Author Archives: Brad
Author Archives: Brad
The information age comes with countless advantages, streamlining communication and allowing people to connect instantaneously. In the past, several contacts and coordination were often required to get people on the same page, but today mobile phones and computer technology link us at all times. In business, deals can be conducted in real-time and global economics benefit from our ability to stay connected in so many different ways. But the access created by so many forms of communication also crosses privacy boundaries, and sometimes compromises our ability to insulate ourselves from undesirable elements. Social networking, for example, puts people at risk when managed improperly. That’s why when you try and hire someone, you should use EmploymentBackgroundCheck.com And local advertising sites like Craigslist literally open the door for strangers to come into our lives. Safe practices aside, Craigslist crimes are real threats – just ask the unsuspecting victims.
1. The Mentor Murders
Most teens look up to respected elders, admiring them for their accomplishments and abilities, but this twisted plot brought a grown man and his protégé together for all the wrong reasons. Brogan Rafferty was impressionable enough to participate in a crime spree hatched on Craigslist, participating willingly in the affair. Along with his mentor, Richard Beasley, Rafferty placed ads on Craigslist seeking laborers to work on a fictitious Ohio ranch. Instead of employment, respondents were murdered and robbed. The duo successful snuffed-out three job-seekers, attempting to kill a fourth man who escaped. The men were arrested after he went to the police with the outrageous story. Despite claiming he was coerced, Brogan Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison, the maximum penalty for his crime. He was a minor at the time of the killings, so the death penalty was not on the table. Richard Beasley, the demented mentor, was not as lucky. He was sentenced to death in April, 2013 for the Craigslist murders.
2. Forced Prostitution
College students are always looking for some extra cash, but Tamla Hutchins would not willingly prostitute herself to get it. Instead, she was lured into forced Craigslist prostitution by a nefarious would-be pimping duo named Carlton Simons and Shenett Reevey. According to the casework, the pair promised the student an opportunity to meet famous stars like P-Diddy and the rapper Lil John. Instead, she was forced to prostitute herself using Craigslist ads. The 2007 crime brought the victim from her home in North Carolina to Queens New York where the plot unfolded. For his role, Carlton Simmons was sentenced to six years in prison.
3. Donna Jou Disappearance
Some Craigslist crimes go unsolved, partly because of the nature of the site. Often, one-on-one meetings are arranged on Craigslist, which is never a good idea. In the case of Ms. Jou, a man has already confessed to involuntary manslaughter and served a portion of the 5-year term he received for the crime. According to John Steven Burgess, Donna Jou responded to his Craigslist ad and joined him for cocaine and heroin before dying at his home. When he woke to find her dead, he panicked and threw her body into the ocean. The truth of the account is suspect, and Burgess has already been released after serving a few years in prison. In fact, Burgess has since been arrested after again using Craigslist to lure women to his home.
4. Katherine Ann Olson Murder
Responding to a Craigslist ad for a babysitter put Katherine Olson in touch with Amy, a mother needing childcare from 10:30 – 5:00. The details were set before Ms. Olson reported to work at a split-level home in Savage. Once there, she was coaxed into an upper area of the home and murdered in cold blood. Michael Anderson, her killer, was a 19 year old man with poor social skills. He killed Ms. Olson with a .357 caliber handgun, before dragging her body down the stairs and tying her up. The motive for the killing is largely unknown, though Anderson received the mandatory life without parole sentence.
5. Philip Markoff Craigslist Killer
The highly publicized saga of the Craigslist Killer involved charges stemming from the death of Julissa Brisman, as well as two additional assaults carried out on women responding to Craigslist ads. The case drew scrutiny for the unlikely perpetrator, who was a pre-med student and seemingly normal chap. As it turns out, Mr. Markoff had a dark side, displaying sexual deviance and other hidden irregularities. But perversion is not thought to be the primary motives for the assaults. Rather, Mr. Markoff appears to have been in dire straights financially, afraid to reveal the situation to his fiancé. Markoff took his own life in 2010, while serving a life sentence in prison.
6. Raped Maid
Michael Delgado called a maid he found on Craigslist to clean his home, but evidence pointed to a different motive for bringing her in. According to the 42-year old maid that came to his home, Delgado was little more than an opportunistic Craigslist rapist. Once there, she claims to have been raped for over an hour, leading to false imprisonment, assault and rape charges against Delgado. Tried at the end of 2012, Mr. Delgado’s jury ended in deadlock, failing to convict or acquit him on the six felony charges he faced. He will be retried on at least some of the charges.
7. Baby For Sale
Paul Marquez probably looked over the ‘for sale’ section for quite awhile before trying to sell a baby on Craigslist. The internet swap meet does not maintain a section for human trafficking. Mr. Marquez posted the ad out of irritation with his newfound girlfriend who mothered the child. According to the complaint, he asked $100 for the infant because it was “on his nerves”. The Craigslist ad was flagged and removed, but the perseverant Marquez reposted the offer. A responder was given the actual mother’s phone number, who then called police to report Marquez. several charges were levied, including child endangerment.
8. Wine Snob Beating
Seeking the finer things in life is to be admired, but pursuing high-end wine from a discount Craigslist posting carried unanticipated risks for one wine aficionado. When Quy Duc Nguyen showed up to purchase a handful of rare bottles, he got more than he bargained for. Traveling all the way from coast to coast, his arrival was tainted by a beating and robbery that left him with sour grapes.
9. Phone Home Shooting
Jonathan Clements used Craigslist to advertise his need for a new mobile phone. When he set up a meeting with Alexander Lyons, he expected a routine $95 transaction the men agreed upon. Following safe protocols, the meeting was arranged for a public gas station where safety would not be an issue for the men. Lyons pretended to be lost though, and instead was directed to Mr. Clements location, his Aunt’s house. Mr. Lyons was prepared for violence, and soon shot the unsuspecting buyer with a semi-automatic handgun. Mr. Clements died at the hospital a short time later. A life sentence was handed-down to Lyons, and the accomplice who furnished the weapon was also charged with murder.
10. Dao Xiong Auto Ad Killer
Craigslist is widely used for selling cars and motorcycles, so meet-ups are scheduled frequently. St Paul native Youa Ty Lor used the listing service to advertise his Nissan for sale. Unfortunately, a car thief was trolling the wires looking for victims. Mr. Lor agreed to meet Dao Xiong for a test drive, but Xiong reportedly never intended to buy the vehicle. He claims to have been interested only in stealing it, but his plans went awry when Mr. Lor was killed with a forty caliber semi-auto handgun. The murder weapon and telephone records quickly tied Xiong to the crime, leading to his arrest and conviction for the killing. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
11. John Katehis S&M Killer
When George Weber placed an ad on Craigslist, he was seeking a partner for a sex-related meet-up. The respondent, who later agreed to a sexual encounter for $60, was a twisted Satanist and S&M fetishist. He had a particular preoccupation with knives, which he eventually used to stab Mr. Weber to death. More than 50 stab wounds were present on his body and neck, inflicted by the sixteen year-old killer. Katehis was charged with second-degree murder, as an adult.
12. Long Island Killer
Answering ads for sex is the standard approach for this Craigslist criminal, known as the Long Island Serial Killer. The unidentified perpetrator is though to be responsible for as many as 15 murders in the GilGo Beach area. Over the course of several years, 10 bodies have been recovered from the area, each linked to the killer. While theories abound, it is certain the killer preys on prostitutes and women advertising sex on Craigslist.
13. Boat Buyer Assault
Ronald Kroll used Craigslist for its intended function, placing an ad to sell his boat. After communicating with an interested buyer, Darin Leutbecker, by phone, a test-drive was arranged and the men met at the boat. The 37 year-old Kroll fought back after Leutbecker pulled a gun on him, resulting in shots fired. The men struggled in the boat, before falling into the water, where Kroll eventually remained as his boat was stolen. Kroll was able to inflict some damage of his own, stabbing his attacker with a pocket knife before he fled.
14. Diamond Deal Killers
James Sanders had a diamond ring to sell, so he placed an ad on Craigslist. When four individuals responded for a meeting, Sanders directed them to his home. The Edgewood, WA man was told the ring was to be a Mother’s Day gift, but once inside his home, the group held Sanders and his family captive. As he struggled to protect his children, he was shot dead by the attackers. All four criminals were captured and tried, including 24 year-old Clabon Berniard who received a life sentence.
15. Auto Sale Kidnapping
Selling his BMW was all Alexander Filatov had in mind when he placed an ad on Craigslist. Travis Landry, who responded to the posting had different ideas for Filatov, including a 400+ mile trip in his own trunk. After meeting at Landry’s location, Filatov agreed to a test drive, and the men conducted what appeared to be a legitimate transaction. After accepting payment, Filatov opened the trunk for Landry, who asked to see it. With threats of violence, Landry forced him into the trunk of the BMW, before taking-off on a 450 mile drive. Filatov was not harmed, and his help led police to Landry who was later captured and tried.
16. Work Shirt Robbery
Craigslist does not discriminate among criminals, so it is not surprising that the site aids robberies too. A particularly clever criminal posted an ad for day laborers, instructing them exactly how to dress for the job. Ten men reported to the designated location, dressed as instructed. As they waited for their job assignments, another man emerged in the same outfit. He sprayed an armored guard with an irritant and ran off with a bag of money. The men served as distractions, as the perpetrator jumped into the nearby river. Despite the creative approach, Anthony Curcio was arrested and tried for the robbery.
17. Ellis T. Jones Craigslist Crimes
Ellis Jones played football at San Jose State, where his coach said he was not a disciplinary concern. A different story unfolded as Jones was linked to a robbery plot involving Craigslist. The man used classified ads to lure multiple victims to his location, before Tasing them or threatening them with a gun. The motive was robbery, which did not end well for Jones who was eventually removed from the football team and brought-up on 13 charges of Craigslist wrongdoing.
18. Killer: Alejandro Hernandez Rivera
Prostitution advertising is not limited to women on Craigslist. Alejandro Rivera was a male prostitute advertising regularly online, when he met sixty-six year-old Theodore Neff in 2008. The retired bank employee was a collector of rare flutes, which Rivera targeted to steal. in the end, Rivera strangled Neff to death, before setting his house on fire and taking off with his expensive instruments. Attempting to sell the flutes back to their maker, rivera exposed himself and was arrested for the murder.
19. Baby Killer
After posting an ad on Craigslist for baby clothes, Korena Roberts met Heather Snively. the two became fast friends, sharing what was thought to be mutual pregnancies. The grisly case took a terrible turn when Roberts, who was not pregnant at all, carried out her unseemly plot. the woman killed her friend, beating her to beat with a police baton, before removing the unborn baby from her womb. Both victims died, for which Roberts received a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole. During the investigation, it was revealed that Roberts had attempted the scheme previously without success.
20. Weyrick Murder
Sarah Weyrick was in dire straits financially, so she placed an ad on Craigslist to make some money. her ad was found in the casual encounters section by a 31 year-old man with grisly intentions. Some time after meeting with Phillip E. Bolden, Weyrick’s body was discovered in a burned-out vehicle. She had been stabbed to death, with multiple knife wounds to her neck. The car she was placed in was set ablaze to conceal the evidence, but the killer was eventually caught.
21. Len Dykstra Craigslist Sex Crimes
Former professional baseball player Len Dykstra has previously been convicted of grand theft auto, resulting from a scam wherein he bought cars with fake paperwork. The sports star turned criminal has had other run-ins with the law too, including a Craigslist crime spree involving sexual misconduct. Dykstra admitted to his crimes, which are essentially the same in each instance. He would call-in Craigslist advertisers for help around his home, only to inform them that the “help” included massaging him. Several women came forward, including one claiming he held her at knifepoint, forcing her to rub him. Dyksta served his sentence for the Craigslist crimes concurrently with his auto theft stint, released in the summer of 2013.
22. iPhone Robbery
When a buyer responded to a Craigslist ad offering a box of iPhones for sale, he got more than he bargained for. According to the complaint, the Seattle man was instructed to meet the seller at a business location where he said he worked. Once there, the buyer got into a car driven by the seller’s associate to complete the deal. Given a box said to contain the phones, he set about getting the 10K in cash out of his trunk. Instead of closing the sale, the seller pulled a gun and demanded the money. The box the man was given contained only scraps of metal and trash.
23. Sister Act
Two Raleigh, North Carolina sisters hatched a robbery plot using Craigslist as their trap. The offer was straightforward – two smartphones for $1100, according to the ad the girls placed. When a Raleigh man showed up to close the deal, things got a little out of hand. Instead of the smartphones, Sherida Quanette Bullock and Acqua Bullock produced a handgun, demanding the cash from the would-be buyer, Ibrahima Diouf. When the man fled instead of giving up the money, the sisters unleashed a hail of bullets in his direction. The Bullocks were each charged with robbery, as was a third woman, Sherie Brooks, who was eventually tied to the crime.
24. Minister Goes Above and Beyond
Hiring a minister to conduct your wedding ceremony shouldn’t put you at risk, but apparently when Craigslist is used to find a pastor, anything can happen. After officiating at their wedding, one Portland minister made-off with the couples’ wedding gifts. Since the pair were remodeling, a majority of their gifts came as Home Depot gift cards. The pastor was easy to locate by tracing the numbers on the cards, which led police to security videos showing the man redeeming them.
25. Girlfriend Revenge
Breaking up is hard to do, but getting even was all that mattered for one Craigslist poster who used the site to seek revenge on his ex. The depraved plan was to post an ad on Craigslist seeking a rape encounter, directing respondents to his ex-girlfriend’s home. Unbelievably, he posted the ad and within a week a man broke-in to the girls home and raped her. The former boyfriend, Jebidiah Stipe, communicated with the rapist even after the ad had been taken down, providing the woman’s home address and additional details about her “fantasy”. Stipe was arrested, as well as the attacker Ty McDowell.
26. Stripper Strike
Hiring strippers for bachelor parties is a tradition to some, but for two would-be strippers it was a one-sided affair. A Huntington Beach man, doing his diligence as the best man, hired two women from a Craigslist ad to strip at a party for the groom. Instead, the ladies collected their $500 fee and then bolted without stripping at all. When the men tried to stop them, they were pepper sprayed and punched in the face. The women escaped with the cash.
27. House for Sale
The deal of the century presented itself to two Oregon women who had a chance to buy a luxury home for pennies on the dollar. The deal they found on Craigslist appeared too good to be true, but the pair, Elizabeth Dorscht and Chandler Cook forked over the down payment anyway. Not surprisingly, the house turned out not to be for sale, and the Craigslist poster disappeared with their money. Lynne Sisto eventually pled guilty to orchestrating the creative scheme.
28. Transgender Assault
Edward Terry Wallace responded to a Craigslist ad placed by three transgender ladies who identified themselves as such in the post. The Chula Vista man reported to the trio’s home and proceeded to rape and beat them. He used a stun gun to control them and robbed each of their cash, before sodomizing at least one of them. For his crimes, Mr. Wallace received a 12 year sentence for sexual battery and robbery of the three.
29. Sex Trafficking Trio
Selling sex is illegal in most places, but prostituting kids is in a whole different class of bad judgment. Nonetheless, three enterprising Craigslist users managed to launch a child prostitution ring on the site. Surprisingly, one of the perpetrators was a woman named Jessica King. Along with her co-conspirators, Jordan Arnold and Christopher Black, King posted pictures of girls in lingerie on Craigslist. The photos lured johns who hired the young girls for sex. All three pled guilty to coercion and enticement of a juvenile into prostitution. Sentences for each defendant were around five years apiece.
30. Rape My Wife, Please
The bonds of holy matrimony didn’t stop an Idaho man from posting ads on Craigslist seeking men to rape his wife. The twisted approach included communicating with the men who responded, eventually steering more than one of them to her home. When one man tried to assault her, the wife grabbed her gun, discharging the weapon. Police responding to the gunfire were brought up to speed about the depraved plot. The husband admitted to his crime and faced the music in a courtroom.
31. No Sex, No Money
A Texas man has been acquitted of killing a woman he met on Craigslist. the man responded to an ad for sex, arranging to pay the woman $150 for the act. He lived up to his part of the bargain, but she took the money without performing her end of the deal. As the two argued over the cash, the woman, Lenora Fargo was shot to death. In a bizarre legal twist, the act was ruled self-defense because the shooter, Ezekiel Gilbert, was trying to recover stolen property at the time the shots were fired.
32. Steven Lewis Kills iPhone Buyer
Lots of Craigslist crimes involve electronics deals gone bad, including the tragic shooting of Mr. Aung Thu Bo. Responding to an ad for an iPhone for sale, Bo and his girlfriend met innocently with Steven Lewis. But Lewis is a convicted felon who ended up taking the unsuspecting Bo’s life. Despite trying to cooperate with the thief, Aung Thu Bo was shot dead in cold blood. Lewis eventually confessed to the crime, claiming the gun went off accidentally.
33. Marine Shot Over Necklace
Lt. Col Karl Trenker stood-in for his fiancée who had posted a Craigslist ad to sell a gold necklace. Trenker went to meet a potential buyer in her place, but ran into some trouble. Despite meeting in an open area, the two men posing as buyers decided to steal the necklace and take-off. As he pursued them on foot, Trenker was shot multiple times by one of the men. Jeff Steele fired on Trenker as he chased him, striking him at least three times. Using his military training, the 48 year old Marine plugged the wounds with his fingers, possibly saving his own life.
34. Tiara Pool Murder
Tiara Pool’s killer responded to her Craigslist ad, prompting a meeting between the two. They left the public meeting place to return to Pool’s apartment, where she was brutally murdered. Her killer, David Sparre was 19 years old at the time of the crime, stabbing Poll more than 80 times. The deranged Sparre was sentenced to death for the crime. In a twisted jailhouse letter, Sparre told his ex-girlfriend that he would like to kill again.
35. Daniel Cook ATV Killing
Daniel Cook and his girlfriend were interested in looking at an all-terrain vehicle offered for sale on Craigslist, so they traveled to Philadelphia to meet with the seller. After separating Cook from his girlfriend and another traveling companion, Thomas Coffee robbed and killed him. According to the girl, they were waiting for Cook to rejoin them when two gunshots rang-out. The 23 year-old Willow Grove man was eventually arrested and charged with murder for posing as a Craigslist seller and taking Cook’s life.
Background checks look at past behavior in attempts to predict what will happen in the future. They are used in all segments of modern society, during business transactions and credit evaluations. Landlords use background checks to investigate applicants for housing, and employers with sensitive job requirements use them to determine whether or not job applicants check-out. Organizations request background checks with specific feedback in mind, focusing on the elements of people’s histories that give them the information they need most. Your criminal history and basic information about where you have lived are included in profiles of your background, as well as your marital status and other details about your history. Political figures, even past Presidents, are not immune to the failings of human nature, landing them in hot water along the way. Would these former United States Presidents and high-profile politicians pass background checks?
Getting impeached from the United States Presidency ranks right up near the top on a list of things you’d rather not have pop up during your background check. Johnson was impeached during a divided political period in American history. The Republican revolution occurring during the time did not bode well for the moderate Johnson, who was bullied politically and impeached without much cause. The articles of impeachment were drawn up for high crimes and misdemeanors including violation of a recently passed act of Congress with which he did not agree. The entire proceedings have been hailed as a witch-hunt against Johnson. In 1868 the House of Representative voted on impeachment, resulting in an acquittal for President Johnson, who was widely seen as the victim of a railroading effort by his political opposition. Learn more at History.com
Mr. Duke is unapologetic about his positions regarding voluntary segregation and each man’s right to protect his heritage. In addition to failed presidential campaigns, Mr. Duke has attempted to gain other positions in government, including United States Senator, United States Congressman, Governor of Louisiana and State Senator. As a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Duke is outspoken about race relations and also formed the group National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP). He posts regularly to online forums associated with white supremacy and has spoken against Jewish control of media outlets. He was convicted of tax fraud in 2002, and sentenced to 15 months in prison. It was determined that he had been bilking money from followers, which he eventually spent on himself. In part, he told followers that he was about to lose his own home to debt and needed money to stay afloat. After raising hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of donations, it was determined he was not in the financial distress described. These Huffington Post stories contain detailed information about Duke.
The exploits of the former President are clearly ingrained people’s memories; in part due to the fact that he is one of the more recent Presidents to get caught in an inappropriate situation. On the other hand, the details of his indiscretions were particularly salacious, creating significantly greater public interest than the regular output from the oval office. However you slice it, the 1998 impeachment vote taken by Congress is a background check development that might be looked at as a black mark on the former President’s record. In Mr. Clinton’s case, the stain on his credibility resulted from lying about his previous activities, rather than the unconventional behavior itself. In other words, had the President come forth with his wrongdoing, or even owned up to it when it was obviously exposed, he may have been able to preserve his reputation. The Raw Story Looks at Mr. Clinton here
During his presidency, Grant was rocked by several ongoing scandals. The improprieties ranged across a spectrum of inappropriate patronage and manipulating financial markets. There were serious implications for the Nation’s most important employee, even when he was not a primary player in the developing scandals. Keeping the wrong company first got Grant in trouble when he responded to a gold market situation with unapproved measures. Stock scandals followed, as the President’s Congress and Cabinet became involved in patronage deals giving them access to favorable stock manipulation. In 1875, Grant’s principles were further questioned when close associates were found to be skimming Whiskey taxes for their own use. The conditions during his presidency became so outrages that the very notion of political corruptness among his allies and advisors became known as ‘Grantism’. Having your name tied to immorality and corruption is not a positive background check outcome. The Miller Center provides profiles of Grant and other past Presidents.
In addition to his convicted role as a tax evader, Mr. Berlusconi has been linked to additional improprieties. The former Italian Prime Minister has been accused of turning a blind eye toward organized crime, and for filing false accounting reports. Other accusations of bribery and corruption have followed Mr. Berlusconi through the spotlight, including allegations of influence peddling with judges and police officials. One of the most problematic legal questions dogging Mr. Berlusconi is his 2013 conviction of soliciting a minor for sex. He was found guilty of paying for sex with a 17 year old, and is prohibited from holding office during the seven and one-half year sentence he was given. The case is expected to come up for appeal, so the sentence will not be carried out until the appeal is concluded. The case is one of approximately 20 proceedings aimed at Mr. Berlusconi during his tenure in office. Mr. Berlusconi in the news.
The central feature of Richard Nixon’s downfall was a scandal which came to be known simply as “Watergate”. The reference is to the Watergate Hotel and business buildings where the most famous abuse of Presidential power occurred. In 1972, a group of five men broke-in to the Democratic National Headquarters located within the Watergate complex. The break-in and the President’s subsequent attachment to the ensuing cover-up effort brought Nixon to the mercy of his political adversaries. Had he not resigned in 1974, it is almost certain he would have been impeached for the cover-up and lies associated with Watergate. White House profile of the 37th President.
While some of the corrupt cabinet members made their own criminal names, it was the Teapot Dome scandal that brought down Fall and others Harding associates. Fall was the first-ever cabinet member convicted of a crime, for his role in the Teapot Dome affair. In exchange for control of the federal oil reserves in Teapot Dome, Wyoming, Albert Fall had taken a bribe from Mr. Harry F. Sinclair. Mr. Fall served two years in prison as the most famed member of Harding’s “Ohio Gang” Mr. Fall’s interesting role in history is studied here.
In 1986 it came to light that the Reagan administration was active in a side business unknown to American citizens. Top players in the administration, it turns out, were selling arms to Iran. The practice was problematic for several reasons, not the least of which concerned an embargo on Iran strictly prohibiting it. How much the Commander in Chief knew, and when, is still the subject of debate, but there is another aspect of the illegal activity that disturbs some analysts even more. Some of the officials involved in the Persian arms deals also advocated for using the money in very specific ways. Half a world away, arms profits were allegedly targeted for funding Contra rebels in Nicaragua. Not only was the public left out of the loop, but the Congress had already acted decisively prohibiting further funding for Contras. The Iran-Contra Affair, or Irangate, as the episode became known, remains a blemish on the former President’s background. For all the facts about the former President, see his profile at the Reagan Library.
Convicted felons are not high performers on background checks. And so it goes for Mr. Jackson, who was convicted of several crimes in office. After leading the charge in Congress for the 2nd District of Illinois, the Congressman was investigated for wrongdoing in fall of 2012. He subsequently resigned, amid bizarre absences and claims of medical disorders ranging from bi-polar disorder to gastrointestinal distress. As it turns out Mr. Jackson was funding an extravagant lifestyle, along with his wife, using campaign donations from his re-election fund. As a result, the former co-chairman of President Barrack Obama’s election campaign was sentenced to 30 months in prison. In addition to the misappropriation of funds, Mr. Jackson was convicted of mail and wire fraud. For her role in the scheme, which netted about seven-hundred fifty thousand dollars’ worth of illegal spending, Sandi Jackson received 12 months in jail.
Bush was arrested at the age of 20 for some drunken antics with friends, which resulted in the group stealing some items from a department store. The charges were dropped. In 1976, however, Bush was cited for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated near his family’s Kennebunkport home. The drunk-driving conviction alone, nor his acknowledgement that he overused alcohol until age 40, are not enough to count the younger Bush out entirely, but there additional concerns about his substance use. Some sources indicate that the former President may have used drugs like Cocaine, which could be problematic for passing standardized FBI background screenings.
Clever thieves find all kinds of ways to get their hands on bank reserves, donning outrageous disguises and crafting elaborate strategies. Throughout history, particularly brazen criminals have logged spectacular thieving efforts across the globe. Success rates vary, but crime generally does not pay. Public interest in robberies is directly related to the entertainment value provided by the crooks. Interesting approaches, high paydays, and outright successes are embraced by observers, who root for creative criminals that beat the system. Robin Hood effect aside, robbing banks is hard work – just ask the would-be gangsters on our list of outrageous bank robberies.
1. Knightsbridge Security Deposit Robbery
Spectacular robberies are especially captivating when criminals heist huge sums of money or large amounts of valuable goods. The $98 million taken in this 1987 robbery ranks it among the top dollar-amounts ever stolen. To pull-off the heist, mastermind Valerio Viccei and an associate entered the security deposit facility pretending they wanted to rent a security box. Once guards and security personnel were vulnerable, the men overpowered them and took control of the bank. After putting up a closed sign and letting-in their helpers, the men proceeded to clean out the safety deposit boxes.
The strong-arm robbers did not get away with their crime. Viccei was arrested and jailed, but due to laws in Italy where he was imprisoned, he led most of his life with lots of liberties. He died under suspicious circumstances as police were sure his next plot was underway. Like many criminals, Viccei led a high-profile life of luxury, which led to his downfall. Before committing the Knightsbridge robbery in England, he was already wanted for dozens of bank robberies in his native Italy. Interestingly, Viccei befriended one of the law enforcement officers responsible for his arrest, frequently corresponding with him while incarcerated.
2. Dunbar Armored Robbery
Armored trucks ferry countless sums of money between banks and financial institutions. In 1997, an employee of the Dunbar Armored Company decided to make a play for one of the largest cash heists in U.S. history. The mastermind behind the crime, Allen Pace, was an inspector for the company who used his time there to plan a robbery.
With the help of five friends and passkeys required to access the facility, Pace took control of the depot on a busy cash night. The men simply overpowered each driver as they came in with trucks full of cash, transferring the take to their own rented truck. Iin the end, the men loaded-up nearly $19 million dollars before high-tailing it. the men managed to elude capture for years, making efforts to conceal their wealth. A group of clues eventually led to one of the members of the crew, which started the whole case unraveling. The men were eventually sentenced to terms ranging from seven to twenty-four years. Most of the money was never recovered, including some that was burned to avoid being traced through sequentially numbered bills.
3. Brink’s – MAT Warehouse
One of the most notorious heists ever committed, the Brink’s-MAT robbery targeted the company’s bank facility at Heathrow Airport. The conspirators got a little more than they bargained for, intending to steal a few million in cash. Upon arrival, the six-man crew was greeted by nearly $30 million dollars worth of gold bullion, diamonds and cash.
The job was an inside effort, in part, aided by the cooperation of security guard Anthony Black. The man is also responsible for the downfall of the group, as he was the one to turn over his fellow conspirators. Once inside, the men disabled the remaining guards by dousing them in gasoline and threatening to set them ablaze if they failed to cooperate. The crooks made off with 3 and one-half tons of gold, most of which has never been recovered. Of the six original thieves, only two were ever sentenced for the crime, and the restitution for the entire amount stolen – nearly $28 million, was placed on a single perpetrator Micky McAvoy. Survivors associated with the crime are said to be cursed by it.
4. Dog Day Afternoon
Al Pacino portrayed a memorable bank robber in Hollywood’s Dog Day Afternoon, a depiction similar to a real life bank hold-up. In August, 1972 two men, John Wojtowicz and Salvatore Naturile, undertook an infamous bank robbery plot that didn’t end well for the pair. The poorly planned heist was a crime of passion, executed without basic precautions. For example, the men were not disguised, leaving them vulnerable to identification later. To make matters worse, they made no effort to conceal their fingerprints.
The men were homosexual, adding a further layer of notoriety to the crime, which actually drew gay rights activists to the crime scene. the bumbling robbers spent too long looting the bank, so the police were able to respond and surround them. The ensuing hostage stand-off provides the subject matter for the movie, in which Wojtowicz negotiates for help escaping. The poorly executed crime was too nerve-racking for the eighteen year-old Naturile, who was eventually shot dead by the police. For his role in the crime, John Wojtowicz received a prison sentence totaling more then 27 years. Wojtowicz served 6 years of his sentence. Although the film takes liberties with the story, most of the events depicted are true. Some of the money given to Wojtowicz for his story was used by his partner to get sex reassignment surgery.
5. Northern Bank Robbery
This cash robbery stands as one of the largest takes in Ireland’s history. There have been money-laundering arrests associated with the crime, but it remains unsolved in large part. There is speculation that the IRA was involved in the heist, but all factions of the organization have denied involvement.
The Donegal Square headquarters of the Northern Bank was robbed in December of 2004, giving up nearly thirty-million pounds sterling to the thieves. First, the gang of criminals gained entry into the homes of two prominent bank officials. Holding their family members hostage, the men were forced to participate in the robbery. The timing of the robbery, before Christmas, gave the criminals access to a cash storage facility loaded with currency bound for the holiday shopping season. With the help of the terrified bank staffers, the gang was able to make off with millions worth of bank notes. Since the robbery, bits and pieces of the haul have been recovered, and some individuals have been charged with attempting to launder proceeds from the robbery, but the investigation continues to this day.
6. Cheddington Mail Van Raid (Great Train Robbery) of 1963
An English train robbery intercepting a Royal Mail coach yielded a sizable pay day for the brazen gang behind the robbery. As much as 2.6 million pounds was seized as the men took-over control of the train. The coach was travelling between Glasgow and London, when the men engineered the track signals to facilitate their crime. One of the men on the crew was an experienced train robber, so the men had his abilities to guide them. After boarding the train and disabling the conductor with blows to the head, the men were able to gain control.
Bruce Reynolds, one of the group’s core members, along with 15 other men, concocted the robbery scheme including several of the gang’s central figures. After gaining control, the men unhitched the cars they did not need and proceeded up the track to their waiting getaway truck. Two tons of mail bags were loaded into the truck before the crew departed to a hideout seventeen miles away. The crew divied up the take and hurriedly left their safe house as the area heated-up with police. Their downfall ensued when a member of the gang failed to do his part by burning down the hideaway. Using clues left at the hideout, investigators eventually caught up with a dozen conspirators, some of whom were given jail sentences of 30 years each.
7. Dar El Salaam Bank
This modern-day heist came amid turmoil in the Middle East, allowing guards at a Baghdad bank to walk away with a staggering sum of money. In 2007 a group of insiders worked together to orchestrate one of the richest heists in history, bilking an Iraq bank out of an estimated $282 million in United States currency.
There are still mysteries surrounding the crime, which left the private banking facility reeling after several prison guards banded together to pull off the heist. The guards, who slept nights at the bank, disappeared along with the money, singling them out as suspects immediately. The guards wre arrested quickly, and most of the money was recovered. The incident is reminiscent of a move pulled by Sadaam Hussein in 2003, when he used his son to withdraw nearly one billion dollars from the bank before his collapse. Most of the money was later found in the walls of the despot’s palace, but hundreds of millions have yet to be recovered. While it is more of a “fleecing” than a traditional robbery, Hussein’s approach was no less criminal than that of the guards at the private Baghdad bank.
8. Cornerstone Bank Waco, Texas
Some bank robberies involve huge sums of money and cleverly devised plots, requiring intricate coordination between multiple participants. Others are less complicated. While giant paydays are the stuff of bank robbing legend, it is not only the dollars attached which make robberies outrageous. Sometimes the motive, the amateurish crime itself, or the ridiculous follow-up create the true spectacle surrounding a crime. In the Waco case of the Cornerstone bank, it is the antics of the unskilled criminal which propel the bank robbery into the outrageous category.
Hannah Sabata, a troubled 19 year old girl, had a beef with the government for taking away her child and charging her with neglect. She also had mounting debt with no means to pay-up. Hannah’s solution was not a summer job, but instead an impromptu bank robbery. The young lady first stole a car to use for her getaway, before appearing at the bank to demand money. With threats of violence, she convinced the teller to hand over the loot, which she successfully fled with. Full of herself, and proud of the effort, she promptly logged on to her YouTube account to brag about her exploits. So specific were her amateur videos that she showed the key to the car she stole and the stack of money taken from the bank. Not only did she talk about the crimes, but she reinforced her guilt by writing about them for the world to see.
9. Bank of France Robbery in Toulon
The suspected mastermind behind this high-profile French robbery committed suicide in prison this year. Marc Armando, sentenced to 18 years for his role in the famed heist, was incarcerated awaiting trial for a drug trafficking charge when his body was found hanging in his cell. It is thought that Mr. Armando provided the coordination behind the 1992 Bank of France robbery known as the heist of the century.
To carry out the plot, a group of about 10 conspirators kidnapped a family member of a guard working at the bank. With threat of harm to his loved one, and a back-up cache of explosives strapped to his body, the guard cooperated with the gang of thieves. The crooks made away with around $30 million dollars, most of which was never recovered. Some of the gang members were never prosecuted for their crimes, but a bulk of the gang was held accountable in court. Within a couple months, authorities had rounded up a majority of the gang’s members, but only about 10% of the money they stole has been recovered to date.
10. Banco Central in Fortaleza, Brazil
In terms of values stolen during high-dollar bank robberies, this one lands in the Guinness Book of World Records for a “pure” bank heist. Sure, Saddam Hussein fleeced his own bank for a cool billion, but that wasn’t a genuine effort like the Brazilian affair. In 2006, a group of criminals numbering in the dozens banded together for the creative Brazilian bank robbery. The gang posed as landscapers working in a nearby building, before digging a tunnel underground to their intended target. The 250 foot passageway took them to the base of the bank, which they bored-into over the course of a weekend. In the end, the group took off with an estimated $70 million worth of stolen funds.
The gang was successful in removing what amounted to three tons of currency, and eluding police for a time. To date, 28 members of the gang have been held accountable for their crimes, including Antonio Reginaldo de Araujo, considered to be the criminal mastermind behind the robbery. Some of the conspirators already convicted are serving sentences as long as fifty-three years. Despite rounding up a good share of the gang, only about 10-percent of the stolen money has ever been recovered.
11. Sentry Armored Car Courier Company
One of the largest cash robberies in United States history, the crime was against an armored transport company, but the take was money from banks. Bounty valued at more than $11 million dollars was taken from the bank truck facility with the help of an insider. One of the guards on duty the night of the crimes assisted the thieves, pretending he was the victim of an attack and robbery committed by three men. The conspirators were exposed due to various money-trails left in their wake. According to the gang, seven-million in cash was split between four robbers, resulting in money laundering concerns for the group. After attempting to conceal some of the booty in Greece, and other amounts in Switzerland, some of the crooks U.S. holdings were exposed, leading to their arrests.
The guard on duty was found handcuffed to a pipe, complete with a detailed account of how he ended up there. Unfortunately for the inside man, security records indicated that a garage door had been accessed by the guard. His story unraveled when details of his account did not match facility records. To date, only about $1.5 million worth of the stolen cash has been recovered.
12. Seafirst Bank Robbery
This high-dollar heist became well known for the staggering take, but also for a quirky characteristic shared by the thieves. When the two men robbed the Seafirst Bank in Lakewood, Washington they were commiting the richest bank robbery in history (at the time). But they also wore trenchcoats, which immediately assigned the iconic feature to the case, forever known as the “trench coat robbery”.
Despite the novelty of the attire, real guns were used and the men behind the coats were not casual about their profession. Ray Bowman and William Kirkpatrick were professional bank robbers, suspected in at least two dozen other robberies in Washington State. At Seafirst, the duo walked away with nearly $5 million dollars and a place in the record books. Unfortunately for the pair, they would trip themselves up with less than professional behavior. Kirkpatrick was pulled over for speeding, yielding all kinds of clues during a search of his car. In addition to fake documents and crime tools, Kirkpatrick carried close to $2 million dollars with him. His counterpart, Bowman, didn’t fare much better, failing to pay his storage locker bill on time. The owner of the locker opened it up, alerting the police to a cache of weapons found inside. It was not long before Bowman was in custody too.
13. First Interstate Bank Bellevue, Washington
This bank was one of many robbed by a prolific couple doing business on the West Coast in the late eighties and early nineties. John Madison and Carolyn Marie Williams carried out more than fifty armed robberies across California, Washington and Texas before being prosecuted for the First Interstate heist. The couple used a precise M.O. each time they robbed, with Carolyn driving the getaway car and John brandishing a gun inside. In fact, his calling card was to discharge a round from the gun into the bank ceiling, showing robbery victims he meant business. His quirky habit earned him the nickname “Shootist” from police officers.
Both of the Williams’ pleaded guilty to their crimes and Johnny Madison received sentences totaling 92 years for the crimes he could be prosecuted for. His own record-keeping helped police outline the eight year string of successful robberies committed by the Williams’. By the time he was brought down in 1994, his running total was approaching one-million dollars.
14. Loomis Fargo Bank Robbery
In October of 1997 an enterprising employee of the Loomis Fargo Company put a robbery attempt in motion that would yield a $17 million dollar payday. The mastermind was David Ghannt, a supervisor at the regional vault of the Loomis Fargo Company. The robbery represents the largest cash heist on U.S. soil, but the bid was unsuccessful.
Eight people were eventually indicted as direct conspirators, as well as sixteen others identified as playing peripheral roles in the scheme. Ghannt was suspected for his role in the crime almost from the beginning, as he went missing to Mexico shortly after the robbery. His co-conspirators spent lavishly once he was out of the country, drawing suspicion and getting everyone noticed by the feds. Nicknamed the “hillbilly heist” because of the participants’ lack of savvy, the crime was a highly popular late night comedy target. Despite the high-profile spending of the gang members, around 95% of the total take was eventually recovered or accounted for.
15. Geezer Bandit Hold-Ups
There is no way of knowing exactly what lies beneath the disguise of this bank robber associated with at least 16 crimes across California. Is an elderly man, as it appears, really committing the brazen robberies? Or is it the work of a clever master of disguises concealing his youthful identity in an effort to misguide investigators? Whatever the case, the circumstances surrounding the robberies provide entertainment value as well as serious concern for victimized banks.
Many of the Geezer’s targets have been Bank of America locations, but his patterns are not exclusive to any particular company. His approach is the same everywhere though. He enters each bank with a satchel or briefcase, from which he extracts a note for the teller, which describes his or her imminent death if cooperation is not forthcoming. His total estimated take has not been revealed, but the growing tally is assumed to be significant given the number of successful crimes he has pulled off. During one robbery, he was seen to be fleeter of foot than most elderly subjects, supporting the theory that it is a younger person in disguise. His or her popularity is explained by the unique nature of the effort, but there are twenty-thousand additional reasons for the public to pay attention to this story. Information leading to the Geezer’s capture is worth $20,000 to the FBI.
Throughout history, serial killers have made lasting impressions not only for the numbers of people they victimize, but also for the gruesome ways they operate. Diabolical killers each leave their own unique signatures on the crimes they commit. And when multiple victims surface, their notoriety grows. Our unquenchable thirst for details about heinous criminals keeps the media scrambling for ways to showcase sensational crimes, spawning made-for-TV movies and documentaries about the world’s infamous killers. As a result, serial killers live in infamy, as household names associated with some of humanity’s darkest moments. These examples stand-out among history’s most depraved serial killers, landing them among our top ten.
1. Jeffrey Dahmer
Dahmer’s own end only added to the bizarre circumstances surrounding his case. He was eventually beaten to death in prison, fulfilling the death wish he had expressed multiple times while incarcerated. But the tale of his gruesome exploits started years earlier when he was exposed for a lengthy crime spree. Dahmer’s case had all the hallmarks of a twisted serial murder plot, complete with cannibalism and necrophilia. The contrast between the seemingly normal public life Dahmer lived, and the unspeakable acts occurring behind closed doors made the case all the more unusual. In the end, being beaten to death in a prison bathroom was a fate many thought Dahmer had coming.
Details of Dahmer’s crimes continued to emerge for months after initially coming to light in the early 1990’s. Dahmer, it turns out, had been trolling for victims at homosexual nightclubs, successfully luring them to his small urban apartment with promises of sex and drugs. Once there, Dahmer engaged in various perversions including killing, dismembering and sometimes eating parts his victims. By drugging his victims and killing them, Dahmer sought to possess them somehow, even freezing body parts to revisit later. Drums of acid and other heinous instruments of horror were removed from his apartment in the days following Dahmer’s arrest, cementing his place as one of history’s most evil villians. Jeffrey Dahmer Files explores the life of the killer in a quasi-documentary format.
2. John Wayne Gacy
The façade presented by serial killers leaves the public aghast at the nature in which pure evil moves through society. Neighbors, friends, and local characters go from beloved to bedeviled when their unspeakable acts are revealed. John Wayne Gacy was a well-liked local figure, so it was particularly disturbing when the series of murders he committed came to light.
Gacy was a visible public figure, even donning the costume of “Pogo the Clown” to participate in magic shows for children. He ran a string of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants, and was popular enough to consider a run for mayor in his hometown. But Gacy had perverse appetites which slowly came to light. He was a sexual deviant, pursuing wife-swapping and prostitution, as well as sex with young men. To feed his depravity, Gacy eventually kidnapped and murdered more than 30 men and boys, torturing and killing them after sex. Over the course of many years, he buried the bodies below and around his home, leaving a trail of evidence for prosecutors. Gacy was tried and put to death for his heinous killing spree and psycho-sexual exploits. Recently revealed tapes contain never before heard Gacy commentary.
3. Ted Bundy
The heinous nature of their crimes does not always indicate slow-minded killers. In-fact, serial killers like Ted Bundy are usually of above average intelligence, sometimes by a significant measure. Unfortunately, using I.Q. for evil, rather then good, often leads to prolonged killing sprees among criminals clever enough not to get caught right away. Ted Bundy, born Theodore Robert Cowell, stands as one of the most prolific killers in history, eluding capture long enough to end the lives of at least 30 victims. The true number of Bundy’s victims remains unknown and probably exceeds the specific killings he confessed to.
Like John Wayne Gacy, Bundy was a sexual deviant who eventually succumbed to his perverse desires, kidnapping and killing a string of women and girls throughout the 1970’s. He was an attractive, charismatic individual who presented himself with a cast or crutches to lure women to his aid. He’s kill them with blows to the head, and admitted to keeping parts of their bodies and having sex with their corpses. He moved around in Washington, Utah and Oregon focusing on college campuses as sources for young female victims. His trials were bizarre, and Bundy successfully escaped during one, by acting as his own lawyer and running from the unsecured law library. Ted Bundy earned multiple death sentences for his serial killing spree, eventually being put to death by lethal injection, without taking responsibility for many killings believed to be his doing. There is strong support for findings indicating Bundy killed more than 100 people.
4. Edward Gein
Time tempers the impact of heinous crimes, but serial killers live long in infamy. Ed Gein committed his twisted acts in the 1950’s, but remains the subject of fascination today. In part, the gruesome nature of his crimes have served to keep them in the public eye. Like his sick Wisconsin counterpart Dahmer, Gein was cannibal and necrophile haunted by bizarre obsessions. In the end. exposing his seven year killing spree would bring some of history’s most depraved acts to light.
Gein’s obsessions included female anatomy, Nazi experiments on people, and an overwhelming desire to change his sex from male to female. He initially robbed graves to support his bizarre desires, but his crimes eventually escalated into the murders of women and girls. Clippings about the disappearances were found on his farm at the time of his arrest, along with a partially dismembered body. As the investigation continued, unspeakable items were uncovered at Gein’s home. Human body parts were utilized as household items, including skull-bowls and upholstery made of human skin. A human heart was found in a pot on the stove. Gein was institutionalized for the rest of his life, where doctors tried to uncover explanations for his psychotic, murderous behavior.
5. Aileen Wuornos
Serial killers are typically men, but the disturbing practice extends to the fairer sex as well. Because of the violence and physical strength required to subdue victims, men are better equipped to commit serial crimes than women are, but Aileen Wournos provides a fascinating study into the twisted mind of a female serial killer.
Wuornos emerged from a troubled childhood with emotional scars and a young history of promiscuity. At 14, she was sent to a home to give birth to a child, which was adopted. She was a petty criminal early on, engaging in theft forgery and prostitution, while moving through a series of failed relationships. In 1989, when bodies started appearing under suspicious circumstances, it foreshadowed the unfolding tale of a female killer on a spree. Wuornos killed at least 7 men, using firearms to carry out her crimes. She was eventually put to death and was portrayed by Charlize Theron in a Hollywood movie about her murderous spree.
6. Gary Ridgway
DNA advances changed outcomes for many modern day serial killers. Linking criminals to victims using advanced DNA technologies provides the smoking gun responsible for bringing down some of history’s most notorious villians. But the technologies have not been court-worthy for all that long. Gary Ridgway was linked to his early-80’s crimes well before he was definitively tied to them with DNA evidence in 2001. Ridgway had been killing since 1982 when he strangled a sixteen year-old victim to death.
Ridway’s death toll is disputed, but he pleaded guilty to 48 counts of murder. It is widely believed he killed as many as 60 women in Washington State. His killing spree was so prolific he cannot remember all his victims. Most were young, many prostitutes that were picked up along Route 99. To avoid the death penalty, Ridgway took police to four graves of his victims and confessed to many other murders. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2003. In his own twisted mind Ridgway thought he was performing a valuable service, ridding the streets of vile prostitutes. His victims were commonly in their teens and early twenties. He is known colloquially as The Green River Killer, for dumping remains near the site.
7. Donald Harvey
Serial killers satisfy unique perversions as they kill. For some, it is a sexual gratification tied to misplaced feelings of affection and desire. Others are obsessed with the human body, killing as a way to explore it in sadistic ways. And killers have their own methods to their madness – some using guns to kill victims, while others engage in more personal slaying practices. Donald Harvey is a notorious 1970’s killer that claimed is victims from a position of trust – as a nurse’s aid.
Using his access to patients to satisfy his sickness, Harvey poisoned hospital patients with cyanide and arsenic. He eventually confessed to more than 70 murders, occurring before 1978. An anonymous tip and police search of his home led to his arrest and convictions. It is said that Mr. Harvey also infected patients, before nursing them back to health.
8. Henry Lee Lucas
Lucas and an accomplice carried out untold murders – ranging in the hundreds by many accounts. Their motivation appears to have been primarily justified as “thrill killings” conducted simply for the adrenaline rush. Eventually convicted of 10 murders, Lucas avoided the death penalty when his sentence was commuted. The decision to spare his life relates to doubts about the conviction that was to end it. The killer was convicted in 1984 for the rape and murder of a victim clad only in orange socks. The “Orange Socks” verdict was called into question by eveidence showing Lucas may have been in another location when the crimes were committed.
The prolific killer started close to home, claiming his own mother as his first murder victim. His claims of self-defense were rejected, and he was sentenced to 20-40 years in jail. After serving ten years of his sentence, Lucas was released. There is no real way of knowing how many people Lucas actually killed, he was well-known for exaggerating his claims, and at various times confessed to murders numbering in the thousands. Plausible victims stand in the hundreds, but Lucas’ death in 2001 took his secrets to the grave.
9. Charles Manson
No list of infamous serial killers is complete without references to the crimes of Charles Manson. The famed leader of a remote hippy cult is responsible for some of the most high-profile killings in world history. Manson was the leader of a commune, enlisting followers to do his dirty-work. The sensational nature of the group’s murders and the antics of the ensuing trials stayed in the public spotlight for years.
Manson was a failed musician with enough charisma and intelligence to dupe followers into thinking he was the second coming. Two famous crime scenes provide the Hollywood backdrops for atrocious acts of violence committed there. Manson followers, both men and women, participated in gruesome murders at the home of Sharon Tate, an actress and husband of film director Roman Polanski. She was pregnant at the time of her death, which resulted from multiple stab wounds. Several people died there, and at the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca who also fell victim to the Manson “family” killing spree. Cryptic clues scrawled in blood of victims were left behind at the crime scenes, which were horrific. Manson was eventually linked to the crimes. During his trial followers conducted organized demonstrations and his co-defendents mutilated themselves in shows of support for Manson.
10. Dean Corll
Known as the Candy Man in his home neighborhood, due to his family’s candy business, Corll was in fact a brutal serial killer. In the early seventies, Dean Corll raped and killed at least two-dozen young men and boys. The “Houston Mass Murders“, as his crimes came to be known, were carried out with the help of accomplices in the Houston area. In fact, Corll’s involvement in the crimes did not come to light until he was shot by one of his co-conspirators.
Corll, an Army veteran, had a predilection for sex with young boys, who he raped and killed with the help of accomplices. A steady-stream of victims were furnished by Corll’s associates, who also sometimes participated in the attacks. During a falling-out, Corll was shot to death by one of these associates. After his death, the magnitude of Corll’s crimes started to unfold. He had sadistically abducted, raped, tortured and killed dozens of boys under the age of 18. As his accomplices identified victims and led police to bodies, the heinous nature of this serial killer was exposed.
Social media advances open channels of communications that impact people’s lives in positive ways, but there are also risks associated with connecting in this way. Savvy users know the ins and outs of the system, but children are not always prepared to defend themselves against web-based threats. For concerned parents, following strict safety protocols provides the best assurance against harmful consequences for younger family members.
Facebook is a relatively open forum, allowing users to post personal information about themselves. If the proper controls are not used effectively, sensitive information can fall into the wrong hands. Young children are especially vulnerable, but even teens familiar with the platform take missteps along the way. To limit their exposure to unnecessary risks, follow these basic guidelines for keeping kids safe on Facebook.
1. Protect Passwords
Passwords play a vital role in internet security, so attention should be paid to this Facebook feature. First, passwords should be selected sensibly, rather than falling into the standard patterns of using pets’ names and birthdays for safety codes. Instead, mix up your signals with words that don’t point to you, and include both upper and lower case characters in the passwords you select. Special characters like dollar signs and ampersands strengthen security too, adding additional layers of complexity to password choices. Passwords should be changed periodically to hedge against familiarity that lets your guard down. Parents must specifically retain their children’s Facebook passwords, helping kids manage their safety.
As you work with your children on Facebook, stick to the same password principles you apply to other online security situations. The object of your password selection is to do the most you can to discourage intruders, frustrating them into leaving your child’s account alone. Computer programs used by online attackers sometimes cycle through hundreds of password combinations every second, attempting to decipher your code. Never use your own name, or a combination of your first, last or middle name as a password. It is simply too easy to link information like your name to your password. Always use combinations of letters and numerals in your child’s password, making it harder to crack. longer is better too, creating statistical advantages for each character you add to your password.
2. Monitor Facebook Activities
Nobody wants to overstep their boundaries enforcing children’s internet usage, but monitoring kids’ online behavior is the only way to insulate them from Facebook opportunists. Parents in-tune with photographs posted by their kids have censorship abilities that can head-off problems before they happen. And monitoring interactions with other users provides assurances that kids are not running with the wrong Facebook crowds. Free monitoring tools are available online, and for parents wishing to distance themselves from the effort, professional monitoring services do the job for hire.
It is important for parents’ to remember that kids have no expectation of privacy online, especially concerning social networking and sites like Facebook. Your duty to protect your kids at all costs is relieved by the virtual nature of online platforms where your kids participate. Check-in on your child’s Facebook usage from work if you have to, but don’t give them a pass for their online hobbies. Friends of your children are also good resources for keeping an eye on your own kids. Check friends’ accounts periodically to see what they are sharing about your children.
3. Censor Yourself
The easiest way to avoid problems with Facebook is to filter what you share via the site. Despite its personal nature, connecting friends and family in intimate ways, Facebook is a public clearinghouse for information – viewed by hundreds of thousands of users daily. Actively limiting what you make available to Facebook users is the only way to maintain control of sensitive photos and information. Children share too much anyway, even during face to face interactions, so extra care must be taken to censor them online. And teens with the world by the tail sometimes need to be reminded of the permanence of the internet, and the need for self-censorship.
Facebook users are advised to post only things they’d happily share with just about anyone. Assuming that posts will be respected and taken at face value is the wrong approach. Facebook users preying on children thrive on bits of information they can use to get their way. Showing their vulnerabilities online opens the door for predators waiting to take advantage of your children’s trusting natures.
4. Learn and Use Facebook Safety Features
Facebook’s efforts to protect you online are less effective when users are in the dark. To get the most from them, learn your options for security, so that you are an active proponent for your child’s online safety. When in doubt, change settings to “only friends”, limiting access for unapproved visitors. And always think of Facebook as an evolving resource, staying on top of security changes as the develop. Features like Active Sessions and Login Approvals add extra layers of security to Facebook, protecting children from unauthorized access. Features like Facebook’s one-time password may not seem child-centric, but every effort to bolster your online security protects them too. The disposable passwords are designed for instances when you don’t want to sign in using your real information. When using public computers or accessing Facebook from handheld devices, App Passwords are another option for protecting your Facebook sign-in information.
Trusted Contacts are maintained by Facebook users to ensure there is a safe contact available at all times. Designated users are assigned Trusted Contact status at your own discretion, for help when you are unable to access your Facebook account. Simply contact them when you forget your password or login information, and they can provide them for you.
5. Know What Others are Posting About Your Child
Facebook photos and other details about your children’s lives don’t always come from the horses mouth. Friends and classmates are often guilty of handling these items loosely, leaving undesirable links to your child on the World Wide Web. In cases where others post the wrong message about your kids, it might be necessary to have them remove the photos or sensitive information. While it is easy to limit your own sharing, monitoring others output can be more difficult. Make sure your children are well-versed on what is and isn’t appropriate for friends to share online.
Losing control of your online identity can happen quickly, especially for children, whose social lives are much more micro-managed than most adults. Unfortunately for some, things start unraveling before there is time to set up damage control. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” could not be more true than itb is on Facebook. That compromising photo, or ill-advised Facebook post are no threat at all, provided they do not exist. Trusting immature intuitions is not a sound strategy for parents – even the most well-behaved kids fall prey to moments of poor judgment. The key is to equip them with the tools for knowing when an innocent friendly exchange might be a mistake that follows them forever online.
6. Don’t Friend People You Don’t Know
Managing who you are linked to on Facebook sets the tone for your online identity. Don’t automatically friend Facebook users just because they want to link to you. Instead, actively screen your children’s friends so that they are precisely the folks your kids are online to connect with. Fake profiles are used to run Facebook scams, phishing for information and creating spam opportunities. Don’t allow opportunistic criminals to prey on your children’s accounts under the guise of friendship. The same goes for tagging people in photos and using other facebook options. These features are designed with adults in mind, and are not designed as random clicks for kids. As an adult representative, it is your duty to keep your children up to speed about Facebook features, so they are used properly and don’t call unwanted attention toward your kids. And stay abreast of changes, like a recent Facebook addition allowing hashtagged posts to become clickable. As features change, past posts and future etiquette do too.
7. Protect Personal Information
There is really no reason to post sensitive information in your Facebook profile. Phone numbers, residential addresses and private information should not be visible to the public. Putting these bits of data out there for all to see creates easy access for internet scammers. Even birthdays should be guarded, released only to those you know and trust. While the social element of a happy birthday may seem innocent enough, date of birth is a prized piece of personal information for identity thieves and others using Facebook to mine data. Further protection is added by guarding email addresses and running up to date anti-virus programs on your child’s computer.
There is no limit to the creativity employed by thieves and other internet scammers preying on children. Consider your child’s identity to be a big puzzle, with bits of personal information representing its individual pieces. Your job then, is simple: Keep the pieces out of the hands of the bad guys. Each vital statistic helps predators create the mosaic they’d like to use to gain something from your kids, so even the most innocuous details should be coveted by parents.
8. Guard Your Child’s Location
Revealing too much about your location and the activities you are engaged in can be problematic online. When you check-in on Facebook, it is not necessary to identify where you are, or more importantly – where you aren’t. Much has been made about location-oriented social sharing apps, and for good reason. Outlining your vacation itinerary on Facebook, for example, is a bad idea. When schedules are shared thieves know you are not home, so your house automatically becomes more attractive as a target.
Emphasize the importance of location anonymity to your under-aged Facebook users, encouraging them to use other modes of communication to share certain information. Facebook users targeting children like to see location posts from minors, because they often contain indications that parents will not be present. Opportunists’ sophisticated efforts to get into kids’ inner circles are greatly assisted by notifications that combine locations with activities, such as “Hey world, we are in Dan’s basement playing online while his parents cruise the harbor until 11:00 o’clock.”
9. Reinforce Good Judgment
Even though Facebook employs added security features for teen accounts, there are still ways for kids to get in over their heads. Parents and kids need to work together to stay safe online, rather than as adversaries. Taking into account the prominent roles computers play in modern teens’ lives, it becomes clear that a strong-handed approach might not be your best bet. Keep communication lines open, learning from your children as you go. Judgment calls successfully navigated by kids should be rewarded and reinforced, providing incentives for future conservative Facebook behavior.
There is a good chance your own kids know more about Facebook than you do, so you are in it together. While this might be okay with you, it is natural for kids to push-back at certain ages. As you and your family embrace new technology, don’t forget that it is uncharted grounds for everyone aboard. Discover the best ways to incorporate advances into your lives together, so that everyone is on the same page. If your child has different ideas about the ways he or she would like to proceed online, help them get what they want from the experience, without compromising their safety.
10. Create Your Own Facebook Page
Familiarity breeds security online, so parents should participate on Facebook to better understand it. Friend your own kids, especially younger ones, and have discussions about online boundaries. The fine line parents are sometimes required to walk extends online, making sure kids know you are there, while respecting their space too. Having a page also lets you lead by example. Your posts are available at all times, for your own kids and others to use as guidelines for proper Facebook etiquette.
What you choose to do with your Facebook account is up to you, but more than one parent signing-up to monitor children have become avid users of the site, finding benefits they may not have anticipated. Whatever you do, make sure your Facebook presence doesn’t hang over your kids like a scarecrow looming in the garden. While there are plenty of risks to be found online, Facebook and other social sites are primarily conceived to provide enjoyment for users, which is diminished by over-bearing parents. And don’t lose sight of the adult nature of Facebook, which is not technically designed for participation by users under the age of 13.
Crime news fills newspapers and dominates nightly news broadcasts, but these are not the only sources of relevant police information. Too often, the perspective of enforcement officers is left by the wayside, as sensational crime stories focus on perpetrators and victims. But police have a lot to offer beyond cleaning up other people’s messes. In fact, many individual officers and some law enforcement agencies maintain blogs that keep interested readers informed about criminal justice, and offer recommendations for improving personal safety. The following examples highlight a few of the interesting police blogs found on the World Wide Web.
Gun laws are the subject of ongoing analysis nationally and in individual states, where most United States citizens have the right to apply for concealed carry permits. Crime and violence take center stage on the evening news though, so arguments about guns are not going away. To support their positions, passionate gun enthusiasts put forth opinions about safety and constitutional rights, while opponents point to growing numbers of gun crimes resulting in harm to children. Wherever they fall on the gun control spectrum, people are engaged in spirited discussions about gun ownership, concealed carry laws and criminal justice outcomes for perpetrators using guns. In addition to activists, there are also large numbers of firearm hobbyists who simply use the World Wide Web to share information and ideas about guns. The following examples include those typical of the gun and firearm blogs driving today’s political debates, as well as recreational blogs devoted to firearms.
Staying on top of the news involves local awareness, but looking beyond your neighborhood at trends around the country – even the world, gives you a better understanding of the criminal justice system and what it takes to protect yourself in modern society. Luckily there is a lot of help available across the World Wide Web, where countless bloggers take to their keyboards to provide unique perspectives on crime and punishment. There are so many criminal justice angles to study, recognizing good information is not always easy for Web surfers. The following blogs provide solid, thought-provoking content for criminal justice enthusiasts, students conducting research, and citizens keeping tabs on the legal system.