Worldwide Hangings

John Bennett

During the Second World War and for years afterwards, US servicemen serving abroad suffered capital punishment if they were found guilty of either rape or murder. So it was that on Thursday, April 13th, 1961, John Bennett, a black US private, was hanged at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He had been found guilty of raping and

Sidney Murrell

The four men who walked into the Home Bank in Melbourne, Ontario, on April 11th, 1921, had come to make a withdrawal – a big one. Brothers Sidney and William Murrell were accompanied by their pals Henry Williams and Pat Norton. One of them yelled: “Hands up!” while another pistol-whipped the bank manager. Sidney Murrell

Weddibung, Caroling and Poeling

The quaintly named trio were Aboriginals, part of a group who attacked the home of Dr. Edward Vines in Braeside Station, Western Australia, intent on robbery. The group came at night in September 1899, chanting and letting forth a hail of spears. A woman lodger at the house took her revolver, while Dr. Vines waved

Andries Van Niekerk and Edward Markus

“We’re looking for work,” the two strangers told farm manager Bill Nelson. The manager had plenty of work to be done at Waterval Farm, in the Transvaal, and the two men, Andries Van Niekerk and Edward Markus, were given a warm reception, food and accommodation. Two nights later shots were heard as the farm caught

Colin Ross

The naked body of 12-year-old Alma Tirtschke was found lying on a drain grating in Gun Alley, Melbourne, on New Year’s Eve, 1921, just 100 yards from a wine bar owned by Colin Campbell Ross. A local woman, Ivy Matthews, who had just been sacked as a barmaid by Ross, pointed a finger at him

Vernon Booher

After shooting dead his mother and brother and two farm labourers on their farm in Mannville, Alberta, in July 1928, Vernon Booher, 22, reported the killings to the police. They called in an Austrian psychiatrist, Dr. Adolph Langsner, who claimed to be able to read people’s brainwaves. Reading Booher’s, he deduced that Booher was the

Gustave Marx, Harvey van Dine and Peter Neidermeier

The year was 1903 and, calling themselves the Automatic Trio, Gustave Marx, Harvey van Dine and Peter Neidermeier could justifiably claim to be America’s first shoot-to-kill gangster team. During five months in 1903 they killed eight men, including two detectives. They went for the “big one” in August 1903, at a city centre railway station

John Harris

Apartheid was a repugnant political philosophy to thinking people and some were prepared to carry their antagonism to extremes. One such was John Harris, who put a bomb in a suitcase on July 24th, 1964, and left it on a train seat in Johannesburg central station before casually walking off. The bomb went off at

John Martin Scripps

British traveller Simon Davis told the receptionist at the Singapore hotel where he was staying: “I’ve kicked out my roommate. He made a homosexual advance towards me. I’ll be paying the bill.” The receptionist was hardly to know that Mr. Davis’s companion was still in room 1511, murdered, cut into 10 pieces and stuffed into

Jozef Tiso

Having made a deal with Hitler, on March 14th, 1939, Slovakia declared itself independent of Czechoslovakia and next day Germany invaded the remaining Czech lands. Heading the independence deal was Slovakia’s Monsignor Jozef Tiso, an anti-Semitic active Catholic priest turned politician, whose political party now functioned, with the blessing of the Nazis, as almost the

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