Murder is in itself as old as evolution. In fact, as a concept it has acquired numerous perceptions across the nations. Evidently, vivid examples of such unlawful killing have made this concept so practically defined by people from all walks of life throughout history. The vast majority has even concluded that with a forethought of the verdict. More often than not, murder cases have always ignited fury and fear to the killers as well as sympathy and grief to the forlorn victims. To what extent could murderers afford to express their wrath? What motives urged the killings? Did they have scapegoats? Where do they fall?
Jack the Ripper Murders ”œ August to November 1888
‘I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckles. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now? I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games.’ This statement is an excerpt from one of the three letters from which the notorious name ‘Jack the Ripper’ was coined. Back in 1888, a gruesome and mysterious ‘monster’ with evident medical skill or specialized anatomical background broke all the rules and shattered the populace of White Chapel, East End of London, an outcast place in the city by relatively slaughtering five women in a row who were mostly homeless prostitutes, drunkards, and with broken marriages within more or less only three months. The generally accepted victims namely: Mary Ann ‘Poly’ Nichols (August 31), Annie ‘Dark Annie’ Chapman (Sept. 8), Elizabeth Stride (Sept. 30), Catherine Eddones (Sept. 30), and Mary Jane Kelly (Nov. 9) were all found lifeless in or near White Chapel. Their necks had been slashed, their bodies had been ripped open laying out all the internal organs, and some body parts had been mutilated and detached. Investigations revealed that the nature of the ripping was so orderly and was perceived to have been done by someone who had ample knowledge and skills in dissecting the human body. Thus, Jack the Ripper’s profession was suspected to be either a surgeon or an embalmer. The unlikely killings of the so-called Jack the Ripper led the authorities to keep an eye on the crimes. Thus, 34 suspicious characters, including members of the Royal group in England, were held under surveillance. Unfortunately, none of them was proven otherwise. Some witnesses to the heinous crimes clearly stated that the monstrous murderer was a medium-built man with a recognizable moustache, dressed in a dark leather jacket. Despite the fact that the victims belonged to the less influential group of society, the ferocity of this serial murderer has been widespread until the present time. To date, the real identity of Jack the Ripper has never been known.
Mohandas Gandhi ”œ January 30, 1948
‘Before I fired the shots I actually wished him well and bowed to him in reverence.’ Nathuram Godse projected to be incapable of remorse in this utterance during one of the trials for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the foremost ideological political leader who has been honorably regarded in India as ‘The Father of the Nation.’ He was called ‘Mahatma’ (great soul) for his great deeds particularly initiating the revolt against tyranny and encouraging movements for civil rights across the globe. Nathuram Godse, on the one hand, was a prominent member of Mahabsaba and, at the same, the editor of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ a Marathi newspaper. What sparked the editor’s hatred to the ‘great soul’? Generally, the former’s belief that the latter inflicted the downturn of India by reiterating a payment [55 crores rupees] to Pakistan was known to be the root. While Mahatma outlived his principles to uplift the less fortunate ones, to promote equality and to recognize women’s rights, Godse had his own key points to justify his vigilance. His determination to disperse the dignified Mahatma can be confirmed by taking his written explanation vis Ãƒ vis. “Born in a devotional Brahmin family, I instinctively came to revere Hindu religion, Hindu history, and Hindu culture. I had, therefore, been intensely proud of Hinduism as a whole. As I grew up, I developed a tendency to free thinking unfettered by any superstitious allegiance to any isms, political or religious. That is why I worked actively for the eradication of untouchability and the caste system based on birth alone. I openly joined anti-caste movements and maintained that all Hindus are of equal status as to rights, social and religious, and should be considered high or low on merit alone and not through the accident of birth in a particular caste or profession. I used publicly to take part in organized anti-caste dinners which thousands of Hindus, Brahmins, Vaishyas, Kshatriyas, Chamars and Bhangis participated. We broke the caste rules and dined in the company of each other. I have read the speeches and writings of Dadabhai Naoroji, Vivekanand, Gokhale, Tilak, along with the books of ancient and modern history of India and some prominent countries like England, France, America and Russia. Moreover I studied the tenets of socialism and Marxism. But above all I studied very closely what Veer (brave) Savarkar and Gandhiji had written and spoken, as to my mind these two ideologies have contributed more to the moulding of the thought and action of the Indian people during the last thirty years or so, than any other factor has done.’ Thus, after five unsuccessful attempts, strengthened by his own ideology, Godse together with Narayan Apte triumphantly released three open firings directly into Gandhi’s chest which ended his life. Moreover, the conspirators’ principles and defenses were insufficient to save them from being convicted and executed.
Mary Bell Murders ”œ May 25, 1968; July 31 1968
‘Murder isn’t that bad, all people die some time, anyway’ replied the eleven-year-old Mary Bell to her prison guards sometime in 1968. Mary Bell is considered as the youngest murderer in the United Kingdom because at her age she ruthlessly and deliberately killed two toddlers, Martin Brown (3) and Brian Howe (4) on May 25, 1968 and July 31, 1968 respectively. Martin’s body was found lying face down on the floor of an abandoned house not far from a construction site. Except for the bleeding in his cheek, no signs of strangulation or any visible sign of harassment was seen on the toddler’s body. In light of the bottle of aspirin seen close to him, authorities perceived that his death was accidental. Brian’s body, however, was found hidden under piles of grass and purple weeds. This little boy’s fate in the hands of the precocious murderer was creepier. Portions of his hair were unevenly cut, the wounds all over his body were peculiar. A razor was used to mark the letters ‘M’ and ‘N’ on his belly; he had puncture marks on his thighs, and the most awful injuries were to his genitals that had severe abrasions were nearly skinless in fact. After being caught, Mary claimed doing the fatal ‘childplay’ with her best friend Norma. Although Norma admitted participating in Brian’s case, she denied having knowledge about Martin’s. After a series of trials and careful litigation, Norma was found not guilty. Mary’s verdict, on the other hand, was: guilty of first-degree murder and detention for life as the judgment of conviction. Meanwhile, Mary Bell, the progeny of a prostitute and a thief, the intelligent, dangerous, manipulative, and precocious child murderess back then is now living a life outside the cold bars because she was paroled at age 23.
DeFeo Murders ”œ November 13, 1974
‘The devil made me do it! You people just don’t understand,’ pleaded Ronald ‘Butch’ DeFeo, Jr. to get away from the unspeakable crime he did to his entire family. The DeFeo murders occurred at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, New York. The house where the grisly bloodbath happened has been damned to be an icon of horror since then. In fact, it has been serialized as the ‘Amityville Horrors.’ Why is this murder so famous? Lies surround the case. The puzzlement about this brutal killing is that all six members of the family; his father, mother, two brothers, and two sisters were shot lying facedown in their beds, with no signs of any of them waking up from the sound of the rifle going off. Strikingly, the theory that ingestion of sedatives put the whole family into deep sleep during the murders was ruled out when no proof was established. Not even the neighbors heard the gunshots of the apparently powerful rifle. This is a reason why some perceived that the crime was aided with supernatural forces. Ronald himself claimed that some intangible supernatural being, such as the spirit of an angry Indian chief and a demonic pig, possessed his earthly soul and commanded his actions. Another odd thing about the killing is that, unofficially, the evidence pointed to a conspiracy. Ronnie had another claim for this conspiracy: his 18-year-old sister, who was also one of the victims, was his accomplice according to him while some spectators had notions that his brother-in-law, Richard Romonde, was with him. As a result of the efforts of the police investigators and some journalists, greed, lies, corruption, abuse, drugs, and betrayal unfolded and were revealed as Ronald DeFeo, Jr’s provoking factors. Thus, the gruesome murderer was proven guilty of second degree murder (6 counts) and was sentenced on each of the 6 counts to 25 years to life imprisonment in the court of Justice Thomas Spark who described the methodical murder as the most heinous and abhorrent crime in history.
Selena Quintanilla-Perez ”œ March 31, 1995
‘I cannot kill Selena. it was an accident and my conscience is clear. I loved her like a daughter,’ has been Yolanda Saldivar’s plea until recent times. Yolanda Saldivar is Selena Quintanilla-Perez’ greatest fan who initiated her fan club and later on became her best friend. Through time she became her trustee for all her businesses and financial accounts. Selena Quintanilla-Perez, on the other hand, was the undisputed queen of Tejano music and popularized the song, ‘Dreaming of You.’ She was a Grammy winner and an idolized daughter and young model who never forgot her roots. Meanwhile, first-hand accounts and documentation revealed that Yolanda’s motives for the unforgivable murder were obsession, revenge, anger, and frustration on account of the discovery of her ill-spirited embezzlement. Selena’s father, Abraham, testified that her daughter’s murderer embezzled more than $400,000 by forging checks and stealing money from the company and from the fan club funds. What led to the verdict? First, Yolanda fled with all of Selena’s financial records after a confrontation for the missing company records. Second, four days before the fatal day, she bought the gun which she used to fire the bullet that caused Selena to bleed to death. Third, the phone conversation records which revealed that she told Selena to come alone to Room 158, Days Inn Hotel, Corpus Christi Las Vegas. Thus, on account of the said circumstances, Miss Saldivar was sentenced to 25 years to life imprisonment for committing first degree murder.
Image By Terry Ross (Flickr: Selena’s grave) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
JonBenet Ramsey ”œ December 26, 1996
‘File charges against me, if you think you can prove that I killed my daughter. I’m beyond being embarrassed. If you think I did it, let’s have a trial and get over it.’ The voice of Patsy Ramsey, the alleged murderer of her own daughter, JonBenet Ramsey, echoed to challenge the Boulder County special prosecutor Michael Kane nearly five years after the indeed sensational crime. It can be recalled that JonBenet Ramsey, the famous six-year-old American beauty pageant contestant who stood out for her fabulous, lady-like beauty and style was found dead in the basement of her residence in Boulder, Colorado with signs of strangling and battery the morning after Christmas Day. Eight hours before the discovery, everybody thought that the young beauty star was kidnapped taking into account the handwritten ransom note found in the living room demanding $118,000. However, JonBenet Ramsey’s brutal death marked a pivotal event in the Ramsey family’s peaceful life for two relatively dismaying reasons: the untimely death of a dear child, and the family being kept under an ‘umbrella of suspicion.’ Since the alleged murderer was JonBenet’s own mother, this crime was highly publicized and sensationalized. This precipitated conflicting views from spectators, law enforcement, and, of course, the media.
First, the Boulder Police disregarded any possibility of an intruder having to do with the abhorrent killing. Second, the Ramsey couple’s recourse to seek their own lawyer’s services to replace the special prosecutor was interpreted as a coverup for the mitigating circumstances. Third, retired detective, Lou Smits, found evidence and leads on some key points, which are: lovely JonBenet was a pedophile’s dream, and her visibility made her a target; Jon Benet’s statement that Santa Claus was bound to make her a special visit, and the unidentified vehicle parked outside the Ramsey’s home on or about the time of the crime. Not to mention, the breaking news of the involvement of John Mark Karr, 41, who tied himself to the case through self-admittance, but later was concluded as false confession due to the lack of solid evidence. Up until now, the real murderer is yet to be known. Unfortunately, Patsy Ramsey, whether guilty or not guilty, can no longer sit on the witness stand nor can she witness the verdict as she died of cancer on June 24, 2006, at the age of 49.
Andrea Yates Murders ”œ June 20, 2001
‘I waited for Rusty to leave for work that morning before filling the bathtub because I knew he would prevent me from harming the children,’ confessed Andrea while she was tried for drowning her five innocent children to death. Moreover, Andrea’s willful confession unfolded the struggles of Noah, John, Luke, Paul, and Mary during the last hours of their short-lived lives. The eldest was six years old and the youngest was six months when together their mother forced them to bid goodbye to Earth. After breakfast, Andrea had the bathtub filled then got rid of their dog by locking it in a room. Thereafter, she gave her children a beastly morning bath in the tub of horror. She started with Luke, two years old, whom she held facedown under the water. She submerged the helpless toddler until his last breath. Then, like a sleeping child, she put the lifeless body in bed and covered it with a sheet. Paul, three years old and John five, suffered a similar, ironic, motherly routine. Mary, her youngest, was never spared as well. After this little angel succumbed in the deadly tub, Noah, her eldest, saw Mary’s lifeless body floating in the tub. Out of fear he tried to run for his life but was unsuccessful. In his mother’s bitter hands, he drowned and died without refuge. Such a disclosure from Andrea herself, backed up by evidence from the scene of the crime, proved to be unclouded. Andrea was actually considered by specialists fit to sit on trial. Beyond all reasonable doubts, Andrea Yates was found guilty of capital murder and was initially doomed to suffer from the death penalty. However, through the efforts of her loving husband, appeals were granted favorably thus the death penalty sentence was lowered to life imprisonment with a possibility of parole after 40 years. Later on, on July 26, 2006, the insanity defense proved insurmountable in another appeal resulting in a not-guilty verdict. From behind bars, Andrea was transferred to a mental institution. The variety of views about Andrea Yate’s state of mind during the altruistic killing had depression as the common denominator.
Alexander Litvinenko ”œ November 1, 2006
‘Mr. Litvinenko was not the kind of person for whom it would make sense to smear bilateral relations. It was absolutely not in our interest to do this.’ This was the assertion of the spokesman for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergie Ivanov, through the Trud newspaper. Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent, mysteriously fell ill on the 1st of November, the same day he had tea with two Russians in a hotel in Governor Square and another meeting with an Italian in a sushi bar in Piccadillys. The former Russian counter-intelligence agent’s health had seriously deteriorated and within 22 crucial days he finally expired. Of course, his death became the subject of interest among experts who cast doubts on this very untimely phenomenon. Vigorous examinations revealed that Mr. Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium-210, a dreadful, radioactive metal which attacked his bone marrow and liver which triggered a massive heart attack. Such a revelation created alarming chaos and an unparalleled health scare from all over the world. Thus, the then unexplained death was tagged as murder in Scotland Yard. Serious allegations sprouted one after another. ‘Sasha, is on the verge of revealing the name of the assassin who gunned down Anna Polikovskaya, the Russian journalist in Moscow,’ quoted by one of his allies. This scenario, along with his vigilant releases, transpired shortly before he was allegedly poisoned. To further the proceedings of the investigation, the last three persons he had met were included in the hit list. Moreover, several theories were also advocated such as, President Vladimir Putin of Moscow had a lead role in this tragedy; Alexander Litvinenko outraged his former colleagues with his sarcastic revelations of KGB behind-the-scenes activities; Berezovsky had evil thoughts of creating a ‘martyr for a cause,’ or the poison could have been self-inflicted.
Lindsay Anne Hawker ”œ March, 2007
‘I was evil. There is no one to blame but me. I will take the responsibility. I will never forget her and what I did to her and you. And I will carry my cross to the moment of my death. I am sorry. I am very sorry. I am very sorry. I not only destroyed her life but I also changed your lives. What I did to her and you will never be forgiven.’ A letter written by Tatsuya Ichihashi, a 28-year-old Japanese man who sexually assaulted and devilishly murdered Lindsay Anne Hawker in Tokyo, Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture. Lindsay’s completely unclothed body was entombed in sand in a bath tub. It was affirmed to have visible signs of sexual assault, strangulation, and torture. Her upper and lower extremities were tied with a plastic cord. Tatsuya, her barbaric butcher, happened to be a student of this 22-year-old amiable, British English teacher. Initially, his identification and arrest was never a tough job since the leading circumstances were precisely obvious. However, his great escape during interrogation made giving justice to the defenseless woman crucial. For more than two years his tactics made him a metaphor of Harry Houdini. He strategically hopped from one temple to another in Shikoku, then he worked at an engineering company in Kobe, and he became a construction worker in Japan. To remain incognito, he was wise enough to employ the advantage of facial surgery. So, come June, 2009, the quest for justice and the $100,000 reward skyrocketed to $1,000,000. Roughly five months later, he was at last arrested and brought into captivity by the aid of flashing his totally renewed face photos on television and similar sorts. No matter how sorrowful he represented himself after the arrest, the jury asserted he was guilty of murder after a series of explicit trials. The verdict: life imprisonment. He may be eligible for parole in 2021, though.
In recent times, people are chaotic about the assassination of prominent political figures. The assassination of Pakistan’s lady Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, allegedly purposed to silence her, and the death of Moamar Khadafi at the hands of the people he oppressed are still subject to debate these days.
In view of all these crimes, arguably the extent to which murderers afford to become inhumane and barbaric as well as the methods by which they attempt to justify their ruthless acts considerably vary across each personality. Obsession, money, fatal attraction, betrayal, and fame appear to be the dominant driving forces in this criminality. Quite inevitably, some criminals of this nature were convicted while some were left unsolved. An intriguing pattern can be singled out from these famous heinous crimes; the executioners obviously had considerable knowledge of their preys’ vulnerability. Had they not, survivors could have stood witness against them.