehensively. 🕵️‍♂️📋

The Second Trial and Its Aftermath:
Following the Royal Commission, further charges were laid against Eugene McGee. He faced accusations of conspiring to pervert the course of justice and perverting the course of justice. However, in a series of legal developments, including stays of proceedings and a permanent stay, the charges against McGee were ultimately dismissed. This outcome further fueled debates about justice and accountability. Questions that remain unanswered to this day. ⚖️🔄

This Day in True Crime History

Reflecting on the events of November 30th in True Crime History, we are reminded of the profound impact that crime and its consequent justice have on the fabric of society. These stories serve as a chronicle of the darker aspects of human nature and human history.

On This Day in True Crime History – 16th November

On this day in True Crime History, we revisit the 16th of November, a date filled with bullion heists, the Alphabet Murder Mystery, a tragic massacre in Queensland, a hanging for burglary in early Australia plus much, much more.

1795: 🔒 William Smith Hanged for Burglary in Sydney

On this day in 1795, William Smith met his fate at the gallows in Sydney. His execution followed a conviction for burglarizing the house of William Parrish at Prospect Hill.

Smith, with his accomplices, committed the crime by breaking into Parrish’s dwelling with force, stealing items valued at approximately 32 shillings, including a piece of cloth, a velvet waistcoat, three other waistcoats, two flannel jackets, and some brooches.

This would be equivalent to about $260 AUD in today’s money. 🏠⚖️🔒

This Day in True Crime History

1798: ⚓ British Seamen Kidnap and Press Gang US Sailors

On this day in 1798, British seamen boarded the U.S. frigate Baltimore and engaged in the controversial practice of impressment, often referred to as “shanghaiing.”

Thus 55 US sailors were press ganged into service (enslaved) onto a ship by compulsion, without notice, into the British Royal Navy. This contributed greatly to the tensions that eventually led to the War of 1812 between the United States and the United Kingdom. ⚓

This Day in True Crime History

1906: ⚖️ Notella Habibulla’s Arrest Unveiled by a Bolting Horse attached to a Bloodstained Buggy

On this day in 1906, Notella Habibulla faced the gallows at Adelaide Gaol, accused of murdering his wife, Edith, on Bristol Street.

The dramatic chain of events leading to his arrest began with a startling discovery by the police—an abandoned horse and buggy covered in bloodstains standing outside the residence of the victims mother. This ominous find raised immediate suspicions of a violent crime.

What made this discovery even more compelling was Habibulla’s own account. He reported to the authorities that his horse had bolted uncontrollably with the buggy. This seemingly innocuous explanation, however, only deepened the mystery. The police decided to detain him and delve further into the matter.

Their investigation took a gruesome turn when they dragged a nearby river, unearthing a bag containing the dismembered remains of a woman. This unfortunate victim was none other than his wife of 6 months Edith.

As the detectives continued their inquiry, they found damning evidence at the couple’s Bristol Street residence—a trail of marks indicating a body had been dragged and extensive bloodstains scattered across the backyard. To make matters worse for Habibulla, the victim’s blood-soaked garments were concealed beneath a bed.

The culmination of these chilling discoveries left no room for doubt. Notella Habibulla was promptly arrested and charged with the brutal murder of his wife, all uncovered owing to the powerful role played by a bolting horse. ⚖️🐎🔍

This Day in True Crime History

1911: 😢 The Ching Family Massacre

On this day in 1911, George Silva committed a heinous act that would come to be known as the Ching family massacre in the small town of Alligator Creek located 20 kilometres south of Mackay, Queensland.

George Silva, driven by malevolence, ruthlessly shot and bludgeoned to death six members of the Ching family. The victims included Agnes Ching, a 45-year-old mother, and her children Maud (15), Eddie (9), Dorrie (7), Hughie (5), and Winnie (1). This brutal act of violence shocked the community and left scars that would last for generations.

However, amidst the darkness, stories of survival and resilience emerged. Several family members managed to escape the assailant’s fury, including Charles and Agnes Ching’s three older children: Florence, Henry, and Henrietta. They had left home before the tragedy unfolded, and their absence spared them from the horrors that befell their family.

In the aftermath of the massacre, Charlie Ching, the lone survivor of the immediate family, found the strength to rebuild his life. Devastated by the loss of his wife and five children, he made the difficult decision to leave Mackay and Australia in 1915. He sought solace in Hong Kong, returning to his native village of Shataukok and seeing out his remaining years, where he remarried and welcomed another child.

The Ching family massacre of 1911 remains a haunting chapter in Mackay’s history, a somber reminder of the enduring impact of such senseless acts of violence on survivors and communities. 😢🏠⚖️

This Day in True Crime History

1971: 🕵️‍♂️ Carmen Colón, Victim of the Alphabet Murders Disappears

On this day in 1971, Carmen Colón, a 10-year-old girl, tragically disappears and becomes a victim of the Alphabet Murders.

The Alphabet murders (also known as the Double Initial murders) are an unsolved series of murders that occurred between 1971 and 1973 in Rochester, New York.

The Alphabet Murders involved a series of killings where the victims had surnames that began with the same letter as that of their first name. Each victim had been murdered in like manner before each of their bodies were discarded in or near a town or village with a name beginning with the same letter as the victim’s name. 🕵️‍♂️🔍

This Day in True Crime History

1989: 💔 Salvadoran Army Death Squad’s Brutal Attack on Jesuit Priests

On this day in 1989, a horrific tragedy unfolded at Jose Simeon Canas University in El Salvador. A Salvadoran Army death squad launched a brutal attack, resulting in the deaths of six Jesuit priests and two others. 💔🕊️🙏

The Salvadoran Civil War, which lasted from 1980 to 1992, was marked by intense conflict between the government and leftist rebel groups. During this turbulent time, various factions within the military and government resorted to violence, including extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses, to suppress dissent and maintain power.

The six Jesuit priests killed in this tragic incident were known for their advocacy of peace, social justice, and human rights in El Salvador. Their deaths sent shockwaves throughout the international community and drew attention to the human rights violations occurring in the country. 🌍🕯️✝️

This Day in True Crime History

2001: 💰 Brinks-Mat Bullion Heist Member Murdered

On this day in 2001, Brian Perry, a key figure linked to the infamous Brinks-Mat bullion heist, met a violent end.

The Brinks-Mat heist, a 1983 robbery at the Heathrow International Trading Estate in London, yielded approximately £26 million in gold, diamonds, and cash.

Detectives had certain clues pointing to Mickey McAvoy’s involvement in the Brinks-Mat heist. Notably, McAvoy’s two Rottweiler dogs at his newly acquired mansion were named ‘Brinks’ and ‘Mat.’ As McAvoy’s trial approached, he entrusted his share of the stolen gold to contact Brian Perry. However, Perry never returned the gold to McAvoy, and instead, he served time for handling it.

Upon Perry’s release from prison, and while returning from a shopping trip, he was ambushed and shot three times in the back of his head, resulting in his immediate death. This murder added another layer of mystery to the complex and shadowy world of the Brinks-Mat heist, leaving investigators and the public eager to uncover the truth behind his killing.

Despite extensive investigations and efforts, the whereabouts of a significant amount of the stolen bullion remain a mystery. 💼🔍🔫

This Day in True Crime History

 

That’s all for the 16th of November in history. Perhaps something will happen on your 16th November that will go down in history, never to be forgotten. Have a great day! In the meantime, be sure to book in to go on a Dark Stories True Crime Tour soon!

Avert Your Eyes – On This Day in True Crime History – 2nd Nov

Avert your eyes. On This Day in True Crime History – 2nd November – meet the Death Row Granny, discover Bathurst’s Ribbon Gang Rebellion, along with Manly Council’s decision to legalise daylight ocean bathing and more!

1788: 🌿 Ten Criminals Establish a Settlement Rose Hill (Parramatta)

On this day in 1788, a historic moment unfolded as a party of 10 criminals, accompanied by marines, embarked on a pioneering journey to establish a farming settlement at Rose Hill, later known as Parramatta.

These ten individuals with criminal backgrounds were pivotal in laying the foundation of a self-sufficient agricultural community in the early days of Australian colonization. 🏞️🌾

This Day in True Crime History

1789: 🏛️ The French State Seizes Church Property

On this day in 1789, the French state took a momentous step by seizing/stealing the church’s property. This action was part of a series of events during the French Revolution to restructure the relationship between the state and the Catholic Church.

The state’s decision to confiscate church property was a pivotal moment in the French Revolution’s attempts to limit the power and influence of the church while redistributing its wealth.

This historical event involved the extensive confiscation of church assets, including land, buildings, religious artifacts, artworks, and valuable possessions, which were later sold to fund revolutionary initiatives. ⛪💰🏛️

This Day in True Crime History

1830: 🌲 The Ribbon Gang in Bathurst – From Skinny Dipping to the Gallows

On this day in 1830, the notorious Ribbon Gang, led by Ralph Entwistle, faced the gallows at Bathurst. They met their fate for their involvement in a series of crimes that included murder, bushranging, and horse thieving.

The grim event marked the culmination of the Bathurst rebellion of 1830, an outbreak of bushranging near Bathurst in the British penal colony (now the Australian state) of New South Wales. This rebellion had its roots in various grievances, including the harsh conditions of penal servitude, economic hardship, and social injustices faced by convicts and ex-convicts.

Notably, the rebellion had an unusual beginning when, in November 1829, Entwistle and another assigned servant were charged with “causing an affront to the Governor” after a skinny-dipping incident in the Macquarie River. This incident, though seemingly minor, was part of the broader backdrop of discontent.

The rebels, led by Ralph Entwistle, became known as the Ribbon Gang, with Entwistle famously wearing “a profusion of white streamers about his head.” 🌲⚖️

This Day in True Crime History

1903: 🌊 Manly Council Lifts the “Crime” of Daylight Ocean Bathing

On this day in 1903, the Manly Council in Sydney, Australia, rescinded its by-law that deemed ocean bathing during daylight hours a crime.

During this era, women’s swimming costumes covering the body from neck to knee were considered indecent by the standards of the time, especially when mixed swimming occurred. In contrast, it was not uncommon for men to swim nude in some locations. As such, the Council had imposed limitations on when people could engage in the popular activity of ocean bathing. 🌊🏊‍♀️🏄‍♂️

This Day in True Crime History

1959: 📺 Quiz Show Fraud Unveiled by Beloved Contestant

On this day in 1959, a scandal shook the world of television as a beloved quiz show contestant, Charles Van Doren, made a shocking confession revealing that the show had been fixed, with answers provided in advance, leading to significant legal consequences for those responsible.

“21” was a quiz show that captivated audiences with its intense competition and charismatic contestants. Several individuals involved in orchestrating the cheating faced criminal charges, with some ultimately serving time in prison. 📺🧠🕒

This Day in True Crime History

1960: 📚 Landmark Verdict: “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” Declared Not Obscene

On this day in 1960, a British jury delivered a groundbreaking verdict, declaring D.H. Lawrence’s novel “Lady Chatterly’s Lover”(first published in 1928) not obscene.

The novel had been banned for obscenity in several countries owing to its explicit descriptions of sex, use of four-letter words, and its portrayal of a forbidden relationship between an upper-class woman and a working-class man.

This Day in True Crime History

1963: 🔫 Assassination of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem

On this day in 1963, South Vietnamese Catholic President Ngo Dinh Diem was assassinated during a coup led by high-ranking military officers. Non-communist military leaders had become discontented with Diem’s rule, fueled by a combination of factors, including his authoritarian governance, corruption within his administration, lack of popular support and religious discrimination against the Buddhist majority, which led to instances of self-immolation protests.

The Vietnam War would continue to escalate, and the murder of the president did not lead to a resolution of the war. The war in Vietnam continued until 1975, when North Vietnamese forces captured Saigon, leading to the reunification of North and South Vietnam under communist control. 🔫📅

This Day in True Crime History

1984: ⚖️ Velma Barfield – The Death Row Granny’s Execution

On this day in 1984, Velma Barfield became the first woman to be executed in the United States since 1962.

Velma Barfield, often referred to as the “Death Row Granny,” was a serial killer convicted of poisoning multiple people, including her husband and her mother, with arsenic.

Her motives were often linked to financial gain, as she sought life insurance benefits from her victims. She would eventually confess to six murders in total and seven counts of writing bad cheques. ⚖️🔒

This Day in True Crime History

That’s all for the 2nd November in history. What obscenities will you encounter on this strange day of moral puritanism in history?

For True Crime History Tour dates and times, be sure to check out Dark Stories True Crime Tour soon!

Recruiting a Hangman By The Numbers

Every country has had one but rarely does anyone stop to consider how a person gets hired for the position of national hangman. If you ever happen to come on a Dark Stories True Crime Walking Tour in Sydney, or elsewhere for that matter, there's a reasonably high chance that you will hear a story about a hanging.

But did you ever imagine yourself, back in your school days, dreaming of becoming the head executioner in your state? How would your career advisor help you reach that goal? What electives could you take? What university should you attend? Then, after graduation, where would you apply? Is there some hangman recruitment agency to whom you could email your resume? Or, conversely, what if you were looking to hire someone for the job; where would you even begin to search?

Governor Phillip faced this exact problem at the very beginning of Sydney's fledgling colony life. Precisely one month and one day after the First Fleet arrived in Australia, there was an execution – the first in Australian history (we'll even walk past the spot as we meander through on one of our walking tours in Sydney). However, the hangman was a last-minute recruit and not a permanent appointee; it was a one-off contract.

The position needed permanent filling, but no one wanted the job. The officers despised the role of hangman and refused to do it, and the convicts saw the position as the lowest of the low. So what was the Governor to do? Discipline at this early stage of the colony's life could have easily broken down, and so he needed to find an executioner, and he needed to do it quickly, to ensure that he wouldn't lose face nor control.

Then, in late February 1788, Governor Phillip found the solution to his problem.

The worst crime one could commit in the new colony concerned the government stores of food. The settlers had no way of knowing if or when resupplies might arrive, or whether the crops they were planting would even survive (spoiler alert, they didn't). They made it all around the world only to be immediately put on rations. Therefore, stealing food from the government stores was considered an offense worse than murder, and such crimes demanded severe repercussions. So when four convicts were found guilty of theft from the government stores they were condemned to die that very same day; justice was swift and severe.

But Governor Phillip still didn't have a hangman! Nevertheless, the execution ritual began, and the four men advanced under guard to the hanging tree. The first man was granted a reprieve and given lashes instead. Then the second man, James Freeman, was marched to the tree, and the hanging rope fastened around his neck. At the moment James expected to be launched into eternity, he received the offer of a full pardon, but only on the condition that he agree to take on the duty of executioner for as long as he remained in the country

James Freeman paused for a few moments, mustered his dignity, and agreed to accept the role. He was given a full pardon, on condition of taking the position for the remainder of his original 7-year sentence, and became a "free man" from that moment. Governor Phillip's strategy was successful, and he granted the remaining two men a reprieve, meaning James Freeman could take some time to get used to his new job. 

On May 2nd, 1788, James Freeman executed his first man without any complaint from the unwilling customer. His first performance was a killer, and Governor Phillip's innovative new HR Recruitment strategy had proven to be successful.

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