4 Criminals Who Should Have Quit While They Were Ahead
So, you’ve committed a crime. We get it. Every single one of us have done the same. That doesn’t mean you need to get yourself caught. And if you do get yourself caught, you don’t have to make it any worse for yourself. You definitely don’t have to copy the behavior of the following criminals. Sometimes, you’re better off just sitting back and doing nothing.
A Bathroom Arsonist Doubled Down and Lost
A fire broke out in the bathroom of a plane from England to Egypt in 2015. We don’t know who started it. In a few moments, we’re going to tell you about a second fire aboard this same flight, but officially, the two fires were unrelated. The pilot went on the public address system and reminded passengers that smoking in an airplane is “moronic.” The crew managed to put the fire out, and in the process, they exhausted two fire extinguishers, as well as a fair chunk of the plane's water supply.
Hours later, on the same flight, the crew noticed fire number two. This one also blazed in a lavatory wastepaper bin, but it was a different lavatory and a different bin from the first one. The plane was now short on fire equipment, so they prepared to stage an emergency landing of the 200-passenger flight — which wouldn’t be easy, since they were a hundred miles from shore. However, they did manage to put the fire out after all, with help from a passenger who just happened to be a firefighter.
They identified the smoker behind the second fire as drunken Englishman John Cox. He pleaded guilty to arson once he was back in the U.K., and he received a sentence of four years and six months. He hadn’t accepted the sentence as part of the plea itself, and once word of the sentence came down, he figured it was too harsh. He appealed. The judges at his appeal agreed that this original sentence had been improper. They doubled it to nine years and six months.
Incidentally, though airplanes forbid smoking onboard and forbid it extra hard in the bathrooms, many airplane bathrooms still do include receptacles where smokers can safely dispose of cigarettes. People break the rules, and we have to be ready for that.
Another Man Took His Sentence Even Worse
Floyd Allen killed at least one man, and shot another, but that happened in the 19th century, when that stuff was considered a normal part of growing up. Our story skips past that to the year 1911, when Allen was a respectable deputy in Virginia. “Respectable” still meant he was convicted and jailed for beating prisoners, but the governor granted him clemency for it.
Two nephews of Allen’s got into a fight one December morning, something to do with corn shucking and kissing the wrong’s guy lady. They fled the authorities, who caught up with them and threw them in a carriage to cart them off to jail. This carriage, operated by one Deputy Thomas Samuels, soon came upon one Deputy Floyd Allen. Allen busted his nephews out and fought with Samuels, leaving him unconscious in a ditch.
Allen soon turned his nephews in, so he evidently never had long-term plans for smuggling them into Canada or anything like that. That still left him indicted on assault and battery charges, plus the catch-all charge of “interfering.” The verdict came a year later. The judge recommended a year in prison. “Gentlemen, I ain’t a-goin’!” said Allen, reaching into his coat.
We don’t know for sure who shot first. Besides Allen himself, the nephews were in the court and armed, as were various officials. When the gunfire ended, the judge, the sheriff, the prosecutor, one witness and two jurors were all dead. Allen and half a dozen others were wounded. Allen went on to be found guilty of murder and died in the electric chair. Suddenly, a year in prison doesn’t sound so bad.
Outsourcing Corpse Disposal
The following story is recent. You might well be hearing bits of it on the news at this very moment, with the story being dubbed the “Hollywood headless torso” murder. The basics of the tale is that police have a woman’s torso, and they’ve charged the husband with the murder. Maybe he killed his in-laws as well, we don’t know. Authorities are far from knowing the whole truth.
We’d like to focus on one little part of this case. It comes to us courtesy of a group of Spanish-speaking day laborers interviewed by NBC. Just a couple weeks ago, say these laborers, Los Angeles man Samuel Haskell hired them to haul away some bags of garbage from his property. The bags contained rocks, they were told. But the contents felt squishy. Suspicious, they stopped their truck after driving a block away and opened one bag. It contained human remains — they found themselves looking at a woman’s belly button.
The laborers say they went to two different police stations to report the discovery. According to them, both stations refused to listen to them, saying they should instead dial 911. Before going to police, though, they did dump the bags back with Haskell, who now claimed the contents were Halloween decorations.
Asking these guys to dispose of the bags was never a good idea, but hearing they'd discovered what was inside should have been a wake-up call to take a lot of care with disposal going forward. Not much care actually followed, judging by how a construction worker spotted the torso in a public dumpster the very next day.
The Wife Killer’s Big Publicity Stunt
Rene Castellani should not have poisoned his wife, of course. But if he was going to poison her, for his own good, he should not have taken a brief break to sell cars.
Castellani murdered his wife Esther in 1965 by feeding her a milkshake every night, laced with arsenic. When Castellani wasn’t busy slowly murdering his wife, he was a DJ for Vancouver’s CKNW radio, and as part of his job as a local celeb, he had the chance to take part in a wacky promotion. An auto dealership aimed to sell all its stock, and Castellani said he would live in a station wagon parked high atop the lot’s 12-ton neon sign until they met this goal. The vehicle had its own chemical toilet, and people passed food up to him through the window.
During his nine days in that station wagon, Esther’s health improved. Once he got back down, he returned to poisoning her, and she died. Once medical examiners realized arsenic killed her, they suspected Rene, and they even found the weedkiller he’d used as an arsenic source, but they had no ironclad proof against him.
During his trial, the prosecution offered the evidence that Esther had gotten better during the car stunt. Then, they got really scientific and proved that if you looked at her hair and fingernails, arsenic had entered her system for months but had stopped entering right around those nine days. A jury found the case convincing. Rene Castellani was sentenced to death.
Two weeks before he was scheduled to hang, Canada got rid of the death penalty. He went on to be paroled and even returned to the radio. Hey, maybe luck was on his side after all.