Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

10 Infamous Inmates Who Were Wrongly Convicted

The U.S. justice system is far from perfect, and the evidence is all in the numbers. According to the Innocence Project, there have been 273 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States, and 17 of these people have served time on death row. Some of these cases happened when DNA testing wasn’t available, and others were caused by human and systematic errors, but either way, these innocent inmates have paid an unfortunate price. Here are 10 infamous inmates who were wrongly convicted:

  1. West Memphis Three

    The "West Memphis Three" refers to the three teenagers – Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley – who were convicted of the gruesome slayings of three young boys in 1993 in West Memphis, Arkansas. The three men had been serving nearly two decades of their life sentences before they were freed on Aug. 19, 2011, after entering Alford pleas. At the time of the killings, the three teens were labeled as outcasts and Satan worshipers who had mullets and dressed in black. There was no physical evidence that linked the teens to the murders, but the surprising confession from Misskelley and implication that other two were involved took the case to another level. Misskelley recanted and botched parts of the story. New forensic evidence, including DNA from the crime scene that did not match the defendants, helped in the men’s case. The notorious case garnered a great deal of attention from celebrities and musicians, and even spawned several documentaries that have helped raise funds for the men’s legal fees and message of innocence. The murder case remains unsolved.

  2. Timothy Cole

    Timothy Cole was a Texas Tech University student who was wrongly convicted in the 1985 rape of student Michele Mallin. Cole was arrested and accused of being the Texas Tech rapist who had attacked several coeds, but the eyewitness account of one victim was all it took to get him imprisoned. Cole had never been in trouble with the law and didn’t match the description of the attacker – a chain-smoking rapist. Cole was asthmatic and didn’t smoke cigarettes, but he happened to work near the area where Mallin was raped. When she identified him in a Polaroid photograph as the attacker, police arrested Cole on that evidence alone. There was no physical evidence tying Cole to the crime, and several people testified that Cole was in his apartment studying at the time of the rape. The jury found Cole guilty and sentenced him to 25 years in prison. A jailhouse confession by fellow inmate, Jerry Wayne Johnson, came in 1995 after the statute of limitations ran out, but it was meet with no action. Cole died in prison due to asthma complications. New DNA testing confirmed that Johnson was the rapist. Cole became the first person in Texas to be granted a posthumous pardon.

  3. Anthony Graves

    After spending 18 years behind bars, Anthony Graves left prison a free man. Graves was convicted of assisting Robert Earl Carter in the gruesome murder of Bobbie Davis and five others in Burleson County. There was no physical evidence that tied Graves to the murder and three different people confirmed his whereabouts at the time of the crime. But, Carter fingered Graves as the killer, and his testimony alone led to Graves being convicted of the slayings — he was sentenced to death. Graves’ life was spared when the case’s lead prosecutor, District Attorney Charles Sebesta, shared Carter’s confession to having committed the murders alone. Carter was executed in 2000, and a federal court overturned Graves’ conviction in 2006. Graves faced a retrial, but all charges against him were dropped. Graves will collect $1.4 million for wrongful imprisonment.

  4. Freddie Pitts and Wilbert Lee

    Freddie Pitts and Wilbert Lee were charged with murdering two white gas station attendants in Port St. Joe, Florida in 1963. Pitts and Lee, both black men, had been to the Mo-Jo gas station earlier in the evening and were part of a group of black men and women who were arguing with the attendants over using a whites-only restroom. After their violent arrests, the men pleaded guilty to the murders. Pitts and Lee recanted their admission behind bars, but it was a taped confession of another man, Curtis Adams Jr., admitting to the Port St. Joe murders that helped free them. Adams refused to repeat his confession on the stand, and the all-white jury found the men guilty of murder again. It took Governor Reubin Askew and three of his cabinet officers to pardon Pitts and Lee.

  5. Darryl Hunt

    In 2003, Darryl Hunt was exonerated for the 1984 rape and slaying of Deborah Sykes in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Hunt was imprisoned for 19 years for a crime he didn’t commit. Despite the fact that no physical evidence linked Hunt to the crime, he was convicted based on false witness testimonies. A hotel employee claimed to have seen Hunt enter the hotel bathroom and leave behind bloody hand towels. Others said they saw Hunt near the scene of the crime. An all-white jury sentenced Hunt to life imprisonment. In 1994, Hunt was cleared of any sexual assault and murder charges due to DNA testing, and in 2003, Willard E. Brown confessed to killing Sykes.

  6. Gary Gauger

    Gary Gauger was wrongly convicted of the 1993 murder of his parents on their farm near Richmond, Illinois. Gauger said he was asleep on the property when his parents were killed, but police did not buy his story. After a 21-hour interrogation by police, Gauger confessed to the crime that he later denied. His confession was the only evidence police had on Gauger, but it appeared to be enough for the jury to convict him of double murder. Gauger was sentenced to death. Two years into Gauger’s sentencing, federal law enforcement officers discovered a motorcycle gang member bragging about killing the Gaugers in a surveillance tape. The gang members were convicted of the slayings, in addition to other crimes, and Gauger was set free in 1996.

  7. James Woodard

    James Woodard was convicted of raping and murdering his girlfriend in 1981 and was sentenced to life in prison for a crime he did not commit. Woodard was accused of being the last person seen with the victim, but court records showed that there were two other men with her. This information and other evidence was never shared with defense attorneys, but it would have helped keep Woodard out of prison. Woodard spent 27 years behind bars in Dallas County, frequently writing letters to the prosecutors asking for help. His pleas were heard in April 2008, when Woodard was released from prison and exonerated because of new DNA testing that cleared him of the crime.

  8. Randall Dale Adams

    The conviction of Randall Dale Adams was one of the most documented criminal cases in U.S. history. Adams was charged with the 1976 murder of Robert Wood, a patrolman for the Dallas Police Department, but insisted that he was innocent. The day before the murder, Adams’ car broke down and he hitched a ride with 16-year-old David Ray Harris. The two drank alcohol, smoked marijuana and pawned items that Harris stole, before Adams went back to his motel. That night Harris was stopped by two officers, Wood and his partner, Teresa Turko. Harris shot Wood five times as he approached the car. Harris returned to his home in Vidor, Texas, and he was later taken in for questioning regarding the murder. When his gun turned up to be the murder weapon, Harris admitted that he was at the shooting but claimed it was Adams who pulled the trigger. Adams was convicted of the murder and was sentenced to death. The Supreme Court stayed his execution because of procedural issues. With the help of the investigative documentary film, The Thin Blue Line, more evidence surfaced that confirmed Adams’ innocence. Adams was released from prison in 1989.

  9. Juan Johnson

    Juan Johnson spent eleven and a half years in prison for the 1989 murder of Ricardo Fernandez outside of a Chicago nightclub. Johnson was 19 years old when he was arrested for allegedly beating to death a rival gang member, but Johnson continued to proclaim his innocence. The case rested on three supposed eyewitnesses, who were later discovered to have falsely identified Juan Johnson as the attacker after being coerced by Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara to do so. After this information was discovered, Johnson’s conviction was reversed by the Illinois Appellate Court in 2002 and he was acquitted in 2004. Johnson was awarded $21 million in the wrongful conviction case, which is the largest amount ever given in Chicago history.

  10. Michael Anthony Green

    In July 2010, Michael Anthony Green walked out of the Houston jail a free man after serving 27 years for a crime he didn’t commit. Green was imprisoned for the 1983 rape of a woman who had been abducted and left in a stolen car. Green had been stealing cars and was spotted in the vicinity of the attack a week earlier. He also vaguely matched the description of the attacker: young, black male. The assault victim did not pick Green in a lineup at the scene of the crime, but changed her mind a week later and placed Green as the attacker. Although there was no physical evidence or witness testimonies linking Green to the assault, the jury found him guilty and sentenced Green to 75 years in prison. Many years later, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office reopened the case and new DNA tests proved that Green did not commit the rape.

10 Incredible Facts About the Criminal Brain

Whenever a crime happens, the community is left wondering how someone could do such a thing. For most of us, it’s hard to comprehend the urge to harm someone else or steal something, especially when we consider the consequences to the victim, their family, and ourselves. But many criminal brains work differently than the average human’s. Of course, there are people who turn to crime after a tough childhood, but some criminals, especially psychopaths and those with personality disorders, have minds that are wired for crime. Here are 10 unbelievable facts about the criminal brain.

  1. Parts of the brain are deformed

    All the parts of your brain work together to make you a complete, functioning human being. But for many criminals, some of these parts aren’t the same size as they are in the average person, causing them to act differently than the rest of us. Studies have found that two parts of the brain’s frontal lobe are significantly smaller in people with antisocial personality disorder, who have the tendency to act violently and become repeat offenders. One of those parts was 18% smaller in antisocial people compared to normal people; the other was 9% smaller. The frontal lobe controls our decision making, emotions, and purposeful behaviors, so criminals may have less authority over these functions. A study of psychopaths also found that a portion of the amygdala, a piece of the brain important for human emotion, had a volume of about 18% less than what you would find in a normal person.

  2. A tumor could be to blame

    While the large majority of criminals don’t have a brain tumor, some criminals have been found to have a cancer that probably contributed to their unthinkable acts. One of the most notable of these is Charles Whitman, who killed 16 people at the University of Texas in 1966 before being killed by police. He had been experiencing terrible headaches and wrote that he was having many irrational thoughts. In the suicide note he wrote before killing his wife and mother and then going on a rampage, he asked that an autopsy be performed on him to see if there was something in his brain causing him to act this way. And there was. Doctors found a glioblastoma tumor that could reasonably have affected his actions.

  3. Chemical levels in the brain are off

    Neurotransmitters are chemicals in our brains that deliver signals and cause reactions in us, such as arousal or triggering memory. Research has found that some criminal brains have different levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin or dopamine than normal brains. Serotonin at the proper levels keeps people from acting aggressively when they are frustrated, so when someone’s brain has lower amounts of the chemical, the person may react impulsively and violently. Dopamine levels affect whether a person feels rewarded for an action. If dopamine levels increase significantly when someone acts aggressively, he’ll feel good about it and likely do it again.

  4. The brain doesn’t respond to facial expressions

    Psychopaths, especially those who commit violent crimes, may not have brains that register fearful expressions on others’ faces. In experiments, researchers have found that people with antisocial personality disorder have trouble recognizing faces showing fear and sadness. Antisocial people who fall into the category of psychopath find it significantly more difficult to know when an expression is sad. Psychopaths also have almost no reaction to expressions of fear, while normal people’s brains will become very active when they see a scared expression. This difference may be what keeps psychopaths from feeling remorse since they don’t register that they are causing pain or sadness.

  5. They’re fearless

    The brain of a psychopath doesn’t react with fear as frequently as ours do. In tests of criminal psychopaths, researchers have found that they lack the fear conditioning that causes the rest of us to be afraid when we know something bad is coming. The average person can be conditioned, much like Pavlov’s dog, to expect a certain thing when they hear a certain sound. In the case of fear conditioning, many researchers play a certain tune before administering an electric shock. As the brain starts to associate the tune with the shock, the normal response to the tune is anxiety. Psychopaths’ brains, however, don’t show any change when the song plays. This lack of anxiety over the future and the consequences of their actions can make psychopaths very dangerous criminals.

  6. There are warning signs as early as age three

    When researchers tested the reactions of a large group of three-year-olds to certain sounds, they expected them to have a measurable reaction when they knew an unpleasant noise was coming up. About 8% of the children didn’t have any reaction even to the bad or frightening sounds. Twenty years after the experiment, researchers found that this 8% had criminal records for crimes ranging in severity from violent to serious driving infractions. This doesn’t mean that all children whose brains don’t register fear the same as others will be criminals, but it does indicate that they are more likely to act criminally and steps should be taken to raise them in a way that helps them stay out of trouble.

  7. The rational side and irrational side communicate too much

    The corpus callosum is the bridge in the brain that connects the rational left side with the irrational right side. In criminal psychopaths, this bundle of fibers is longer and thinner than in the average person. It also seems to have more activity, meaning more communication between the two hemispheres, than normal. This seems like it could be a good thing, but while a socially normal person’s mind is controlled by the rational side, the increased communication causes psychopaths to be divided between the rational and irrational. This often leads to more impulsive behavior since they have difficulty thinking through the consequences of their actions in a wholly rational way.

  8. They’re genetically predisposed to crime

    Nature versus nurture has always been a huge debate among criminologists, but there is research to support the idea that many criminal brains are genetically prone to aggressive or illegal behavior. Some criminals are a product of their environments, coming from abusive homes or bad neighborhoods, but a large number of murderers were raised in relatively conflict-free households. The deficits in their brains were a trait they were born with and gave them a higher likelihood of becoming violent criminals. That’s not to say they were forced to commit these crimes, but their brains were more inclined to them than the brains of average humans. It also explains why criminals from loving, wealthy upbringings can commit horrible, violent crimes.

  9. Teens’ brains aren’t fully formed yet

    Though many teenagers can be tried as adults in the majority of the U.S., their brains aren’t fully developed yet. Reasoning and judgment are now known to mature throughout the teen years and into a person’s 20s. When compared to adults, teenagers are more impulsive, more susceptible to peer pressure, less likely to look at the long-term consequences of their actions, and less able to think of ways out of bad situations. Aggression also peaks in the teenage years, which means that a violent teen may not be a violent adult; they can actually grow out of it. This is one argument many critics use to prove that the death penalty should never be used for teenagers, since it is likely that their brains will develop further.

  10. Smoking while pregnant can lead to children with criminal tendencies

    When a mother smokes while pregnant, she may be harming her baby’s brain in a way that will make him more likely to become a criminal. Research has shown that the average adult (meaning those who didn’t come from moms with mental illness or experience deprivation) is 31% more likely to have been arrested at some point if their mother smoked while pregnant. Those with heavy smoker moms were also more likely to be repeat offenders. It seems that the nicotine causes abnormalities in the development of attention and impulse control in the brain. The finding held up for both men and women with mothers who smoked, making it just another reason to add to your list of why smoking is bad for you.

10 Strange Things People Tried to Smuggle Onto an Airplane

Some of the restrictions on what you can pack in your luggage when flying are a little strict. Most of us would probably like to be able to take more liquids or not worry about whether we remembered to unpack those fingernail scissors before going through security. But there are some things that are just not OK to bring on a plane and everyone knows it — like human remains or live animals in your clothing. Here are 10 strange things people tried to smuggle onto an airplane.

  1. A tiger cub

    One smuggler in Thailand didn’t think her plan all the way through when she put a sedated baby tiger into a suitcase with a bunch of stuffed tiger toys. While at a glance, they may look the same, there is a fundamental difference between the real and stuffed animals when viewed through an X-ray machine — bones. When baggage officials found the two-month-old tiger, the woman who had checked the bag to Iran said she was carrying the luggage for someone else and had no idea the tiger was inside. The cub was taken to the conservation department’s rescue center.

  2. A cocaine cast

    Drugs are a very common fare for smugglers, but this cocaine toter’s dedication and innovation make him stand out. Coming to Barcelona, Spain from Chile, a 66-year-old man was wearing a cast on his leg because of two fractures below his knee. Surprisingly, the man had actually broken his leg in case authorities X-rayed it, but the cast was made out of cocaine. He might have fooled them, but he had more cocaine hidden in his luggage, which then caused them to also test the cast. There’s a lesson to be learned here: when you’re injured with a bunch of drugs supporting your leg, it’s a bad idea to get greedy.

  3. A corpse

    A woman and her daughter were arrested when airport officials in Liverpool discovered that the pair were pushing the woman’s dead husband in a wheelchair to their Berlin-bound plane. They had covered his eyes with sunglasses and said they just thought he was sleeping. This excuse could probably be convincing since the man was 91 and probably often looked dead, but authorities didn’t buy the story. Though the two were arrested for failing to report a death, they weren’t charged in the end because the time of death couldn’t be determined.

  4. A human head

    If you worked at an airport, the last thing you’d want to find in someone’s luggage is a human head. But that’s exactly what baggage screeners in Florida discovered. A woman had brought back a human head with teeth, hair, and skin from Haiti in order to keep away evil spirits,which was in line with her Voodoo beliefs. She was charged with smuggling a human head into the U.S. without proper documentation (apparently this is an actual offense), failure to declare the head, and transporting hazardous material. These charges were eventually reduced, and she was sentenced to two years probation and a fine.

  5. Monkeys in a man’s underwear

    In 2002, when customs workers opened a man’s bag in Los Angeles after he returned from Thailand, a bird of paradise flew out. They ended up finding three more birds and 50 rare orchids in his suitcase. When officials asked him whether he had anything else illegal he was bringing into the country, the man said, “Yes, I’ve got monkeys in my pants.” He turned over the pair of young pygmy monkeys, which are an endangered species in the U.S., that he had been carrying inside his underwear, and they were taken to the Los Angeles Zoo. The man received a 57-day jail sentence.

  6. A crocodile

    This smuggler was successful in getting the crocodile on board a plane traveling within the Democratic Republic of Congo, and he probably would’ve gotten away with it if the crocodile hadn’t crawled out of his bag near the end of the flight. The sight of the reptile caused a panic in the cabin, during which the flight crew and passengers fled to the front of the plane. The sudden redistribution of weight caused the pilot to lose control and the plane crashed. Twenty of the 21 people on board died, and though the crocodile survived the crash, he was killed with a machete soon after.

  7. Another identity

    In an unbelievable case of disguise and deceit, an elderly white man boarded a plane in Hong Kong and emerged in Canada as a young Asian male. The man used a silicone face and neck mask to make himself appear to be an older Caucasian passenger and used someone else’s boarding pass to get on the plane. He also mimicked the movements of an elderly person so as not to raise suspicion. In the middle of the flight, the man went to the bathroom and came back without his disguise. He was taken into custody upon landing, and he asked for refugee status. The mask, along with a flat cap and thin sweater, were found in a bag that the man eventually admitted belonged to him.

  8. Tropical fish

    A woman who arrived in Melbourne, Australia from Singapore provided a whale of a story for customs officials to tell. When they heard a strange flipping sound coming from her waist, they discovered that she had an apron under her skirt filled with bags of fish. There were 51 fish in total, all some kind of tropical species. It appeared the apron, which had plenty of pockets for the 15 bags of water, was made especially for the purpose of smuggling the fish. The woman was sentenced to nine months of community service. The real question is how did she endure the seven-hour flight with all those fish swimming around on her lap?

  9. A nun’s skeleton

    In one of the creepiest stories of smuggling, a monk and some accomplices were caught trying to board a plane from Athens, Greece to Cyprus with the bones of a nun in a suitcase. The monk claimed she was a saint and that he wanted to take her remains back to a monastery in Cyprus, the country where she had served as a nun, but authorities found she wasn’t recognized by the Greek or Cypriot Orthodox churches. The monk was suspended from his monastery for three months, though he wasn’t held in prison after pleading not guilty to theft and defiling of a deceased person.

  10. Snakes in a bra

    A woman in Stockholm, Sweden tried to smuggle 75 live snakes in her bra. How 75 snakes could fit in one person’s bra, we’ll never know. She also had six lizards under her shirt, apparently with the dreams of starting a reptile farm. Customs officers became suspicious when they noticed the woman repeatedly scratching her chest and thought that there was “something weird” going on with her bosom. That weird thing was apparently dozens of snakes squirming around. The 42-year-old woman was arrested and charged with smuggling.

How to Survive Prison

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9 Ways Groups Become Cults

The line between religions and cults can be a blurry one at times. Although some prefer to distinguish between cults and religions, there are some indisputable similarities. For example, both sometimes encourage donations from their followers and promote the sacrifice of food and other luxuries in the name of ritual observances. However, cults significantly differ in their belief systems, rituals and indoctrination. A religion that uses mind control techniques, deception and exploitation to teach its followers has strayed further away from a religion and is much closer to a cult. Here are 9 ways groups become cults:

  1. Mind control

    Cults were built upon the foundation of mind control. Cults use mind control and brainwashing techniques in virtually every aspect of their teachings, recruitment and policies. Cults aim to reduce one’s critical thinking skills and gain control of one’s thoughts, emotion and behavior through the use of mind control techniques. Researchers may argue that mind control is nothing new to religion and most religious groups use some form of brainwashing to get their members to alter the way they perceive the world, but there is certainly a fine line between coercive thinking and suggestive interpretations of the truth.

  2. Charismatic leader

    A signature characteristic of cults is their charismatic leader. Although many religious leaders are considered charismatic, cult leaders have a different kind of magnetism and power that wins over followers. A cult leader is considered the supreme authority of the group, and he or she typically becomes the object of worship. This figurehead commands the upmost respect and compliance from its members and they have the only and final ruling on matters. Cult leaders lead the pack in using mind control and brainwashing techniques, so they can take full advantage of the members financially, physically and psychologically.

  3. Deception

    When it comes to religion people will do anything to seek the truth. Cults know this and use it to their advantage. Unlike most religions, cults will use deceptive and manipulative ploys to get people to join the cult and stay in it. They are notorious for using deceptive recruitment efforts, such as not indentifying themselves and not being transparent about their organization or message. Cults often use confusing terms and languages to control their followers’ minds and strengthen the group’s belief system.

  4. Exclusivity

    One way for religious groups to become cults is to claim exclusivity. Cults are notorious for claiming that they have an exclusive line to God and have a special revelation of the truth. Most groups believe they are an elite and secretive group that is expected to recruit and fundraise with hidden objectives and limited disclosure to protect their sacred mission.

  5. Offer explanations and solutions to everything in life

    Most religions will admit that there are many things that can’t be easily explained or easily solved. This is a concept that many cults refuse to believe. Cults have a tendency to give ambiguous explanations for the most complex things in life and suggest unethical solutions to the world’s problems. These deceptive teachings are all part of the cult’s totalitarian worldview and brainwashing.

  6. Exploitation

    One major way religious groups become cults is through exploitation of their members. Cults are notorious for exploiting members physically, psychologically and financially. Typically, cult members are forced to give money and spend countless hours working and recruiting for the group. In many cases, women are sexually exploited in cults and are raped or forced to have sex with the leader. These unethical practices are justified by the cult’s promotion of totalitarian control and emphasizing the goals of the group over the individual.

  7. Information control

    Religious groups can be considered cult-like when they exercise information control. In keeping with their totalitarian worldview, cults take it upon themselves to manage the non-cult information that their members are allowed to hear or see. Instead, they will emphasize their own teachings through meetings, magazines, journals, videos and other forms of propaganda. Information control keeps cult members from thinking critically and questioning the group’s beliefs.

  8. Isolation and total dependency on the group

    Religious groups become cults when they enforce isolation from family, friends and society and emphasize total dependency on the group. Cult members are generally forced to cut ties with old family and friends and replace them with their new "family." In order to ensure this separation, cult leaders will remove members from society and live together in an unconventional manner. In addition to physical isolation, cult members also become disconnected from their previous values and beliefs.

  9. Totalitarian worldview

    Cults are distinctly different from traditional religious groups in that they have a totalitarian worldview that promotes the goals of the group over the individual. Cult leaders embody the totalitarian worldview by claiming an exclusive relationship with God or a higher force and controlling virtually every aspect of their members’ lives. As part of totalitarian control, cults often approve unethical behavior, whether it’s violence, deception or brainwashing, in order to foster the group’s beliefs.

Casey Anthony vs. OJ Simpson

Casey Anthony vs. OJ Simpson

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10 Biggest Manhunts in U.S. History

An apparent new lead in the 40-year-old DB Cooper case has revived the mystery of the whereabouts of one of America’s most clever fugitives. A great source of storytelling and legend through the years, the perfectly executed hijacking of a Boeing 727 made him about $200,000 richer and somewhat of a hero to those who’ve closely followed the story. Fortunately, nobody involved in the event — except for possibly DB himself — was seriously harmed, which is why his apprehension wasn’t quite as important as the targets of the following manhunts. These men have been serious threats to the public, as evidenced by the urgency at which they have been pursued.

  1. John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln Assassination (1865)

    Given that Booth was a well-known actor and the assassination of Lincoln occurred in a crowded theater, avenging the tragedy merely hinged on catching him while he was still catchable. With a plan in place, he immediately fled the scene of the crime to rural Southern Maryland, prompting the dispatch of federal troops and the offering of a $100,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. On April 26, 12 days after Booth killed Lincoln, Lieutenant Colonel Everton Conger found him in a barn belonging to the Garrett family in Caroline Country, Virginia. Booth refused to surrender, and Conger’s accompanying soldiers set the barn on fire. When he remained inside, he was shot and killed. Although an autopsy later confirmed the identity of Booth, rumors have since persisted that he escaped and lived under an assumed name.

  2. John Dillinger, Prison Escape (1933-34)

    During an era in which the media embellished and even glorified the actions of criminals, Dillinger became a celebrity for his proficiency at evading law enforcement and robbing banks — infamously, his posse once posed as members of a film company scouting locations for a bank robbing scene. The Dillinger Gang formed after he returned to prison for a second time and devised an escape plan for eight other members. They proceeded to rob several banks throughout the Midwest before getting caught in Arizona and extradited to Indiana, where he again escaped from detainment — this time using a wooden gun smuggled to him by his attorney to round up the guards and lock them in his cell. In July of 1934, he was shot and killed by law enforcement at the Biograph Theater in Chicago.

  3. Suspect Unknown, Zodiac Killings (1960s and ’70s)

    The Zodiac killer remains unidentified and at large more than 40 years after he murdered high school students Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday. Overall, police determined the he was responsible for seven murders, though he claimed 37 in the coded letters he wrote to Bay Area media outlets. Those letters served to heighten fear within the community, as he threatened schoolchildren and claimed to be collecting slaves. He continued to toy with the media through at least 1974, providing investigators with more material to fruitlessly examine.

  4. Suspect Unknown, Tylenol Murders (1982)

    Almost 30 years after 12-year-old Mary Kellerman died after taking a capsule of the popular over-the-counter pain medication, the investigation into the Tylenol murders remains ongoing. During the ordeal, seven people in the Chicago area died from cyanide poisoning, initiating a mass purging of Tylenol products from the shelves of grocery stores and pharmacies — it’s believed that the packages were removed from those locations, tampered with and then returned in their altered form. Several suspects have been investigated, including the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and James W. Lewis, who once demanded $1 million to stop the murders.

  5. Gary Ridgway, Green River Killings (1980s and ’90s)

    As the bodies of several young women were found near the Green River in the early ’80s, the King County Sheriff’s Office in Washington formed the Green River Task Force to find the culprit. Because the victims were runaways or prostitutes who had been strangled using a ligature, it was easy to deduct that a serial killer was at large. Although Ridgway was named a suspect in 1983, he avoided becoming the suspect by passing a polygraph test and cooperating with officers during their investigation, even giving them hair and saliva samples in 1987. In 2001, after DNA testing technology had evolved, he was arrested for the murders of four women, 67 fewer than he eventually admitted to killing. He’s currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

  6. Mir Aimal Kansi, CIA Shootings (1993)

    Upset with the policies of the U.S. government toward the Middle East, Kansi killed two CIA workers and injured three people by randomly opening fire on a row of stopped cars at traffic light in Fairfax County, Virginia. When authorities misidentified the culprit, he was able to flee for Pakistan the next day. A day later, his roommate reported him missing and he emerged as the prime suspect. In 1997, with the help of an informant, the FBI captured him in Punjab province and transported him back the U.S., where he was found guilty and sentenced to death in 2002.

  7. Texas Seven, Prison Escape (2000-01)

    It isn’t Alcatraz, but the John B. Connally Unit in Texas is deemed a maximum-security prison for a reason. Escaping from it requires a well-planned and well-executed effort, which the so-called Texas Seven efficiently carried out. The men, ranging from age 23 to 39, were incarcerated for terms varying in length, but each was motivated to risk harsher punishment for freedom. After subduing several maintenance supervisors and correctional officers during lunch, they stole their clothes, credit cards and IDs, and weapons from the guard tower. Using a prison maintenance pickup, they fled the premises and began a crime spree that resulted in the murder of police officer Aubrey Hawkins. More than a month after their escape, their appearance on America’s Most Wanted prompted the friend of an owner of a Woodland Park, Colorado RV Park to call police, leading to standoff with five of the seven men. Four were apprehended and one committed suicide, and the last two were later arrested at a hotel in Colorado Springs. George Rivas, the leader of the gang, was executed in 2008 for the murder of Hawkins.

  8. Bruce Ivins, Anthrax Attacks (2001)

    The fall of 2001 was certainly a chaotic time in America. In the weeks following the September 11th attacks, several members of the news media and two Democratic senators received letters containing anthrax, resulting in five deaths and infecting 17 others. Letters directed to Tom Brokaw, The New York Post, and Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy read "DEATH TO AMERICA" and "ALLAH IS GREAT," causing many to suspect it was another terrorist attack conducted by Al Qaeda. In 2007, almost seven years after the investigation began, Bruce Ivins, a senior biodefense researcher at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, was announced by the government as the likely source of the attacks. He committed suicide before criminal charges could be brought against him.

  9. John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, Beltway Sniper Attacks (2002)

    Identifying and capturing the DC Snipers was an urgent task undertaken by law enforcement in the DC area, as the completely random nature of the suspects’ acts disrupted the lives of residents for almost a month. During that time, 11 people were killed and six were wounded while performing mundane tasks such as pumping gas or leaving a store. People simply stopped leaving their home for fear of becoming the next victim. On October 24, Muhammad and Malvo were found at a Maryland rest stop sleeping in their car. Muhammad, a former member of the army and admirer of Osama bin Laden, was executed in 2009, and Malvo, just 17 at the time of the attacks, is currently serving six consecutive life sentences.

  10. Adam Yahiye Gadahn, Treason (2006-present)

    Raised a Christian in California, Gadahn’s conversion to Islam when he was 17 years old caused an immense personal change and fueled a newfound hatred for his native country. His devotion to the religion took him to Pakistan, where he began supporting jihad. Following the September 11th attacks, he became a main communicator for Al Qaeda, eventually appearing in videos threatening attacks on U.S. soil. In 2006, he became the first American charged with treason in more than 50 years. Still at large, the State Department is offering $1 million for information leading to his arrest.