Sunday, November 29, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Beautiful and charismatic, young actress Dominique Dunne was a strong contender for future stardom, but fate cut her life short. Think of the roles that she might have played if she had not been murdered?
1959 was an excellent year for Cadillacs and bongos. On November 23, 1959, Dominique was born into a notable literary American family. Dominique grew up to become an actress, eventually playing "Dana Freeling" in the science fiction movie "Poltergeist."
An adult young woman, Dominique fell in love with John David Sweeney, a noted Los Angeles chef at trendy restaurant Ma Maison. They moved in together for a time. However, the relationship became abusive for Dominique and she broke it off.
"He's not in love with me, Dad.
He's obsessed with me. It's driving me crazy."
- Dominque to her father Dominick
On the night of October 30, 1982, Sweeney arrived at their formerly shared residence and pleaded with her to take him back. When she refused, he strangled her for 4 to 5 minutes, until she lapsed into a coma. He thought she was dead and left her lying in her driveway.
When the telephone in my New York apartment woke me at five o'clock in the morning on October 31, 1982, I sensed as I reached for the receiver that disaster loomed. Det. Harold Johnston of the Los Angeles Homicide Bureau told me that my twenty-two-year-old daughter, Dominique, was near death at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. I asked him if he had notified my wife. He said he was calling from her home. Lenny got on the phone and said, "I need you."
"What happened?" I asked, afraid to hear.
"Sweeney," she answered.
"I'll be on the first plane."
- Dominick Dunne, father
Five days later on November 4, 1982, Dominque was removed from life support and died. She was buried at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California.
In 1983, Sweeney was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 6 1/2 years. After serving a little more than half of his sentence, he was released. His sentence remains controversial to this day.
Letter from Dominque to Sweeney
"Selfishness works both ways, you are just as selfish as I am. We have to be two individuals to work as a couple. I am not permitted to do enough things on my own. Why must you be a part of everything I do? Why do you want to come to my riding lessons and my acting classes? Why are you jealous of every scene partner I have? [...]
Why must I recount word for word everything I spoke to Dr. Black about? Why must I talk about every audition when you know it is bad luck for me? Why do we have discussions at 3:00 A.M. all the time, instead of during the day? [...]
Why must you know the name of every person I come into contact with? You go crazy over my rehearsals. You insist on going to work with me when I have told you it makes me nervous. Your paranoia is overboard..... You do not love me. You are obsessed with me. The person you think you love is not me at all. It is someone you have made up in your head. I’m the person who makes you angry, who you fight with sometimes. I think we only fight when images of me fade away and you are faced with the real me. That’s why arguments erupt out of nowhere. [...]
The whole thing has made me realize how scared I am of you, and I don’t mean just physically. I’m afraid of the next time you are going to have another mood swing... When we are good, we are great. But when we are bad, we are horrendous. The bad outweighs the good."
Again, think of the roles she might have played?
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Howard Barton Unruh (January 21, 1921 – October 19, 2009) was an American spree killer who killed 13 people on September 6, 1949, in Camden, New Jersey, when he was 28 years old. Unruh is considered the first single-episode mass murderer in U.S. history. He died in 2009 after a lengthy illness at the age of 88.
Unruh was the son of Samuel Shipley Unruh and Freda E. Unruh. He had a younger brother, James; he and Unruh were raised by their mother after the parents separated. He grew up in East Camden, attending Cramer Junior High School, and graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School in January of 1939. The Woodrow Wilson High School yearbook from 1939 indicated that he was shy and that his ambition was to become a government employee.
Always a reserved man, he had turned into a recluse in the three months before his spree. The World War II veteran was unemployed and lived with his mother. During the war, he was reportedly a brave tank soldier, serving in the Battle of the Bulge, who kept meticulous notes of every German killed, down to details of the corpse. He was honorably discharged in 1945, and returned home with a collection of medals and firearms. He decorated his bedroom with military items, and set up a target range in his basement. His mother supported him by working at a factory while Howard hung around the house and attended daily church services. He briefly attended a pharmacy course at Temple University in Philadelphia but dropped out after only three months.
He had trouble getting along with his neighbors, and his interactions with them deteriorated in the three months before his spree. He was considered a "mama's boy" and the subject of teasing. Unruh was harassed by neighborhood teens, who thought he was gay and used to make fun of him. He was reported to have been depressed about having had "homosexual liaisons" in a Philadelphia movie theater. He had only one brief relationship with a girl prior to his arrest.
Eventually Unruh became paranoid about his neighbors and started to keep a diary detailing every single thing that he thought was said about him. Next to some of the names was the word "retal," short for "retaliate." He arrived home from a movie theater at 3am on September 6 to discover that the gate he had just built in front of his house had been stolen. This appears to have been the trigger; Unruh told the police, "When I came home last night and found my gate had been stolen, I decided to kill them all." After sleeping until 8:00 a.m. he got up, dressed in his best suit and ate breakfast with his mother. At some point, he threatened his mother with a wrench, and she left for a friend's home.
At 9:20 a.m., Unruh left the house armed with a German Luger pistol looking for his first victims. In only twelve minutes he shot and killed 13 people with 14 shots and wounded several others. Although premeditated, the list of victims was marked by random chance. Unruh's first shot missed its intended victim, a bakery truck driver. Unruh shot two of five people in a barber shop, sparing the other three. One victim was killed when he happened to block the door to a pharmacy. A motorist was killed when his car slowed to view the body of a victim. Intending to kill a local tailor, Unruh entered his shop, but the tailor was not there; Unruh killed the man's wife instead.
Other intended victims successfully locked themselves inside their businesses (a tavern and a restaurant), and Unruh was unable to reach them.
When he heard the sirens of the approaching police, Unruh returned to his apartment and engaged in a standoff. Over 60 police surrounded Unruh's home, and a shootout ensued.
During the siege, Philip W. Buxton, a reporter from the Camden Evening Courier, phoned Unruh's home and spoke briefly with him. On a hunch, Buxton had looked up Unruh's number in the phone book. Buxton later recounted the conversation, which was cut short when police hurled tear gas into the apartment:
"What are they doing to you?"
"They haven't done anything to me yet, but I'm doing plenty to them."
"How many have you killed?"
"I don't know yet. I haven't counted them. But it looks like a pretty good score."
"Why are you killing people?"
"I don't know. I can't answer that yet. I'm too busy. I'll have to talk to you later. A couple of friends are coming to get me."
Unruh surrendered several minutes later. While Unruh was being arrested, a policeman reportedly asked, “What’s the matter with you. You a psycho?” In response, he said, "I'm no psycho. I have a good mind."
Unruh was later taken in for interrogation at the police headquarters, where policemen and Mitchell Cohen, Camden County prosecutor, questioned him for more than two hours. He told police that he had spent the previous evening sitting through three showings of a double feature, The Lady Gambles and I Cheated the Law, and had thought that actress Barbara Stanwyck was one of his hated neighbors. He provided a meticulous account of his actions during the killings. Only at the end of the interrogation did they discover he had a gunshot wound in the left thigh, which he kept secret. He was subsequently taken to Cooper Hospital for treatment.
Charges were filed for 13 counts of "willful and malicious slayings with malice aforethought" and three counts of "atrocious assault and battery". He was eventually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia by psychologists, and found to be hopelessly insane, making him immune to criminal prosecution. When he was able to leave Cooper Hospital, Unruh was sent to the New Jersey Hospital for the Insane (now Trenton Psychiatric Hospital), to be installed into a bed in a private cell in the maximum-security Vroom Building. Unruh's last public words, made during an interview with a psychologist, were, "I'd have killed a thousand if I had bullets enough."
During his spree, Unruh killed 13 victims and injured three. Those killed are listed below:
John Joseph Pilarchik, age 27;
Orris Martin Smith, 6;
Clark Hoover, 33;
James Hutton, 45;
Rose Cohen, 38;
Minnie Cohen, 63;
Maurice J. Cohen, 39;
Alvin Day, 24;
Thomas Hamilton, 2;
Helga Kautzach Zegrino, 28;[
Helen Wilson, 37;
Emma Matlack, 68; and
John Wilson, 9.