Famous Miami Criminals

What do you think about when somebody mentions Miami? Do you think about a green Florida paradise? Do you think about architecture? Do you think about contemporary trends in a changing world? Or do you think about the criminal underworld? Miami is famous for a lot of things, but none are more fascinating than its evildoers. Here are just a few of the most famous!

Everyone has heard of Pablo Escobar, the Medellin Cartel kingpin. When he reigned at the top, flooding the city with drugs, Anibal Mustelier (the Ghost) was making his way up a different ladder–as a hitman. He’s known for robberies, cartel murders, and most notoriously, a number of assassinations in Colombia and Cuba. Until 2016, he was never caught. He was found in a Miami suburb after another string of robberies.

Who else but Al Capone might have run his criminal enterprises from afar? He was known for running the criminal world as Scarface, and he routinely made Miami his home. He passed away in Palm Island in 1947.

Leonid Fainberg, or Tarzan,  was involved in drug and human trafficking. He delivered girls from Moscow so they could work for him, and he gave all of us the impression that strip joints are run by Russian guys who like to drink Vodka and have a bit of fun on the side. When he finally got nailed in Miami, he was subsequently deported to Israel.

Miami isn’t all about drugs and prostitution. It’s also known for a number of cults. Yahweh Ben Yahweh ran one. Authorities believe he may be responsible for around twenty deaths during the same time period. No one ever nailed him for murder, though–instead, they got him for conspiracy. He died of prostate cancer in 2007, only eleven years into an eighteen year sentence.

Eddie Lee Mosley was a serial killer and rapist, known as the “Rape Man”. Even though there was enough evidence to connect him to a large number of murders, a judge ruled him incompetent to stand trial. One of the rapes that have kept him in prison for over two decades occurred in Miami-Dade County.

Five Most Famous Get Away Cars

History is filled with little details that grab our attention–even when they shouldn’t. Most would argue against our communal interest in the criminal mind, yet most of us just can’t help it. For the introverted thrill seekers among us, here are the five most famous getaway cars that history won’t ever forget.

  1. Beginning in 1911, there was a string of bank robberies in France committed by the anarchist Bonnot Gang. This was one of the first cases that made the getaway car an actual thing because cars were so new that police didn’t even have access to them! They used a Delaunay-Belleville to escape authorities and committed a number of murders in the process. Many of the gang members were killed during the pursuit, and others died by execution after they were caught. A few survived.
  2. Al Capone, who most of us know better as “Scarface”, was a famous mobster with high class tastes. Because he was so important to organized crime in the early 1900s, he required certain extravagant protections. That’s why his vehicle of choice was an armored 1928 Cadillac Town Sedan. When you’re invincible, you can always get away.
  3. John Dillinger is a legend, depending on who you ask. He managed to survive an almost hour-long firefight with the authorities, only to then escape in a 1930 Ford Model A. That’s no small feat when the entirety of the FBI is under a single mandate to capture you.
  4. Bonnie and Clyde drove a 1934 Ford during their attempts to evade law enforcement. Of course, the vehicle is riddled with holes now. Not everyone’s getaway story ends in victory, and this is a story that has captivated Americans ever since.
  5. Remember the white Ford Bronco that Al Cowlings drove (very slowly) while helping O.J. Simpson avoid police in 1994? This might just be the most infamous vehicle of all time. Cowlings told police that O.J. had a gun to his head. When they finally arrived at the mansion that O.J. owned, police took him into custody. Yet again, the getaway car proved useless.

Famous Southern California Car Chases

Craziest Car Chases of So Cal

Southern California is known for their sunshine, stars, beaches, and palm trees. Unfortunately, they have become infamous for car chases. There have been criminals fleeing the scene of a crime, stolen tanks, and a couple of guys who were just doing it for fun. The thrill of a car chase really gets the adrenaline of American’s pumping. There is nothing better than watching someone recklessly drive down the 405 freeway in an attempt to get away from the dozens of police cars and helicopters hat are hot on their tail. It’s a bit naïve to think that you can run from the police, but hey, let’s give them an A for effort, am I right?

O.J. Simpson Police Chase – 1994

Let’s start with the most iconic of all of them. For those who do not know, O.J. Simpson is a Hall of Fame football player. He was living in California just after breaking up with his ex-girlfriend. One night, his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend were found brutally murdered in the front yard of their estate. After an investigation by the police, O.J. was considered the main suspect. When they went to arrest the running back, he fled. It was then; the infamous image of the white Bronco tearing down the 405 freeway with nearly a dozen cop cars following was born. The story was covered by all of the major news networks and for two hours.

Tank Chase – 1995

In 1995, one of the most epic car chases took place in San Diego. The culprit stole a tank. Yup, that’s right; an M-60 tank was stolen. During what quite possibly was the slowest police chase in the history of the world, the driver did a lot of damage. The tank crashed with all sorts of object, rolling over about 40 cars and took down telephone poles and fire hydrants. The car chase ended in a shootout, with the driver of the tank being shot dead.

Bank Robbers – 2012

In 2012, a group of men decided to rob a bank, and flee the scene in a Volvo SUV. The robbers drove through the streets of Los Angeles; the culprits threw money out of the windows. This caused a mob to build behind the car. People were following the car and grabbing as much cash as they could hold. Surprisingly, there were no reported injuries. The bank robbers were eventually stopped and placed under arrest.

The Teacher – 2012

2012 was a great year for car chases. There were two that made this list. The second is a story of a teacher. The teacher was about to be busted for the accusation of performing sexual acts with a student. He took the police for a good run down the 405 and 10 freeways. The teacher did the police a favor and eventually ran himself off of the road. He rolled down a hill and ended up in a car crash with a tree.

The guys who were just having fun…? – 2016

Some people enjoy watching a police chase so much; they decide to get into one. A couple of guys must have been bored on this day in 2016 when they decided to go for a joy ride. With the top down in the rain, the two were seen doing donuts on Sunset Boulevard. A police chase soon ensued and the drivers led them into the surrounding residential area. The police were able to peacefully apprehend the men when they found them giving high-fives and hugs out to residents.

Crime Story: Andrew Cunanan

Crime Story: Andrew Cunanan

Andrew CunananAndrew Cunanan has become sort of an infamous legend as his story is being shared with the world in FX television’s series, American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace. In 1997, the infamous killer was the 449th member of the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted list. Andrew Cunanan was born of a Filipino American and Italian American parents. During his early childhood, Andrew was considered an intelligent and outgoing boy. As he aged, he began to develop a reputation as a pathological liar. He would tell tall tales about his family and personal life.

When Andrew was 19, his father left his family in an effort to escape embezzlement charges. It was then when he told his mother that he was gay. Andrew and his mother got into a verbal altercation, which later became physical when Andrew threw his mother against a wall, dislocating her shoulder.

The Murders

Andrew’s killing spree did not begin with rich white men, as it ended. His first victim was Jeffrey Trail on April 27, 1997. Trail and Cunanan got into an argument. This led to the belligerent bashing of Trail’s head and body with a claw hammer. He left Trail rolled up in a carpet in his friend David Madson’s apartment.

Cunanan’s second murder occurred about 60-miles north of his first crime scene in Rush City, Minnesota. Andrew murdered his former lover, David Madson, on May 3, 1997. He executed David with multiple gunshots to the back of the head.

It wasn’t long before Cunanan struck again. He drove straight to Chicago to visit Lee Miglin, a real estate tycoon. The very next day, Cunanan left Lee wrapped with duct tape around his head, hands, and feet. According to the reports, Andrew stabbed Lee over 20 times with a screwdriver and used a hacksaw to cut his throat. It was at this point the FBI added Cunanan to the Top Ten Most Wanted list.      

After taking care of Lee Miglin, Andrew began his descent to Miami. On his way, Andrew found his fourth victim, William Reese. Reese was Andrew’s most random murder. The likely reason for William’s death was that Andrew needed a car to complete his journey. Reese was shot to death and his red pickup truck was stolen.

Between his fourth and fifth murders, Andrew hid in plain sight along the coast of Miami Beach for nearly two months. He would even pawn stolen items under his real name, knowing the police would search the records of pawn shops. On July 15th, 1997 Cunanan committed his fifth and final murder, the wrongful death of legendary fashion designer, Gianni Versace.

Just a week later, Andrew Cunanan was found dead on the second floor of a Miami Beach houseboat. It appeared that Andrew had killed himself with the same gun he used for three of his murders. He did not leave a suicide note and was only found with a few personal items.

Charles Manson, Cult Leader

Many people might cite the 1960’s as a decade that prominently featured proponents of peace (and with it, protest of war), love, and vast experimentation with drug use and abuse. Some might also recollect the emergence of one of the United States’ most notorious criminals in history, Charles Manson.

Born in 1934 as Charles Milles Maddox, Manson was deeply influenced by the shifting culture of the 1960’s following several stints that landed him back and forth between prison sentences. Some may attribute this in part to his less-than-stable childhood, having been born by Kathleen Maddox (a prostitute who suffered from alcohol abuse) and William Manson. Following a failed marriage between the two, young Charles was sent to a boys’ school before attempting to return to his mother. Failing in this, Manson lived on the streets which would later turn into prison sentences for petty crimes – he would later end up being imprisoned for half of the first 32 years of his life.

Life outside of prison was not entirely stable for Manson, either. He would marry twice: the first time in 1955 to a hospital waitress named Rosalie Jean Willis, who would later give birth to a son before leaving Manson a year later, and the second time in 1959 to a prostitute named Leona Ray “Candy” Stevens, who also gave birth to a son before divorcing Manson in 1963. Probation reports would describe Manson as, “constantly striving for status and securing some kind of love,” as well as “marked degree of rejection, instability and psychic trauma.”

From 1958 to 1967, Manson served a 10-year sentence at McNeil Island prison, whereupon he began to gather followers later known as the Manson Family cult. Upon his release in 1967, the Family would eventually move to San Fernando Valley, where they would later become one of the most infamous cults in history. It was around this time that Manson began making claims that he was Jesus Christ and prophesying a race war, bringing more followers to his cause.

Despite the family that he had built around himself, Manson still showed signs of rejection from the outside world. The famous Tate-LaBianca murders, one statement says, was the end result of Manson targeting the world of show business through the acts committed at the house of Roman Polanski, where several of his followers murdered four victims, among them the famed actress and wife of Polanski, Sharon Tate as well as coffee bean heiress Abigail Folger. It was on the following night that Manson would personally escort members of his Family to the LaBianca residence where they carried out the murder Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Although Manson was said never to have directly taken part in the murders himself, he was eventually sentenced to death in 1971 (automatically commuted to life imprisonment). Cited among his motivations included his deep belief in Armageddon and his believed purpose of guiding the black community to rule the world. Manson’s followers also admitted they wanted to commit murders that would “shock the world.”

Manson would spend the rest of his life incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison in California from 1971 until shortly before his death in 2017, when he had been transferred to a hospital in Bakersfield. During that period, he had been denied parole a total of 12 times. Manson would eventually die on November 19th of natural causes at the age of 83; a coroner would later confirm that Manson had suffered primarily from acute cardiac arrest, although other listed causes of death included respiratory failure as well as Manson’s long-standing battle with colon cancer.

O.J. Simpson is Out of Prison. Where is He Now?

Orenthal James Simpson, otherwise known as O.J. Simpson, is a former NFL football player. In 1994 through 1995 he was tried and acquitted for the murders of his second wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman. In 2008, he was convicted of arm robbery and kidnapping and served time in Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada. On October 1, 2017, O.J. was released on parole.

Where is O.J. Simpson now? After being released from Lovelock, O.J. is now living in Las Vegas. For security and privacy reasons, the exact location of his Nevada location is not known to the public. O.J. was used to living in California when he was a wealthy celebrity. However, now, due to his reduced income after his prison stay, California is likely too expensive for his current state of being.

His children Justin and Sydney live in Florida, and Simpson has talked about trying to move to Florida to be closer to them, such as to Naples, Florida. However, the state of Florida, according to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, is not particularly welcome to O.J. moving in due to his sordid history.

In any case, Simpson cannot move to Florida without filing transfer papers as part of being on parole. There are other rules, as well, as part of his five-year parole supervision. For example, he will have to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum, and he is forbidden to hang out with ex-convicts.

Even though O.J. is living with an income that is reduced from what he used to have, his pensions, which are not subject to seizure by creditors, could reach as high as $25,000 a month, which is at least $300,000 a year. There is a multi-million dollar civil ruling against him regarding the deaths of Brown and Goldman, but it is unclear if that money will ever be paid.

Take An Acid Bath: John George Haigh

He could be called a chemist, or at least a scientist.

He liked working with corpses. But he performed some very macabre experiments, that weren’t really experiments.

John George Haigh, unlike many scientists, was not working with chemicals in looking to benefit society with his work. He was just doing it for kicks, and it cost several people their lives, their fortunes … and their bodies.

Being called the “Acid Bath Murderer,” though, was a bit misleading – he only used the acid bath after the people were already dead.

Nonetheless, John George Haigh is considered one of the more creepy U.K. serial killers, not Texas for once. He was executed at the age of 40 after being found guilty of killing six people over five years, though he admitted to killing nine people while he was on Death Row. The other three deaths could not be officially attributed to him.

While the number of victims wasn’t staggering, what put Haigh at the height of infamy was what he did with the bodies. The story was revealed that Haigh believed that if a body was never found, he couldn’t be nailed for the murder, so he worked on a disappearing act.

After he either beat or shot his victims, he would grab the dead body, drink a cup of blood (he admitted), stuff the body inside a 45-gallon drum, and pour concentrated sulfuric acid into the drum until the body was submerged. The acid would eat away at the body, and the heat produced by the chemical reaction would even melt the bones. After a couple of days, Haigh would return and empty the drum of the resultant sludge.

Yep, cheery thought, right?

Why did he kill? The general claim was that there was a profit motive. After already serving time in prison for fraud, Haigh would forge documents that would give him power of attorney on behalf of his victims, allowing him to liquidate their assets. It was recorded that he made more than 12,000 British pounds with these sales, which was a lot of money in post-World War II Britain.

The very last victim exposed his “perfect crime,” as not all of the woman’s body had fully dissolved. A couple bone fragments were found, as well as dentures, lipstick and a handbag which were all traced to the most recent victim, a 69-year-old wealthy widow named Olive Durand-Deacon. As police followed up on a missing-person’s report filed by Durand-Deacon’s friend, police searched a property that Haigh was using, and evidence related to several of his other victims were discovered, along with Durand-Deacon’s remains.

The “perfect crime” was foiled, though Haigh certainly tried to get out of it. He first claimed that he was insane because of a tough childhood with an abusive father. But when that didn’t work, he tried the defense of not having a body meaning no conviction. Of course, that ultimately didn’t work either, and he was convicted of six murders and was executed by hanging.

Famous Trials – Falwell v Flynt

Nowadays, there are many debates sparked regarding the First Amendment and the appropriate use of free speech. That people have the right to say what they want, however they want, regardless of the circumstances. Sometimes, however, the line between what can be regarded as free speech and what is considered slander or libel can be muddied and smeared to a point of near-indistinction. In the case of Jerry Falwell vs. Larry Flynt, this is exactly what happened.

Reverend Falwell was a well-known champion against the pornography industry, claiming that the content was poisoning the minds of young people and tarnishing the purity of marital relationships by encouraging sex out of wedlock. He was an activist who founded the Moral Majority organization, established to spread a religious agenda that promoted religious practices in schools and spoke out against acts such as abortion and the spread of pornography.

Contrarily, Larry Flynt was regarded as the ruler of the pornographic world. His famous magazine, Hustler, was well-known throughout the country, delving from written articles on public and private opinion regarding the pornography industry into the pin-up starlet display that many of us know it to be today. And it was inside one particular issue of Hustler, in November 1983, that Flynt had published what many would argue to be a libelous article defaming the Reverend Falwell, falsely claiming an interest in incestuous relations with his own mother chief among other acts. Not surprisingly, Reverend Falwell took these matters to heart and called upon his campaign to fund a legal pursuit for damages to his reputation as well as emotional distress suffered as a result of the matter, calling it a mission to champion against the pornographic industry.

During the process of the trial, some might recall the fantastic deposition given by Mr. Flynt as he lay handcuffed to a gurney, in a state of apparent discomfort that suffered due to an attack on his person in Georgia years earlier. He seemed to mock the legal process with comments of incredible association such as collaborative efforts toward the ad targeting Falwell that involved the likes of Yoko Ono, Billy Idol, and even President Jimmy Carter. Other comments involved his blatant distaste for the Bible and organized religion as a whole, comments that involved exceedingly colorful language. Eventually, the deposition devolved into a series of personal attacks on Falwell’s attorney, Norman Roy Grutman. The entire process went over so poorly that Flynt’s attorney, Alan Isaacman, had to claim mental incompetence on the part of Flynt due to manic-depressive syndrome brought on by Flynt’s physical state combined with medication he was taking while in jail.

In December of 1984, Falwell appeared in court in Virginia. He described in detail the relationship with his mother and his steps with religion that had transformed him into the man he was – the “second-most admired man behind the President.” He described his personal vendetta against the pornographic industry before and especially after Hustler’s personal attack on him, telling about how he was so angry that he might have reacted physically if Flynt had been anywhere near him.

When Larry Flynt arrived in court, he appeared to be a man changed. Instead of being strapped to a gurney in prison garb, Flynt wore a three-piece suit. His expression was much calmer and composed than it had been during his deposition. He spoke more clearly and concisely, and he cited his reasons for publishing such an article as a reactionary piece to Falwell’s campaigning against his magazine and the industry as a whole. Flynt claimed he didn’t expect his readers to take any of it seriously due to the simple fact that it was so incredible to think a man such as Jerry Falwell could realistically engage in such activities, and that he didn’t even harbor any personal vendetta against Falwell despite the ad. In the end, the court awarded Falwell for damages due to emotional distress as well as punitive damages, though denied him the award for libel due simply to how fantastic and unbelievable the ad was.

After this point, supporters of Flynt’s right to free speech spoke out, and eventually, Isaacman called for a certiorari (effectively a review of proceedings from a higher court) to the United States Supreme Court. The case became one that centered heavily around the interpretation of the First Amendment. Isaacman argued in front of the Supreme Court the parallel between Flynt’s ad and such demonstrations as political cartoons that are a clear-cut case of satire and not necessarily an intended defamation on a targeted person. He argued the distinction between unpopular speech as opposed to a treatise on standards of decency and morality. Isaacman emphasized Falwell’s personal quest to combat the pornographic industry as detrimental to Flynt’s profession and livelihood, and that Flynt was only reacting with a parody to meet the threat of Falwell’s campaign. And while Grutman attempted to argue a “deliberate, malicious character assassination,” the Supreme Court appeared to side with Isaacman. Counterpoints included Justice Scalia comparing the event with “politicians depicted as horrible looking beasts,” and Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote following a unanimous decision toward the tune of emphasizing the protected right of Flynt to write such an article even out of malice regarding public figures. The Supreme Court reversed the jury’s award to Falwell, cementing the near-absolutism of free speech without fear of reprisal protected by the First Amendment.

Famous Trials – George Zimmerman

On February 26, 2012, a confrontation between a young, black man and a neighborhood watch group leader sparked one of the largest social controversies the United States had experienced in many years. It was an event that rekindled issues such as racial profiling, civil rights, and ever-debated gun control laws. The altercation that was initially considered by police as an act of self-defense later brought on the activist star power of the likes of Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton, and it even garnered attention from President Barack Obama. As widely known as the trial of O.J. Simpson in the mid-90’s, the trial of George Zimmerman in the case of Trayvon Martin’s death is sure to go down as one of the most infamous trials of the 21st century.

The general consensus of the story agrees that Trayvon Martin was walking down the street outside a resort community in Sanford when Mr. Zimmerman passed him by while driving on an errand. That is where the similarities regarding the separate points of view end. Mr. Zimmerman attested that, during  a 911 emergency call, he had heeded the advice of the dispatcher and broke off his pursuit of Trayvon Martin, when Martin had allegedly jumped him behind some bushes and began assaulting him. An audio witness who was speaking with Martin on the phone at the time attests quite differently: that Martin was approached by Zimmerman and promptly assaulted in turn. At this point, the guessing game involves whether Martin’s death was due primarily to self-defense or to an issue of racial profiling and bigotry.

While police initially concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest Zimmerman on grounds of assault, Travyon Martin’s father Tracy pursued the issue further with the help of civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump. The case attention and criticism nationwide, and an Internet petition gathered over 2 million digital signatures that called for Zimmerman’s arrest. State attorney Angela Corey charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder, a move that was criticized by many legal analysts as overreaching, without the arrangement of a grand jury.

While many nationwide viewed this act as racially motivated and thus called for Zimmerman’s conviction after his arrest, there were those within the legal community who fervently believed this case never should have gone to trial. Beyond the prosecution’s challenge of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman meant bodily harm to Martin without provocation, interviews later revealed that the jury did not even give discussion toward whether or not Zimmerman’s actions were motivated by race. Zimmerman was found not guilty after 16 hours of deliberation.

What may have been just as shocking as the event itself was the dichotomy of opinion and involvement that developed from the verdict. Polls suggested that a vast majority of Republicans approved the verdict while a minority number of Democrats agreed. Of those polled, an overwhelming number of African Americans found the shooting unjustified, while a dramatically lower number of Caucasian citizens concurred. As a nationally-involved trial, several political figures, athletes and celebrities voiced their opinions on the jury’s verdict, just as divided as the general public.

There are those who criticize Ms. Corey for her decision to take this case to court, especially without convening a grand jury beforehand. There are those who believe this case was simply one that no prosecuting team could win given the evidence that they were to use. Some believe Corey suffered from intense political pressure, and so charged Zimmerman simply for the sake of deflecting that pressure from her office. Some believe that charging Zimmerman was not serving justice, the primary function of a prosecutor, and that Corey may have just been looking for someone to pin the crime to in light of the situation garnering national attention from the civil rights community and anyone who believed the event was racially motivated. Whatever the case, after Zimmerman’s acquittal, the Justice department closed their own investigation and decided against pressing charges as well.

Who Was Ahmad Suradji?

Although we’re often taught to believe that the U.S. is the best at everything, it might surprise you to know that other countries breed their fair share of bat-crap crazy serial killers with equally bizarre rituals. Ahmad Suradji grew up in Medan, the capital of Indonesia, and would eventually confess to the slaughter of 42 women over the span of about a decade. He wasn’t picky about age, and killed an eclectic bunch ranging from about 17 to 40. And you thought all the crazy serial killers lived in New York

He was also known for breeding cattle.

Suradji lived on a sugarcane plantation and buried the majority of his victims there, where they were eventually discovered just prior to his arrest on April 30, 1997. He was absolutely sure that the heads of his victims were pointing toward his home, because he thought it would give him a power-up.

It gets weirder. He had three wives–sisters–who sometimes assisted him. Like most hobbies, killing is apparently more fun when the activity can be shared with those you love the most.

We’ll skip how he was caught, and focus instead on why he committed so many murders in the first place. He had a dream. In it, he was told by the ghost of his dead father that in order to attain status as a mystic healer (and we’re guessing an immortal legacy), all he had to do was drink the saliva of a measly 70 women. Oh, but they couldn’t be alive at the time. It had to be dead girl saliva, or it didn’t count.

He got lazy. He decided that he didn’t want to wait for chance encounters with 70 dead women, and so opted for the more reasonable approach to making his long-term goals a reality: he would just kill them all himself. No big deal. Mystic healing powers are nothing when compared with a few months or years of work. Did the steps for fulfilling the prophecy have to be followed to the letter? Questions for later.

Because Suradji was considered a sorcerer by the locals, women were already fond of making frequent visits. How do you most easily make the jump from offering spiritual advice to premeditated murder? Well, you make sure the women who come to you know that they need to be buried up to the waist, or else the real magic just can’t work like it should. The women were buried, and instead of working magic Saradji worked his hands around their necks rather tightly without offering the promised spiritual advice, after which he took his wet reward from their still-warm bodies.

Someone eventually saw a corpse with its head sticking out of the dirt at the plantation, he was caught red-handed, and the rest as they say is history.

Firing squads were a lot more common in Indonesia than in the U.S. at the time–another fascinating benefit of living abroad. Suradji was convicted of the murders and then killed by this means on July, 10, 2008 at the age of 59. We’re sure his wives, who all faced lesser charges and shorter sentences, will miss him always.