Famous Trial: Big Bill Haywood

In order to fully understand the nature of this trial, let’s take a quick look at the circumstances leading up to it:

It begins in July of 1892 in Northern Idaho, during a worker’s strike of local miners because of their wages being reduced from 35 cents to only 30 cents. After discovering a company plant, angry union workers decide the best way to get their point across is to blow up a mill and hold captive non-union workers. Other union men commandeer a train and take over other mills in the area. The Governor of Idaho declares martial law and with the assistance of President Benjamin Harrison, the federal troops are sent in.

The Governor of Idaho declares martial law and with the assistance of President Benjamin Harrison, the federal troops are sent in. The Federal Troops arrest 600 union men and sympathizers where they are held with no charges and then released.  Union leaders are tried.

Two years later in 1894, 40 masked men assassinate John Kneebone, a witness against the union leaders. This forces President Cleveland to send more federal troops to occupy Idaho.

Tension like this continues over the next several years with more mining explosions more federal troops being sent it, with over 1000 union members and sympathizer being arrested as of 1899.

In the early 1900s, the violence continued; a train bombing killing non-union members and the governor of Idaho being blown to smithereens from a bomb planted in his home.

Now that we have some historical context, the next thing we must focus on is the investigation into the bombing of the governor of Idaho:

On December 31, 1905, a waitress from The Saratoga Hotel, remembers a visibly shaken Thomas Hogan after the explosion that killed the governor. A search of his hotel room shows traces of plaster of paris which was used to hold the bomb together. The next day Thomas Hogan (born Harry Orchard) is arrested for the murder of the governor.

The state of Idaho hires the best detective of the era James McParland. He meets with Orchard and offers a plea deal if he is willing to testify as to who hired him for the job.

After having a complete meltdown in prison on February 1, 1906, Orchard confesses to killing the governor as well as 17 other people on the behest of union members William Hayword, Charles Moyer and George Pettibone.

Aha! It’s all coming full circle!

After some ridiculous shenanigans of getting William Hayword back to Idaho (he was Colorado hiding out but was found), on May 9, 1907, Hayword stood trial for the murder represented by the criminal defense lawyer Clarence Darrow and Edmund Richardson.

On July 29, 1907, the jury deliberates for 9 hours and announces it’s decision.

Hayword is found NOT GUILTY.

How could this be? There has been much debate amongst historians. Some believe that it was Clarence Darrow’s eloquence while other’s believe that it was the prosecution’s failure to provide any evidence to Orchard’s claims against Hayword. And remember the burden is on the prosecutor to prove without a reasonable doubt that Hayword was guilty of ordering the murder of the governor of Idaho.

Reports from all over the country reported on Darrow’s skilled defense and his team’s ability to countering the witness is cross-examination. One reporter even wrote, “the greatest trial in modern times.” And that is precisely why it’s on his our list.

Weird Crimes: The Watcher House

Well, this first story isn’t really a crime as it is more creepy, and could totally be adapted into a horror film. But according to Ranker.com, this was voted the weirdest crime on their website. There was an indeed a lawsuit though, let me explain.

In June of 2015, a couple named Derek and Maria Broaddus received a threatening letter in the mail from “The Watcher.” In response, the couple left the newly purchases home and filed a lawsuit against the former homeowner for not mentioning the history of “The Watcher” and his/her relationship to the house.

According to The Watcher’s first letter to the Broaddus family, this particular house has been in his family for decades starting with this grandfather in 1920, his father in the 60s and now himself.

In the second and third letters, he mentions oddly specific things like how he disapproves of the remodeling and how they won’t let their children play.

An independent investigator went on the hunt to see if he could get some answers. After some digging, there was something odd about the lawsuit filed. The Broadduses claimed they spent a lof of money on renovations (as did The Watcher describe) yet no neighbors saw any contractors nor did the Braodduses file any permits with the city. One local visitor claims that the Broadduses wrote the letters to themselves to get out of their mortgage which was evaluated at one million dollars.

Meanwhile, as of March of 2016, the former owners John and Andrea Woods, filed a counterclaim for defamation of character. Another update happened on September 26, 2016. A superior court judge rejected the motion to dismiss the defamation lawsuit against the Braudduses. As of

As of February 2017, a new resident of the Watch home has taken residence and seems to be “unphased” by the stalker threats. The alleged author of the letters has not been identified and the suit and countersuit are still pending in court.

Here’s the news coverage from ABC News about a 4th letter that was sent to the home:

When Does Murder Become A Federal Crime?

According to the United States Constitution, criminal law is left to be handled by the individual States where the crime was committed. So for example, let’s say you kill someone in Florida and are caught, you will be tried under Florida’s criminal laws.

But did you know that there are 10 specific cases in which committing murder can be seen as a federal offense and therefore ultimately be tried in a federal court? Not that we condone murder in any way but here’s how murder becomes a federal crime:

  1. Murdering An Elected/Appointed Official Of The Federal Government – this includes the President, Vice-President, Congressman, Senators, Cabinet Members or Supreme Court Justice.
  2. Murdering A Federal Jude or Law Enforcement Official – this includes any judge servicing on the federal court as well as law enforcement officials like the FBI, CIA, DEA, etc.
  3. Murdering An Immediate Family Member of A Law Enforcement Official – you cannot threaten a law enforcement to drop their investigation by murdering their family.
  4. Murdering Someone With The Intent Of Influencing The Outcome Of A Court Case – you cannot kill jurors, witnesses, police informants or officers to help win your court case. It’s also a federal crime to kill someone in response to their testimony.
  5. Murdering Someone During A Bank Robbery – since bank robbery in itself is a federal crime, if someone is killed (civilian, security guard, etc) the criminal will be brought up on a federal murder charge.
  6. Murdering A Child With Ties To Rape, Child Molestation or Sexual Exploitation – if you have sexually abused a child and they are killed because of it or you murder them afterward that will lead you to a federal murder charge. 
  7. Murdering Someone Aboard A Ship – maritime law is tricky because the ocean is considered multinational but since you are crossing multiple state lines in some cases it becomes a part of interstate travel which is under Federal Jurisdiction.
  8. Murdering Someone For Drug Related Reasons – due to the country’s War on Drugs, drug related offenses have higher punishments and are prosecuted under federal laws.
  9. Murdering Someone Due To A Contract (Communicated Through Internet/Cell Phone) – since cell phone towers and internet lines cross state lines this falls under Federal Jurisdiction.
  10. Murdering Someone Due To A Contract (Communicated By Mail) – same reason as above.

For the record, MURDER IS A CRIME! We do not want anyone to commit these heinous acts. But in some situations, it becomes a federal crime where the punishment and sentencing are much more severe than if being tried in a state court. We are bringing these up in the event you watch Crime Dramas, you can impress all your friends and family with your knowledge of Federal Law.

The Story Of The Grim Sleeper

During the summer of 1985 until 1988, a killing spree began in Southern Los Angeles. It all started when a woman reported that she was raped and shot, describing her killer as African American, aged mid-20s, a little under six feet, about 160lbs, well mannered, educated, pockmarked face and well kept. People were on the look out for the “Southside Slayer.”

As it turns out, the woman was explaining none other than Lonnie David Franklin Jr. After being arrested in 2010 for a crime he committed in 2002, he earned a new nickname: The Grim Sleeper. He earned this nickname because of the length between the crimes in 1988 and 2002.

Most of the victims were African American women (all but one). There is a suspicion that he did murder one African American male but not confirmed. Most of his victims were also sex workers and his victims were murdered by being shot with a .25 caliber gun.

He was finally arrested in 2010 due to new forensic evidence (DNA analysis). Although his DNA was not in the system, his son was convicted of a federal weapons charge and therefore was. They used this DNA to help find Franklin through familiar DNA matching.

The trial took a long time to get under way because the police were still trying to identify all of his victims and secure evidence from over 30 years ago leading to a very long pre-trial length.

His trial began in February 2016 and on May 5th, he was convicted of killing nine women and one teenage girl and one count of attempted murder.  On August 10th 2016 he was sentenced to death 10 times for each person he murder.

We still do not know what caused Franklin to start committing murders again after a 14-year hiatus. Nor are we sure that there were no murders done by him between 1988 and 2002.

You can watch a documentary to learn more about The Tales of The Grim Sleeper here:

Infamous Historical Figures

According to dictionary.com, to be famous means:

having a widespread reputation, usually of a favorable nature; renowned; celebrated:

So then what does it means to be infamous?

having an extremely bad reputation: deserving of or causing an evil reputation; shamefully malign; detestable:

As we study throughout school and learn about history, we learn of two types of people – those who do good in the world (for example, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Theresa, Gandhi) and those who do evil in the world (Adolf Hitler, Stalin, Sadam Hussein).

What makes these people infamous or evil is what they did – their crimes against humanity. These historical figures are taught to us in school because of their crimes which were (pardon the pun) enormous. Here’s our list of Infamous Historical Figures that people seem to forget were so incredibly evil:

1. Nero

Nero was the Roman Emperor from 54 to 86 AD. Nero suffered from mother issues as she controlled a lot of his life at an early age. This resentment towards his mother took Nero down a dark path and he arranged to have her murdered. He became extremely paranoid of anyone trying to take the power away from him and was even accused of raping and killing his half brother.

2. Pol Pot

Pol Pot was a communist leader of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. In those four short years, 1.5 million people, roughly 25% of the entire population died from overwork, disease, starvation and good old fashioned execution. With the goal of creating a peasant and classless society his regime targeted anyone intellectual.

3. Saddam Hussein

President of Iraq from 1973 to 2003. Over this 30 year reign there are numerous crimes to choose from that make him one of the most infamous despots, but here are some of his most noteworthy:

  • Kidnapped an entire village in response to his attempted assassination in 1982 including women and children
  • Afnal Campaign forcing the Kurdish out of Iraq resulting in the use of chemical warfare killing 5,000 men, women and children
  • Causing environmental disaster after ordering oil wells to be ignited during the Persian Gulf War
  • Order the murder of his relatives and other family members

Sometimes we think of evil as something that isn’t real. Something that is only fiction but as it turns out, in our own short history of mankind, there are some truly evil people.

Who are some of your favorite infamous historical figures?

3 Famous Serial Killers

In understanding human nature, it is important and perhaps necessary to look at the dark side of humanity. This allows us to understand the spectrum that people fall on and study why a certain person may commit atrocities. This is perhaps why we tend to have a fascination with serial killers. When it comes to studying these serial killers, there are always some whose reputation stands the test of time. Countless books have been written and documentaries made about the serial killers below, so read on to learn which are three of the most infamous serial killers to ever live.

The Zodiac Killer

The zodiac killer set the tone in terms of what we think of related to serial killers for cerebral and leave clues. There is often the idea that a serial killer actually wants to get caught or that they play a cat and mouse game with authorities. The zodiac killer exemplified this in spades, leaving puzzles, riddles, symbols and some of the most intricate traces at the scene of every crime. This is why this killer goes down as one of the most intriguing ever in New York State.

Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy is one of the most infamous serial killers due to the fact that he took his monstrousness never before seen heights by actually performing sexual acts on his victims. He was a necrophile whose acts are considered some of the most darkest in terms of serial killing.

Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper is a serial killer who lived in London in the 1800s and was infamous for killing several London prostitutes over a three-year span. He has had many imitators over the years and is one of the most deadly killers in London history.

If you are looking to research some of the most famous the real killers of all time, you watch this video from our friends at MoJo:

How Are The Kardashians connected to OJ Simpson?

The OJ Simpson Trial was literally the trial of the 21st century. But little do people know the mass media surrounding this trial is connected to the mass media that is now following around The Kardashians. Without this trial, the Kardashians wouldn’t require “keeping up with.” Let’s dive into these three points to get a better understanding of how this took place.

1. He was friends with and represented by Robert Kardashian

The first piece of the puzzle to understand is that O.J. Simpson was very good friends with Robert Kardashian. Robert was O.J.’s confidant and was a participant on the dream team legal defense team that was put together in order to represent him. Robert would eventually die, but the link between the families was what brought the Kardashian family to prominence in the eyes of America.

2. The Kardashians and the girls were friends with the family

In addition to Robert being friends with OJ, the Kardashian girls and wife were friends with O.J. Simpson and his family. There are many famous photographs from that period of time and the family was often interwoven into some of the storylines related to the case and the fascination with the Brentwood lifestyle.

3. OJ Simpson’s trial kicked off the reality craze

The craze of the O.J. Simpson case has lived forever, due to the fact that it literally started the reality TV sensation. You can find O.J. Simpson coverage on every channel in the early to mid-90s and reality giants were ever since. This not only changed television, it changed what people look for in terms of news and popular culture. Since the Kardashian family was an integral part of this craze, it is no accident that years later, they are also the standard of reality television.

10 Trials That Fascinated America

We stole this list from Mojo Jojo, who does a very good job of selecting a top 10. This is our precursor as we instead to go through each of these trails more in depth as continue to write more and more articles for this blog. There are some major accusations of cover-ups, biased media coverage, racial discrimination and so much for us to comment on.

10. Scott Peterson Trial
9. Mike Tyson Rape Trial
8. Clay Shaw Trial
7. Casey Anthony Murder Trial
6. Michael Jackson Molestation Trial
5. Marilyn Manson et al: LaBianca Tate Murder Trial
4. Impeachment of Bill Clinton
3. Timothy McVeigh: Oklahoma City Bombing Trial
2. Rodney King Trial
1. O.J. Simpson Murder Trial

You can watch the full video here: