Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

An American tragedy, the murder of Grace Brown

The true story behind Theodore Dreiser’s wildly popular novel An American Tragedy inspired by the brutal July 11, 1906, murder of the lovely Grace Brown by her lover Chester Gillette, who did not want to marry Brown after she became pregnant with his child.

Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition

As chief inquisitor of the infamous Spanish Inquisition, Torquemada was responsible for the torture and execution of thousands.

Slideshow: Famous fugitives

Desperate men with nothing to lose — these are the most famous fugitives.

The deadly history of dueling

An examination of the history of dueling — a primarily, perhaps almost exclusively, male activity in every culture in which it has existed — the rules, the forms, historic duels and famous winners and losers.

Jack the Ripper

The latest of many theories as to the identity of historic serial killer Jack the Ripper implicates Lizzie Williams, the wife of physician and Ripper suspect Sir John Williams, in the infamous Whitechapel murders of 1888. This case has captured the public’s imagination ever since Jack disappeared after brutally slaughtering five English prostitutes, all the while taunting investigators from Scotland Yard.

Most famous cases: The insanity defense

On January 26, 1996, eccentric, crazed and paranoid millionaire John du Pont drove to the home of Olympic gold medalist David Schultz, who lived on du Pont’s estate, and killed him while his horrified wife watched. Armed to the teeth du Pont was able to hold off police for days. Even so his insanity defense failed.

Today in Crime History: Belle Gunness officially pronounced dead

On May 12, 1908, this black widow, believed to have killed between 35 and 40 men, women and children, was officially pronounced dead. Thought to have faked her death, she became a legend, with sightings of her persisting until 1931. In fact, the body buried as Bell Gunness has not yet been conclusively identified.

Bonnie & Clyde: Romeo and Juliet in a getaway car

On May 6, 1934, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow met with their families for what would be the last time. She gave her mother a poem called The Story of Bonnie and Clyde, and asked that her mother not say anything "ugly" about Clyde after the outlaw couple had gone to their violent deaths.

You’re invited to an execution

If it’s 1888 and your name is John Swarthout, that is. The recipient of this invitation was granted access to the November 15, 1888, hanging of Charles Johnson, convicted of killing John Walters in January 1887. Walters, who worked as a maintenance man at the jail in Seneca County, N.Y., died from blows to the head when some prisoners–Johnson among them–tried to escape.

Tommy Lynn Sells “Coast to Coast” killer executed in Texas

He just loved to kill; it was almost a mission. After 20 or more sexually-motivated murders, however, serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells, who avoided police by traveling through the U.S. and killing in different states, was finally caught with the help of a victim who survived. He was executed Thursday.

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