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History
Crime and Punishment

On this page:

UK Death Penalty
Jack the Ripper
Nicknames
Dr. Crippen
Christie
JFK
Fingerprints
Other

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Crime and Punishment

See also: Assassinations, The Great Train Robbery.

The Death Penalty in the UK

Britain's last public execution (hanging) — Newgate prison Click to show or hide the answer
William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw) is the last person to be executed in Britain for a crime other than murder Click to show or hide the answer
Certain types of murder no longer subject to the death penalty Click to show or hide the answer
Britain's last judicial executions (hangings – Peter Allen at Walton, Liverpool; Gwynne Evans at Strangeways, Manchester) Click to show or hide the answer
Allen and Evans's victim – a former workmate of Evans, murdered in the course of a robbery at his house in Workington, Cumberland in April 1964 Click to show or hide the answer
Britain's last judicial hangings were carried out by: Allen (Walton) Click to show or hide the answer
Evans (Strangeways) Click to show or hide the answer
The death penalty for murder was abolished for an experimental period of five years in Click to show or hide the answer
Five year limit removed when the legislation comes up for renewal Click to show or hide the answer
Death penalty abolished for crimes of treason and piracy with violence Click to show or hide the answer
In ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights, UK abolishes all provisions for the death penalty except in times of war or imminent war Click to show or hide the answer
An update to the European Convention on Human Rights abolishes the death penalty under any circumstances Click to show or hide the answer

Jack the Ripper

Five young women were brutally murdered on the streets of Whitechapel, in London's East End, in the space of less than eight weeks in 1888:

Friday 31 August 1888 Click to show or hide the answer
Saturday 8 September 1888 Click to show or hide the answer
Sunday 30 September 1888 Click to show or hide the answer
Sunday 30 September 1888 Click to show or hide the answer
Friday 9 November 1888 Click to show or hide the answer

Six more murders were to take place in Whitechapel over the next two or three years, but these five – often referred to as "the canonical five" are generally considered the most likely to be linked. None of the murders was ever solved.

Liverpool cotton merchant, poisoned by his wife in 1889; a diary that purported to prove that he was Jack the Ripper was widely dismissed as a hoax Click to show or hide the answer

Nicknames

William, Donald and Amy McSwann, Archibald and Rosalie Henderson, and Olive Durand–Deacon, were victims of the so–called Click to show or hide the answer
Beatrice (Bessy) Mundy, Alice Burnham and Margaret Lofty were victims of the so–called Click to show or hide the answer
John Humble, sentenced to eight years imprisonment in 2006 for perverting the course of justice (pretending to be the Yorkshire Ripper in tapes sent to police in 1978–9), was known to police as Click to show or hide the answer

Dr. Crippen

Fled 39 Hilltop Crescent, Islington, in 1910, during an investigation into the disappearance of his wife Cora (stage name Belle Elmore); hanged 23 November 1910 Click to show or hide the answer
Crippen's lover – a typist whom he met while working as manager of Drouet's Institution for the Deaf Click to show or hide the answer
Crippen and Le Neve attempted to escape under the pseudonyms Click to show or hide the answer
Ship on which Crippen and le Neve were arrested, becoming the first criminals to be caught by wireless telegraphy Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer

Christie

Murdered at least eight women, including his wife Ethel, by strangling them in his flat at 10 Rillington Place, Notting Hill Gate, London – the bodies were discovered after he moved out in 1953; he was arrested, convicted (of murdering his wife only) and hanged later that year Click to show or hide the answer
Christie's tenant at Rillington Place: hanged in 1950 for the murder of his wife and daughter, but pardoned over 50 years later; Christie later admitted killing the wife, but not the daughter; it's now generally acknowledged that he killed both Click to show or hide the answer
Author of the book Ten Rillington Place (1961) – filmed in 1971 starring Richard Attenborough as Christie, John Hurt as Evans, and Judy Geeson as Beryl Evans Click to show or hide the answer

JFK

Governor of Texas shot in same car as John F. Kennedy (not killed) Click to show or hide the answer
Car that Kennedy was shot in Click to show or hide the answer
Arrested in the Texas Theatre (cinema), Dallas, for the murder of JFK; shot (by Jack Ruby) in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters Click to show or hide the answer
Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly shot John F. Kennedy from Click to show or hide the answer
Lee Harvey Oswald was shot by (the first murder shown live on TV) Click to show or hide the answer
Lesley Anne Downey and Edward Evans were victims of the Click to show or hide the answer

Fingerprints

According to Wikipedia, fingerprints were used as signatures (to prevent forgery) in ancient Babylon in the second millennium BC, and in China to sign documents from about 250 BC.

In Europe, in more modern times, many people have been involved in developing the understanding of fingerprints and pioneering their use in the detection of crimes.

The following table is my reworking of the history of fingerprints, as described in Wikipedia. I hope that it will introduce most of the people who will (at various times) be asked about in this context – and I also hope it will demonstrate that there is no single answer to either of the questions "Who discovered fingerprints?" or "Who first used fingerprints to solve crimes?".

Italian physician who mentioned the existence of patterns of ridges and sweat glands on the fingertips in 1665 Click to show or hide the answer
English physician, botanist, and microscopist who, in 1684, published the first scientific paper to describe the ridge structure of the skin covering the fingers and palms Click to show or hide the answer
Dutch physician who, in 1685, illustrated the ridge structure of the fingers in a book on anatomy Click to show or hide the answer
German anatomist who, in 1788, recognized that fingerprints are unique to each individual Click to show or hide the answer
Bohemian (Czech) physiologist who described nine fingerprint patterns in 1823 Click to show or hide the answer
British administrator in India who used fingerprints in 1858 as identification (instead of a signature) on documents Click to show or hide the answer
French police officer who, in 1879, created a system to identify individuals by anthropometric photographs and associated quantitative descriptions; said to be the inventor of the mug shot; later (1903) created a method for copying fingerprints from smooth surfaces Click to show or hide the answer
Scottish scientist who published a paper in the scientific journal Nature, in 1880, discussing the potential use of fingerprints for identification; after his ideas were rejected by the Metropolitan Police in 1886, he wrote to Charles Darwin Click to show or hide the answer
English polymath – cousin of Charles Darwin – who published a detailed statistical model of fingerprint analysis and identification and encouraged its use in forensic science, after Darwin passed Faulds's letter on to him Click to show or hide the answer
Argentine chief police officer who, using Bertillon's methodologies and after studying Galton's pattern types, set up the world's first fingerprint bureau in 1892 – leading to the conviction of Francisca Rojas for the murder of her two sons Click to show or hide the answer
Senior British police officer in Bengal – later (1903–18) Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police – responsible for the development of a system of classification (1896–7) Click to show or hide the answer
Indian police officers who, under Henry's supervision, developed the Henry fingerprint classification system (a.k.a. the Galton–Henry System) Click to show or hide the answer
Click to show or hide the answer

Other

Tolpuddle Martrys deported Click to show or hide the answer
Alcatraz prison closed Click to show or hide the answer
Nelson Mandela was in prison Click to show or hide the answer
Kray twins convicted of murder Click to show or hide the answer
Guillotine last used for an execution in France Click to show or hide the answer
Address in Gloucester where eight alleged victims of Fred and Rosemary West were found Click to show or hide the answer
Dismembered bodies of 15 of Dennis Nilsen's victims found at Click to show or hide the answer

John George Haigh, hanged in 1949 Click to show or hide the answer
Maximum security prison in San Francisco Bay (closed in 1952) Click to show or hide the answer
Event of 1752 – in the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellion – that inspired Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped; named after the town, on the west coast of Scotland, near which it occurred (many of the characters in the novel, including Allan Breck Stewart, are real people involved in the case) Click to show or hide the answer
Oriental punishment of beating the soles of the feet with a cane Click to show or hide the answer
Hanged in 1953, aged 19, for the murder of policeman Sidney Miles during a burglary in Croydon – although the shot was fired by 16–year old Chris Craig Click to show or hide the answer
Cumbrian taxi driver, killed 12 people and injured 11, then shot himself, June 2010 Click to show or hide the answer
Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Hill, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, William Power, John Walker Click to show or hide the answer
London pub where Ronnie Kray shot George Cornell, a member of a rival gang, in cold blood and in front of witnesses (March 1966) Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
PC killed by a mob during a riot on the Broadwater Estate, North London, 1985 Click to show or hide the answer
Irish adventurer, self–styled 'Colonel': attempted to steal the Crown Jewels in 1671 (he was arrested as he tried to leave the Tower of London); surprisingly pardoned by Charles II (possibly in fear of reprisals) Click to show or hide the answer
Acquitted 1893 (aged 33) of the murder of her mother and stepfather – "took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks" Click to show or hide the answer
Britain's first penal colony in Australia, established 1788 Click to show or hide the answer
Glasgow gangster, sentenced to life imprisonment for murder 1967, became a successful sculptor and writer after rehabilitation in the special unit of Barlinnie Prison Click to show or hide the answer
George Joseph Smith, hanged in 1915 Click to show or hide the answer
Security firm, victim of a £26 million gold bullion heist near Heathrow airport, 1983 Click to show or hide the answer
Two–year–old victim of a shocking murder that took place in Bootle, Merseyside in 1993, which resulted in the conviction of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables (both aged 10 at the time of the murder) – the youngest convicted murderers in modern English history Click to show or hide the answer
Sold the bodies of 17 murder victims to Dr. Robert Knox (and others) at Edinburgh Medical College for dissection, 1827–8 Click to show or hide the answer
Book that Mark Chapman was carrying when he shot John Lennon Click to show or hide the answer
Convicted of murdering her 2–month–old baby daughter Azaria, while camping near Ayers Rock in 1980, despite her assertion that the baby was taken by a dingo; pardoned 8 years later Click to show or hide the answer
Hanged Durham 1873, suspected of murdering up to 20 people including her husbands, children and stepchildren (only convicted of murdering one stepson) Click to show or hide the answer
Convicted in Milwaukee, 1992, of the murder of fifteen men and boys; beaten to death in 1994 by Christopher Scarver, a fellow inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution at Portage, Wisconcin Click to show or hide the answer
New York apartment block outside which John Lennon was shot Click to show or hide the answer
Armed robber, convicted in 1975 but freed from a 20 year prison sentence after a high–profile campaign by his supporters (including digging up the pitch at Headingley during an Ashes Test match, causing it to be abandoned) – later convicted of two further armed robberies Click to show or hide the answer
French penal colony off French Guiana – established in 1852, closed in 1953; official name Cayenne Prison; its most celebrated inmate was Alfred Dreyfus – Henri Charrière (Papillon) was never actually there (he was in a different penal colony on the mainland) Click to show or hide the answer
"Public Enemy No. 1" – notorious bank robber, charged with (but never convicted of) killing a police officer in Indiana; shot dead in 1934 by FBI agents as he left the Biograph Theater (cinema) in Chicago, after evading capture for over a year Click to show or hide the answer
Form of punishment, used from Mediaeval times in Great Britain and (later) the American colonies, up to the early 19th century – particularly for women suspected of being witches or 'scolds' – in which the victim was repeatedly lowered into a river or lake Click to show or hide the answer
SS officer and Nazi war criminal, captured by the Israelis in Argentina in 1960 and executed (in Ramla, Israel) in 1962 Click to show or hide the answer
William Kemmler (Buffalo, New York, 1890) was the first person to be executed by Click to show or hide the answer
Last woman to be hanged in Britain (Holloway prison, July 1955); shot David Blakely outside the Magdala Tavern near Hampstead Heath in 1955 Click to show or hide the answer
Colombian drugs baron, founder of the Medellin Cartel: surrendered to the authorities in 1991, and was incarcerated in a purpose–built luxury prison known as La Catedral; escaped in 1992, as the authorities planned to transfer him to a more conventional jail; died in a shoot–out with police 16 months later (December 1993), aged 44 Click to show or hide the answer
"Dactylogram" is a technical term for a Click to show or hide the answer
Debtors' prison on Farringdon Street, London Click to show or hide the answer
Gained his nickname (which he hated) from the description given of him by the paymaster in his first robbery; died in an FBI ambush, 1934; immortalised in a song written by Woody Guthrie Click to show or hide the answer
Shot dead by his father in 1984 Click to show or hide the answer
Kidnapped in 1973, aged 16; ear sent to a newspaper; $3.2m ransom Click to show or hide the answer
Executed in Utah, in 1977, after demanding the implementation of the death sentence imposed on him for two murders he committed in 1976; subject of a book by Norman Mailer (The Executioner's Song, 1979) and a hit single by UK punk band The Adverts (in 1977) Click to show or hide the answer
Paddy Armstrong, Gerry Conlon, Paul Hill, Carole Richardson Click to show or hide the answer
Killed 16 primary school children and their teacher, then fatally shot himself, in Dunblane (near Stirling), 1996 Click to show or hide the answer
Hanged (despite conflicting evidence) in 1962 for the murder of Michael Gregsten at Deadman's Hill on the A6 near Clophill, Bedfordshire Click to show or hide the answer
Convicted of the kidnap and murder of Charles Lindbergh's son, 1935 Click to show or hide the answer
Heiress who became a bank robber with the Symbionese Liberation Army Click to show or hide the answer
Dick Turpin was hanged in 1739, for Click to show or hide the answer
Clifford Irving was jailed in 1971 for forging the autobiography of Click to show or hide the answer
Convicted in 1969 of the murders of George Cornell and Jack "The Hat" McVitie (Cornell was shot by Ronnie, and McVitie was stabbed by Reggie; but both were heavily implicated in both murders) Click to show or hide the answer
The last prisoners to be held in the Tower of London (1952 – for failing to report for national service) Click to show or hide the answer
Jailed in 1984 for forging the so–called 'Hitler diaries' Click to show or hide the answer
Headquarters of the CIA are in Click to show or hide the answer
"The Man they Couldn't Hang" – convicted in 1885 (aged around 20) of the murder of his employer Emma Keyse (on weak evidence), the trapdoor failed to open three times and his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment; he was released in 1907 and is believed to have died in 1945 aged around 80 Click to show or hide the answer
Polygraph Click to show or hide the answer
Aviator whose 19 month old son was kidnapped in 1932 and never found Click to show or hide the answer
Former name of The Maze prison Click to show or hide the answer
The last person to be beheaded in England (1747) Click to show or hide the answer
Richard John Bingham, Lord Bingham – disappeared after the murder of his children's nanny Sandra Rivett, in November 1974 (he probably mistook her for his wife, from whom he'd been separated for about 18 months; the nanny had only been employed for two months); named by an inquest jury (in June 1975) as the murderer; the family was granted probate in 1999, and a death certificate was issued in 2016 Click to show or hide the answer
Italian–American mobster, 1897–1962, considered the father of modern organised crime in America (sometimes said to have taken over from Al Capone as leader of the American mafia) Click to show or hide the answer
Sentenced to 12 months in jail, 1979 (in her absence, having fled to the USA) for the kidnap and indecent assault of Mormon missionary Kirk Anderson in 1977 Click to show or hide the answer
Convicted in 1997, and executed in 2001, for the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995 Click to show or hide the answer
Armed robber, declared Public Enemy Number One by Scotland Yard (1960s); studied for a degree while in prison; played by Roger Daltrey in the film version of his autobiography (1980) Click to show or hide the answer
Anne Maguire, Patrick Maguire Sr., Patrick Maguire Jr., Vincent Maguire, Sean Smith, Patrick (Giuseppe) Conlon, Patrick O'Neill Click to show or hide the answer
Murdered Roman Polanski's second wife, actress Sharon Tate (and three guests), 1969; followers known as "The Family" Click to show or hide the answer
Dewsbury mother, convicted 2008 of kidnapping and falsely imprisoning her 9–year–old daughter Shannon Click to show or hide the answer
Prison in County Down: originally built in 1971 on a disused RAF airfield, to house IRA internees; known for its notorious H Blocks; formerly known as Long Kesh Detention Centre; saw the biggest prison escape in UK history (1983) when 38 IRA members escaped Click to show or hide the answer
203 carat diamond, subject of an unsuccessful robbery attempt at London's Millennium Dome, 2000 Click to show or hide the answer
Northumbria, July 2010: shot his former girlfriend and her partner, then a police officer, then shot himself, after a 7–day manhunt Click to show or hide the answer
Stolen by Vincenzo Peruvia in 1911; returned to The Louvre 1913 Click to show or hide the answer
Ian Brady (1938–2017) and Myra Hindley (1942–2002) were the Click to show or hide the answer
Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Keith Bennett, Lesley Anne Downey and Edward Evans were victims of the
Leader of the gang whose members were the victims of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre Click to show or hide the answer
Name given by the press to the "enforcement arm" of the New York Mafia, 1920s to 1940s – led by Albert Anastasia – a.k.a. the Brownsville Boys or the Boys from Brooklyn Click to show or hide the answer
'The Black Panther' – arrested January 1975 Click to show or hide the answer
Leader of Chicago's "Untouchables" in the quest to uncover Al Capone's illicit liquor operations Click to show or hide the answer
Civil Servant (Jobcentre Executive Officer), born Aberdeenshire 1945, who killed at least 12 young men between 1978 and 1983 – discovered after complaining that the drains of the house in Muswell Hill, north London, where he rented an attic flat, were blocked; the blockage turned out to be caused by human remains Click to show or hide the answer
Notorious millionaire criminal, sentenced to life imprisonment in 2000 for the murder of Stephen Cameron on the M25 in 1996, in what was widely reported as a road rage incident Click to show or hide the answer
Type of prison designed by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham in 1785, to allow prisoners to be observed by their guards but not vice versa Click to show or hide the answer
Lord Frederick Cavendish and Thomas Henry Burke: murdered (1882) in Click to show or hide the answer
Surname of Britain's last three executioners (2 brothers, 1 son/nephew) Click to show or hide the answer
Instrument of punishment by public humiliation (and often further physical abuse), made of a wooden or metal framework erected on a post, with holes for securing the head and hands; used in England since at least 1274; restricted, in England after 1816, to punishment for perjury or subornation; formally abolished in England and Wales in 1837 (cf. Stocks) Click to show or hide the answer
Mary Read and Anne Bonny (both active in the early 18th century) were two of the very few women ever to have been convicted of Click to show or hide the answer
Pleaded guilty to raping and murdering two girls in Leicestershire, in 1983 and 1986 respectively: the first person to be convicted of a crime based on DNA fingerprinting evidence, and the first to be caught as a result of mass DNA screening Click to show or hide the answer
Disguise used by the perpetrators of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre Click to show or hide the answer
Italian–American conman, gave his name to a type of fraud where investors are paid with later investors' capital, rather than the income from their own investments Click to show or hide the answer
Arrested at Heathrow Airport, 1968, travelling under a false passport in the name of Eric Galt Click to show or hide the answer
Building in Polstead, Suffolk, where Maria Marten was shot dead by her lover William Corder in 1827 (giving rise to a frenzy of media interest, plays and ballads) Click to show or hide the answer
Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Click to show or hide the answer
Dallas nightclub owner, shot Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of John F. Kennedy (two days after the Kennedy assassination) – shown live on US TV; John Peel (the disc jockey) was an onlooker Click to show or hide the answer
Hungerford, Berkshire, 1979: killed 16 people, including his mother, injured 15 others, them fatally shot himself Click to show or hide the answer
Chairman of Guinness, resigned in 1987 as the DTI began to investigate the Distillers take–over; released from prison in 1991 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's, but later (uniquely) recovered Click to show or hide the answer
New York cop, discovered widespread corruption in the 1970s, nearly assassinated by those he implicated Click to show or hide the answer
Manchester (Hyde) GP, convicted in January 2000 of murdering 15 elderly women patients by lethal injections of diamorphine (used to control pain in terminal cancer patients) – Britain's worst–ever serial killer Click to show or hide the answer
Charged in June 1994 with the murder of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Simpson Click to show or hide the answer
James Pratt and John Smith – hanged outside Newgate Prison in 1835 – were the last couple to be hanged in Britain for Click to show or hide the answer
Nickname chosen by David Berkowitz – convicted of a series of shooting attacks in New York in 1976 and 1977; he killed six victims and wounded seven others; previously known in the press as "the .44 Caliber Killer", because he used a .44 calibre Bulldog revolver; he chose this nickname because he claimed to have been obeying the orders of a demon, manifested in his neighbour's dog Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Prison where Rudolf Hess hanged himself in 1987 (he was the last person to be held there, and after his death it was demolished) Click to show or hide the answer
Record producer: convicted in 2009 of murdering nightclub hostess Lana Clarkson in 2003; previously, a mistrial had been declared in 2006 when the jury failed to reach a verdict; eligible for parole in 2028 Click to show or hide the answer
Controversial girlfriend of Sid Vicious, stabbed to death in 1978 aged 19; Vicious was accused of the murder, but died of a drug overdose (possibly suicide) 4 months later while out on bail Click to show or hide the answer
Former Greater Manchester Assistant Chief Constable, led the late 1980s investigation into the Royal Ulster Constabulary's alleged "shoot to kill" policy Click to show or hide the answer
Instrument of punishment by public humiliation (and often further physical abuse), made of a wooden framework with holes for securing the feet; mentioned in the New Testamanet (Book of Acts); last recorded use in the UK was in 1872, at either Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire, or Newbury, Berkshire (cf. Pillory) Click to show or hide the answer
Convicted in 1981 of the 13 Yorkshire Ripper murders – and 7 attempted murders Click to show or hide the answer
Awarded £600,000 libel against Private Eye, 24 May 1989: Ian Hislop said "If this is justice, I'm a banana" Click to show or hide the answer
Roman Polanski's second wife: she was 8½ months pregnant when murdered by followers of Charles Manson in August 1969, 18 months after their marriage Click to show or hide the answer
17 October 1931: Al Capone was sentenced to 11 years in prison, and fined $80,000, for Click to show or hide the answer
Famously convicted of administering an unlawful oath, 1834; later recognised as heroes of the Trade Union movement Click to show or hide the answer
Organised crime gangs in Hong Kong and other parts of China Click to show or hide the answer
Term coined by the Press for the police team led by Eliot Ness in the quest to uncover Al Capone's illicit liquor operations Click to show or hide the answer
Italian–born fashion designer, shot dead on the steps of his Miami Beach mansion, in 1997, by Andrew Cunanan (who shot himself eight days later to avoid capture by the police) Click to show or hide the answer
Gloucester builder, charged in 1994 with the murders of at least 12 young women; found hanged in Winson Green prison on New Year's Day 1995 Click to show or hide the answer
Victim of Donald Neilson – found hanged in a storm drain in Kidsgrove Click to show or hide the answer
Hanged for malfeasance in office, London, 1725 (employed to catch thieves, but sold stolen goods back to their rightful owners); said by some to be the subject of Gay's Beggar's Opera Click to show or hide the answer
Boston, Massachusetts, 1998: British nanny, convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of her 8–month–old charge Matthew Eappen Click to show or hide the answer
Japanese trans–national crime organisation – said to be the largest in the world; its name comes from the Japanese card game hanafuda ('flower cards') Click to show or hide the answer

© Haydn Thompson 2017–18