Most Infamous Crimes In Every State
Something about crime fascinates people — whether it be a morbid interest in the macabre, a genuine attempt to make sense of what happened, or an obsession with trying to piece together a cold case.
The following 50 felonies are some of the most captivating crimes ever committed, having gripped people the world over — some for as long as 80 years. Some are solved, while others remain a mystery.
Here are some of the most well-known crimes that took place in every state.
The entire Coulthurst family (father, mother, and two kids), and four teenage deckhands, were shot to death aboard a fishing boat called the Investor on September 6, 1982. The killer is then believed to have returned to the scene the next afternoon to set the boat on fire.
It was the biggest mass murder in Alaskan history and rocked the small fishing town of Craig, where it took place.
Two years after the murders, the police arrested John Peel, a former employee of the Coulthursts. His first trial in 1986 ended in a hung jury and a mistrial, and he was acquitted in his second trial. He told People in 2017, “Somebody out there knows what happened.”
The case remains unsolved.
Crane was your typical every-man. He starred in “Hogan’s Heroes,” a popular sitcom from the ’60s and ’70s, married his high school sweetheart when he was 19, and had three kids. He divorced and re-married an actress on the show, and eventually had two more children.
But in 1978, he was found murdered in his apartment, having been bludgeoned to death.
While the violent death of any Hollywood actor would cause a media frenzy, the hype kicked into overdrive once it was discovered that Crane was potentially a sex addict (and this was before the term existed). Police found an extensive X-rated video and Polaroid collection featuring Crane with various women.
The case remains unsolved 42 years later. A friend of Crane’s was arrested for the murder in the ’90s after the case was re-opened, but he was acquitted.
In 1993, three second-graders (Steve “Stevie” Branch, Christopher Byers, and Michael Moore) were found in a creek, tied up with their own shoelaces, and mutilated. The community was quick to pin the murders on three alleged “Satan worshippers,” Jessie Misskelley, Damon Echols, and Jason Baldwin (teens who became known as the “West Memphis Three”).
All three were convicted, with Echols getting the death penalty, and Misskelley and Baldwin receiving life sentences. Their case attracted high-profile attention stemming from a popular documentary about the case called “Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills.”
In 2007, new DNA evidence could not prove a link to any of the accused — there’s nothing to suggest they were at the site of the crime besides dubious eyewitness accounts and contested confessions. In 2011, the three were released from prison after entering Alford pleas (a rare plea where they asserted their innocence while acknowledging that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict them). They had each spent 18 years in jail.
The mystery of what actually happened to JonBenet is one of the most famous murder cases in the entire US, not just Colorado. Few cases rival the amount of speculation that the death of the 6-year-old girl has received in the almost 25 years since.
The day after Christmas in 1996, Ramsey was found dead in the basement of her own home, after her parents discovered a ransom note demanding money.
Her parents were viewed as suspicious, but DNA evidence cleared them, prompting the Boulder County District Attorney to apologize to them. A man named John Mark Carr confessed in 2006, but it was ruled to be false since he couldn’t provide any additional details and his DNA didn’t match what was discovered at the scene. The case remains active, and there are plenty of other theories about what happened to the little girl.
Most people know the murder of flight attendant Helle Crafts by its nickname, “The Wood Chipper Murder.” In 1986, Crafts went missing after catching her pilot husband Richard cheating on her — he told police that she had left him to return to Denmark, where she was originally from, but her friends and the police weren’t convinced.
After searching the Crafts’ home, authorities found credit card statements for suspicious items that were nowhere to be found in the house, such as a freezer, bed sheets, and a rented wood chipper. The police also found bits of bone, a fingernail, and hair samples that they said were Helle’s.
The prosecution contended that Crafts had become enraged with his wife, murdered her, cut her body up with the chainsaw, and then disposed of it using the rented woodchipper. The jury deliberated for eight hours before ruling Crafts guilty of his wife’s murder. The verdict was a state first: a guilty ruling without a body.
The 12-week trial about the disappearance of Anne Marie Fahey kept people captivated in the late ’90s.
Even though Fahey was last seen in Philadelphia, as a Delaware resident her case was mainly conducted in Delaware. Fahey was last seen in June 1996, and she had recently become involved with a married lawyer, Thomas Capano, who was arrested for her murder in November 1997.
But without a body, it was difficult to prove that Capano had been involved in her disappearance, or even death until Capano’s younger brother testified, claiming that the two of them had taken their boat out on the Atlantic to dump the body of a woman (presumably Fahey).
More things started to fall into place for the prosecution. One of Capano’s other extramarital affairs, Deborah MacIntyre, confessed to buying a gun for Capano at his request. The defense changed their strategy, claiming that Capano had dumped the body, but only after MacIntyre shot Fahey in a jealous rage. MacIntyre denied this claim.
The jury ruled in favor of the prosecution: Capano was found guilty of the murder and was sentenced to death (later commuted to life in prison). He died in 2011 due to a heart attack. Fahey’s body and the gun in question have never been found.
Caylee Anthony, 2, was reported missing by her maternal grandmother, Cindy, who told police that she hadn’t seen Caylee in 31 days and that her daughter’s car smelled like a body. What followed was a bizarre (and confusing) sequence of events.
First, Casey reported that Caylee had been abducted by her nanny, and she hadn’t reported this to the authorities because she was scared — in reality, there was no nanny. Other lies and inconsistencies included that Casey told her parents she worked at Universal Studios (untrue), and that she seemed to be acting perfectly normal even though her daughter was missing.
When Caylee’s remains were found in a plastic bag, the state of Florida officially charged Casey with her murder and announced they were seeking the death penalty, starting what has been dubbed the “social media trial of the century” by Time.
Casey’s defense team claimed that Caylee had drowned in her family’s pool, and that Casey’s father George had disposed of Caylee’s body in order to save Casey from neglect charges. They also claimed that George sexually abused Casey (which he denied) and that she was afraid of him, which is why she didn’t report him to authorities.
Casey was eventually found not guilty, and Caylee’s murder remains unsolved.
The morning after Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000, a fight broke out outside a nightclub in Atlanta that left Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar dead on the street. Authorities ended up charging Ray Lewis, an NFL linebacker, and two companions, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, with murder and aggravated assault.
Baker and Lollar were stabbed, and Oakley and Sweeting had bought new knives that week. Baker’s blood was found in Lewis’ limo.
Lewis eventually pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in order to downgrade the murder charges. He said, “I was never anything in this case but a witness.” Oakley and Sweeting were acquitted, as they had claimed self-defense. Lewis was able to return to the NFL and had a prolific career.
Lewis spoke about the ordeal in an interview with NPR, explaining, “I don’t live to prove myself to people. And I never will — never.”