It was 9.03 AM on 11th September, 2001 in New York City and Alicia Esteve Head said she was working in the South Tower on the 78th floor of the World Trade Centre when the tower was hit by the second airplane during the terrorist attack.
She had been waiting at an elevator and the force of the explosion caused her clothes to burn and her arm was almost severed. As she crawled through the smoke to find the way out, she passed a dying man, who gave her his wedding ring, asking her to find his widow and pass it to her.
She passed out and woke up as Welles Crowther was smothering her burning clothes, she begged him not to leave her there, and he promised that he wouldn’t before she lost consciousness again.
She woke up in hospital on September 7th.
Alicia, also known as Tania, had a powerful story, she lost her fiancé as well that day, he was working in the North tower and they were due to get married the following month.
Head was interviewed by the media, invited to speak at university conferences and was chosen to lead tours for the Tribute WTC Visitor Centre, where she recounted her stories to Ground Zero tour groups. She started an online survivor’s group and when the President of the World Trade Centre Survivor’s Network heard about this, they merged and Tania became the co-president.
A story of pain, survival and triumph was soon to be unveiled as a lie.
Tania wasn’t in the World Trade Centre when the planes hit, she wasn’t even in New York, she was in a class at EADE Business School in Barcelona.
She claimed that she worked for Merrill Lynch, a division of Bank of America, but they claimed they had no record of her being employed there, nor did they have offices in the South Tower.
Another questionable element was her engagement to “Big Dave”, whom sometimes she referred to as her fiancé and sometimes her husband, but this man’s family reported they had never heard of her.
The scars and marks on her arm were caused by a high-speed crash. She used to say that they had to look for the arm and reattach it.
The man she claimed rescued her was Welles Crowther, whose heroic actions were widely reported in the media and who unfortunately lost his own life whilst saving the lives of up to 18 other people.
In 2012, a book and feature film documentary both titled, The Woman Who Wasn’t There was released.
After her fraud was exposed, Head declined all interviews and quickly left New York.
A serial killer is a person who commits a series of murders, often with no apparant motive and typically following a characteristic, predictable behaviour pattern.
The Burke and Hare murders
Burke and Hare were friends who lived in Edinburgh around the 1820s. During this time Edinburgh was leading the way in anatomical study, but there was a shortfall in the legal supply of corpses which could be used for medical research.
A lodger who was staying in Hare’s house died and the two of them decided to sell the body to Robert Knox, who was a anatomist and ethnologist. They received £7 10s, which was a lot of money in those days. Two months later, Hare was concerned that a lady who was suffering from a fever would deter others from staying in his house and so he and Burke murdered her again, sold her body to Robert Knox.
And so began the killing spree, with the same tactics deployed, they would suffocate their victims, a total of 16 by the time they were caught.
When they were arrested, the police were unsure if they could secure a conviction, due to the lack of bodies they could examine, so Sir William Rae, the Lord Advocate, offered immunity to Hare if he would make a full confession to all the deaths. Hare did this and charges were brought againt Burke.
Burke was hanged on the morning of 28th January, 1829. Hare was released on 5th February, 1829 – his eventual fate is unknown.
Burke’s sketon was given to the Anatomical Museum of the Edinburgh Medical School where it remains. His death mask and a book said to be bound with his tanned skin can be seen ag Surgeons’ Hall Museum.
Jack The Ripper
During 1888, there was a serial killer active in the areas around the Whitechapel disctrict of London.
The murders involved female prostitutes who were found with their throat cut and in at least three of the victims, their internal organs were removed. There were five victims, but it wasn’t known for certain the exact numberof victims there was.
The Jack the Ripper murders ended as abruptly as they started, making experts think that the killer had either died or had gone to prison for other maybe similar crimes.
Popular theories as to who could be Jack the Ripper included Prince Albert Victor, Montague John Druitt, Seweryn Klosowski, Michael Ostrog, John Pizer, James Thomas Sadler and Francis Tumblety.
A surprising name that was put forward was Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Author, Richard Wallace put forward the argument that Carroll had a psychotic breakdown after he was assualted by a man at 12 years old. Carroll wrote a daily dairy in purple ink, but on the days of the Whitechapel murders, he switched to black ink.
Perhaps the true identity of Jack the Ripper will never be revealed.
Harold Frederick Shipman, was an English doctor, who was found guilty of murdering 15 patients under his care, his total number of victims was approximately 250, about 80 percent of whom were elderly women.
There were concerns raised initially by Dr Linda Reynolds who was suspicious about the high death rate among Shipman’s patients. She was concerned about the number of cremation forms that she had to countersign.
There was an investigation but due to insufficient evidence, the case was closed by the police. Not long after, a taxi driver, John Shaw, told police that he suspected that Shipman had murdered 21 patients, as he drove many of the patients to hospital, who seemed to be in good health, died in Shpman’s care.
Shipman’s last victim, Kathleen Grundy had made a will, which excluded her daugher and children, but left £386,000 to Shipman. Her body was exhumed and traces of heroin were found. Shipman claimed that Grundy was an addict and showed the police comments to that affect in his computerised medical journal, but examination of his computer found that these were inputted after her death. A search of his home found a Brother typewriter which was used to forge Kathleen Grundy’s will.
Police investigated other deaths that Shipman had certified and found a pattern of him administering heroin, then signing the patient’s death certificate and falsifying medical records to indicate they had been in poor health.
What led this doctor to do such a thing? We may never find out as he hanged himself in his cell at HM Prison Wakefield at 6.20 am on 13th January, 2004, on the eve of his 58th birthday.
Dennis Nilsen was a Scottish serial killer and necrophile, who murdered at least 12 young men and boys between 1978 and 1983 in London.
He became known as the Musell Hill Murderer, as he committed his later murders in the Muswell Hill district of North London.
Nilsen typically met his victims in bars, but also sometimes on public transport. Some were homeless, some were gay and some were hetrosexual. They would be lured back to his home by the offer of alcohol or shelter and then once there, plied with alcohol and then strangled to death or if they were unconscious, he would drown them in his bath.
He would keep the bodies in his residence before dismembering them. When he lived in Cricklewood, he would burn their bodies in a bonfire and when he lived in Gladstone Park he would flush the flesh and smaller bones down the lavatory and the rest of the bodies in the back garden, over his fence.
Nilsen’s killing spree was ended by an emplyee of Dyno-Rod who had been called to Nilsen’s road regarding their plumbing. The employee discovered flesh-like substances in the drain and numerous small bones. There was even a discussion between the employee, his supervisor and Nilsen about the substances in the drain and Nilsen said, “It looks to me like someone has been flushing down their Kentucky Fried Chicken.”
When the Dyno-Rod employees arrived the next morning, the drain had been cleared , but there were some scraps of flesh and four bones still in a pipe which lead to the top flat of the house. They then decided to call the police, who upon closer inspection found further small bones and the remains of human or animal flesh in the same pipe. A piece of flesh which was examined by the pathologist confirmed it was human flesh and it was from a neck and had a ligature mark on it.
They found out that this flat belonged to Nilsen and on entering could smell the odour of rotting flesh. When told that the blockages were human flesh, Nilsen feigned shock stating, “Good grief, how awful,” to which the police officer replied, “Don’t mess about, where’s the rest of the body?” Nilsen told him the body was in two plastic bags in a nearby wardrobe. They asked him if there were any other body parts to be found, to which Nilsen replied, “It’s a long story, it goes back a long time. I’ll tell you everything. I was to get it off my chest. Not here, at the police station.”
In an interview Nielsen confessed that there were further human remains stowed in a tea chest, while other reamins were in an upturned drawer in his bathroom.
On 24th October, 1983 Nilsen was committed to stand trial at the Old Bailey on six counts of murder, two of attempted murder, where he pleaded ‘Not Guilty.’
After a lengthy trial, the jury returned the verdict of guilty on all counts of the murder and one attempted murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and that he serve a minimum of 25 years.
He died in 2018 having suffered a pulmonary embolism.
There are more notorious killers that I haven’t written about, but rest assured, there will be part two coming up soon…..
Gavin and Stacey
I expect you’re wondering why I have a section entitled Gavin and Stacey? Well, did you know that the families have serial killer surnames….
Not everything that happens on Valentine’s Day is all flowers, romance and chocolates… sometimes there are tragedies and crimes committed, a crime of passion you might say.
Even the origins of Valentine’s Day isn’t as sweet as you may think it was: one legend says that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. The Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men, as he thought they made better soldiers than those with wives and families, so Valentine wed the young soldiers and their partners in secret. When Claudius found out about this, he had Valentine beheaded.
The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
Probably the most famous crime committed on Valentine’s Day. This took place in 1929 in Chicago, where two gangs were battling for control of the balck market for bootlegging.
The two gangs were led by George “Bugs” Moran and Al “Scarface” Capone.
At 10:30 AM, on February 14th, 1929, two men dressed as police officers and two men in suits entered the hideout of Moran, they found members of Moran’s gang, lined them up against the wall and opened fire on them with tommy guns. Moran escaped death by sleeping in and wasn’t at the garage at the time.
This Massacre proved to be the downfall for both gangs, no-one wanted to join Moran’s gang and Capone was arrested for tax evasion.
Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp
A more modern day Valentine’s Day murder now.
On 14th February, 2013, the world was shocked at the news that South African Paralympic Champion, Oscar Pistorius was accused of murdering his 29 year old girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. She was shot dead through the bathroom door in the home they shared.
Pistorius claimed that the shot he fired through the bathroom door was in self defence as he thought there was an intruder on the premises.
It was revealed that Steenkamp had sent text messages to her friends in the past fearing for her life, as she thought that Pistorius was dangerous.
Pistorius was found guilty and was eventually sentenced to a prison sentence of 13 years and five months.
The Mysterious Death of Antonio Saldivar
At approximately 6.00 PM on February 14th, 2014, 17 year old Houston teenager Antonio Saldivar borrowed his mother’s car to visit his girlfriend. He was going to deliver a teddy bear as a Valentine’s gift to her. When he was gone a long time, his mother tried to contact him unsuccessfully, but at 4.00 AM he finally answered his phone and said he was on his way home.
But he then, a short time later, crashed the car into a concrete pillar, Antonio was nowhere to be seen.
On February 27th, Antonio’s body was discovered trapped beneath a dock inside the Houston Ship Canel. It was thought that Antonio became disorientated after the crash, wandered away from the scene and then drowned.
But there were some things that didn’t add up: he never went to see his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day, the teddy bear he was going to give her was found inside his pants, between his legs. His shoes were found on the floor of the car below the passenger’s seat. His body was found inside a secure area which was inaccessible to the search volunteers who had been looking for his body, so how did his body end up there?
His family are still searching for answers about his death.
Dr John Hamilton was an obstetrician-gynacologist from Oklahoma City, USA.
To their friends, he appeared to be the doting husband, lavishing his wife of 14 years, Susan, with gifts and luxury holidays, but his Valentine’s Day gift in 2001 wasn’t one of love, it was the ultimate in hatred. He strangled Susan and then bludgeoned her to death, leaving her in a pool of blood while he dialed 911 in tears, saying that he had just found her dead.
When police looked at their Valentine Day cards, they noticed that Susan had written something strange in hers: “I bought this two weeks ago, so I guess maybe it doesn’t seem appropriate. But i do love you. Have a good day. Susan.” On further investigation it was found that John Hamilton was having an affair and Susan was considering a divorce.
He was charged with murdering Susan after splatters of her blood were found on the steering wheel of his car and on the cuff of his shirt.
He still maintains his innocence and keeps appealing the conviction.
So there you go, if you think your Valentine’s Day isn’t going so well, spare a thought for some of these people!
Some people say that giving birth to twins is twice as nice, which in the majority of cases it is, but there have been some twins that have committed murder and who are most definitely, double the trouble!
The most obvious pair to head this list of Terrible Twins or Deadly Duos, is:
The Kray Twins
Ronald (Ronnie) and Reginald (Reggie) Kray were born on the 24th October, 1933. Their gang was known as “The Firm,” and they ruled the East End of London in the 1950s and 1960s. They were involved in murder, armed robbery, arson, protection rackets and assualts.
It was the murders of Jack “the Hat” McVitie and George Cornell that finally convicted the twin brothers: Ronnie had shot Cornell in the head at the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel in 1966 and Reggie killed McVitie, a fellow gang member, stabbing him repeatedly in a basement flat in North London. they were found guiilty and sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 30 years.
Ronnie died in Broadmoor Psychiatric Hospital in 1995 and Reggie was diagnosed with bladder cancer and died a short time after being released from Wayland Prison in 2000.
The Bondurant Brothers
Twins Pete and Pat Bondurant of Tennessee were convicted of the murder of 24 year old woman, Gwen Dugger. She was reported as missing by her family and after a lengthy investigation, the twins were arrested for her murder. During the trial, Pat’s wife testified that she had witnessed them rape, torture and murder Dugger. Despite the body never being found, it was burned and left in the Elk River, they were convicted of second-degree murder and given a sentence of 25 years in prison.
Added to this joint murder, the twins had also murdered separately: Pat was found guilty of murdering his co-worker, Ronnie Gaines, by beating him to death and burying him on the Bondurant property (Pete helped his brother dismember the body) and Pete was found guilty of killing his girlfriend, Terry Lynn Clark.
The Berndt Twins
48 year old twins, Edwin and Edward Berndt from Houston, America were charged with ending their mother’s life. Police were alerted to the house by neighbors who reported that they hadn’t seen her for months and when police entered the building they discovered the twin’s mother laying on the floor face down.
When questioned, the twins stated that she had slipped and fell and that she had remained on the floor for three days before passing, she was conscious the whole time. They had left the body there for three months, walking around and over the body. Because of the twin’s mental state, the charges were eventually dropped.
The Stovall Twins
In 2001, Canon City, sheriff’s depty, Jason Schwartz, responded to a call that Joel Stovall had shot his neighbor’s dog five times. Joel was arrested and so was his twin brother, Michael, who had made threats towards the officer. As the deputy drove towards the police station, Michael took out a pair of handcuff kesy and feed himself, he then pulled out one of the two handguns he had hidden in his pocket and shot Jason Schwartz in the back of his head. The police car crashed and they pulled the deputy out of the car and shot him 16 times before running to a nearby town where they had a rented trailer.
The twin brothers opened fire on a police car which had arrived at the trailer, where a police officer, Toby Bethel, was shot several times and his injuries left him paralyzed.
The Stovall twins then stole a truck and led the police on a high speed car chase. The manhunt involved several exhanges of gunfire, with many injuries to police officers, but eventually they turned themselves in. In total they had killed one officer, paralyzed another and injured 17. They were given life imprisonment without the possiblity of parole, plus 896 years.
Well, there you have it, some less than desirable twins, there were some others that I didn’t include as their crimes were a little bit too grusome or violent!
But, on a lighter note, here’s some twins that everybody loves to see:
And of course, that unlikey twin duo, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito.
Yes, i know they’re not twins but i just loved the movie!
Thomas is reading his newspaper, he is on his way home from work, he is sat in his same seat, with the bus following the same route, but something has happened tonight, tonight the bus is diverted and caught up in a traffic jam. He looks out of the window, wiping the condensation away with his arm, so he can see clearly. He glances at the driver, he is sighing and talking frantically on his radio and Thomas decides that he’s going to get off the bus and walk through the nearby park in the hope of getting home quicker.
Having bailed from the bus, as some of the other passengers had done, Thomas is walking through the park, it is busy, probably due to the chaos of the streets, he quickens his pace, there’s a bite in the wind so he pulls his collar up and heads towards the exit gate.
Now he is walking down a street, it’s a street that he doesn’t recognise. There are big houses either side of the tree lined street. Thomas’ interest is peaked; there’s something we don’t know about Thomas, he’s not what he seems, he’s a burglar.
Oh yes, he has a job in town, which earns good money, but not enough to buy the sort of things his wife loves. She doesn’t know about his extracurricular activities, of course, she thinks that he’s going to the gym when he picks up his black holdall and heads out. Instead of a clean towel, change of clothes and shower gel, it is full of equipment to break into homes, sheds or cars, to enter silently and stealthily, take whatever looks valuable and then quietly leave.
There is an international removal company emptying a van outside one particular house, there are lots of boxes, but the ones that interest Thomas are marked ‘Fragile’. He slows down in order to have a good look at the house. It is overgrown in the front, with ivy growing up the walls, an overgrown bush and a large tree in the front garden. Thomas thinks this house has the potential to be his next target and overhearing one of the removal men saying that they had until the day after tomorrow to finish unpacking as the owners wouldn’t be moving in until then, he knows that he has hit the jackpot.
Thomas finds a small cut way at the back of the houses and he discovers the back entrance to the house. With a low back gate and a glass panelled back door, Thomas knows that this house is definitely his next target.
As he walks home, he makes his plans, he needs to do it tonight, to be sure that no-one is around. After having tea with his wife, Shona, discussing their days, Thomas picks up his black holdall, shouts to his wife that he’s heading to the gym and walks out of the house.
It doesn’t take him long to get to the house, and, under the cover of darkness, he steals his way up to the back door. There’s no sign of an alarm, so Thomas smashes a small glass panel in the kitchen door and reaches in to find the key in the lock of the door. As he unlocks the back door and enters the kitchen, Thomas cannot believe his luck, this job is going so smoothly. He enters the living room, he is grateful for the large tree and overgrown ivy hiding him from prying neighbours. There are packing crates left all over the floor and Thomas shines his torch around the living room until the beam rests on what he has been searching for.
Thomas retrieves his crow bar from his holdall and forcibly opens the crate. When he sees what is inside, he is amazed, never in all his years has he come across anything like this, it looks like a native man wearing some sort of mask. Deciding that it must be valuable, Thomas puts it in his holdall and not wanting to get caught, he quickly leaves by the back door.
On arriving home, Thomas puts the black holdall in the cupboard under the stairs, he knows that this needs a specialist to take a look at it, but he’s not quite sure where to go, this will take some research. This will buy Shona an unbelievable gift, perhaps even that new car she has been hinting at. He carefully closes the cupboard door, so the squeaky hinge doesn’t wake up Shona.
The next evening, Shona has a surprise for him, his twin brother, Dominic is returning from Peru, where he had been staying with his wife for the past five years and better still, he’s moving to the same town. They are having a housewarming party tomorrow night and of course, Thomas and Shona are invited.
As he’s getting ready for the party, Thomas remembers when they were young, growing up as twins, Dom and Tom, the terrible twins, their teachers used to call them. Dom was the intellect of the two, having gone to University to study archaeology, while Tom enjoyed making things with blocks and bricks and had gone on to become an architect. He smiles as he remembers the fun they had confusing the teachers and even sometimes their friends, it was fun to be somebody else now and again. They had each married within months of each other and Dominic had moved overseas, Thomas had moved into the next town to where they had grown up, to Shona, who was a hairdresser. He had found a job in an architect’s office, which had provided a good wage for them both, but then Shona’s demands for bigger and better things escalated to where Thomas’ wages weren’t enough.
His first foray into the world of crime wasn’t planned, he was shopping in a big department store and saw a diamond bracelet, it was left on the counter top whilst the assistant had gone to answer the phone, he was sure that Shona would love it and there was no way he could afford it, so he simply took it, slipped it into his pocket and walked out of the shop.
When he gave it to Shona, her face lit up and he loved the feeling that it gave him, that he could spoil his wife and from there it simply escalated, stealing from cars, breaking into sheds and then houses.
They arrive at the address that Dominic had emailed Shona, and park in the street, near a lighted lamppost as it is dark. Whilst walking up to the front door, Thomas thinks how tidy the front garden is, like it has just had a makeover. He rings the doorbell and his brother answers, it is good to see him after all these years and they spend time catching up.
As they sit on the settee, Thomas looks around him, there is something about this room that makes him feel uneasy, he can’t quite place what it is, but it is definitely making him feel unnerved. After the laughs and jokes, Dominic informs Thomas and Shona that the day before they moved in, their house was burgled and an ancient artefact was stolen. The statue was from Peru, it was an Inca artefact and was priceless, it was what Dominic and his wife had been searching for, for five years in Peru.
Suddenly the penny drops, Thomas realises that this is the very house he burgled two nights ago, he remembers seeing the settee that night, how the front garden is now tidied up, that’s why he didn’t recognise it. Dominic asks him if he is all right and Thomas stutters a reply that he just needs a glass of water, he goes into the now familiar kitchen, with the small pane of glass boarded up in the back door, he needs to leave.
When they return home, the dog has knocked over a houseplant, there is dirt surrounding the fallen pot plant. They discuss the burglary, Shona questions what sort of lowlife would steal an artefact and she asks Thomas why he wanted to leave so quickly, he mutters that he isn’t feeling very well. Thomas goes up the stairs to clean his teeth, he hears the squeak of the hinges of the understairs cupboard as Shona opens it to retrieve the hoover. He freezes as he hears her shout to him, that she will empty his black holdall to wash his gym clothes…
A journey through the meaning of life and anything else that grabs my attention!