1. JonBenet Ramsey.
This crime shook the entire nation when it happened back in 1996. In the early morning hours of Boxing Day, Patsy Ramsey woke to find a ransom note, and her beautiful six-year old daughter was not in her room. Hours later, JonBenet was found in the basement of the family home, sexually abused and strangled with a garrotte. Suspicion immediately fell on the parents. Judgement of Patsy Ramsey was particularly harsh; JonBenet’s career in beauty pageants and her grown-up costumes seemed wildly inappropriate. In the end, the parents were completely exonerated, and the person or people who killed JonBenet are still at large.
2. The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.
The beautiful ex-wife of OJ Simpson and her friend, a waiter at a restaurant near her condo, were found dead, nearly decapitated at Brown’s home. All the evidence pointed directly at OJ Simpson. When he refused to come in to be arrested as he’d agreed to, he led police on a low-speed chase on the highways of Los Angeles, riveting the entire nation and creating the template for what would become ‘reality tv’. The trial was a circus every day. Most white people believed he was guilty while most black people thought he was innocent. He was eventually found not guilty, though he’s still widely believed to be guilty. No-one has been punished for the crime.
3. Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping
The first ‘Crime of the Century’ was the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh’s 20-month old baby. The child vanished from his crib on the second floor of the family’s house in New Jersey where a ransom note demanding $50,000 was found. The kidnappers increased their demand by $20,000 soon after. A retired teacher jumped into the melee and acted as a go-between between the kidnapper and the Lindbergh family. Two months after the baby was taken, his body was found in the woods, not far from his home. Bruno Richard Hauptmann was arrested, and eventually electrocuted to death for the kidnapping.
4. St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
A gang rivalry led to one of the most notorious crimes of the Prohibition era. One of Al Capone’s men, Jack “Machine Gun” McGurn lured his rival, George “Bugs” Moran, to a garage by saying there was an opportunity to buy cheap whiskey from a bootlegger. The ensuing shoot out killed seven other mobsters – but not McGurn.
5. Oklahoma City Bombing.
Timothy McVeigh was a veteran of the first Iraq war, whose career was dashed when bad ankles kept him out of the Special Forces. He was also angry at the federal government for the botched raids on Ruby Ridge and Waco. He chose to exact his revenge with a truck bomb parked in front of the Alfred P Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City. The bomb killed 168 people, many of them children at a day care center, and injured 680 others. The blast damaged 326 other buildings in a 16-block radius and caused $652 million in damage. It remains the deadliest incidence of domestic terrorism in US history. McVeigh was executed on June 11, 2001.
6. The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy
The assassination is one of the most contested, debated and talked about crimes in American history. The Warren Commission, assembled to investigate the murder, concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he shot the president from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas. Oswald was then shot and killed on live tv by a strip club owner, Jack Ruby, which only served to deepen the mystery of why the president as killed, and who was really involved.
7. Charles Manson Murders
The charismatic leader of his creepy “family”, Charles Manson wanted to spark a race war. In his crippled mind, he assumed he and his family would hide out during the war, the Blacks would win, and they’d need him to rule because they couldn’t do it alone. To spark that war, he ordered several of his family to murder Sharon Tate and her unborn baby, and her house guests. They left utter carnage. The next night they murdered a wealthy grocer and his wife, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. The world had never seen anything like it – and hopefully never will again.