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9 Crimes and Criminals That Shocked USA

Updated on August 21, 2015
Time Magazine Cover at the time
Time Magazine Cover at the time

O.J. Simpson's Crime & Trial

O.J Simpson's crime and trial was one of the most mediatized public matters in the 20th century. Former professional football star and actor was accused and furtherly found not guilty (leading to a even bigger controversy) of the murder of his ex-wife and lover. Since Simpson was a big time celebrity, this case brought unprecedented media attention. The lenghty and dramatic trial was national news throught the all process. The trial saw many turns, as DNA analyzes were very recent at the time. Although DNA found on the murder scene pointed to Simpson has guilty, two attorneys of O.J. Simpson tried to discredit this arguing his client was being victim of police fraud. The trial lasted eight months.

CNN Live Chase Coverage

O.J. Simpson Live Car Chase

On June 17 1994, after being on the run, Simpson was spotted by a police man riding a car together with one of his friends. This was reported back to the police station and the first and most infamous live car chase started. Simpson, officially declared a fugitive hours ago, was chased by up to twenty police cars and pursued by many TV news helicopters reporting live on national TV. Tom Lange from the Los Angeles Police Department had O.J. Simpson cell phone number and he decided to call and convice him to end the pursuit. Lange hooked a tape recorder to the phone and recorded the all conversation, hiring after on TV.

O.J. Simpson Created Reality TV

Simpson's case got the all world talking and commenting on the subject. All this attention would be soon commercialized in a new way. Judge Lance Ito decided to open court doors to TV Cameras and record sessions of the trial. This images would after been hired on TV and commented on by people such as Kato Kaelin and Faye Resnick, who would later on start reality shows such as "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" and "Gimme My Reality Show!".

Cable networks were all over the trial and people could not get enough of it. Public loved the drama. The barriers between news, reality and enternaiment no longer existed and a new genere of TV show began.

Rolling Stone cover
Rolling Stone cover

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev- Boston Bomber

The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing stroke americans right in their heart, it was the first big terrorist attack on North American soil after the 9/11. The bombs exploded at the finish line killing three people and injuring 260 others. The country was once again in shock and shortly after FBI released surveillance videos showing the two suspects later identified as the now known Tsarnaev brothers. The suspects killed a policeman and carjacked a car, thus beginning a shooting with the police in which the younger brother run over his older gun wounded brother with the car while escaping. Reported dead at the scene, but Dzhokhar managed to escape.

A massive and mediatized manhunt begun on Dzhokhar, Watertown and Boston was surrounded by policeman and residents were asked to stay indoor. The streets were pratically a desert. During that time, one of Watertown residents reported someone hidden in his boat, it was Dzhokhar, quickly surrounded, shot and arrested by police.

Helicopter video of Boston bomber hiding in boat

Critics on Tsarnaev Rolling Stone Cover

Rolling Stone, America's well known magazine, published an issue featuring Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Boston bomber, being even matter of cover. One which depicted a photograph of the nineteen year old posted on Facebook before the terrorist attack. The cover was highly criticized for making the bomber look like a celebrity, a "rock-star". This was not the first time Rolling Stone was accused of promoting criminals has martyr celebrities, having it done with Marilyn Manson too has shown below.

Charles Manson- Bloody Cult Leader

Charles Manson is no stranger to our culture, we have all heard of him, his crimes and specially his lunatic face. He became an iconic figure in North American's Culture and consequently worldwide. Manson was a cult leader of the now infamous Manson's Family, members of the cult acted on his orders and murdered many high-profile people in 69' including the famous actress Sharon Tate which was eight and a half month pregnant, Leno LaBianca and his wife, among others. Prosecutors said Manson was trying to start a race war he believed was prophesized in the Beatles' song "Helter Skelter". The murderers were bloody savage acts whose crime scenes shocked the world. An investigation led to Manson and his followers.

Manson was accused of leading the cult and the murderers to which he was found guilty and was sentenced to death in 1971. Yet, in 72' California eliminated state's death penalty law and Charles Manson remains incarcerated to date.

Charles Manson Videos Compilation

Manson North American Pop Culture of Mad

With all the attention the case and the murderes had on TV and journals, Manson's figure remains alive in our minds. It is rare the person who does not recognize his infamous crazy eyed photos or his videos were he acts strange and gives speaches that are now quoted by youth.

In part because Manson was also a singer, him and his terror cult performed in a band and had original songs of their own. The album Lie: The Love & Terror Cult was writen but not performed by Manson, to help pay for his trial costs, released in 1970.

Link to albums:

All The Way Alive


Lie: The Love & Terror Cult

Al Capone- The Iconic Gangster

In 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect in United States law and alcohol was forbidden. Prohibition in also known as The Noble Experiment deprivited people from their favourite addiction, alcoholic drinks. The remaning alcohol was thrown away, but it did not take much time, until illegal alcohol manufactured without police acknowledgement hit the streets. It soon became a highly profitable business run by mafia and Chicago saw the rising of Al Capone the iconic gangster of North America.

Also famously known as Scarface, was vicious, from bribes to violence, he had mayor Bill Thompson under his control and gunned man at his disposal. Members of his gang even had stamped cards issued by Chicago City Hall that read: "To the Police Department--you will extend the courtesies of this department to the bearer.". A green card for all his activities and crimes. Eventually Treasury Department launched an investigation on Capone due to no income tax ever be returned in his name, while he was worth over 30$ million. A huge investigation and consequently trial was led and even after threats and attempted bribery, the Mob Boss was found guilty and senteced. During "The Public Enemy Era" a period of police hunt on mobs, Al Capone was considered by FBI North America Public Enemy Number One.

A curious fact is among his confiscated assets there was a bullet-proof Cadillac that ended up being Franklin Roosevelt’s limousine.

Capone inspired many movies and characters, sparking the Mafia culture in cinema. Such films as “Little Caesar”, “The Public Enemy” and Scarface” became classics of the mob culture. Later on a movie biography "Al Capone" based on his story staring Robert Da Niro.

Picture of the St. Valentine's Massacre crime scene
Picture of the St. Valentine's Massacre crime scene

St. Valentine's Day Massacre

The city was used to gang members killing other gang members, years of extreme violence, but in 1929 a massacre fueled the tabloids. Named as St. Valentine's Day Massacre because of its date. Irish American gang led by Bus Morgan and the South Side Italian gang led by Al Capone collided. Seven of Al Capone's rivals were cought surprise by Capone's man and shot with machine-guns.

John Wilkes Booth- The Infamous Murderer

Abraham Lincoln was the first U.S. President to be assinated, a deep scare in North America history. The assassination took place in Easter Friday at a play at Ford's Theatre. A plot by John Booth, Lewis Powell and David Herold, was ment to kill the President, the Vice President and the Secretary of State. Only Booth's attempt succeeded, Lincoln was pronounced death on the morning after the shooting.

Booth and his comrades intended to eliminate the top hierarchy of the United States and revive the Confederate cause. Lincoln opposed to Slavery and its expansion, in fact Lincoln was the U.S. President to end slavery. South States supporting slavery were against Lincoln, as so Booth planned and achieved his assassination.

First Time Photographs Were Printed On a Wanted Poster

Lincoln's Assassination started one of the first big man hunts on the United States, it did not take long as Booth was soon identified as the killer shouting "The South is avenged" after the murdered. Booth's face and of his comrades wall over the streets and the nearby city's and village's. It was the first time a picture was used in a Wanted Poster, until than only handbills or postcards had been used. A big campaign to catch the assassin.

Booth managed to run away but was cought soon after and unwillingly to surrender police shot him down. John Booth would forever live in USA's history, as the first man assassinating a USA's President. One of the darkest days of America.

Lee Oswald- Kennedy's Assassin

In 1963, United States witnessed once again one of his dearest presidents being assassinated in public. John F. Kennedy while driving in a motorcade through Dealey Plaza was shot by a sniper. Kennedy's assassination started one of the biggest controversies in history "Who Shot Kennedy?".

A report by "The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy" formed after the president being murdered, declared Lee Oswald the assassi. Lee had lived in Soviet Union, later on returning to Texas. Even to these days, much has yet to be discovered, there are theories but the case was never fully disclosed.

The famous frame 313 moment JFK is shot
The famous frame 313 moment JFK is shot

For history it would remain Zapruder's footage and the famous frame 313 showing the moment President's Kennedy head was hit by the first bullet.

Jake Ruby shoots Lee Oswald

Lee Oswald Was Later Assassinated Aswell

Two days after Oswald was charged with John F. Kennedy's assassination he was shot by Jack Ruby a nightclub operator with ties to the Mafia. This contributed to the all conspiration theories surrounding the President's assassination.

Oswald's assassination was recorded on tape too, has it can been seen in the below video.

Time Magazine cover of Bin Laden
Time Magazine cover of Bin Laden

Osama Bin Laden- 9/11 Terrorist Attack

On September 11 of 2001, North America changed forever. The country suffered one of the biggest terrorist attacks in its history, right in the heart of america, the Twin Towers. A highjacked plane full of passengers hit one of the tours killing thousands. A nationwide panic began has news were reported. USA was under attack. A second plant hit the second tower live on TV, spectators could not believe what they were watching. The attack changed security forever, airports, big public areas, laws, travelling, nothing would be the same in America. The terrorist attack still has a big effect in homeland security to this day, as countries are always in alert and implemeting new security and surveillance measures.

The terrorist group Al Qaeda was considered responsible for the attack and later on claimed indeed was a plan carried by the organization. George W. Bush declared war on terrorism and on the head of Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden. The biggest man hunt in history began, millions were invested in fighting terrorists, soldiers were deployed. North America's new Public Enemy Number One.

In 2011 a group of special ops conducted an operation which led to the killing of Bin Laden, it was a big victory and (arguibly) revenge on the 9/11 attack.

9/11 and Bin Laden will live on history as one of biggest crimes against the United States of America.

The Dallas Morning News cover on Bonnie and Clyde death
The Dallas Morning News cover on Bonnie and Clyde death

Jesse James- From Robber to Historic Celebrity

Jesse James was an American outlaw in the 19th century, famous for robbing banks and trains alongside his brother and other criminals. James-Younger Gang as they were named, were accused of many armed robberys, often killing. Jesse James became a celebrity while he was still alive, many "Dead or Alive" posters were printed. Eventually after his death Jesse James became a legendary icon of the Wild West culture.

Portrayed in many Wild West movies, the gang's atrocities are told to this day. "The Assassination of Jesse James" movie biography stars Brad Pitt as Jesse James.

Jesse James Bank Raid Re-Enactment

Jesse James Festival and Bank Raids Re-enactements

Jesse James became a legendary figure and a local celebrity, every year the Jesse James Annual Festival is held, parades, fairs, rodeos, celebrate Jesse James life and capture.

A re-enactement of his First National Bank of Northfield bank robbery attempt is performed aswell, as it can be watched in the below video.

Famous photograph of the couple
Famous photograph of the couple

Bonnie and Clyde- Most Famous Outlaw Couple

Bonnie and Clyde were Al Capone contemporaries during Great Depression, a time which led to a huge increase of the crime rate, mobs and outlaws ruled a darker america. The outlaw couple travelled the United States along with their gang robbing banks and gas stations. Ruthless, shot and killed over nine police officers and civilians. Their exploits and murderers cought USA attention during the "Public Enemy Era". Eventually the couple was ambushed and killed in a gunshot by police.

Photographs of the car and their dead bodies are still object of admiration in North American's Popular Culture.

The Outlaw Couple Love and Savagery

Bonnie and Clyde and their gang were wanted for many crimes including a prison escape which resulted in the death of two prison guards, a murderer of two policeman shortly after and the kidnapping of more.

Yet they are despicted as couple very much in love, as it can be seen in Beyonce's music a videoclip "Bonnie and Clyde" and in the 1967 movie by the same name. The two lovers remained in history forever, most of the time not as violent criminals but as the best clichet for outlaw couples.


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    • Christopher Jay T profile image

      Christopher Jay Thompson 

      3 years ago from Fort Worth, TX

      Not true, the police followed protocol. Johnny cocrane put the police chief on trial for being racist. He made it seem like the cops just pinned it on him because he was black. Even though this happens, it wa n't the case.

    • StephanPoe profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      Thank you for OJ info, I need to fix that mistake

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      Brad Masters 

      3 years ago from Orange County California BSIT BSL JD

      As far as OJ Simpson he was found Not Guilty.

      This was more from the incompetent police who didn't follow protocol than it was from his lawyers. They just used what these cops made a mess of.

      You don't carry around the suspects blood sample and visit his home.

      You don't go over a wall on private property without a warrant and backup.

      The list goes on.

      As for 911, the problem was that the US didn't have any defense during the attack.

      Andrews Air Force Base couldn't even protect the capital. The FAA, FBI, CIA, NSA, Air Force, NORAD and the rest of the US Government failed to do their job.


      Homeland Security is just window dressing and TSA is a joke where close to minimum wage workers Protect US, really.

      President Bush and Congress should have cleaned house after 911. And President Bush should have taken control of the impasse between the FAA and NORAD.

      The US is Retroactive in their security and never Proactive. While we try to prevent another terrorist attack using the same mechanism as 911, the terrorist may choose anyone of thousands of other ways to hit our numerous soft targets.


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