By Jenneth Hogan
I think it’s safe to assume that we’ve all heard of the infamous Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929. The massacre was the subject of Roger Corman’s 1967 film of the same name, was masterfully used as a plot device in the 1959 film Some Like It Hot and was mentioned in two episodes of The Golden Girls, when Sophia claims to have been a witness. Even the 1974 album Alice Cooper’s Greatest Hits features artwork depicting the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre on the cover. All the hubbub has lead me to wonder what other like-minded criminals just weren’t feeling the love on February 14. Turns out, to my horror, it’s a popular day for murder.
- On February 14, 1779, Captain James Cook, the great English explorer and navigator, is killed in a mob by natives of Hawaii during his third visit to the Pacific island group.
- In 1928, at the age of 28, George Edmund Jackson committed murder during a robbery in Waskatenau, AB. The victim, Nelle Pendleton, was struck by an axe. The accused was sentenced to the death penalty, which was later commuted to life in prison.
- In 1945, Lawrence Ross Barrs committed murder and arson when he struck Frank Bishop Thomas with an axe and set his house on fire, in Bowness, AB. He was originally sentenced to the death penalty but was granted a new trail and later acquitted.
- In 1998, Kimberly Hricko, an operating room technician from Laurel, MA, carried out a scheme to murder her husband and cash in on insurance claims worth $400,000. She’d been planning the murder for months. Finally, on a vacation her husband booked, she slipped him muscle relaxants stolen from her hospital job and injected him with the hard to detect poison Succinylcholine Chloride. In an effort to cover up her tracks, she set fire to the resort room where they were staying. A pack of cheap cigars and a false story about a smoking accident were set in place to keep them covered. The only problem, she had talked about the idea to her closest friends months earlier. On March 20, 1998, Hricko was sentenced to life in prison +30 years. If you’re looking for a great way to pass some time, the judgment goes as far as citing some of Shakespeare’s finest.
- This year will mark the 10-year anniversary of the assassination of former Lebanon Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. Explosives equivalent of around 1,000 kilograms of TNT were detonated as his motorcade drove near the St. George Hotel in Beirut, killing Hariri and 21 others. 1 According to Israeli daily Ha’aretz, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, along with an independent investigation carried out by the Lebanese Internal Security Forces Intelligence Branch, had found compelling evidence for the responsibility of Lebanese militia Hezbollah in the assassination.
- In an attempt to recoup his pride and position as head of the family, “Andy” Long Phi Nguyen shot and killed his ex-wife in their Vancouver home in 2012. Andy had tried to give his ex a Valentine’s rose earlier in the day and claims to have left feeling slighted after she rejected his advances. High on cocaine, he returned with a gun in hand. The media has suggested he would have shot another occupant of the house if the gun hadn’t have jammed, giving them time to tackle Nguyen and hold him down until police arrived. Nguyen was well-known to police prior to the incident for drug-related offences.
- Oscar Pistorius, South African sprint runner, accidentally shot his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, in 2014 when he thought she was an intruder. Pistorius was cleared of murder charges on the basis that he did not intentionally shoot Ms. Steenkamp. He was, however, found guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced to five years imprisonment. Judge Masipa gave prosecutors leave to appeal against the murder acquittal, but not the five-year sentence given for the lesser charge of culpable homicide. The appeal will take place sometime this year.
Have a Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! And while you’re over-indulging on red- and pink-foiled chocolates, remember: be kind to one another.
1 Issacharoff, Avi (2010-11-09). “Report: Hariri tribunal to link top Hezbollah figures to assassination”. Ha’aretz.