"Then I started stripping and cleaning. I told myself it would help sell the flat. How could anyone think of buying it? But I also imagined that if I cleaned long enough and hard enough, the dull patina of dried blood that seemed to cling to every surface would finally go. I hoped that if I emptied the flat of its objects, and pared back its contents to nothing, I would uncover the place that I grew up in, before Ivor was the old man, before he was a legend. I couldn’t find that place, and I didn’t think I would find it in the boxes and among the papers either." David Goldblatt traces his murdered father's life through unpaid bills and unopened letters.
Astronomer Tycho Brahe was one of the more colorful characters of the scientific Renaissance. He lost his nose in a duel; flouted the rules of Danish nobility and married a commoner; built, on the island of Hven, Uraniborg, the best astronomical observatory of his day; kept a beer-drinking pet moose; and amassed the data that would ultimately allow Johannes Kepler to derive the three laws of planetary motion. His chief sponsor had been Danish king Frederick II, but Frederick's heir, Christian IV, quarreled with Tycho and kicked him out of Hven. Insulted, Brahe left Denmark for Prague and the sponsorship of Rudolph II. New evidence has emerged suggesting that the offended king may have had Tycho assassinated. [more inside]
"Well behaved women rarely make history," said Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Scandalous Women brings you the lives, loves, and sexual adventures of some of the most fascinating women who rocked the world. Like Olimpia Maidalchini who managed to achieve something that no woman ever has, for the 11 years of her brother-in-law Innocent X's reign as pope, Olimpia was the real power at the Vatican; or Elizabeth Armistead, wife of a cabinet minister, courtesan to many. Read the bios and follow the tales of nearly a hundred women of scandalous pursuit from Mata Hari to Typhoid Mary.
Lasantha Wickrematunge's last editorial [via bb] as part of the Sri Lankan Sunday Leader. Lasantha was shot on the way to work, but seems to have had a piece ready for just this situation. In a country where the state boasts about bombing radio stations, two journalists were executed in 2008 and five in 2007 the fact that this killing took place in broad daylight after state media called the paper unpatriotic has led to accusations of governmental involvement.
Early on New Year's Day, Oscar Grant was involved in a scuffle with an older man he hadn't previously met. The fighting continued and when the train reached Fruitvale, BART police stopped the fight and took Grant and several others into custody. The officers were armed with stun guns as well as sidearms. Three BART officers then proceed to place Grant face down to handcuff him, then one of them stands up, draws his weapon and shoots him in the back. Graphic video of the incident.
Ellie Nesler, "Vigilante Mom", dead at 56. From her arrest in April 1993 to her conviction on manslaughter charges six months later, Nesler's image morphed from avenger and victim to talk-show trophy and movie-of-the-week heroine, and finally to meth-head and motorcycle mama. The movie-of-the-week earned bad reviews. Her long, strange story is over, but the son she declared she was protecting grew up to commit murder himself. In prison for 25-to-life, he has a myspace page.
How to best show your love if you're a rockabilly singer in the 50's? First, claim you might cry. Or die. Or commit suicide. If that doesn't work, you can threaten her vaguely, threaten her with a baseball bat, or even threaten her with death. Oh, you're female? Try the gun/sex metaphor (NSFW images) or just go hog wild and claim you'll blow his head off with nitro. Touched on previously. [more inside]
An antidote to the holly jolly malaise: Few Christmas carols contain as much blood and suffering as "Down in yon forest." It was first documented in England by Ralph Vaughan Williams, but John Jacob Niles found an even gorier version in North Carolina (Alfred Deller's rendition). [more inside]
"Night of terror - Madness and lunacy in Athens" reads the headline of one Greek newspaper this morning; "Night of agony and terror - Athens, Pireaus and Thessaloniki at the mercy of hooded individuals" reads another, and the rest follow suite. Three days of mass protests, demonstrations... and finally rioting, rampage and looting across Greece have followed Saturday's fatal shooting of a 15-year-old boy by police in Athens' bohemian/anarchist neighborhood of Exarchia. [more inside]
With that meeting, Mr. Allo took his first step into an intricate trap. The deeply strange tale of one very determined woman's quest to overturn her son's conviction for murder.
For many people who lived in Houston in the early 1970s, trick or treat brings up memories of "The Candy Man," serial killer Dean Corll. He, along with accomplices David Brooks and Wayne Henley (YouTube), kidnapped, raped, and tortured to death 27 boys between the ages of thirteen and eighteen between 1970 and 1973. Thirty-seven years after the bodies of their victims were discovered in mass graves in southwest Houston and the Bolivar Peninsula, three still were unidentified until recently when the efforts of forensic anthropologist Sharon Derrick identified victim ML73-3349, now known to be Randall Lee Harvey.
Scotland Yard thinks it knows who killed Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov with a ricin-tipped umbrella on the streets of London 30 years ago this month. Police are hoping to press charges against the man known as Agent Picadilly, who received a secret medal for his services. Interest in the case was sparked by "Kill the Wanderer", a book by journalist Hristo Hristov, who gained access to the archives of the former Bulgarian security service. Bulgaria has extended its own investigation, just as the statute of limitations on the Markov murder was set to expire.
In the wake of The Scarlet Pimpernel, countless figures have flamboyantly stalked the night. Among them were the scofflaw Arsene Lupin and his more violent contemporary, Fantomas. So influential was the latter that imitators soon arose, plying their merciless wiles on others. Among them were Fu Manchu, the nefarious Dr. Mabuse, the hooded Diabolik, and Matt Wagoner's Grendel. Not even Donald Duck was immune from the seductive lure of crime. [more inside]
Noseybonk Returns. This is not horrifying news unless you know who he was. Then it becomes endearingly nightmarish. As with V, the man in the mask is Noseybonk. [more inside]
She robs, she injects herself with heroin, she flits across borders like a ghost, she seems to kill with almost professional precision, she leaves clues and bodies – and she has no identity. [more inside]
Blood on the Mountain; part 2. In 1981 Randall Smith killed two hikers along the Appalachian Trail and served 15 years for second-degree murder. Two months ago Scott Johnston and Sean Farmer were camping along the trail when a man walked into their campsite. It was Randall Smith. And he was carrying a .22. [more inside]
Hans Reiser leads police to the body of his wife. Software engineer Hans Reiser, who was convicted in the murder of his wife, Nina, long denied he killed her. His defense was based on the theory that she was hiding out in her native Russia and her body could not be found. Today, in a possible exchange for a shorter sentence he led police to the shallow grave of Nina Reiser, just a moment's drive from the house he lived in with his mother and two children. Previously, previously.
"Nobody in the antipoverty community and nobody in city leadership was going to welcome the news that the noble experiment that they’d been engaged in for the past decade had been bringing the city down, in ways they’d never expected. But the connection was too obvious to ignore, and Betts and Janikowski figured that the same thing must be happening all around the country." American Murder Mystery. Page 2. Page 3. Page 4.
NURSE CHILD WANTED, OR TO ADOPT -- The Advertiser, a Widow with a little family of her own, and moderate allowance from her late husband's friends, would be glad to accept the charge of a young child. Age no object. If sickly would receive a parent's care. Terms, Fifteen Shillings a month; or would adopt entirely if under two months for the small sum of Twelve pounds. This kindly nineteenth-century advertisement had a hidden meaning. If a woman paid her adoption fee to a baby farmer and handed over her infant, no one ever had to worry about that baby, ever again. [more inside]
More than 100 nations have reached an agreement on a treaty which would ban current designs of cluster bombs. Naturally, the most militant nations (USA, Russia, China, India, Pakistan) have refused to negotiate (creating significant interoperability issues for allied nations such as the UK to the USA). The Cluster Munition Coalition is an excellent resource about the issue. [more inside]
Performance Artist Killed on Peace Trip. Pippa Bacca, performance artist, and friend wearing white wedding dresses, planned to hitchhike from Italy to the Balkans to the Middle East to send a message of peace and “marriage between different peoples and nations.” After three weeks on the road, Pippa Bacca was killed by a driver who offered her a ride. Her naked body was found and local authorities said Ms. Bacca had been raped and strangled.
What happens when a US President declares war on a concept? In 1964, Canadian photojournalist Hugh O'Connor traveled to eastern Kentucky to document the battlefields of Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty and was shot for trespassing. The incident is the subject of a wonderful documentary, Stranger with a Camera by filmmaker Elizabeth Barrett, produced by Appalshop, a non-profit organization in Whitesburg, Kentucky, that works with local artists to promote self-representation in media and the expediency of culture to counteract a stagnating local economy. Makes you think twice about nostalgic representations of poor Appalachian coal miners plucking their banjo strings in the hollers, doesn't it?
The Woman Behind the Camera. Film maker Errol Morris, and the New Yorker's Philip Gourevitch look at Sabrina Harman, photographer, and Army MP in Iraq. [more inside]
Baarle-Hertog/Baarle-Nassau has been previously mentioned in MeFi. A historical quirk and geographical jigsaw, these days the complicated border criscrossing this Belgo-Dutch town had become little more than a tourist attraction. What happens, however, when a dead body is found, and nobody knows in which country it lies?
Kevin Ray Underwood found guilty of first degree murder in the April 2006 killing of 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin. The jury only needed 20 minutes to decide on his guilt. Previously on Metafilter, because he linked here. How could a seemingly normal, albeit "single, bored and lonely", young man become a cannabalistic child rapist and murderer? Exhibits: The blog he kept for almost four years up until the day after the murder. A collection of misc information about Underwood, including (near the bottom) the text of an online chat he had with a friend after killing Bolin. An extremely disturbing transcript of his confession to the FBI. Video footage of the trial. Deliberations will begin Monday as to whether or not he will be sentenced to death.
Google mashup: Last year's homicides in Baltimore. Depressed yet? Try looking at it in Black and White. [more inside]
A recent article in the The New York Times depicts the violence in Iten, a village 18 miles outside of Elderot that has somehow managed to produce most of Kenya's best athletes. Famous for its high altitude, forgiving clay roads, and dirt track, elite runner Lorhah Kiplagat chose to base her charitable foundation for women and her training center here. The camp is now under siege. Fellow humanitarian and former world record holder in the marathon, Paul Tergat, is missing. Former Olympian Lucas Sang is dead, and countless others are injured or missing.
Dying Speeches & Bloody Murders digitizes over five hundred broadsides owned by the Harvard Law Library, all of them devoted to "last dying speeches"--that is, sensational accounts of crime, punishment, and (fictional) confession, intended to be sold at public executions. The New York State Historical Association has an online exhibition devoted to nineteenth-century American murder pamphlets. You can find a couple of seventeenth-century examples at the Early Modern Web and the Folger Library. Old Bailey Online briefly puts this literature into context. (Main link via C18-L.)
Dutch nurse Lucia De Berk has had her case reopened 5 years after her conviction for multiple counts of murdering her patients. [more inside]
Want to study some history and have hundreds of hours on your hands? Don't worry now. We already exhaustive know about the Valley of the Shadow project. But what about Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History, a bilingual English-French archive? If neither of these (vast) subjects tickle your pickle, don't worry... [more inside]
Stop Snitchin' may be the hidden link between hip hop and the 1980s alternative rock group, House of Freaks. According to the New York Post, journalist Ethan Brown has accomplished "making the Stop Snitching movement seem reasonable" in his new book Snitch: Informants, Cooperators, and the Corruption of Justice. Brown argues that harsh mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses have created a "cottage industry of cooperators" and informants who fabricate evidence, because Provision 5K1.1 of federal sentencing guidelines gives leniency in exchange for "substantial assistance to authorities." According to Brown, two of these criminal cooperators included Ray Dandridge and Ricky Gray, the perpetrators of the Richmond spree murders that ended the life of Brian Harvey of House of Freaks, his wife, and his two children. On the other hand, Mark Kleiman argues that the Stop Snitchin' movement has driven homicide clearance rates so low that, in some cities, "you have a better than even chance of literally getting away with murder." [more inside]
"'It's been a magical evening,' Joel says as the Great Khali hits the Undertaker with a dustbin lid." Jon Ronson (and son) journey into the world of WWE to investigate the death of Chris Benoit.
The Baltimore Block Real life in miniature.
New York artist Ashley Hope's Ripeness is All exhibit at the Tilton Gallery recreates crime scene photographs of murdered women from the 1910s through the 1990s as oil paintings on huge 4' x 6' canvasses. [some nsfw art] [more inside]
All hail 70s-era Shatner! He began his career with some rather prestigious projects, appearing in The Brothers Karamazov and Judgment at Nuremberg, as well as some rather high profile appearance in Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. But even then, there were hints of exploitation, such as 1961's The Explosive Generation, in which Shatner played a teacher whose job is endangered when she speaks candidly to kids about sex. And there was 1962's The Intruder, a Roger Corman film from 1963 in which Shatner played a carpetbagging racist inciting violence in a southern town. (Clip.) And, of course, there was Incubus from 1965, a horror film in Esperanto. (Clip.) But, after Star Trek, at the start of the 70s, something went haywire. [more inside]
The battle over Nandigram continues (after the massacres of March 14), as a fresh spate of atrocities have been reported.
King Ludwig II of Bavaria was known as the "Fairy-tale King" and the "Mad King" due to his unusual upbringing, eccentric behavior and architectural projects based on Wagnerian operas. For the last 121 years the official word on his death was that he committed suicide along with his psychiatrist, Professor Bernhard von Gudden, by drowning himself in Lake Starnberg. New evidence suggests what many have long suspected.....dum dum dum....Murder.
Myspace vs Facebook Amanda Knox (AKA "Foxy Knoxy"). Knox has allegedly confessed to helping to rape and kill her flatmate, Facebook aficionada Meredith Kercher, when she refused to join in with Knox in an orgy along with a Knox's Italian boyfriend and a Congolese musician. Knox's blog makes interesting reading.
The State Department has promised Blackwater USA bodyguards immunity from prosecution in last month's murder of 17 Iraqi civilians. Richard J. Griffin, the head of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security which granted the immunity, announced his resignation effective last Thursday.
Lucky Dube Shot Dead - Lucky Dube, the South African Reggae musician, has been shot dead by car hijackers in Johannesburg. In front of his son. [more inside]
For lovers of old-time, mountain banjo styles and songs, Roscoe Holcomb and Dock Boggs are revered figures. To many, however, plucker and singer David Akeman remains uncelebrated or unknown, even by his stage name of Stringbean. Is it because he was for a time actually famous as a country music showbiz staple, and therefore lacks folk cred? Or maybe the purists just can't get with those low-hanging pants the man was known for, his original hillbilly homeboy styling? Or was it cause on any given tune his left hand would likely be off the neck of the banjo more than on it? Whatever the reason, it's time folks took a new look at Stringbean. After all, the lines between folk and commercial styles have always been blurry in American music. Let's hear it for Stringbeeeeeeeaaan! [more inside]
McHenry and his "roommates" -- GOP Rep Patrick McHenry (NC), co-owner of a DC home with Scott G. Stewart, former chair of the College Republican Nat'l Cttee (and bilker of many senior citizens), received a DC home-ownership reduction improperly. McHenry's actual home in North Carolina was apparently also home to quite a collection of young men: (convicted fraudulent voter) Michael Aaron Lay, Neil Everett Capano, Matthew Allen Hamilton, and (multiple violations, including "death by vehicle") Jason Jent Deans. Also, McHenry's 04 consultant Ralph Gonzales was one of the men involved in a recent FL murder/suicide, and links to Robert Drake, the killer (political work in NC and escort service connections), are still being documented. Stay tuned! [more inside]
Zahra al-Azzo was murdered by her brother last January in a horrible, but all-too-common Syrian honor killing. Public outcry at her murder is growing.