Currently viewing the tag: "crime"

ON A COLD JANUARY NIGHT in 1924, a young woman flaunting a stylish bobbed haircut slinked into the Thomas Roulston grocery store in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. She was dolled up in a fine sealskin coat, beaded gray dress, black shoes, and stockings. Just as the male clerk was wrapping up her order of a dozen eggs, she suddenly whipped out a .25 automatic pistol from her fur coat and shouted: “Stick ‘em up! Quick!” …

The grocer and five other clerks had become the first victims of the eventually infamous “Bobbed Haired Bandit”—a now-forgotten criminal who was an icon of liberated women in 1920s New York. For three and a half months in 1924, married couple Celia and Edward Cooney embarked on a series of armed robberies around Brooklyn, inspiring tabloid news stories, satirical cartoons, and political and cultural agendas. Depending on what paper you read, the Bobbed Haired Bandit was a ruthless libertine, a heroine of the lower class, a weak woman controlled by her husband, or a trailblazer of the feminist movement. –How We Forgot the Bobbed Haired Bandit by Lauren Young

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of an unusual thief.

Journaling Prompt: What circumstances would push you into breaking the law? 

Art Prompt: Bobbed hair

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about an infamous bandit with an emphasis on what drove him/her into a life of crime.

Photo Credit: dvdflm on Flickr

On March 3, 1993, Saint Joseph Academy high school senior Joey Fischer was shot dead outside his home in Rancho Viejo, an upscale community north of Brownsville, Texas. Dora Cisneros, the mother of his ex-girlfriend, was convicted of orchestrating Fischer’s murder after he broke up with her daughter Cristina. Fischer and Cristina had broken up the previous summer, but Cisneros became obsessed with their relationship and insisted Fischer return to her. After Fischer refused a US$500 offer from Cisneros, she consulted María Mercedes Martínez, a fortuneteller, to cast a spell on him.

The fortuneteller said she was not able to do that, but Cisneros insisted that she would pay to have someone beat him up. Cisneros later decided to have Fischer murdered instead and told Martínez she was willing to pay US$3,000 to anyone who would kill him. Martínez offered to help and Cisneros gave her the money and a photograph of Fischer, who passed it on to one of Martínez’s clients, Daniel Orlando Garza. He then contacted two Mexican hitmen from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Israel Olivarez Cepeda and Heriberto Puentes Pizaña, who shot Fischer and then escaped to Mexico. The killing drew national attention because of the unusual circumstances of the crime.

Garza, troubled by what he had done, confessed to the police that he had acted as a middleman in Fischer’s murder. He cooperated with the police to incriminate Martínez, who then aided in Cisneros’ arrest. Cisneros and Garza were eventually sentenced to life in prison by a state court in 1994, but Cisneros’ sentence was overturned due to a legal technicality. She was convicted again in 1998 by a federal court and sentenced to life in prison. Martínez was given a 20-year sentence after pleading guilty and testifying against the two in court. Though U.S. officials tried to have the two assassins extradited, the hitmen never faced trial in Texas. They were prosecuted in Mexico and handed a 15-year sentence. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story from the POV of a middleman in a murder plot

Journaling Prompt: If you could kill someone and get away with it, would you? 

Art Prompt: Murder!

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the story of a murder in your town.

Photo Credit: Henry Marion on Flickr

Jesse Woodson James (September 5, 1847 – April 3, 1882) was an American outlaw, guerrilla, gang leader, bank robber, train robber, and murderer from the state of Missouri and the most famous member of the James-Younger Gang. Jesse and his brother Frank James were Confederate guerrillas or bushwhackers during the Civil War. They were accused of participating in atrocities committed against Union soldiers, including the Centralia Massacre. After the war, as members of various gangs of outlaws, they robbed banks, stagecoaches, and trains.

The James brothers were most active as members of their own gang from about 1866 until 1876, when as a result of their attempted robbery of a bank in Northfield, Minnesota, several members of the gang were captured or killed. They continued in crime for several years, recruiting new members, but were under increasing pressure from law enforcement. On April 3, 1882, Jesse James was killed by Robert Ford, a member of his own gang who hoped to collect a reward on James’ head. Already a celebrity when he was alive, James became a legendary figure of the Wild West after his death. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about an infamous gang of thieves.

Journaling Prompt: If you could go back in time to meet any famous criminal, who would you want to meet?

Art Prompt: Jesse James

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the life of Jesse James.

Photo Credit: Jesse and Frank James on Wikimedia

The Brink’s-Mat robbery occurred early on 26 November 1983 when six robbers broke into the Brink’s-Mat warehouse, Unit 7 of the Heathrow International Trading Estate near Heathrow Airport in west London. At the time, it was described as “the crime of the century”.

The gang gained entry to the warehouse from security guard Anthony Black. Once inside, they poured petrol over staff and threatened them with a lit match if they did not reveal the combination numbers of the vault. The robbers thought they were going to steal £3.2 million in cash, but they found three tonnes of gold bullion and stole £26 million (approximately £79 million in 2016 pounds) worth of gold, diamonds and cash…

Much of the 3?1/2 tonnes of stolen gold has never been recovered and the other four robbers were never convicted. In 1996 about half of the gold, the portion which had been smelted, was thought to have found its way back into the legitimate gold market, including the reserves of the true owners, Johnson Matthey. According to the BBC, some have claimed that anyone wearing gold jewellery bought in the UK after 1983 is probably wearing Brink’s-Mat. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a daring heist.

Journaling Prompt: What is the most valuable thing you’ve ever stolen, even if it was just a moment of time.

Art Prompt: Heist

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the story of a daring heist.

Photo Credit: Gold Bullion on Wikimedia


Irish people had been settling in Australia unintentionally for decades before large-scale emigration began—Australia was Great Britain’s biggest prison, and many Irish were sentenced to life there. Their crimes often seem paltry compared to such a major punishment. For the offense of stealing clothes or threatening a landlord, an individual could be sentenced to exile on the other side of the Earth for the rest of his or her life—a sentence known as “transportation.” –Ryan Hackney and Amy Hackney Blackwell, 101 Things You Didn’t Know about Irish History: The People, Places, Culture, and Tradition of the Emerald Isle

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of someone who is exiled.

Journaling Prompt: Write about the worst punishment you’ve ever suffered.

Art Prompt: Exile

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about Australia’s history as a penal colony.

Photo Credit: First Fleet 1788 (Botany Bay) on Wikimedia

Wednesday Blood Test

In the 1950s, the Supreme Court of the United States issued two key rulings clarifying the constitutionality of physical intrusions into the human body by police and other government agents. In Rochin v. California, police officers broke into the home of an individual suspected of selling narcotics and observed him place several small objects into his mouth. Officers were unable to force his mouth open, so they transported him to a local hospital where his stomach was pumped against his will. A unanimous Supreme Court held the involuntary stomach pump was an unlawful violation of substantive due process because it “shocked the conscience”, and was so “brutal” and “offensive” that it did not comport with traditional ideas of fair play and decency. In 1957, the Court held in Breithaupt v. Abram that involuntary blood samples “taken by a skilled technician” neither “shocked the conscience” nor violated substantive due process. In Breithaupt, police took a blood sample from a patient suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol while he laid unconscious in a hospital. The Court held that the blood samples were justified, in part, because “modern community living requires modern scientific methods of crime detection.” Additionally, the Court mentioned in dicta that involuntary blood samples may violate the constitution if officers do not provide “every proper medical precaution” to the accused. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about involuntary body searches.

Journaling Prompt: Do you feel that criminals have too many rights? 

Art Prompt: Blood

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the Rochin v California court ruling and how it protects suspects today.

Photo Credit: Graham Beards on Wikimedia

blood on the pavement

Terrorizing the streets of New Orleans, this axe wielding killer was dubbed the “boogeyman.” Beginning in 1918, and lasting for almost 2 years, the killer’s deplorable axe wielding crime spree started when he butchered a local grocer and his wife. When the police arrived at the scene, all they found was a blood soaked axe, and a nonsensical, cryptic message written in chalk.

Using axes found in the victims’ homes, the boogeyman went on to murder 8 more people before vanishing into thin air. The crimes stopped. And no one was ever arrested. –The Elusive Criminal: Unsolved Horrific Crimes by Jennifer Chase

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write about an unsolved crime.

Journaling Prompt: Write about the most heinous crime that occurred in your city. Was it solved? How would you feel if it were never solved? How would you change your daily life?

Art Prompt: Unsolved crime

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a dramatic story about an unsolved crime.

Photo Credit: Stephen on Flickr

Jolly Roger

The late 17th and early 18th centuries (particularly between the years 1716 to 1726) are often considered the “Golden Age of Piracy” in the Caribbean, and pirate ports experienced rapid growth in the areas in and surrounding the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Furthermore, during this time period there were approximately 2400 men that were currently active pirates. The military power of the Spanish Empire in the New World started to decline when King Philip IV of Spain was succeeded by KingCharles II (r. 1665–1700), who in 1665 became the last Habsburg king of Spain at the age of four. While Spanish America in the late 17th century had little military protection as Spain entered a phase of decline as a Great Power, it also suffered less from the Spanish Crown’s mercantilist policies with its economy. This lack of interference, combined with a surge in output from the silver mines due to increased availability of slave labor (the demand for sugar increased the number of slaves brought to the Caribbean) began a resurgence in the fortunes of Spanish America. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story set in the Golden Age of Piracy.

Journaling Prompt: Write about modern day piracy – downloading music, books, movies you haven’t paid for – and how you feel about it.

Art Prompt: Pirates

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the golden age of piracy.

Photo Credit: Nicolas Raymond on Flickr

bank robber

Herman Karl Lamm (April 19, 1890 – December 16, 1930[1][2][3]), known as Baron Lamm, was a German bank robber. He is widely considered one of the most brilliant and efficient bank robbers to have ever lived, and has been described as “the father of modern bank robbery”. Lamm’s techniques were studied and imitated by other bank robbers across the country, including the infamous John Dillinger.

A former Prussian Army soldier who immigrated to the United States, Lamm believed a heist required all the planning of a military operation. He pioneered the concepts of meticulously “casing” a bank and developing escape routes before conducting the robbery. Using a meticulous planning system called “The Lamm Technique”, he conducted dozens of successful bank robberies from the end of World War I until 1930, when Lamm committed suicide when surrounded by a law-enforcement party in Sidell, Illinois, after a botched heist –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a heist.

Journaling Prompt: If you were going to carry out a heist, what would you plan to steal and why?

Art Prompt: Heist

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a dramatic story of a heist.

Photo Credit: Flood G. on Flickr

Lindor Truffles

In 1870, Christiana Edmunds was living in Brighton with her mother and having an affair with her across-the-street neighbor, Doctor Arthur Beard. At some point towards the end of the year, Beard let her know that he wanted to end the affair. He was married. He wasn’t going to leave his wife. So Edmunds decided that he wouldn’t have to. She visited the house with some chocolate creams. Mrs. Beard ate one, and promptly got very sick. She recovered. The doctor suspected something, but didn’t want anyone to know about his affair, and when he confronted Edmunds, she loudly claimed that she, too had eaten a chocolate and gotten sick.
In 1871, a great deal of people became ill in that neighborhood — most of them after purchasing chocolate creams from the local store. The symptoms coincided with those of strychnine poisoning… –Esther Inglis-Arkell (read the rest of the story at io9)

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a poisoner.

Journaling Prompt: Do you allow any part of your life to be ruled by fear?

Art Prompt: Death by chocolate

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about modern strategies for product safety.

Photo Credit: cacaobug on Flickr