Based on the response received from our Calibre Press.com readers my recent column “September: A Month to Remember” article, I decided to plop my butt down, do a little research, and author a piece for December. Here, in chronological order by year, are a few interesting factoids regarding our profession during the month of December. Unfortunately, this piece, unlike the September article, doesn’t have a whole lot of positives. That wasn’t for lack of trying.
On Dec. 15, 1890, six officers with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs were killed in South Dakota attempting to arrest Sioux Indian leader Sitting Bull. BIA Lieutenant Henry Bullhead, Sergeants James Little Eagle and Charles Shavehead, along with Officers John Armstrong, David Hawkman and Paul Akicitah were all killed during the arrest.
A year later, on Dec. 16, 1891, Chicago, Ill., Health Inspector Marie Connolly Owens was appointed to the CPD and assigned to the Detective Bureau becoming the nation’s earliest-known female sworn law enforcement officer.
In the unsolved crime category, Dec. 28, 1956, saw the disappearance of two sisters, Barbara and Patricia Grimes from Chicago, Ill. The girls, ages 13 and 15 respectively, left home and headed out to see a movie. Last seen at 9:30 pm buying popcorn, the girls had not returned home by 11:00 pm prompting a call to the CPD. Both were discovered deceased on January 22, 1957. No arrests were ever made.
Beginning on Dec. 31, 1972 and extending eight days into early January, 1973, five New Orleans, La., police officers were shot and killed by a sniper who was a member of the radical Black Panthers group. Police cadet Alfred Harrell was shot and killed just before 11:00 pm on New Year’s Eve, five minutes before he was scheduled to end his shift. Minutes later, the suspect shot and killed Sergeant Edwin Hosli who was searching a warehouse after the alarm went off. On Jan. 7, 1973, the same suspect shot and killed Deputy Superintendent Lou Sirgo and Patrolmen Phil Coleman and Paul Persigo.
On Dec. 8, 1977, the FBI announced its National DNA Index System which allowed forensic science laboratories to link serial violent crimes to each other and known sex offenders through the electronic exchange of DNA profiles.
On Dec. 16, 1982, four FBI agents, Robert Connors, Charles Ellington, Terry Herford and Michael Lynch all died in an aircraft accident while on approach to Cincinnati’s Lunken Airport. The four were escorting a bank fraud suspect to Cincinnati as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.
On Dec. 11, 1990, NYPD detectives raided the Ravenite Social Club in New York’s Little Italy and arrested reputed crime boss John Gotti, his underboss Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano, and associate Frank “Frankie Loc” LoCasio. Gotti was found guilty after 13 hours of deliberation on April 12, 1992 and sentenced to the Marion, Ill., Supermax prison. He eventually died of throat cancer at age 61.
On Dec. 25, 1996, the Boulder, Colo., Police Department responded to a residence for a call of a possible kidnapping. Thus began one of the most significant murder mysteries of our generation. The murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, found later that day in the basement of the home with her hands and feet tied and her mouth taped shut, like that of the Grimes Sisters of Chicago, remains open and unsolved to this day.
On Dec. 3, 2001, in response to the 9/11 attacks, the FBI announced the creation of the Cyber Division. They also created an Office of Law Enforcement Coordination to steam line the exchange of information between federal, state, and local agencies.
That same year, on Dec. 11, 2001, Zacarias Moussaoui was indicted for crimes relating to the 9/11 attacks. He pled guilty to six charges in April 2005 and was sentenced in May 2006 to life in prison.
On Dec. 19, 2008, the Orange County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office announced that DNA testing on human remains found a week earlier confirmed that they belong to Caylee Anthony as suspected. The “person of interest” in the case, Caylee’s mother, Casey Anthony, had her status upgraded to “suspect” two months earlier. She was found not guilty of the first degree Murder charge in July of 2011.
Dec. 14, 2012, saw one of the deadliest school shootings in recent history. 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The lone shooter, Adam Lanza, first murdered his 52-year-old mother at their shared home and then responded to the school where he shot and killed 20 students and 6 adult staff members. He took his own life as police were responding.
On Dec. 2, 2015, 14 people were shot and killed and 22 others injured in San Bernardino, Calif., when two assailants entered the Inland Regional Center intent on murder. Both were taken out by responding officers.
There are several other December active shooter incidents in recent history; Omaha, Neb., on Dec. 15, 2007 where 8 people died; Wakefield, Mass., on Dec. 26, 2000 where 7 were killed; and Garden City, N.Y., on Dec. 7, 1993 where 6 people were murdered, but time and space simply do not permit a lengthy discussion.
Officer Down Memorial Page and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund