BY ROB CARBONE For many, July 4th is a day of celebration of our nations independence. But in 1956, one Long Island family was torn apart by an event that would eventually help the nation. On the morning of July 4th, Betty Weinberger did what young mothers all around the world had always done. Peter, her one-month old son, had fallen asleep and Mrs. Weinberger wrapped him in a blanket and placed him in a carriage on the front patio of her family’s Westbury home. Safe in the knowledge that her child would sleep and get fresh air, she went back inside for a few moments and returned to every mother’s nightmare. Peter was gone and in his place was a ransom note. While kidnappings had happened before, a case of child abduction touched nerves everywhere since the March 1, 1932 kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh Jr. Knowing how that ended could not have been reassuring for Mrs. Weinberger. After contacting the Nassau PD and asking the local newspapers not to cover the story (The Daily News failed to comply and ran the story on the front page), reporters swarmed the ransom drop-off point and the chance to catch the kidnapper was lost. Six days after the kidnapping, the Weinbergers received two phone calls from the kidnapper with new instructions for the ransom drop-off. Both times the kidnapper did not show up but the police did find a blue, cloth bag with a handwritten note inside saying where the baby would [...]
Polly Nichols and the Birth of the Serial Murder BY ROB CARBONE “It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play…” Beatlemaniacs, including my twelve year old daughter, can immediately sing the rest of this song for you and also tell you all about the “Paul is dead” urban legend behind it. But 121 years ago today a different Brit, known to the world only by his nickname, wrote lessons in the blood of five Whitechapel prostitutes. And Richard Speck, “Green River Killer” Gary Ridgeway, and Boston Strangler *Albert Desalvo would eventually become honor students in the school of serial murder.
BY ROB CARBONE Throughout history political assassinations have been carried out for many reasons. Greed for power, lust, revolutionary desire and the most common reason of all, expediency. Some assassinations are done with a sense of theatre and spectacle, think Julius Caesar in the Roman Senate. Others are done with a desire for collateral damage, like when Claus Von Staufenberg and his co-conspirators tired to kill Hitler and take over Germany to end WWII. But it is the rare few that provide a sense of poetic justice. Fewer still can have the claim made about them that the killing was a papal order. Such is the case of Girolamo Savonarola.
By Rob Carbone While I am not a fan of televised awards shows, my attention was caught by the incident that caused young Chris Brown and his girlfriend Rhianna to drop out of appearing at the Grammys at the last minute. Domestic violence seems to have the affect of changing people’s plans, especially in Hollywood. While these two looked like the perfect couple the truth lays that image to waste. But this is not the first time that celebrity did not insulate lovers from violence. In 1957, Lana Turner was an established star in the Hollywood firmament. A string of hit movies (and a growing string of ex-husbands) for the glamorous beauty from Idaho who lived every starlets dream as she was the girl of legend who was discovered at the famous Schwab’s Drug Store. The future “Sweater Girl” had starred in a couple of Andy Hardy films and had a bit part in “A Star is Born.” She would become the pin-up of choice for WWII GI’s and would star in classic movies like “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” “The Bad and The Beautiful,” and an Oscar-nominated role in “Peyton Place”. After divorcing her 5th husband, Lana fell for the good looking Johnny Stompanato, a man whose prowess as a lover was overshadowed only by his ties to Mickey Cohen and the LA underworld. The beautiful and talented Turner and the handsome and dangerous Stompanato seemed like the type of couple who would balance Hollywood glamour with the dark [...]
Please join us in welcoming guest blogger and Ripper expert Rob Carbone to the site. Rob will be walking the historical crime beat for True Stories of Law & Order. We’re delighted to have him on board. By Rob Carbone In the Hollywood world of crime scene investigators and cold case detectives, you can always count on a resolution to the crime and the bad guy getting his comeuppance. In the real world it takes longer than a single episode or an intriguing two-episode arch. Processing complex evidence might take a few weeks and tracking down clues on a case gone cold might take 10 years. But would you believe that there are a dogged few in this world who are still looking at evidence and tracking down clues on a case that went cold over 129 years ago? From August 31, 1888 through November 8, 1888, London’s East End was gripped in fear and violence as five women, known to history as “The canonical victims,” entered into history as the victims of Jack the Ripper. Starting with Mary Ann Nichols, next Annie Chapman, and then the ladies of the “Night of the Double Event,” Cathy Eddowes and Liz Stride and finally with the brutal murder of Mary Jane Kelly, the Ripper held England in a grip of fear and became a major news story in Europe and America. And then as quickly as he started he stopped, and while many have been accused of being ‘Saucy Jack’ none were [...]
True Stories of Law & Order series authors Kevin Dwyer and Juré Fiorillo weigh in on crime, justice, and their favorite television show.