Posts Tagged ‘America’s Most Wanted’
Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
By Laura A. McKee
Laura McKee is a graduate student in museum studies at Johns Hopkins University. She works as a curatorial and exhibitions intern at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment.
“Presided over almost 100 executions” would stand out on any résumé, but in the case of Jim Willett, it would also be true. As a 21-year-old business major at Sam Houston State University, Willett accepted what he thought would be a temporary position as a guard at the maximum-security “Walls Unit” in Huntsville, Texas. He was given a rifle and a fabric patch and told to relieve the man coming off his shift in a guard tower. Fearfully, he obeyed. That was in 1971. Five years later, Texas reinstated the death penalty and executions by lethal injection resumed in 1982. By then Willett had ascended up through the correctional officer ranks and even left Huntsville for a time to work at other units, but he returned in 1998 as warden of the 1,500 men incarcerated in Walls. At that point, his responsibilities took on a challenging new dimension, and he found himself escorting a total of 89 condemned persons (88 men and one woman) to the death chamber. He watched them struggle violently or go quietly as they were led out of their cells. He watched them eat their final meals and heard them say their final words. He watched them as they were infused with a cocktail of chemicals. He watched the expressions on the faces of their relatives and on the faces of their victims’ families. He watched them die on the gurney. He clocked a record 40 executions in 2000. That same year, he won the James H. Byrd, Jr. Memorial Award for top correctional administrators at the larger facilities run by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. But he wondered about the morality of putting prisoners to death, leading to this penetrating observation and question: “In most cases, the people we see here are not at all the people they were when they came into the system … does that mean we rehabilitated them?” At the end of the day, however, he chalked it all up to just doing his part of the job, and was glad that he had not been the judge or had served on the jury that had decided their fates.
Mr. Willett helped to narrate the Peabody Award-winning documentary “Witness to an Execution” that aired on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” in 2000. After he retired from Huntsville, he co-wrote the autobiographical book Warden with his friend, the author Ron Rozelle. Willett’s exhibition case at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment holds these and other objects relating to his remarkable 30-year tenure in the Texas prison system.
Check out our entry on recent developments with the death penalty and some issues with it
Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
James “Whitey” Bulger at 23 in 1953
James “Whitey” Bulger was captured yesterday by the FBI’s Fugitive Task Force, along with his girlfriend Catherine Elizabeth Greig. Bulger was the inspiration for the Oscar-winning film The Departed in 2006 and Showtime’s Brotherhood, and his capture crosses him off the FBI’s Ten Mosted Wanted list.
Whitey’s girlfriend Catherine was also a wanted fugitive, and the FBI launched a media campaign focusing on Catherine to canvass for tips. The campaign was successful–Tuesday evening they received a tip that led the task force to an apartment in Santa Monica. After staking out the apartment and spotting the fugitives, the task force used a “ruse” to lure Whitey from the building. They then entered to arrest Catherine.
Whitey was wanted for 19 counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, extortion, narcotics distribution and money-laundering, crimes committed during his time as head of the Winter Hill Gang in Boston. He was on the Most Wanted list since 1999 and a fugitive since 1995. He was also featured on America’s Most Wanted a number of times.
For more on his capture, click here.
Read our entry about the FBI’s Most Wanted, and a recent addition to the list
Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
Last Saturday, America’s Most Wanted aired a segment on Lauren Spierer, a 20-year-old Indiana University student who went missing on June 3rd. As the search approaches two weeks, police are spending their time sorting through nearly 1000 tips and following down leads.
They’ve established from surveillance footage and interviews with the girl’s friends that Spierer was wearing a white, V-neck shirt with elbow-length butterfly sleeves and a scooped bottom and black leggings with silver zippers at the ankles. She disappeared sometime after 3 am without her shoes, keys, or cell phone.
While the segment on AMW produced hundreds of tips, thus far the police appear to have few real leads. For more on Lauren Spierer’s disappearance and the search efforts, read the following article: Police sifting through 1,000 tips in search for missing Indiana woman
Monday, May 2nd, 2011
Osama Bin Laden, a name that strikes fear in to American hearts and the hearts of our allies, is dead. A man that has been haunting the spirit of our nation for the last decade was killed in mere minutes by a team of American Navy SEALS, inside of his custom built hideout in Abbottobad Pakistan. Three other males were killed in the raid, one of them being Bin Laden’s son who has not been named at this time. Bin Laden was shot in the head when he and his bodyguards resisted forces. Officials say that one woman was also killed when she was used as a human shield for one of the males. No Americans were harmed, but in a matter of moments after President Obama’s speech, the State Department issued an alert, warning US embassies of the possibility of anti-American violence.
Despite the fact that the operation went seamlessly, the Bin Laden raid was not an easy one. His compound was surrounded by 8 feet of barbed wire. There were also additional 7 foot security walls within the compound. So what factors contributed to Bin Laden’s defeat you may ask? US officials say that inside information was an integral part of the operation’s success. The Bin Laden family was also the only family that burned trash, and the only million dollar home that was without phone or internet connections; a giveaway that the compound was ideal to hide someone of great significance. Administration said that the raid was kept so secretive that no foreign officials were told in advance, and very few within the US government were privy to prior knowledge of the history that was about to unfold a world away.
On September 11, 2001, over 3,000 lives were lost in the worst attacks of terrorism on American soil. On May 1, 2011, the man responsible for this horrific amount of innocent bloodshed was finally brought to justice. Bin Laden’s capture sent throngs of cheering Americans in to the streets in both Times Square, and in front of the White House. Gordon Felt, president of the Families of Flight 93, issued a heartfelt statement saying, “This is important news for us, and for the world. It cannot ease our pain, or bring back our loved ones. It does bring a measure of comfort that the mastermind of the September 11th tragedy and the face of global terror can no longer spread his evil”.
Please check back soon for updates on the forensic discoveries relating to Bin Laden’s capture and killing. For more information, please click here or here.
Read about the role of forensicsin Bin Laden’s defeat
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
In New York City, it seems that there is slim pickings of mugging victims, or so ex-convict Jermaine Washington seemed to think. Washington was in Riverside Park, NY looking for someone to mug when he decided to pull his fake gun on two police officers who happened to be walking by. The two officers pulled their real guns and quickly took Washington into custody, and from there Washington no doubt went straight to prison.
The National Museum of Crime and Punishment wants to say congratulations to America’s Most Wanted for nabbing genuinely hard to catch criminals for 1000 episodes!
AMW 1000 episodes cake
Read about a man who pretended to be a police officer