10 Craziest Murders in Recent History
On Aug. 4, 1892, a wealthy local businessman and his wife were found murdered in their home. Andrew and Abby Borden has been butchered with an axe, and Andrew’s daughter, Elizabeth, was the prime suspect. The ensuing trial, which found Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) not guilty, aroused strong feelings throughout the entire country.
In honor of these famous axe murders from the late 19th century, here is a list of the 10 craziest murders in recent history:
10. Nicole Simpson and Ron Brown. In 1994, OJ Simpson, the famous football player and television broadcaster, was arrested and charged with the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. Simpson was acquitted in 1995 after a lengthy trial that included a televised car chase and several racially charged incidents inside the courtroom. The trial galvanized the American public and OJ Simpson became loathed by more than just fans of the New York Jets and UCLA Bruins.
9. Laci Peterson. In 2003, a former bar owner and current fertilizer salesman, Scott Peterson, was arrested and charged with the murders of Laci Peterson, his wife, and their unborn child. During the course of Peterson’s trial, the numerous affairs of both Petersons came to light, as well as the name of the unborn child (“Connor”). Peterson was eventually convicted of both murders, and currently sits on death row in San Quentin State Prison.
8. William Woodward Jr. California is not the only state in the union to have crazy murders committed in it. In October of 1955, Ann Woodward, the wife of banking heir William Woodward Jr., shot and killed her husband in their Long island home. Ann swore that she thought William was a burglar and she was acquitted, but William’s mother, who thought Ann was a “gold digger,” (her previous trades before being a socialite were as an actress and showgirl), publicly claimed that Ann had deliberately murdered her son. While Ann was considered innocent by the law (she never had to go to trial), her husband’s death followed her for the next 20 years, which included many flings with younger men and banishment from high society, until she swallowed a cyanide pill in 1975. The Woodward’s two sons, who were in the house at the time of the killing, both committed suicide later in life.
7. Earl of Lucan’s Nanny. John Bingham, the 7th Earl of Lucan, was a handsome Anglo-Irish aristocrat who developed a love of gambling during his years at Eton College. In 1974, he forced his way into the home of his ex-wife and murdered the nanny before trying to also murder his ex-wife. The Earl of Lucan then fled the scene and disappeared from the world without a trace. Lord Bingham’s disappearance has been the subject of unending speculation. Was it the divorce and bitter custody battle that led Lucan to murder? Did his disappearance have to do with his gambling debts? Over the years numerous people claim to have sighted him, and while his ex-wife eventually committed suicide, she swore that her ex-husband had probably committed suicide after fleeing the scene of the crime in 1974.
6. Meredith Kercher. How about the Amanda Knox trial in Italy? In 2007 Knox, a 20 year-old American college student, was living in Italy when she came home to find blood seeping out from underneath the door of her housemate’s (Meredith Kercher’s) bedroom. She called the police and from there became the subject of international speculation, both about Knox herself and the Italian justice system. Basically, Knox self-incriminated herself and then complained about Italian police tactics (which usually include a little bit of gentle slapping around) before finally pointing an inadvertent finger at her employer, a bar owner and Congelose national. Although she was eventually exonerated, Amanda Knox and her family are still paying off the financial debts from the fiasco, and Knox spent two years in an Italian jail. Yikes!
5. Travis Alexander. This one is straight up crazy. Travis Alexander was a good Mormon boy who got involved with a bad girl from a bad town (Salinas, Calif.). The murderer, Jody Arias, had stabbed Travis 27-29 times, slit his throat, and shot him in the head. A digital camera was found with sexually suggestive photos of Arias and Alexander taken the day of the murder in 2008, as well as photos of a bloody corpse believed to be Alexander lying on the ground. Arias maintains her innocence to this day, from a prison cell in Arizona.
4. Sunny von Bülow. Danish-German aristocrat, Claus von Bülow, who became a British citizen and socialite, was tried in the early 1980s for trying to murder his wife … twice. In the first trial Bülow was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in the clinker, but then he hired Alan Dershowitz and got off scot free in the second trial. At a dinner party celebrating his acquittal, the famed author Norman Mailer is reported to have grabbed his wife by the arm after hearing Dershowitz’s account of his defense of Bülow, and said “Let's get out of here. I think this guy is innocent. I thought we were going to be having dinner with a man who actually tried to kill his wife. This is boring.” Von Bülow’s wife remained in a vegetative state for almost 30 years before dying in 2008.
3. Gianni Versace. What is there left to say about Andrew Cunanan and his 1997 murder spree that left five people dead and led to his suicide at the tender age of 27? Cunanan liked to befriend older, wealthier gay men and spend their money on the good things in life, like group dinners, rounds of drinks at nightclubs, and illicit drugs. During the murder spree, Cunanan used a claw hammer and a screwdriver as well as a gun to do his dastardly deeds. His last victim, Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace, was gunned down in broad daylight. The world will never know exactly why Cunanan did what he did. He didn’t owe anybody any money, he was well-liked, and he wasn’t HIV Positive, as many in the press had speculated.
2. Lana Clarkson. Phil Spector has crazy hair and good lawyers. He shot and killed actress Lana Clarkson, but was only convicted of second degree murder. Spector had a long history of getting drunk and pointing guns at beautiful women, and it looks as if the murder of Clarkson was simply the last time he was able to intimidate his love interests. Spector is serving 19 years in a California State Prison, even though he was represented in court by one of OJ Simpson’s lawyers, the famed Robert Shapiro.
1. John Bobbitt. What could be worse than murder? There’s only one thing I can of: getting your penis chopped off. And that’s exactly what Lorena Bobbitt did to her husband on the night of June 23, 1993. While technically not a murder (we’ll count Lizzie Borden as #10), this heinous crime nevertheless deserves a spot on this list for the headlines it managed to, ahem, grab. Lorena, who was born in Ecuador, evidently cut off John Bobbitt’s penis because he was selfish and would always orgasm before her. There were also some domestic violence charges thrown into the mix, too. Bobbitt’s penis was surgically reattached, but it never regained the sensations it once had (according to reports). The couple divorced in 1995, two years after the incident took place. John went on to star in a couple of pornographic films, and Lorena went to court again in 1997 for punching her mother during an argument about what to watch on television.