Laid-back Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, is rich in culture and beauty, Adelaide and its surrounding districts are responsible for some of the finest wines in Australia. Seemingly on every corner are houses of worship of all denominations. For this reason Adelaide is referred to as the City of Churches.
But there is an inexplicable dark side to Adelaide. Some are now choosing to call it the "City of Corpses." And it is not hard to understand why. Per capita Adelaide and environs has recorded more of Australia's most notorious crimes than any other Australian capital city. In the annals of Australia's most horrific crimes, laid-back Adelaide's sinister past (and present) makes other cities look like Camelot.
She was the abducted and murder child whose tragic story prompted the establishment of the Amber Alert system. She was riding her bike in broad daylight when a man stopped and threw her screaming into his truck.
Anita Cobby, former beauty queen and nurse, was killed by a gang of spineless cowards who preyed on women and other people's property between prison terms. Between the five of the them they had over 50 convictions for offenses including larceny, illegal drug use, car theft, breaking and entering, armed robbery, escaping lawful custody, receiving stolen goods, assault and rape. Her murder united the public in outrage, with many Australians calling for a reinstatement of the death penalty.
Author Katherine Ramsland interviews this queen of the true-crime book genre about her beginnings as a writer, her personal life and some of her most fascinating cases.
Annie Le had it all. She was smart, pretty, charming and about to marry the man she called her best friend. But on September 8, 2009, all that changed.
Robert Stroud, self-taught prison inmate spent most of his adult life in jail becoming an expert on birds, their breeding and diseases. Stroud was a very controversial prisoner who fought until his death for the freedom to pursue his scientific achievements.
Hollywood's most famous murder case took place in post-war Los Angeles. Elizabeth Short, an engagingly attractive young woman was found brutally murdered and dumped in a vacant lot. She was called the "Black Dahlia" because she always dressed in black. This unsolved case became an obsession and will continue to be legendary when the Black Dahlia movie comes out this fall with an all-star cast.
Her young life would have been spared had judicial leniency kept habitual drug addict & sexual predator off the street and had Florida county law enforcement acted with alacrity.
The crime exacted a serious toll on families already pressured by drugs, divorce and other social pressures.
Many hardened criminals blame their crimes on their parents, but few have as clear a case as Charles Manson. His mother was an alcoholic prostitute who sold him for a pitcher of beer. In and out of reform school as a youngster, he had an IQ of 109 and became a kind of institutional politician and manipulator by age 19.
From then on his continuous scrapes with the law landed him in prison. His record there described Charlie as having "a tremendous drive to call attention to himself.
On March 21, 1967, Charlie was released from prison in California. He was 32 years old and more than half of his life had been spent in institutions. He protested his freedom. "Oh, no, I can't go outside there...I knew that I couldn't adjust to that world."
Charlie started to attract a group of followers, many of whom were very young women with troubled emotional lives who were rebelling against their parents and society in general.
This was the core of the Manson Family execution team who he ordered to kill pregnant actress Sharon Tate, her wealthy house guests, and the well-to-do LaBiancas.
Charlie was trying to start a race war and vet himself as a prophet of doom.
The tale of the "Serpent," the con man, jewel thief, drug dealer and killer of some 20+ unsuspecting tourists as he moved through Europe, Thailand, Nepal and India, creating a Manson-like family cult. Another 2 murders and a prison escape are added to his rap sheet.
Was this very famous playwright murdered because he was a spy, didn't pay his bar bill, or because he called Jesus and his disciples a group of promiscuous homosexuals? A new biography sheds some light.
"Somebody just shot my kids!" The blond woman yelled to the emergency room nurses.
The two nurses teetered when they looked through the windows of the Nissan. Side panels were soaked in blood and amidst the blood lay three small children, one in the front passenger seat, two in the back. First glance told the nurses the children had been shot at very close range. Two of the children still breathed, although strenuously; the boy gasped for air. The child found slumped in the front seat appeared beyond help; despite frantic efforts by the doctors at the operating table, the damage had been lethal. She was pronounced dead moments after being wheeled to emergency.
Someone without a heart had deliberately attempted to murder three kids in cold blood, and, despite the odds, despite a fate that looked gloomy, the caretakers hastened to keep that fate at bay and beat it at its own game: with deliberate intention.
Who in the name of God could have aimed a pistol at three small children and pulled the trigger?"
The facts came to light in a most suspicious manner and unlike those explained by the mother, Diane Downs.
After decades of prison for allegedly murdering his wife and daughters, he may finally get a fair shake in the courts as retired U.S. marshall comes forward to reveal the confession of major suspect Helena Stoeckley of having been at MacDonalds house to get drugs.
Profile of the innovative forensic psychiatrist, his unique cases and his contributions to the field, particularly The Depravity Scale and The Forensic Panel.
Former FBI profiler, Gregg McCrary, puts the case in perspective. Feature story and Crime Scene Analysis.
So much has been written about the murder of Marilyn Sheppard by journalists and professional authors that often the stark facts of the case are lost. McCrary's report to the court in the latest of the three Sheppard "trials," puts the emphasis back where it should be -- the scene of the crime.
The murder of Marilyn Sheppard is one of the great murder mystery classics, like the Lizzie Borden case and the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. It has inspired three separate trials, many books, the movie and television series The Fugitive.
It seemed like the perfect marriage, Dr. Sam Sheppard, a handsome, affluent and socially prominent doctor married to his pretty high school sweetheart. But when Marilyn, 4 months pregnant, was brutally bludgeoned to death in their home while Dr. Sam allegedly slept, cracks in the perfect marriage became obvious. He had a 3-year affair going with another woman and his account of the night of the murder caused the Cleveland Press to crusade for his arrest.
Arrested he was and indicted for Marilyn's murder. But once the case was taken by celebrity attorney F. Lee Bailey, "Dr. Sam," after a landmark Supreme Court decision, was acquitted in his second trial. So Dr. Sam was free, but hardly any one in Cleveland believed in his innocence except for his son, who 35 years later began a crusade to clear his father's name.
Master of the horror story, father of the detective whodunnit and famous American poet died suddenly. Everyone assumed that he drank himself to death, but the facts of the case point to murder.
Hippy guru/consultant murders his beautiful girlfriend, Holly Maddux, and flees to France to escape prosecution and potentially the death penalty.
He abandoned his car at the airport and left town intending never to return. Back in his mansion in Westfield, N.J., a phonograph played church music over and over for those he'd left behind. John List had just murdered his entire family.
Who killed this tough, powerful man? And whatever happened to his body? Anthony Bruno looks at this perennial mystery and comes up with some answers.
Former FBI profiler Gregg McCrary examines the complicated factors in this high-profile unsolved murder.
Beautiful and talented child was found dead in the basement of her doting parents' Boulder, Colorado home. Police immediately assumed that either John or Patsy Ramsey are guilty of their daughter's death. The media demonized the parents for entering her in beauty pageants and destroyed the Ramseys' excellent reputation by promoting unsubstantiated rumors and distortions of fact. Finally, retired investigator Lou Smit analyzes the evidence that helped vindicate the long-suffering parents, but stubborn wrong-headed law enforcement in Boulder let the trail of the real killer get cold. This case ranks as one of the worst travesties of justice in recent times.
JonBenet Ramsey case expert and author of Presumed Guilty.
Most children murdered during stranger kidnappings are killed within a few hours. A close look at this serious problem and what can be done about it.
Her name was Catherine Genovese, the 28-year-old daughter of Italian-American parents. But to millions of people who read her story when it first appeared in New York Citys press, she would forever be remembered as "Kitty" Genovese. What happened to her, what happened to all of society on that dreadful night in the spring of 1964, would reverberate across the country and generate a national soul-searching that is reserved for only the most catastrophic of events. And nearly 40 years later, her name has become synonymous with a dark side of an urban character that, for many people, represents a harsh and disturbing reality of big city life.
Lana Turner was a true movie queen - beautiful, glamorous, classy, and a damned good serious actress to boot. What she lacked was good judgment when it came to men. After her fourth unsuccessful marriage with only her daughter, Cheryl, to show for it, Lana was ready for something different.
His real name was Johnny Stompanato, but he called himself John Steele. He had the wavy hair and olive-skinned good looks of a movie star with a physique to match. When she found out that he was a gangster, bankrolled by the famous Mickey Cohen, she made the mistake of not ending the relationship right away. He was at once appealing and very dangerous forbidden fruit, but poison fruit from the standpoint of publicity.
Embarrassing publicity caused Lana to be seen in public less and less with him, particularly at the Oscar Awards ceremony when she had been nominated. Angry that he couldnt escort her on her night in the spotlight, Johnny left her bleeding and bruised in her bed.
Unable to get out of this messy and dangerous relationship without career-damaging publicity, Lana didnt take any legal action. But Cheryl, 14, emotionally torn apart by Johnnys brutality to her mother, took a knife and stabbed him to death.
The coroner's inquest into Johnnys death was the most anticipated television event ever. Depending on how Lana played this role of a lifetime, her daughter was either going to walk away a free woman or be charged with the death of her mother's boyfriend and spend the rest of her life in jail.
It was called the "Crime of the Century." Two incredibly wealthy and brilliant young Chicago men with IQs almost off the chart decided to execute "the perfect crime." Their arrogance convinced them that they were so superior intellectually superior to the that they would never be discovered. Their kidnap victim would be random, the first boy they found walking home from the prep school they had gone to. As it happened, the first boy they saw was a cousin of Dickie Loeb's named Bobby Franks. Bobby willing jumped into the car with his cousin and his friend and took the last ride of his life.
The next day, a ransom note was sent to his terrified parents telling them that to ensure Bobby's safe return, $10,000 a very large sum in 1924 must be produced by noon. "George Johnson" called to give the Franks family instructions on where to leave the ransom money, but in the meantime, Bobby's body had been found in a culvert.
As the investigation of Bobby's brutal murder went into high gear, suspicion increasingly focused on the two young college men. Amazingly, despite their intelligence a few stupid mistakes handed prosecutors a powerful case. Public sentiment in Chicago, exacerbated by anti-Semitism in the heartland, was to hang them.
But then the legendary Clarence Darrow took on their defense, but even so there were very serious doubts that even the great lawyer could save them from the hangman's noose.
Son of an American hero kidnapped and murdered.
This classic has to be one of the most enduring murder mysteries America has ever produced. Elderly Andrew Borden, still in his heavy morning coat, reclines on a mohair-covered sofa, his boots on the floor so as not to soil the upholstery. As he naps, his wife, Abby, is on the floor of the guestroom upstairs, dead for the past hour and a half, killed by the same hand, with the same axe, that is about to strike him, as he sleeps.
The bloodiness of the acts is startling. Along with the gruesome nature of the crimes is the unexpected character of the accused, not a hatchet-wielding maniac, but a church-going, Sunday-school-teaching, respectable, spinster-daughter, charged with parricide, the murder of parents, a crime worthy of Classical Greek tragedy. Many people believed she killed her father and stepmother, but recent forensic research suggests that she didn't.
More than a century after Abby and Andrew Borden were brutally hacked to death on August 4, 1892, there is more to be learned about this case. Letters by Lizzie's lawyer and Lizzie herself shed new light on the Victorian murder mystery.
This famous French aristocrat's name coined the word "sadism." His often violently pornographic writings, espoused a hedonistic lifestyle, free from the restraints of ethics and morals. His libertine behavior and writings earned him significant prison time, but created a legacy that has lived for centuries. Countless books and movies have been inspired by his controversial philosophies.
The Martha Moxley murder trial culminates in a guilty verdict for Michael Skakel. Read the facts leading up to this historical decision.
They paid for the rape of a white woman with their lives -- even though no white man had ever been executed in VA for rape.
Who could look at the face of this sweet 10-year-old girl and ever imagine her to be one of the youngest serial killers ever discovered. Was this youngster who killed her playmates without any feelings of guilt the result of a monstrous family or a bad seed or something else?
Emmett Till, a Chicago teenager, went to visit relatives for vacation and came back as a symbol for thousands of people hungry for justice.
Lyle and Erik Menendez were the two spoiled children of a very successful Cuban-American businessman. The boys were annoyed that their father was domineering and had threatened to disinherit them, so they decided to murder him so that they could spend the money he had earned right away. Since their mother was so emotionally tied to their father, they rationalized that she had to be murdered too because she couldnt survive without Jose and, of course, she would be the one to inherit his money if he died.
So one night in family room of their 23-room mansion where Kitty and Jose had dozed off entwined together on the couch in front of the TV, the two boys executed them with a 12-gauge shotgun and tried to make it look like a robbery. After using their murdered parents money to live in luxury, they were finally arrested. It took two trials to get them the justice they deserved.
This handsome 6-foot-two, 19-year-old king was married to Europe's most beautiful queen, but he was a syphilitic, disgruntled libertine. His unsolved murder with a half a dozen suspects changed history and the future of England.
Sandra Cantu went from missing to murdered in 10 days. But in this case the search for the most-likely male pedophile instead turned up a local Sunday school teacher and pastor's granddaughter.
Nietzsche's concept of the Superman, who did not have to conform to the morals of the times, was an inspiration to Hitler, among others.
This may be considered the crime of the last century. It became the most publicized case in US history. It cost over $20 million to fight and defend, ran up 50,000 pages of trial transcript and called 150 witnesses.
No movie or television courtroom drama would have dared to unfold the way this one did, and it was not without coincidence that it evolved in Los Angeles, so often referred to by cynics as "La La Land." The rest of the country became obsessed with the empty, celebrity-dominated West Los Angeles backdrop to the crime.
To many, particularly in minority communities, the trial of Orenthal James Simpson became not so much a determination of his guilt or innocence of murder in the first degree, beyond a reasonable doubt, but whether or not a black man could find justice in a legal system designed by and largely administered by whites. To others, many of whom were white, the key question was whether a mostly minority jury would convict a black celebrity regardless of the weight of evidence against him.
More than 10 years after the murder of his ex-wife and her friend, the former football star continues to stir controversy. Analysis of the murder and road rage trials, and forensics.
Although skeptics decry the use of psychics, police departments have been calling on them for more than a century when all else fails.
Warehouse for society's worst criminals, was one of America's most repressive institutions. Here are the stories of the most famous prisoners and their grandfatherly executioner, Robert G. Elliot, who carried out the death sentence on 387 men and women.
South Carolina woman drowns her children in her car so that she will be more "marriageable" to the boyfriend who rejected her.
Author Katherine Ramsland looks at famous killing teams, their motives, and the psychology of killing along with a partner.
Vegas casino owner mixes up a lethal brew of heroin, showgirls, silver bullion, and mobsters. New chapters update recent events and the 2004 trial.
Mohammed Bouyeri confesses in court that he murdered Theo Van Gogh, controversial Dutch film maker who made film portraying abused Muslim women, for religious convictions. He is sentenced to life in prison without parole and faces new charges.
The top places to scram if you're on the lam.
Two boys, 12 and 10, are locked away in a tower by their ruthless uncle. Did he take their lives as well as their freedom, wealth and birthright?
One of the first terrorist cases in the U.S. dealt with the poisoning of medicines. Tremendous investigative efforts and preventive techniques did not completely stop copycats from continuing the initial reign of terror.
In the predawn hush of a September Sunday in 1966, someone broke into a mansion on Lake Michigan outside Chicago, crept upstairs to a bedroom, and stabbed and bludgeoned a bright, pretty young woman named Valerie Jeanne Percy to death.
A crime psychologist said the vicious nature of the slaying showed "the murderer wanted to attack her personally."
Today, the murder of Senator Charles Percy's beautiful daughter is still unsolved, but new suspects are found.
Profile of famous veteran chief and investigator examines his accomplishments, his theories, and his most famous cases, including a real story that inspired the Hannibal Lector escape scene in the Silence of the Lambs.
Did Satanists murder 3 boys or were 3 local teenagers set up for a crime they did not commit because their tastes and interests clashed with the local norms? Dr. Katherine Ramsland analyzes Devil's Knot, the new book on this intriguing case.
One of Hollywood's most successful directors is murdered. Before police arrive, a studio exec that goes through his house searching for evidence of scandal, may have planted monogrammed underwear with a famous actress's initials. What is the studio trying to hide? Who of the many suspects had a motive for murder? The detailed story. But some experts discount the rumors that swirled around the popular director and the cast of characters. Another view of the case focuses on confirmed facts.