Thursday, December 16, 2010

INFAMOUS FEMALE CRIMINALS

10 Most Infamous Female Criminals

Females may make up a smaller percentage of total criminal activity, but some of the most horrific crimes have been committed by women. From infanticide, murdering husbands to robbing banks, these 10 women have become famous for all the wrong reasons.
  1. Lizzie Borden: Lizzie Borden was the top suspect in the gruesome 1892 murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts. On August 4, 1892, Lizzie found her dead father slumped on a couch and bloodied from multiple crushing blows to his skull and his left eyeball split in half. The Borden’s maid, Bridget Sullivan, was lying down in her room when the murders occurred and was called down by Lizzie when she discovered her father’s body. Her stepmother, Abby Borden, was found dead in the guest bedroom from similar hatchet blows to the head. Lizzie was arrested and taken to jail following the murders. During her murder trial, Lizzie’s stories were inconsistent and suspicious, and much of the incriminating evidence was overlooked. Despite the fact that police found a hatchet with a broken handle in the basement, and knew that Lizzie had attempted to buy prussic acid and even burned one of her dresses days after the murders, Lizzie was acquitted. The maid even provided key testimony at the trials, claiming that Lizzie never mourned the loss of her parents. However, no one else was ever arrested or tried for the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden.
  2. Bonnie Parker: Bonnie Parker was an accomplice to Clyde Barrow during the duo’s spree of robberies in the south and central United States during the Great Depression. During this "public enemy era," Bonnie, Clyde and their accomplices garnered national attention for numerous robberies, murders and their ability to escape police on every occasion. Although Bonnie rode with the Barrow gang for 4 straight years and was often depicted as a cigar-smoking and gun-wielding killer, there is no record that she ever shot a gun or killed anyone. After many attempts to stop the outlaws, police finally succeeded with a carefully planned ambush, in which Bonnie and Clyde were shot and killed on a rural road in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, on May 23, 1934.
  3. Mary Ann Cotton: Mary Ann Cotton was an English serial killer during the 19th century, who was suspected of killing about 20 people by arsenic poisoning. Cotton took no mercy on her victims, killing her husbands, mother, friend and even her own children. The murder spree began when she married her first husband, William Mowbray. The couple had five children and quickly lost four of them to gastric fever and stomach pains. They had, and lost, three more children, and Mary Ann became a widow after her husband died of an intestinal disorder in 1865. Mary Ann collected his insurance and moved on to her next husband. Mary Ann continued the pattern of marry husband, give birth to child, child dies, then husband dies and she collects the insurance money. By the time she met her fourth and last husband, Frederick Cotton, Mary Ann had lost her mother, friend, three husbands and 11 children all to stomach fevers. After Frederick’s sudden death and the death of the last surviving Cotton boy, Charles Edward, the coroner became suspicious of the cause of death and Mary Ann’s role in the fatalities she had witnessed through the years. When Charles’ body tested positive for arsenic, Mary Ann was arrested and later found guilty for the murders and was hanged.
  4. Aileen Wuornos: Aileen Wuornos was a serial killer and prostitute who killed seven men in Florida from 1989 to 1990. Wuornos had a rocky upbringing that led her into prostitution at a young age. It was then when she began having trouble with the law, including DUI, disorderly conduct, assault, armed robbery and theft charges. Around 1986, Wuornos met Tyria Moore, a hotel maid, and the two began an intimate relationship together. Wuornos supported them with her prostitution earnings, but the payments were not sufficient enough. They decided that in order to make more money, Wuornos would have to rob her customers and shoot them. The first victim, Richard Mallory, a convicted rapist, who Wuornos claimed to have killed in self-defense, was found dead along a dirt road in Volusia County, Florida. He had been shot three times with a .22 caliber weapon and wrapped in a rubber-backed carpet runner. Another naked male body was found in Florida woods with similar gun shots that appeared to be made with a .22. Over the course of one year, five other male bodies were found throughout Florida. Witness descriptions of the two women seen driving the victims’ cars and Wuornos’ fingerprints on victims’ belongings pinned her as the murderer. Wuornos was arrested and claimed self-defense in the killings of all seven men, but her inconsistent stories and varied confessions led her to receive six death sentences. She was executed by lethal injection on Oct. 9, 2002.
  5. Genene Jones: Genene Jones is a serial killer who killed somewhere between 11 and 46 infants and children while working as a pediatric nurse in San Antonio and Kerrville, Texas. Jones injected children with digoxin, heparin and succinylcholine that caused heart paralysis, breathing complications and often led to death. Her intention was to put children in an emergency state and revive them to receive praise and attention from parents, doctors and the public. However, many children like Chelsea McClellan did not survive the attacks, and their deaths were labeled as SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome. When suspicion rose about the eight children who developed emergency respiratory problems at the pediatric intensive-care unit in Kerrville, and an inordinate number of child deaths at Jones’ previous job at Bexar County Hospital, investigation ensued. Chelsea McClellan’s body was exhumed and the coroner found succinylcholine in her tissues. Although the evidence was compelling, no one had actually seen Jones inject Chelsea or her other victims. After several organized hearings, the Kerr County grand jury found Jones guilty of one count of murder and several charges for injury to seven children. She was sentenced to 99 years in prison and will receive automatic parole in 2017.
  6. Andrea Yates: Andrea Yates is responsible for killing her five children on June 20, 2001 by drowning them in the bathtub at her house. Yates had been suffering with a severe case of postpartum depression and psychosis. Andrea and her husband, Rusty Yates, had five children between 1994 and 2000, but it was only after the birth of Luke, her fourth son, that Andrea showed signs of depression. She became suicidal and tried to kill herself on many occasions. After being admitted to the hospital, Yates was prescribed a mixture of antidepressants and anti-psychotic drugs, including Haldol. Although her condition improved, she did experience a nervous breakdown and two suicide attempts a month later. Yates was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis and, ignoring her psychiatrist’s advice to stop trying to have more children, she gave birth to her sixth child, Mary. When Andrea’s father died in 2001, she fell into a severely depressed state by not talking, mutilating herself, reading the Bible loyally and neglecting to feed Mary. Yates was hospitalized again and the doctor informed Rusty that she must be supervised around the clock at home. On June 20, 2001, Rusty did not follow the doctor’s orders and left Andrea alone with their children when he left for work. Within the one-hour span of Rusty leaving and Andrea’s mother’s arrival to the house, Andrea drowned all five of her children one by one. Yates was originally convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole after 40 years, but it was later overturned when a Texas jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity. Yates currently resides at a low security state mental hospital in Kerrville, Texas.
  7. Countess Elizabeth Bathory: Elizabeth Bathory was a countess from Hungary, who belonged to the renowned Bathory family. But she is most infamously remembered as a serial killer who tortured and killed hundreds of girls and young women in her castle. As legend has it, Bathory bathed in the blood of virgins to retain her youth. One witness claimed that the "Blood Countess" and her four accomplices killed more than 600 women, but they were only convicted of 80 deaths. Bathory was sentenced to imprisonment in the Cachtice Castle, where she stayed until she died in 1614.
  8. Karla Homolka: Karla Homolka and her husband Paul Bernardo were a team of torturers, rapists and murderers. They raped and murdered two Ontario teenage girls, Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French, as well as Homolka’s younger sister, Tammy, between 1991 and 1992. In an effort to please Paul and keep him around, Karla agreed to engage in the gruesome acts and even videotape the rape-murders. Police began questioning Karla and Paul in connection with the Scarborough Rapist investigation and tested DNA samples provided by Bernardo. When the test results came back matching Bernardo’s DNA with that of the Scarborough Rapist and he was placed under 24-hour surveillance. Even though Homolka was arrested, she managed to get a lighter sentence of 12 years in prison because she claimed that she was forced by her husband to participate in the heinous crimes.
  9. Susan Smith: Susan Smith murdered her two young sons by rolling her car into John D. Long Lake in South Carolina with her children inside on Oct. 25, 1994. Smith told police that she had been carjacked by a black man who drove away with her kids in the back. A nationwide search for Smith’s 1990 Mazda Protege and highly publicized rescue efforts to find her sons came to a halt just nine days after the incident, when Smith confessed to rolling her car into the lake with her kids inside. Smith claimed that she had mental health issues that impaired her judgment, but her alleged motives for the murders contradicted her defense. Smith disposed of her children so that she could mend a broken relationship with a wealthy local man who didn’t want to be with a woman who had children. Smith was charged with two counts of murder and is serving a minimum of 30 years in prison.
  10. Diane Downs: Diane Downs is infamously known for shooting her three children, killing one, in order to keep her lover who didn’t want kids. Downs told police a fabricated story that a stranger had tried to carjack her, shot her in the arm and shot her three kids near Springfield, Oregon. She then drove to the McKenzie-Willamette Hospital with her children in the back. Her second child, Cheryl, was already dead when they arrived. Downs had been shot in her left forearm, which was later determined to be a self-inflicted wound used to support her carjacking story. Downs rehashed the events to police and was recorded on camera laughing as she described the traumatic details. Her calm behavior and mannerisms made police very suspicious of Downs’ role in the shooting and murder of her 7-year-old daughter. When police discovered that Downs was involved with Robert Knickerbocker, an Arizona man who did not want children in his life, all signs pointed to Downs as the murderer. Prosecutors strongly believed that Downs attempted to kill all three kids so she could continue her affair with Knickerbocker, but it wasn’t until her oldest daughter, Christie, gave a key testimony that it was in fact her mother who shot her and her sisters that the case came to rest. Downs was found guilty on all charges and was sentenced to life in prison, plus 50 years, on June 17, 1984.

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RAY CHARLES: LOOKING BACK

As his 80th birthday approaches, a look at the life and legacy of the late Ray Charles.


"I just do what I do." That's what Ray Charles told Billboard in June 2002 when asked to assess his role in music history. Of course, Charles' self-effacing response belies a groundbreaking career and a legacy that endures today, as fans look toward celebrating what would have been the legendary artist's 80th birthday Sept. 23. Looking back at Charles' storied career, what comes to mind is the phrase "musical genius." In Charles' case, that's no hype.


Rare & Unseen Ray Charles Photos | Charles on the Charts

80th Birthday Year Events | Charles Charity


In 1954, the artist's melding of gospel and blues yielded the pioneering hit "I've Got a Woman"-and forged an indelible imprint on R&B, rock and pop. His earthy, soulful voice graced a steady stream of classics after "Woman," including "Drown in My Own Tears," "What'd I Say," "Hit the Road Jack," "Unchain My Heart," "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "Georgia on My Mind."

Video below: Ray Charles performs "Hit The Road Jack" in São Paulo, Brazil on September 22, 1963.


Video below: Ray Charles performs "Then I'll Be Home" in Montreux, Switzerland on July 19, 1997.


Just as at home on the Hammond B-3 organ as he was on the piano, he also landed at the top of Billboard's R&B, pop, country and jazz charts-and even the dance chart, collaborating with childhood friend Quincy Jones and Chaka Khan on "I'll Be Good to You."

His final recording, 2004's "Genius Loves Company," made history when it won eight Grammy Awards, including album and record of the year for his pairing with Norah Jones on "Here We Go Again."

But what many may not know is that the inimitable Charles was also a genius when it came to the business side of music. In the early '60s he negotiated a rare feat after leaving Atlantic Records to sign with ABC-Paramount: ownership of his own master recordings. He also established his own labels. Tangerine (his favorite fruit) came first, which later evolved into CrossOver Records.

A songwriter who penned nearly 200 songs, Charles also operated his own publishing companies, Tangerine Music and Racer Music. For these entities, Charles and longtime manager Joe Adams designed and built the RPM International office and studios on Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Ray Charles Memorial Library will open in the building this fall.

Charles also found time to manage the careers of other acts, including Billy Preston and '70s R&B group the Friends of Distinction. And way before it was de rigueur for artists to do, Charles set up what became a foundation to help needy children with hearing disabilities and later on support education.


He was an amazing human being," says Jones, 77, who became friends with Charles when both were scrappy teenagers in Seattle. "A true innovator who revolutionized music and the business of music," he adds. "Growing up, we only had the radio; no Michael Jackson, Diddy or Oprah. So it was hard to imagine today's entrepreneurial world. But that didn't stop us. We spent a lot of time talking and dreaming about things that brothers had never done before."

"He really was a genius," says singer Solomon Burke, a former Atlantic labelmate. "He did things the way he wanted."

Charles was born Ray Charles Robinson Sept. 23, 1930, in Albany, Ga. As many learned through actor Jamie Foxx's Academy Award-winning portrayal in the 2004 film "Ray," Charles became blind by age 7 and orphaned at 15 while growing up in northwest Florida.

In eight years at a state school for the blind, the young Charles learned how to read and write music. Leaving Florida in 1947, he headed for Seattle ("Choosing the farthest place he could find from Florida," Jones says), where he notched his first hit two years later as a member of the Maxin Trio, "Confession Blues."

Even then, Charles was an enterprising individual. "He had his own apartment, record player, two pairs of pimp shoes, and here I am still living at home," Jones recalls with a laugh. "His mother trained him not to be blind: no cane, no dogs, no cup. His scuffed-up shoes... that was his guide and driving force. He was the most independent dude I ever saw in my life. Ray would get blind only when pretty girls came around."

Signing with Atlantic Records in 1952, Charles as a West Coast jazz and blues man recorded such songs as "It Should've Been Me" and label co-founder Ahmet Ertegun's composition, "Mess Around."

Then he connected in 1954 with "I've Got a Woman," which set off a chain reaction of more hits capitalizing on his bold gospel/blues fusion. But Charles was just getting started. In 1958, he performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, accompanied by a band that featured such jazz cats as saxophonists David "Fathead" Newman and Hank Crawford. Further bucking convention, he recorded "The Genius of Ray Charles," a 1959 release offering standards on one side (including "Come Rain or Come Shine") and big band numbers on the other, featuring members of Count Basie's orchestra and several arrangements by Jones.


Video below: Charles' 1966 Coke commercial, "So Tired."



Leaving Atlantic for ABC-Paramount, a fearless Charles recorded the seminal "Genius + Soul = Jazz" album in 1961. A year later, his earlier dabbling in country music grew serious with the release of the million-selling "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music."

Complemented by lush strings and a harmony-rich choir, he scored with covers of Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You" and Ted Daffan's "Born to Lose"-and spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.




For a black man to do this in 1962 was unheard of," says Tony Gumina, president of the Ray Charles Marketing Group, which handles the late artist's licensing affairs. "He was trying to sell records to people who didn't want to drink from the same water fountain as him. But this was one of his greatest creative and business moves: to not be categorized musically and cross over. Though he never worried about it, he was resigned to the fact that he might lose some core fans. But he thought he'd gain far more in the process."

Gumina was operating his own promotion company working with state lotteries when he met Charles in 1999. The two teamed up on a series of commercials for various state lotteries and also introduced a line of Ray Charles slot machines also accessible to the blind.

"Everything he did had a business acumen to it," says Gumina, who cites Charles' liaison with manager Adams as a pivotal turning point. Originally hired to be Charles' stage announcer, former radio DJ Adams segued into overseeing production of the singer's shows, lighting and wardrobe.

Together the pair designed and built Charles' L.A. business base, RPM International (Recording, Publishing and Management) studio. When he began recording there in 1965, the label rented the studio from him, so he made money on his recordings before they were even released.

To save money on travel expenses, Charles purchased an airplane to ferry his band around to gigs. A smaller plane was also acquired so that Charles could wing in to, say, New York to record a couple of songs before flying back out in time for a show.

"He understood the entertainment business enough to know that you may not be popular forever," Gumina says, "and you need to maximize your product. At the same time, he had as much fun as any rock star but without the sad money stories. There was a time to work and a time to play, and he knew the difference. He didn't have a bunch of homes or a large entourage. That's why he was able to save $50 million before he died."

Calling Charles an "incredibly smart man," Concord president John Burk says he learned a lot from the ailing singer while he was recording his final studio album, "Genius Loves Company."

Video below: Ray Charles performs "It Ain't Easy Being Green" in Trentnton, NJ on Nov. 7, 2002.


Going through "some sticky deal points, he was amazing," Burk recalls. "He had the whole agreement in his head. Without referencing any material, he knew all the terms we proposed and had the deal done for the album in two discussions."

Creatively, Burk says Charles was an artist dedicated to delivering "a true performance from the heart. Part of his creative legacy was his approach to singing. He opened the door to vocal improvisations, changing how people perceived you could sing a song. Many singers today are influenced by him and they don't even know it."


Rare & Unseen Ray Charles Photos | Charles on the Charts

80th Birthday Year Events | Charles Charity

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