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10. San Quentin Prison

San Quentin, California – In the 1930’s, San Quentin was rife with corruption by management, until a new director, Clinton Truman Duffy, appalled at the inhumane conditions at the prison, decided to implement reforms in the 1940’s. Prior to his appointment, prisoners made counterfeit currency in the prison shops, had their heads shaved and were forced to wear numbered uniforms, while eating out of pails and enduring solitary confinement in poured-concrete cells that had little air and no light. Even a petty offense to prison regulations would land an inmate in solitary, and race riots would put inmate lives at risk on a regular basis. San Quentin is still a harsh environment, filled with California’s most violent offenders, and the high ratio of guards to general population, just barely keeps the prison system from spiraling out of control.

9. Bang Kwang Prison

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Thailand – Known as the “Bangkok Hilton”, Bang Kwang is understaffed, overcrowded, and filled with inmates who struggle with insanity as they spend the first months of their sentences chained in leg irons. The Thai culture doesn’t believe in coddling prisoners, and, in the words of Director of Prison Khun Nattee, “Thai prisons are tough…you don’t want to be in Bang Kwang.” Poor medical care is standard at this prison, with sick inmates shackled to their beds as they wait for medicines they probably will never get. If you find yourself on Death Row at Bangkwang, you will have leg irons welded on until your execution, and you will be given only two hours notice before dying by lethal injection.

8. Rikers Island Prison

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Rikers Island, New York – Stabbings, beatings and brutal treatment from prison guards characterize this American prison. Filled primarily with offenders who are visible minorities, jailed on drug offenses, the prison is a hotbed of violence and aggression. In 2007, prisoner Charles Afflic was beaten senseless with a billy club by a prison official, who hit him repeatedly from behind: his injuries were so severe they necessitated brain surgery. 6 inmates committed suicide, hanging themselves with bedsheets in their cells, during the first six months of 2003 alone. Rikers has a reputation for its cruel treatment of mentally ill prisoners, who often turn to suicide in lieu of treatment and understanding.

7. ADX Florence Supermax Facility

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Colorado – This prison was built in response to the violent attacks on guards and prison staff at other US prisons – it was meant to be the ultimate deterrent, a place where inmates were completely isolated from prison staff, and left to live in slow psychological torture as they spent 23 hours a day in barren cells. Inmates at ADX are the worst of the worst, often repeat offenders who have killed or injured other inmates, or even prison guards, during their time in other institutions. Describes by inmates as a nightmare vision of punishment, “meant to inflict misery and pain”, this “clean version of hell” is also a violent place, despite all the steps taken to segregate and isolate the general population. In its 13 years of operation, two prisoners have been killed at ADX Florence. Another prisoner, named Lawrence Klaker, was shot and injured as he entered the Supermax prison for the first time: he later killed himself within prison walls.

6. Alcatraz Island Prison

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San Francisco, CA – This prison, known as “The Rock”, or “Devil’s Island” was built to house the criminals of the 1920’s, who broke laws during the times of Prohibition leading into the Great Depression. Another study in stark, soul-destroying discomfort and isolation, Alcatraz was known for its unique design, which made escape almost unthinkable. Inmates had no contact with the world outside the prison gates, and suffered harsh discipline from prison officials, as well as an inhumane policy of “silence” that forced prisoners to forgo speech for long periods of time. As can be expected, this was no boon to mental health, and many inmates went insane as they were forced to endure the stringent conditions of the prison without any conversation or other release of their emotions. The prison was shut down in 1963, but its grim legacy lives on, in film and legend.

5. La Sante Prison

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Paris, France – According to whistle-blower and former prison official Veronique Vasseur, this prison was a hellhole, where prisoners were forced to live out their sentences in concrete cells full of rats and lice. Inmates were prone to lose their sanity as they dealt with the harsh daily realities of life at La Sante – which translates, ironically, to “health” in the English language. The well being of inmates was very low on the list of priorities for the French administrators of this torture chamber on a grand scale: weaker inmates were routinely enslaved by stronger ones, and rapes were a daily event at the prison. Suicide was rampant at la Sante, with a staggering 122 self-inflicted deaths of prisoners in 2002, and 73 more by mid 2003. The tendency to suicide could be linked to the terrible living conditions that plunged inmates into clinical depression: overcrowding, understaffing, and prison violence led these people to swallow drain cleaner in order to end their suffering once and for all.

4. Diyarbakir Prison

Turkey – This prison has been cited for its human right violations, which are thought to cross the line into true atrocity. From 1981 to 1984, 34 prisoners lost their lives due to the excessive instances of torture, both mental and physical, practiced at Diyarbakir. This prison is notorious for the sexual abuse of its inmates, and its unlivable conditions. Prisoners have attempted hunger strikes, set themselves on fire in protest of prison conditions, and committed suicide in order to escape the horrors of this Turkish facility. Diyarbakir is known to incarcerate mere children for sentences of life imprisonment, and its “crimes against humanity” make it one of the word’s most sadistic and forbidding penal institutions.

3. La Sabaneta Prison

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Venezuela – Venezuela is known for its brutal prisons, where violence is a daily occurrence, and inmates are at the mercy of disease outbreaks, underpaid staff, little medical services, and insufficient food and care. La Sabaneta is the worst of the worst, a place where cholera outbreaks have wiped out 700 inmates, amidst “appalling violence” and riots that triggered a horrific massacre of 100 inmates back in 1994. Death is rampant at La Sabaneta, and the hair-trigger tempers of inmates and staff are thought to be linked to idleness and boredom, as no activities are permitted to release tension: left to their own devices, prisoners fight amongst themselves, fashion shivs and other deadly weapons, and kill one another in this truly archaic penal facility.

2. Tadmor Prison

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Syria – The death count may not rank Tadmor Prison as number one on this list, but no other prison sent such shivers down my spine as I did my research. The violence at Tadmor is so gruesome and utterly merciless, I felt sick reading about it. Described as a “kingdom of death and madness” by a former detainee, Tadmor features bloodthirsty guards who butcher inmates with axes, and political prisoners (read: non violent protestors) who are starved to concentration camp emaciation by prison administrators. In 1980, after an assassination attempt on the President (in Damascus), inmates were made to pay the ultimate price as commandos landed at Tadmor in helicopters, and butchered as many as 500 prisoners in their cells: this “warning: sent a clear message to Syrians about staying in line. When guards are not busy tying up inmates and dragging them to death, they can be found chopping up body parts in one of the prison’s several courtyards.

1. Carandiru Prison

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Brazil – The body count was sky-high at this notorious Brazilian prison, where riots in 1992 triggered a massacre of the general population by local police: inmates, who had already given in and surrendered to police, were shot as they cowered in terror in their tiny cells. Deaths at this facility are thought to be as many as 1300 over its 46 year history: the reign of terror by prison officials was stopped in 2002 when the prison was closed, amidst campaigns from Amnesty International, and reports of gross human rights violations that could not be quieted by Brazilian officials.  The violence wasn’t the only thing threatening the unfortunate residents of this dark place: an AIDS epidemic at the facility spread rapidly, with as many as one in five of the inmates suffering from the disease.

I'd rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not".

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10. Gerard’s Tower Of London Escape

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John Gerard was a sixteenth century Jesuit priest who is remembered as one of the only people to ever escape from the notorious Tower of London. Gerard was put in the Tower for carrying out his religious missions during a time when the Catholic Church was under persecution in Elizabethan England. He endured frequent interrogations, and despite never breaking even under torture, he was eventually sentenced to death. Gerard immediately began planning an escape, and was able to communicate with allies on the outside via smuggled notes written in an invisible ink made from orange juice. After one failed attempt, Gerard was able to make his escape when some accomplices rowed a boat into the Tower’s moat and managed to get a rope up to him. Gerard almost fell to his death because his hands were so injured from torture, but he managed to climb down to the boat and was smuggled out of England to live out the rest of his life in Rome.

9. Dillinger’s County Jail Escape


Legendary 30s outlaw John Dillinger was involved in a number of often violent prison escapes. In 1933, he and his gang engineered a daring escape from a prison in Lima, Ohio after they used smuggled rifles to gun down two guards. But Dillinger’s most famous escape of all came in 1934, after he was arrested on the heels of a number of famous bank heists. Dillinger was put in the “escape-proof” Lake County Jail, a prison that was guarded by an army of policeman and National Guard troops. In what has become something of a legend, Dillinger is said to have fashioned a phony gun out of a bar of soap and used it to force his way out of the jail. In his typical brash style, he then stole the Sheriff’s brand new Ford and made his escape to Illinois. Ironically, it was this move–driving a stolen vehicle across state lines– that got the FBI on his trail and eventually led to his demise.

8. The Libby Prison Escape

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Richmond, Virginia’s Libby Prison was one of the most infamous jails of the Civil War, but it’s also the site of one of the conflict’s most daring escapes. In 1864, a group of 15 Union soldiers under the direction of Col. Thomas E. Rose and Major A.G Hamilton managed to tunnel through the prison’s basement to a nearby vacant lot. This was no easy task, as Libby’s basement was a dark and vermin-infested cellar known to the men as “Rat Hell,” but after seventeen days of digging, they reached a nearby tobacco shed. From here, 109 soldiers managed to escape into the city of Richmond and make a run for the nearby Union lines. 48 of the men were recaptured, and 2 drowned in a nearby river, but 59 managed to make it to the safety of the Federal army. Their escape remains the most successful prison break of the Civil War. Photo by civilwarbattlefields

7. Casanova’s Escape from the Leads

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Venetian writer and adventurer Giacomo Casanova is best remembered for being a ladies’ man, but he is also responsible for one of the all time great prison breaks. In 1753, after gaining a reputation for debauchery and adultery, Casanova was arrested and confined to the Leads prison, so named because it was outfitted with a lead roof that was designed to encourage stifling heat and make escape impossible. After smuggling a metal spike into his cell, Casanova and a renegade priest confined nearby managed to tunnel through the ceiling of their cells. Once through, they pried open the lead plates on the roof and broke into another room through a dormer window. Using a combination of ladders and ropes, the duo managed to make it to the ground floor, and after breaking a lock and sneaking through the prison corridors, they escaped by gondola into the city’s network of rivers. Casanova would later write about the escape in a popular memoir, and though many have speculated that the story may be embellished, evidence from scene of the jailbreak seems to back up his account.

6. Pascal Payet’s Helicopter Escapes

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Many European prisons have exercise yards on their roofs, a feature that French criminal Pascal Payet has repeatedly used to his advantage. Payet was originally jailed for a murder that occurred during a botched robbery on a security van, and was sentenced to thirty years in France’s Luynes Prison. In 2001, he managed to make a daring escape when an accomplice simply picked him up from the prison’s roof with a hijacked chopper. Payet even returned to the prison two years later with another helicopter and proceeded to help three other prisoners make their escape, but all four men were re-captured, and Payet was given another seven-year sentence for his role in the jailbreak. Amazingly, in 2007 Payet again escaped via helicopter, this time from Grasse prison in southeast France. He was lifted off the roof by four masked accomplices who had hijacked a chopper from a nearby airport by threatening to kill the pilot. After landing near the Mediterranean Sea, the pilot was released, and Payet and his accomplices have since disappeared.

5. Dieter Dengler’s Prison Camp Escape


Dieter Dengler was a German-American Navy pilot who made a famous escape from a jungle prison camp during the Vietnam War. In early 1966, Dengler’s plane was shot down by anti-aircraft fire over Laos, and he was captured and shipped to a prison camp run by the Pathet Lao, a group of North Vietnamese sympathizers. Dengler had earned a reputation for his uncanny ability to escape from mock-POW camps during his military training, and he immediately contributed to a plan the prisoners had to make a getaway. On June 29, 1966, he and six other prisoners managed to escape from their hand and foot restraints and get a hold of the guard’s weapons. After gunning down three guards, Dengler escaped into the dense forest. He would eventually spend 23 days in the jungle enduring extreme heat, insects, leeches, parasites, and starvation before being rescued by an American helicopter. Only one of the other prisoners, a Thai contractor, survived the escape. The others were all either killed or disappeared in the jungle. Dengler would go on to become a successful test pilot in his later years, and to this day he is credited as the only American soldier to successfully escape from a prison camp during the Vietnam War.

4. Escape From Alcatraz


In 1962, Frank Morris and Clarence and John Anglin used months of meticulous planning to make what has become the prototypical prison escape. The trio were being held in the infamous prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, which was reserved for the most hardened criminals and considered to be one of the most escape-proof prisons ever built. The men used a series of tools including a drill assembled from a vacuum cleaner motor to chip away at the aging concrete in their cells and make it to a nearby ventilation shaft. They then made their way down a chimney to the beach, where they quickly assembled a handmade raft and escaped into the San Francisco Bay. Their escape was not realized until the next morning, as the men had fashioned some dummy heads from soap, human hair, and toilet paper to make it look like they were asleep in their beds. The men were never heard from again, and most evidence suggests they drowned in the bay, but no bodies were ever found.

3. The Maze Prison Escape


One of the most violent prison escapes of all time, the Maze Prison break took place in 1983, when 35 inmates escaped after taking control of the prison by force. The Maze was reserved for Irish Republican Army paramilitary combatants and terrorists, and was considered to be one of the most inescapable prisons in all of Europe. But after several months of planning, a group of prisoners led by IRA members Gerry Kelly and Bobby Storey seized control of an entire cellblock by using handguns that had been smuggled into the jail. After wounding several of the guards and stealing their uniforms, the prisoners hijacked a car and took over a nearby guard post, but when they couldn’t get past the main gate, the men hopped the fence and made a run for it on foot. All told, 35 men escaped from the prison– sixteen of whom were recaptured soon after–and twenty guards were injured.

2. Billy Hayes’ Escape From Turkish Prison

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Arriving in New York on October 24, 1975, after his five-year ordeal in the Turkish prison system, Billy Hayes displays the new passport that the American embassy in Athens, Greece issued him.

Billy Hayes was an American student who was arrested in 1970 when he tried to smuggle two pounds of hash onto a plane in Turkey. After being caught, he was sentenced to thirty years in the harsh Turkish prison system. Hayes toiled in Sagmilicar Prison for five years, but he was eventually transferred to an island prison in the Sea of Marmara, and it was here that he began to seriously plan his escape. The island had no boats, but a nearby harbor would frequently fill up with small fishing vessels any time there was a strong storm. Hayes spent days hiding in a concrete bin, and when the time was right, he swam to the harbor and stole a small dinghy. From here, he was able to make his way to Greece, and eventually traveled halfway around the world before arriving safely back in the United States. Hayes later wrote a book about his ordeal called Midnight Express, which was adapted into a fictionalized film of the same name.

1. The Great Escape

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For sheer planning, risk, and scale, prison escapes don’t get much more complex than the 1944 escape of 76 Allied soldiers from Stalag Luft III, a German prison that operated during WWII. The escape was the culmination of over a year of work by some 600 prisoners. The men dug three tunnels (nicknamed “Tom,” “Dick,” and “Harry”) 30 feet beneath the surface of the prison with the plan of tunneling past the main fence and surfacing in the nearby forest. This required a sophisticated construction process that included the use of wood blocks for support, a series of lamps, and even a pump to make sure the soldiers digging had enough air to breathe. After gathering a collection of civilian clothes and passports, on March 24, 1944 the soldiers began to make their escape. Unfortunately, the tunnel had come up short of the forest, and as the men surfaced they were in clear sight of the guards. 76 men still managed to escape, but the 77th was spotted and the tunnel was shut down. The Nazis took a special interest in the escaped prisoners, and all but three were eventually caught. Still, thanks to the popularity of the famous movie based on it, as well as its sheer scale and audacity, “the Great Escape” remains one of the most well-known prison escapes of all time.

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10. Diane Downs – Victims: 1

Elizabeth Diane Downs is led in handcuffs into the Lane County Courthouse in 1984 on the first day of her trial on accusations that she shot her three children, one fatally. - CLAUDIA HOWELL/THE OREGONIANE

Elizabeth Diane Downs is led in handcuffs into the Lane County Courthouse in 1984 on the first day of her trial on accusations that she shot her three children, one fatally. - CLAUDIA HOWELL/THE OREGONIAN

The subject of true crime author Anne Rule’s best selling book, Small Sacrifices, Diane Downs, chose a romantic relationship over her own children. When her lover, Lew, made it clear that a life with children was not in his master plan, she began to create a twisted scheme in which she would destroy her offspring, who had become only obstacles to her own happiness. Her plot to kill her children was a desperate, last-ditch attempt to hold on to a man who wanted out.

Her children from a prior marriage, Christie, Cheryl, and Danny, were the “small sacrifices” in this terrible crime. On a macabre night drive, she tried to end the lives of her own children. Stopping the car along a deserted stretch of road, she killed Cheryl, her second child, aged 7, in cold blood. Christie and Danny were also shot. Her oldest daughter, Christie, who was eight, survived the attack, and so did 3-year old Danny Downs. However, her little son was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot at near point-blank range.  Christie was also left with serious injuries, such as paralysis on one side of her body, and speech difficulties…but she was so very courageous.

In court, she found the words to explain to the judge and jury exactly what her mother had done. The bravery of this young girl, who wished to seek justice for her dead sister, was moving, and terribly sad. Anne Rule wrote about the pain and dignity of this little girl with great skill and compassion.

Diane Downs continues to proclaim her innocence. This former letter carrier for the State of Oregon now spends her days in prison – where she has been known to exchange lurid and sexually flirtatious letters with another tawdry inmate – serial rapist and killer Randy Woodfield – (the I-5 Killer).

9. Susan Smith – Victims: 2

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Susan Smith’s psyche was a witches’ brew of personality disorders, which culminated in the deaths of her two very young sons, Michael and Alex. Much like Diane Downs, this woman believed that ridding herself of her offspring would heal a relationship that had ended badly. However, her beliefs were rooted in delusion, because her lover, Tom, had made it clear that he was done with the relationship, once and for all.

This woman drove to the edge of a South Carolina lake, got out, and then put the car in drive. After releasing the brake, she stood silently and watched the vehicle, where her babies slept peacefully in the backseat, sink into the depths. Then, she phoned the police, in “hysterics”, blaming the crime on a “black man”.

Childhood sexual abuse and incest were perhaps the catalyst for Smith’s many narcissistic illusions and dreams. She claimed to have had a sexual relationship with her own stepfather, and her mother turned on her when she made her experiences with him public. Her mother’s inability to understand the abuse and the pain the situation caused her own daughter may well have been a source of rage for the young woman.

As she grew into adulthood, Susan Smith displayed a growing desire for sexual attention, as well as a need for ideal love and a grandiose, glamorous life. All these were classic signs of narcissistic personality disorder.

In time, the police put two and two together, separating the lies Susan Smith told from the cold, hard facts about the gruesome crime she committed with such icy ruthlessness. Eventually, she broke down under intense questioning from police and admitted to her acts, letting police know the exact location of the bodies. Inside the sunken vehicle, a “Dear John” letter from her ex-lover floated among the debris. Her poor children had died for nothing at all…

Sentenced to 30 years behind bars, Susan has continued her sexual indiscretions with two prison guards, one of whom gave her a sexually transmitted disease.

8. Karla Homolka – Victims: 3

Canadian sex killer Karla Homolka (right) and her lawyer Sylvie Bordelais during a television interview with Radio-Canada in Montreal, following her release from prison.

Canadian sex killer Karla Homolka (right) and her lawyer Sylvie Bordelais during a television interview with Radio-Canada in Montreal, following her release from prison.

This blonde Canadian woman will always be known as a traitor to her own gender. Her desire to please her partner, notorious “Scarborough Rapist” and serial killer Paul Bernardo, led her to assist him in the kidnapping, rape, and murder of three young women, one of whom was her own sister (who died accidentally after being drugged by Karla). She showed no mercy for the young girls who endured imprisonment in her own home – even as they begged for her help. To one, she gave a teddy bear – scant comfort indeed.

After her arrest, Karla cut a sweet deal with the authorities in order to get a lighter sentence. She gave them information about Paul’s crimes that assisted the prosecution in convicting him. Her husband claimed she committed all the murders herself.

While in custody, she was permitted to attend University, where she earned a degree. Such educational opportunities were denied forever to her lovely, bright young victims, whose futures were destroyed so cruelly. Many people were disgusted and outraged that a woman who had participated in such heinous crimes should be able to walk free after a comparatively short sentence. Karla claimed that she was terrorized by her own husband, and had no choice but to play along…or die. But videotapes unearthed later seemed to paint a much different picture.

Today, Karla still plays the victim, putting the responsibility for her terrible crimes upon her husband. However, psychologists argue about her real motivations. Some feel she was traumatized by the events of her ill-starred marriage; others are certain there was (and is) darkness and psychopathy under the façade. One interesting fact is that Karla, after the death of her own sister, complained in a letter to a friend that her wedding to Paul might need to be postponed because of the tragedy.

7. Beverly Allitt – Victims: 4

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Dubbed the “Angel of Death”, this serial killer is of English birth. Beverly Allitt was a registered nurse who abused her position in order to feed her dark desires. Innocent children were the targets of Allitt’s heinous acts, which included injecting potassium chloride or insulin into their small bodies, in order to cause cardiac arrest.

Like many serial killers, this woman’s need to murder escalated rapidly. In short order, she attacked 13 children in her ward, killing four of them. These attacks all occurred over a period of two weeks. The children she preyed on ranged in age from only seven weeks old to five years in age.

Psychiatrists who examined Allitt after her arrest concluded that she suffered from a strange mental health disorder known as Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, which caused her to hurt and kill children in order to get attention from others. As a girl, Allitt had derived much pleasure from dressing up as an injured person, which would include fake “casts” etc. Later, she would injure herself and seek out constant attention from medical professionals.

Today, Allit serves out 13 life sentences at Rampton Maximum Security Hospital, where the criminally insane are housed. The families of the children who were entrusted to her care have threatened her with death, should she ever walk free again.

6. Andrea Yates – Victims: 5

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Sometimes, severe mental illness can play a role in crimes. Personality disorders such as narcissism are often present, but, there can be much more serious illnesses, such as schizophrenia, that cause the sufferer to hear voices and follow the instructions they give. In the case of Andrea Yates, who killed her five children by drowning them in a bathtub, there were many red flags of serious mental illness. Of all the women on the list, she seems the most likely to be clinically insane.

Andrea Yates was not diagnosed as schizophrenic, but she had serious mental health illnesses including psychotic breaks, suicide attempts, and severe postpartum depressions. Having so many children in quick succession was enough to plunge this fragile woman into the abyss. Her husband, Rusty, a minister, wanted many children with his wife. He would later blame Andrea’s psychiatrists for the tragedy, saying they did not make him aware of the gravity of her condition.

However, Rusty did know that Andrea was not well. Usually, he would make sure someone was with Andrea to help her cope with the demands of her children. Tragically, on the day she decided to end her children’s lives, she was briefly alone. Rusty wanted to give her some independent time with the kids, so she would not become too accustomed to having help all of the time. In the space of this short hour, Andrea methodically drowned her five children, one after the other. After her crime, she called 911 to report her act to the authorities.

For some time, Andrea had pondered the act she was about to commit. According to interviews with her, after the crime, she wanted to kill her children because they were not “righteous”. She felt her own sins were stopping her children from developing into good Christians. In her mind, ending their lives so cruelly seemed to be the best decision.

5. Aileen Wuornos – Victims: 8


A dreadful childhood marked by abandonment and incest warped the young soul of Aileen Wuornos, who stored up more rage against society, and men, with every passing year. Early sexual experiences marked the girl, who became pregnant at the age of 13 (the child was given up for adoption). Wuornos’ teen years remained turbulent and hardscrabble, and, by age 15, she was thrown out of her grandfather’s home.

Displaying all the signs of antisocial personality disorder, Aileen broke the law, robbed stores with weapons, and even married a 70 year-old man, whom she physically abused. Arrests and drunken conduct marred and then ended her unlikely relationship, as her elderly husband brought in the law to keep her away. In time, she found a lesbian lover named Tyria, and she worked as a prostitute to earn a living for both of them.

Working the highways, selling her body, was a dangerous career choice. To her dying day, Aileen swore that she was brutally raped by her first victim. She claimed that killing him was an act of self-defense. However, her other victims were different. She killed eight men altogether, seven of them in the state of Florida. The got so much more than they bargained for (or deserved) when they slowed down and pulled over to pick up Wuornos for sex.

Wuornos was the subject of the 2003 film, Monster, in which classic Hollywood beauty Charlize Theron underwent a startling physical transformation in order to mimic her character’s weathered, tough image.

Wuornos never lost the rage that fueled her terrible crimes. Before her execution, she lashed out one last time, blaming the media, her lawyers, and society for her fate.

4. Rosemary West – Victims: 10 (possibly more)

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The notorious counterpart of Fred West, Rosemary (also known as Rose) was incredibly dangerous, and the very epitome of soulless evil.  Fred and Rosemary took advantage of young people who were naïve and trusting – by picking them up off the street and bringing them into their home, promising food, lodging and compassion. The fate that awaited these unlucky girls and young women was truly the stuff of nightmares.

Rosemary, a mother of eight children, was a prostitute and a depraved sexual sadist who thrived on inflicting pain. Along with her equally twisted husband, she committed ten murders, including the killing of their own child, a daughter named Heather. Rosemary was also convicted in the murder of her stepdaughter (common-law) Charmaine.

Both Rose and Fred were the products of abuse and violent, dysfunctional childhoods – neither had consciences. Days of torture and rape led to murders – all conducted in the “house of horrors” at 25 Cromwell Street.

Many other victims may also have suffered and been killed to feed the insatiable appetites of this couple, since Fred West intimated that as many as 20 more missing girls might have been killed at their hands. Many unsolved murders and cold cases in this area of Britain (Gloucester) may have been the work of Rosemary West and/or her partner in crime.

3. Countess Elizabeth Bathory – Multiple Victims

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Known as The Blood Countess, this vain, capricious woman enjoyed bathing in the blood of her young female victims. She thought the application of blood would keep her youthful and improve her complexion.

Abusing her power and position was something the Countess truly enjoyed. There was marked sadism in her killings, and an undeniable sexual element in her crimes. The Countess sometimes forced young women to lick the blood of other victims off of her nude body.

Her love of blood has made her notorious as a sort of “real life” vampire. It was rumored that Bram Stoker’s Dracula was based in part on the life of this predator, whose reign of terror occured in the Kingdom of Hungary (today’s Slovakia).

Bathory lured the prettiest girls of her village to her dungeons, promising them work in her castle. After depleting the village of young women, she moved on to those of higher birth. Her husband, Ferenc Nádasdy, was said to be complicit in her many crimes. He gave her the Castle she used to bleed and torture her victims as a wedding gift.

2. Jane Toppan – Victims: 31


Another nurse who preyed on the ill and infirm, this heavyset, disturbed woman was the product of a troubled childhood. The daughter of an insane father, Jane was raised in rough and tumble Boston orphanages after he gave up on caring for her. Poverty and a series of foster parents did not soothe the roiling tensions building in this young woman. As she grew to adulthood, she studied nursing, and her professors noted her unhealthy fascination with autopsy photographs. Nonetheless, she graduated and began to care for patients, who found her pleasant and nicknamed her “Jolly Jane”.

This nurse found intense sexual pleasure could be derived from drugging patients and bringing them to the brink of death. She would attempt to bring them close to death, revive them, and then poison them anew. Often, she got into their hospital beds with them, most likely to molest them sexually as they clung to life, barely conscious.

Classified as a lust killer, Toppan began her reign of cruel experiments and killings in 1885, and they went on until she was eventually apprehended and convicted of 11 killings. While in custody, she revealed that she had caused the deaths of 31 people. Toppan gloried in her crimes, wanting to go down in history as the person who “killed more people — helpless people — than any other man or woman who ever lived.”

“Jolly Jane” was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and lived out her post-conviction life in Taunton Insane Asylum.

1. Belle Sorenson Gunness – Victims: Est. 42

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This prolific serial murderer killed for pleasure and for greed. Her desire for worldly goods led her to kill an estimated 42 victims. Born in Norway, she moved to the USA, where she married a businessman in Chicago.

Some historians believe Belle killed her two daughters by poisoning them to collect insurance money. Belle may also have burned down the family business to collect money from her insurance company. Her children’s deaths were listed as being caused by bouts of colitis, but the symptoms of this disorder are very similar to those caused by poisoning.

Later, her husband also died under strange circumstances, and once again Belle was there to collect money from his death, which may have been caused by the “medicines” Belle administered to treat his illness.

Known as “The Black Widow”, Gunness went on to buy a farm with the proceeds of his death, and his family blamed her for his early demise.

Belle soon formed a modus operandi that netted big dollars. She would lure middle- aged men to her with personal ads and love letters, and then they too would die in a series of “accidents”.  She was able to attract new suitors with amazing success. She married over and over again, taking advantage of lonely men who had no idea what lurked beneath the surface charm of this cold-blooded killer.

In the end, it was rumored that 42 bodies lay buried on her property, and she had amassed more than a quarter of a million dollars in blood money. In an ironic twist of fate, someone exacted revenge on this cruel woman, whose body was found beheaded and burned. This is still controversy regarding her charred bodily remains: some argue that the body is not really Belle Sorenson Gunness.

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10. Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov

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Tokhtakhounov is part of a Russian mob group. Though born and raised in Uzbekistan, he looks very Asian, which is where he gets the name “Taiwanchik.” The US government sees Tokhtakhounov as a huge figure in international Eurasian organized crime. He is known to have taken part in stealing vehicles, trafficking, selling arms illegally, and distributing guns. He is also wanted for possibly fixing events ranging from beauty pageants to Olympic events. In 2002 he was captured in Italy, but he was eventually freed and has not been found since. He is said to possibly be in Russia.

9. Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar

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Kaskar is India’s most wanted man. He is a leader of D-Company, which is a group of organized crime that bases itself out of Mumbai. He is known to oversee a criminal empire that takes part in counterfeiting, weapon smuggling, murder, and drug trafficking. Even though his father is a policeman, this has failed to slow him down.  Kaskar is mostly wanted for his association with the Bombay Blasts in 1993 that killed 257 and wounded 713. He is also wanted for his possible ties with Al Qaeda. Today he stands as a “global terrorist.” He has been able to successfully avoid having his assets frozen. Kaskar is said to be in Yemen, India, or Pakistan.

8. Matteo Messina Denaro

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Denaro over the years has proven to be the world’s most famous organized crime leader. He is a big part and organizer of the Italian mafia. He is known as “Diabolic” and is often showing off his money in any way he can. From expensive cars, to women, to large homes, to jewelry, Denaro has it all. However, most of the money he has has been obtained illegally: through the use of drug sales and even murder. Today, Denaro is said to be climbing the hierarchy ladder within the Italian mafia. Denaro is wanted for his role in the 1993 Cosa Nostra campaign which involved bomb attacks. This was put in place to attempt to slow the government’s move on the mafia.

7. Joseph Kony

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Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. This guerilla group of men has spent years attempting to create and run a theocratic government in Uganda. However, their plan involves using brutal means to begin this government. Under the rule of Kony, the LRA has abducted many children as well as displaced at least 2 million people. This group has the largest child abduction rate worldwide. Alone, he has been able to direct and control the abduction of 60,000 people, half of them being children. Most of those abducted were forced to fight for his campaign and beliefs. He sometimes even forces children to kill their own parents as initiation. Kony is wanted for war crimes as well as crimes against humanity.

6. Omid Tahvili

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Tahvili has been the kingpin of a Persian crime family that works throughout Canada. His group is connected to the Triads as well as many other groups set up to commit crime. He is better known as Nino. Though he was once in jail in British Columbia, he bribed a guard with $50,000 in order to release him. Tahvili is wanted for torture, drug trafficking, theft, and for a fraudulent telemarketing business that scammed Americans out of at least $3 million. Today, Tahvili is still at large. He is said to have connections throughout the Middle East as well as Europe.

5. Joaquin Guzman

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Guzman is the leader of an international drug trafficking organization known as the Sinaloa Cartel. He has become Mexico’s top drug kingpin. Since the 80s, Guzman has been associating himself with drug trafficking. In 1993, Guzman was plotted against to be assassinated; however, the plot failed. As a result of this, Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo, a Roman Catholic cardinal was killed by Guzman or someone in his drug ring. Though he was captured in 1993 in Guatemala, he escaped and hasn’t been found since. There is a $5,000,000 reward in the US for information leading to his arrest.

4. James J. Bulger

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Bulger has been a wanted man since the 1970s. He has committed several murders, or taken part in helping kill many people during the 70s and 80s. He is known to be part of an organized crime group that deals with drug deals, extortion, and sometimes killings. This group focuses its time in places around or near Boston, Massachusetts. Bulger is known to have used 12 different aliases. The FBI is offering a $2,000,000 reward for information leading directly to his arrest.

3. Aribert Heim

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Better known as Dr. Death, Aribert Heim took part as a SS officer. Though he is 94 years old, he is still wanted. He is one of the last few major Nazi fugitives that are still at large. He left Germany in 1962 and has since never been found. He is accused of killing and torturing inmates that were held at the Mauthausen concentration camp. He tortured and eventually killed these people by injecting toxic chemicals into the victims’ hearts and then performing surgery without any type of anesthetic. He is most wanted by the Austrian government for a $495,000 reward.

2. Chief Ratko Mladic

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Mladic was a Bosnian Serb leader that led Karadzic’s army. He is a well-known key figure that took part in the ethnic cleansing of Muslims as well as Croats. The UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia indicted Mladic in 1995; however he has yet to be captured. He is wanted for genocide, crimes against humanity, and numerous war crimes as well as taking of hostages amongst UN peace-keeping personnel.

1. Osama Bin Laden

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Surely you have heard of this man. If you haven’t, get out from under your rock! In any case, Bin Laden is wanted by the FBI and has been for more than a decade. He is the main leader of Al-Qaeda and has been on the run since 1998, when he was connected to the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in many different nations. Bin Laden is wanted for murder, conspiracy, and attack on a federal facility resulting in death. The FBI has a $25 million dollar reward for any clues to his whereabouts.


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10. Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd

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It is a known fact that Charles Arthur Floyd hated his nickname, but sources disagree on how he received it. Two stories are given, one stating “Pretty Boy” was given to him by the prostitutes from the whorehouses he frequented and the second states that he earned his nickname from a description of him in his first major robbery as “a pretty boy.” He hated the name so much that he killed other gangsters for calling him by the nickname. In fact, after being gunned down, with his dying breath he made one final declaration, “I’m Charles Arthur Floyd.”

9. Charlie “Lucky” Luciano

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Charlie Luciano was given the nickname “Lucky” when he came back from “taking a ride” to be whacked. He did receive a knife would from his encounter which caused a permanent droopy eye (see in picture). Many stories circulate about the ride but most agree he was tortured by the family of a officer whose daughter he had seduced. He used this story to increase his legend with the underworld often stating he was the only member of the mafia to return alive after being taken for a ride. In his old age, after being deported to Italy, Lucky became a charitable man, helping many Italians before he set up a medical supply store as a front for his illegal businesses.

8. Sam “Golf Bag” Hunt

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The nickname “Golf Bag” certainly doesn’t instill fear, dread or even wonder, until you know the reason this mobster was given the name Golf Bag. Working for Capone as a mob enforcer (hitman), Sam Hunt would carry his weapons in his golf bag to hide them. If you saw Sam coming towards you with his golf bag slung on his shoulder and you weren’t teeing off on the green, you should probably be running the other direction.

7. Israel “Icepick Willie” Alderman

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This grisly nickname needs little imagination. As you would suspect, Icepick Willies’ method of murder involved an icepick. As the owner of a speakeasy in Minneapolis the gangster would murder his victims by pushing the icepick through their eardrum and into the brain. He used this quick “technique” because eyewitnesses would only see the victim suddenly slump over as a would-be drunk who had passed out. Icepick Willie could then drag the corpse from the speakeasy, as if helping the drunkard, and then dispose of the body.

6. Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll

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Not someone you would ever want to meet, Mad Dog Coll was given the nickname for his disregard for human life including children. On July 28, 1931, Coll unsuccessfully attempted to kidnap Joey Rao, a Dutch Schultz underling. The resulting shootout left a five year old child, Michael Vengali, dead and several children wounded. After this atrocity, New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker dubbed Coll “Mad Dog” and the whole city started looking for him. A $50,000 bounty was put on Mad Dog and he was gunned down while making a call in a phone booth in 1932.

5. Thomas “Butterfingers” Moran

Legendary pickpocket, Thomas “Butterfingers” Moran, was an adept pickpocket who could “slide in and out of a pocket like pure butter.” Thomas picked his first pocket in 1906 in San Fransisco and his last pocket at age 78, in 1970. It is said he picked over 50,000 pockets during his lifetime. Like Pretty Boy, Butterfingers didn’t care for his nickname and said so when he was quoted, “”I’ve never forgiven that smart-alecky reporter who named me ‘Butterfingers’.”

4. Lester “Baby Face” Nelson

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Public Enemy #1 throughout the 1930s, Lester Joseph Gillis better known as “Baby Face” Nelson, due to his young appearance, didn’t care for his nickname and at one point declared himself “Big” George Nelson. The problem? He was only 5 feet 4 inches tall. “Where outlaws such as Pretty Boy Floyd…would kill to protect themselves when cornered, Nelson went out of his way to murder – he loved it,” said Jay Robert Nash in Bloodletters and Badmen. “His angelic, pear-smooth face never betrayed his instant ability to kill.” Photo courtesy of Rick Mattix.

3. George “Machine Gun” Kelly

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George “Machine Gun” Kelly, the notorious racketeer who gave FBI agents the nickname G-men, was given his gangster nickname by his wife Kathryn who forced him to practice with the machine gun. (She gave it to him as a birthday present.) She became his public relations force and built up his “street cred” with other criminals. In fact, he was not accused or convicted of murder and never used his machine gun with the intent to kill. During his time at Alcatraz he got the nickname ‘Pop Gun Kelly’ for the fact that he was a model prisoner and was nowhere near the tough, brutal gangster his wife made him out to be.

2. Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel

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An American gangster who was a driving force behind the development of Las Vegas, Ben “Bugsy” Siegel was not fond of his nickname and was never called that to his face. It was said to cause him to become enraged, murderously so. During his trial for the murder of Harry “Big Greenie” Greenberg (he was acquitted), the newspapers revealed Siegel’s sordid past and started referring to him as “Bugsy”. He hated the nickname, “Bugsy” (said to be based on the slang term “bugs”, meaning “crazy”, describing his erratic behavior), and wouldn’t allow anyone to call him that to his face.

1. “Scarface” Al Capone

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Scarface Al was employed as a bouncer by racketeer Frankie Yale. Capone received the scars that gave him the nickname “Scarface” when he insulted a woman while working the door at a Brooklyn night club. This provoked a fight with her brother Frank Gallucio. Capone’s face was slashed three times on the left side by Gallucio. When photographed, Capone hid the scarred left side of his face and would lie about his injuries as war wounds, but he never served in the armed forces. According to the 2002 magazine from Life , Capone was called “Snorky” by his closest friends. “Scarface” was certainly the better choice for an underworld gangster. Who could take Al “Snorky” Capone seriously.

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10. Maybe a Return Trip to the First Grade?


When the bank robber attacking a HSBC bank in Brooklyn passed his robbery note to the teller, he soon got suspicious as to why she was taking so long to get his money. But in truth she wasn’t stalling, she simply couldn’t read his handwriting. When she helplessly told him that she didn’t know what he wanted, he ran out of the front door with out a penny. Hopefully he was running back home to practice his cursive writing.

9. Man vs. Door: Door Wins!

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This comedy of errors took place at the Royal Bank of Scotland in Rothesay in 1975. A criminal trio heads in to do the deed—and they get caught in the revolving door! After being helped out by staff they leave. But being the go-getters that they were, they promptly came back in to rob the bank. But no one would believe them. When the leader of the trio jumped over the counter to get the money he broke his ankle. At this point his pals try to make a run for it and they get caught in the door—again! Crime Fighting Door: 2. Bumbling Bad Guys: 0.

8. So, I Need a Favor…

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When Charles Robertson robbed a Virginia Beach bank not only did he leave his handwritten robbery note with the teller; when he went back to get it, he left the keys to his getaway car. Deciding not to risk capture Robertson headed back home. Here’s the kicker: the car belonged to his roommate, whom he told the car was stolen. When she reported the car to police, they matched the keys with the car and soon drove over to pick up Robertson. Wonder what the insurance company made of that report!

7. The Empty Pockets Bandit

Able Fernandez earned this silly moniker when he tried to rob a couple of Santa Ana, banks and walk away empty handed. But the laid off mortgage adjuster stuck to it and successfully robbed two bank in one day in December 2008! Fifth time was not the charm, however. While Fernandez was sitting in the car outside his next target, the passerby police noticed his fake gun and arrested him. He should have settled for his pockets being half empty.

6. Not so Clean Getaway

Mental note: maybe bikes would be better for bank robbery getaways than cars. Bank robbers in Hampton UK started off alright. They got the money, they got out, and they didn’t kill any one. They were doing fine until they crashed right into a police car. When the patrolman came to their window speeding was only the least of their problems!

5. BYO Car

Robert Michael Varela pulled of his heist in Whitter, CA and ran straight into the open door of his waiting cab. Unfortunately the dye pack the teller slipped in exploded. He ditched everything (including his now red-dyed jacket) and tried to hop a public bus. The bus, however was on a lay over and 20 minutes later the police picked him up. Next time he’ll know to bring his own wheels.

4. Forget Something, Genius?

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Never underestimate the power of a question. A bank teller in New Hudson, Michigan foiled her bank robber simply by asking him if he had a bag in which she could put the money. Apparently he didn’t because he then ran off with out a second thought. Oakland County Sheriff Tom Bisio said “she must have flustered” her would be robber. Maybe wanted go get some environmentally friendly canvas bags to carry his green.

3. A Real Pain in the Neck

Bank Robbery Explosion

It was like something out of a Saw movie. Brian Wells robbed a bank. But when the police caught up with him he says that he was forced to commit the crime. Then a small bomb goes off around his neck, killing him. After many twists and turn is comes out that Wells was one of a group of conspirators headed by Kenneth Barnes. He wanted the cash to have his girlfriend’s father murdered. Apparently, it wasn’t until the last minute that Barnes told Wells the bomb was real. Eventually all the conspirators were caught but now the police had to deal with a new kind of crime: Robbery by proxy.

2. Super Senior Stopping Power

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When Daniel Ginly went into the US Bank in Dayton, Ohio he kept an eye out for anyone who might give him trouble, particularly guards and cops. Unfortunately he didn’t pay much attention to 70 year old James Matteson. After stealing the money from the teller he ordered the “old man” out of his way. What he didn’t know was that Matteson was a Korean War vet. The geriatric crime fighter slammed Ginly against the wall and held him down long enough for the police to arrive (even after Ginly slashed him with a knife). Where-to next for our hero? He went off to a reunion for Polish veterans. Guess who had a new war story to share?

1. Terror in Tinseltown

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February 1997 Los Angeles citizens stayed glued to their TV as Larry Phillips and Emil Matasareanu robbed the Bank of America on Laurel Canyon. Afterward, they brazenly fought the LAPD in an intense gun battle right in the streets of Hollywood. The duo was outfitted with body armor that stopped police pistol rounds and automatic rifles that had the cops ducking for cover. In 44 minutes both robbers were dead (ten police officers and seven civilians were also injured). The shootout, which was broadcast all over the world let everyone know one more time why LA is sometimes called “The Bank Robbery Capital of the World.”

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1 Dave Whelan (Football) £190m

2 David Beckham (Football) £125m

3 Johnny Dumfries (Motor racing) £110m

4 Lennox Lewis (Boxing) £95m

5 Eddie Irvine (Motor racing) £80m

6 Jody Scheckter (Motor racing) £60m

7 Dave Richards (Motor racing) £58m

8= David Coulthard (Motor racing) £50m

8= Nigel Mansell (Motor racing) £50m

10 Jenson Button (Motor racing) £43m


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YOUNG SPORT RICH LIST TOP 10 - Aged 30 and under

1 Jenson Button (Motor racing) £43m

2 Michael Owen (Football) £40m

3 Lewis Hamilton (Motor racing) £35m

4 Wayne Rooney (Football) £33m

5 John Terry (Football) £20m

6 Andy Murray (Tennis) £15m

7 Joe Cole (Football) £14m

8= Petr Cech Football £13m

8= Luol Deng Basketball £13m

8= Michael Essien Football £13m


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10. The Myths of Marilyn Monroe

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Marilyn Monroe, one of the greatest legends of the 20th Century, is also the subject of one of the most mysterious deaths of our time. Her unexpected passing in 1962 had the world whispering about what may have really happened. Her death was a result of a massive dose of barbiturates, but whereas some say it was suicide, others argue the fatal drug was administered by someone trying to desperately prevent state-secrets emerging from her alleged affair with John F. Kennedy.

9. Who Wants to Take Over the World?

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The most widely accused world-dominators are the Jews, who in varying conspiracy theories, run Wall Street, Hollywood, numerous secret societies and the media. More recently, this oft-flawed hypothesis has adapted to presume either Arabs or Scientologists are the ones hell-bent on conquering the world – or even the universe.

8. The Loch Ness Monster

“Nessie” has been sought after since 1933, resulting in her habitat of Loch Ness in Scotland becoming a huge tourist attraction. Tourists flock to get a glimpse of the plesiosaur-like lake monster, often mistaking seals, driftwood and flocks of birds for the mythical beast. Scientists, desperate to either disprove or discover Nessie, have spent thousands of pounds on studies and high-tech equipment, but the general consensus is that she’s a simple subject of folklore.

7.  Fuel Farce

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A golden oldie still doing the rounds is the rumor that one of the large fuel corporations bought the rights of eco-friendly car designs many moons ago. The story goes that Esso or Shell hurriedly bought the blueprints for an electric or otherwise renewable fuel car to ensure their multi-million fuel sales were not compromised.

6. The JFK Murder Mystery

Coming back to JFK, the circumstances surrounding his death, a year after his supposed Mistress’, were equally as puzzled over. Although Lee Harvey Oswald was immediately held liable over the murder, he too was assassinated before his motive or indeed guilt could be ascertained. Theories about the arrangement of John F. Kennedy’s death have been constantly mulled over, including a plot by the CIA, or a murder by the KGB, a Cuban rebellion group, or Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson to name but a few.

5. Second-Hand Beatle

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This slightly lesser-known theory has a well deserved place in this list due to its ludicrous nature. In 1966, major media – who were probably high at the time – declared that Paul McCartney had, in fact, died and was replaced by a look-alike who still claims his fame to this day. Eager to jump on the bandwagon of this fancy-free fable, Lennon and the other Fab Four had a laugh by “encoding” clues in lyrics and album art for their fans to draw further assumptions from.

4. The Murdered Princess

When England’s Rose died in a tragic car crash back in 1997, the world couldn’t quite believe it. The shock immediately provoked people to come up with causes and reasons to justify the death – namely that it wasn’t a tragic accident, but a plot by the Royal Family. Mohamed Al Fayed, father of the princess’ fiancé, added further weight to this by campaigning for years to investigate whether the M16 – recruited by the Royals – had engineered the accident to stop Diana marrying a Muslim. One other theory is that the princess, sick of constant media attention, faked her own demise.

3. Roswell Gets Rumbled

This hugely popular theory has been the catalyst for numerous research programs, debates, movie spin-offs, books and TV programs. The incident, dubbed “Area 51”, took place in July 1947 and prompted head scratching about little green men for years, although the Government still dismiss it as a crash-landing of a top-secret research balloon. The conspiracy theorists would have us believe that an alien spaceship crash-landed and the wreckage, plus the extra-terrestrial pilots, are being held and studied in a secret bunker somewhere.

2. Mickey Mouse Moon Landing

Although all of us want to believe that man has walked on the moon, naysayers have put across convincing contentions to say otherwise. In a time of depression for America, spirits were lifted when Neil Armstrong uttered the infamous words “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. However, it’s all been slated as an attempt to cheer America up and stick two fingers up to Russia at the same time. Arguments against the moon landing include the US flag flapping in the ‘wind’ despite zero gravity, important missing documents, misplaced shadows – and – the fact that no one has been back since!

1. 9/11 – Even More Sinister?

The tragedies that rocked New York on the morning of September 11th also rocked the world. It wasn’t long before tongues began to wag about the seemingly neat and controlled collapse of the solid steel Twin Towers –reminiscent of dynamite at the base instead of a jet smashing into the side. Other arguments for the theory cite the “tidy” wreckage of the Pentagon attack, not to mention the fact that in normal circumstances any other foreign aircraft would have been intercepted much quicker than the 40 minutes it took the plane to make impact. Proponents of this theory believe Bush was trying to rouse public support for military action and expansion of the police state.

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10. The Great Train Robbery

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One of the most famed heists in popular culture, The Great Train Robbery was one of the biggest robberies of all time when it was committed in 1963. The heist took place in Buckinghamshire, England, when a mail train transporting millions of pounds was boarded by a team of 15 robbers. The thieves used a fake signal light to stop the train, and after subduing the workers inside the first two carriages, loaded 120 mail bags containing 2.6 million pounds into some cars they had hidden near the tracks. The men all escaped the scene, but 13 of them were quickly captured following an extensive investigation by Scotland Yard. Two of the these men, Ronnie Biggs and Charlie Wilson, would later escape from prison and flee the country. Wilson was caught four years later in Canada, but Biggs famously eluded capture by hiding out in Brazil, and he was only apprehended when he turned himself in to authorities in 2001.

9. The Agricultural Bank of China Robbery


2007’s Agricultural Bank of China Robbery resulted in the theft of 51 million yuan (roughly $7 million U.S.), and it is said to be the biggest robbery in China’s history. The scheme started when the bank’s manager, Ren Xiaofeng, stole 200,000 yuan from the vault. His unlikely plan was to use the money to buy massive amounts of lottery tickets in the hope of winning a cash prize and returning the money before it was reported missing. Amazingly, the plan worked, and Ren made a huge profit off of his gamble even after returning the 200K. After enlisting the help of another manager, Ma Xiangjing, Ren proceeded to steal nearly 33 million yuan a year or so later, and a month after that another 18 million. In both cases, the men spent nearly all the money on lottery tickets, but they were only able to recoup 98,000 yuan, and the missing money was quickly noticed and reported. Ren and Ma were eventually captured, but very little of the stolen money was ever recovered, thanks to the astronomical amounts the duo had spent on lotto tickets.

8. The Great Brinks Robbery

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When it was committed in 1950, the $2.7 million Brinks Robbery in Boston, Mass. was the biggest heist in American history. Dubbed “the crime of the century,” the heist was the work of an 11-man gang who used copied keys to gain entry into the Brinks Building. Once inside, they made their way to a room where employees were counting money, and after subduing the armed guards, collected $1.2 million in cash, along with another $1.5 million in checks and securities. The gang’s plan had been to sit on the money for six years, at which point the statute of limitations for armed robbery would have run out, but a police investigation quickly started turning up suspects. After a few of the men were arrested, the criminals started turning on one another, even going so far as to hire hit men and attempt drive-by shootings on suspected snitches. Eventually, though, all eleven of the original robbers were found out and arrested, and many received life sentences in prison.

7. The Gardner Museum Art Heist


In the biggest art heist in history, two men dressed as police officers managed to con their way into the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in Boston late one night in 1990. Once inside, the men overpowered the few guards on duty, tied them up, and left them in the basement. They then proceeded to steal several pieces of artwork by Rembrandt, Degas, Manet, and Vermeer, along with a few sculptures and historical artifacts. The total haul is now valued at $500 million, but both the thieves and the artwork have yet to be found. A number of possible suspects have been considered, from Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger to the IRA, but no arrests have been made in connection to the case. Enough time has passed that the statute of limitations on the actual heist has passed, leaving the Gardner Museum art heist as one of the most successful and mysterious robberies of all time.

6. The Central Bank Of Iraq Heist

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For sheer amount of currency stolen, no robbery compares to the Central Bank Of Iraq heist, which is said to have been perpetrated by none other than Saddam Hussein. The robbery happened just before the U.S. bombing of Iraq in 2003. In the middle of the night, a small group of men led by Hussein’s son, Qusay, went to the Central Bank with tractor-trailers and forcibly withdrew just under 1 billion dollars cash. Nearly $650 million of this was eventually found stashed in the walls of Hussein’s palace by U.S. soldiers. A handwritten note was later discovered linking Saddam and his son to the heist, but just who the other men involved were or what became of the remaining $350 million remains a mystery.

5. The Baker Street Burglary

The Baker Street burglary took place in London in 1971, when a team of well-equipped thieves tunneled into the Baker Street Bank and stole 3 million pounds worth of cash and valuables from safety deposit boxes. The criminals used a combination of metal cutting tools and explosives to tunnel to the vault from a nearby shop, and even had a lookout positioned on a nearby rooftop. Near the end of the heist, a ham radio operator overheard some of the lookout’s radio transmissions and contacted the police, who frantically searched over seven hundred banks within the area in hopes of honing in on the location of the transmission. They were unable to catch the robbers at the time, but nearly two years later a number of men were charged in connection with the robbery, though police believe the true mastermind behind the crime was never captured.

4. The Harry Winston Heist

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One of the most downright brazen robberies in recent memory, the Harry Winston Heist went down in 2008 when a group of four men stormed into one of Paris’s most exclusive jewelry stores and made off with $108 million in diamonds. The men were disguised as women and armed with a .357 Magnum and a hand grenade. They quickly herded the employees and customers into a corner and started breaking open display cases, and after filling a suitcase with precious stones, made their escape. No one from this robbery has been arrested, but police suspect that the robbers– whom they’ve nicknamed “The Pink Panthers”– are a part of a larger criminal organization of Yugoslavians that may have been responsible for a number of other high profile jewelry heists. In the meantime, a $1 million dollar reward is still up for grabs for any information leading to the arrest of the thieves.

3. The Knightsbridge Security Deposit Robbery

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One of the boldest and most successful robberies of all time, the Knightsbridge Security Deposit heist happened in London in 1987, when career criminal Valerio Viccei and a small group of accomplices armed with guns managed to make off with 60 million pounds in valuables and cash from safe deposit boxes. The thieves got into the vault by pretending to rent a safe deposit box of their own, and once inside they managed to overpower the employees and security guards and start breaking into the boxes. They escaped without incident, but a bit of blood left behind at the scene allowed police to trace the robbery back to Viccei, who was wanted for a huge amount of robberies in his native Italy. Viccei’s accomplices were quickly arrested, but he fled the country and for some time eluded capture. A known playboy and high roller, he was only arrested after he returned to England in an attempt to retrieve his prized Ferrari sports car.

2. The Banco Central Burglary

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Considered to be among the biggest bank heists of all time, the Banco Central burglary took place in 2005 in Fortaleza, Brazil. The robbery was the result of painstaking planning by a small gang of burglars who tunneled over 250 feet to the bank’s vault from a nearby property. The robbers used a landscaping business as a front for their operation, an ingenious cover that allowed them to move massive amounts of dirt and rock out of the tunnel without looking suspicious. The tunnel itself was expertly constructed, and was said to have sophisticated lighting and even an air conditioning system. After three months of digging, the thieves finally broke into the vault and made off with over 165 million in Brazilian reals, or $70 million dollars U.S. Since then, police have made a number of arrests in connection with the burglary, and recovered roughly $9 million dollars of the haul, but the majority of the suspects are still at large.

1. The Antwerp Diamond Heist


Antwerp, Belgium is one of the diamond capitals of the world, with 80 percent of the world’s diamonds passing through the city before being sold on the market. A number of heists have taken place there, most recently a still-unsolved $28 million robbery in 2007, but the biggest of them all took place in 2003, when a team of master criminals known as the School of Turin managed to walk away with $100 million in uncut diamonds from the Antwerp Diamond Center vault. For sheer scope, ingenuity, and risk, few robberies will ever measure up to this one. The criminals had been planning the heist for years, and using copied keys and faked security camera footage, they managed to bypass the vault’s multi-million dollar security system, which had been thought to be impenetrable. The thieves escaped without incident, but DNA left at the scene allowed them to be tracked to Italy, where most of the gang has since been captured. The $100 million in diamonds, meanwhile, seems to have disappeared for good.

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10. Ben Thompson

Ben Thompson

Ben Thompson was a gambler, gunfighter, and sometimes lawman who rubbed shoulders with some of the most famous figures of the Old West. He started his criminal career at the age of 17, when he stabbed and killed a fellow gambler whom he had accused of cheating him at cards. Thompson was known for being lightning fast on the draw, and gained a reputation as a gunfighter after killing two men in a shootout on Christmas Eve of 1876. Wanting to escape this reputation, he took a job as the City Marshall of Austin, Texas, but he was forced to resign when he killed a local theater owner named Jack Harris during an argument. Thompson was himself killed in 1884, along with gunfighter King Fisher, when friends of Harris ambushed the two and gunned them down while they were watching a performance at an opera house.

9. Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

Famed lawman Wyatt Earp is perhaps the most storied figure of the Old West, but he was also an accomplished gunslinger who was greatly feared by the bandits of the time. Earp had a varied career that saw him travel to boomtowns like Wichita, Dodge City and the lawless town of Tombstone to serve as sheriff, and he participated in some of the most legendary gunfights of the 1800s. The most famous of these is undoubtedly the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which occurred in 1881 when Earp, his brothers Morgan and Virgil, and friend Doc Holliday confronted a group of cowboys who had recently been arrested for robbing a stagecoach. Three of the cowboys were killed in the fight, and everyone except Wyatt was wounded. The gunfight caused a huge scandal, and friends of the cowboys soon retaliated, wounding Wyatt’s brother Virgil and killing Morgan. Earp and Holliday then led a team of gunfighters on what has become known as their “Vendetta Ride,” and they eventually killed several men connected with the murders before fleeing the territory. All told, Earp participated in numerous gunfights in his life, killing anywhere from 8 to 30 outlaws (depending on the source), and his exploits remain some of the most famous stories of the Old West.

8. King Fisher

John King Fisher

One the lesser-known but more notoriously violent gunslingers of the Old West was John King Fisher, who was in and out of prison from the age of sixteen. In the early 1870s, Fisher became known as a bandit when he started running with a group of outlaws who raided ranches in Mexico. Fisher was known both for his flamboyant style, which saw him wear brightly colored clothes and carry twin ivory-handled pistols, as well as for his propensity for violence. He famously gunned down three members of his own gang when a dispute arose of money, and then killed seven Mexican pistoleros shortly after that. In his most famous gunfight, Fisher is said to have taken on four Mexican cowboys single-handedly. After hitting one with a branding iron, he supposedly outdrew another and shot him. In his typical brutal style, he then shot two of the man’s unarmed accomplices. In 1884, Fisher was ambushed and killed, along with Ben Thompson, by friends of a man whom Thompson had previously killed in a gun battle.

7. Dallas Stoudenmire

Dallas 001 191x300

Although not as well known as someone like Wild Bill Hickok or Wyatt Earp, Dallas Stoudenmire was a feared lawman in his day, and is known for participating in more gunfights than most of his contemporaries. After being wounded several times while fighting in the Civil War, Stoudenmire moved to the lawless city of El Paso, Texas to serve as sheriff. Only three days into his tenure, he became involved in one of the West’s most legendary battles, what is common known as the “Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight,” in which he shot three men. A few days after the fight, friends of the men Stoudenmire had shot hired the town drunk to assassinate him. But Dallas was able to get the drop on him and supposedly shot the man eight times, killing him. This only marked the beginning of what would be a bloody campaign for Stoudenmire as sheriff. Less than a year after these incidents, he would kill as many as six more men in gunfights while in the line of duty, eventually gaining a reputation as one of the most feared lawmen in Texas. Stoudenmire’s luck would not last forever, though, and in 1882 he was killed when a discussion between he and a group of his enemies escalated into a gunfight in which he was shot three times.

6. Billy The Kid

Billy the Kid

Henry McCarty, a.k.a. William H. Bonney or just “Billy the Kid,” started his life of crime with petty theft and horse thievery, but is said to have first killed a man at the age of eighteen. In 1877, he was deputized during the so-called “Lincoln County War” and rode with lawmen who were seeking to arrest a group of corrupt businessman responsible for the murder of an innocent rancher. Billy’s group, called “the Regulators,” became known for their wanton violence, and were themselves soon regarded as outlaws. The group was unfazed by their new classification as bandits, and proceeded to go on a killing spree, gunning down three people in the course of just three days, including a sheriff and his deputy. The group was eventually broken up by law enforcement, but the Kid managed to elude capture. He formed a gang, and increased his notoriety after shooting down a gambler in a New Mexico saloon. After a number of run-ins with the law, the Kid was again captured and sentenced to death, but he managed to escape after he got a hold of a weapon and gunned down the two men guarding him. After three months on the run, he was killed when Sheriff Pat Garrett and two deputies shot him to death in 1881. All told, Billy the Kid is said to have killed a total of 21 men, one for each of the years of his life, though this number is often regarded as inaccurate and exaggerated.

5. Wild Bill Hickok

Wild Bill 200x300

One of the most legendary figures of the Old West, Wild Bill Hickok was an actor, gambler, lawman, and gunfighter who was regarded as one of the most skilled gunslingers of his day. Hickok got his start as a constable and rider for the Pony Express, but he gained a reputation for being handy with a gun after he killed outlaw David McCanles with a single bullet from 75 yards away. Hickok has the distinction of being one of the few gunfighters to ever participate in a real “Western-style” quick-draw duel, when he killed a man named Davis Tutt, Jr. over a dispute concerning gambling debts. In 1869, Hickok was elected sheriff of Ellis County Kansas, and is said to have killed two men in his first month on the job. Although many of his exploits are legendary, probably the most famous aspect of Wild Bill’s life is his death, which occurred in Deadwood, South Dakota in 1876. Hickok was playing poker when he was shot in the back of the head by a gambler named Jack McCall, supposedly in retaliation for a prior insult. Hickok was supposedly holding a pair of Aces and Eights at the time, a combination now known as the “Dead Man’s Hand.”

4. Clay Allison

Clay Allison

Known for his mercurial personality and violent temper, Clay Allison was a gunfighter who is remembered as one of the most notorious and downright deranged outlaws of the Old West. Allison fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War, but was discharged after a blow to the head started causing erratic behavior in him. It is this ailment that many historians have said explains his shockingly brutal actions, which included once beheading a man he suspected of murder and carrying the head into his favorite bar. After this, which cemented his reputation as one of the most murderous figures of his day, Allison went on to participate in a number of gunfights against fellow gunslingers. The most famous of these was against outlaw Chunk Colbert, whom Allison shot in the head when the other drew his gun on him following a meal they had shared. When asked why he had eaten with a man who wanted to kill him, Allison replied, “I wouldn’t want to send a man to hell on an empty stomach.” For a man who led such a dangerous lifestyle, Allison met a rather ironic and unimpressive death in 1887, when he fell off a wagon and broke his neck. His gravestone is said to read: ”Clay Allison. Gentleman. Gun Fighter. He never killed a man that did not need killing.”

3. Jim “Killer” Miller

'Killer' Jim Miller, far left, wearing black hat, hangs from a livery stable rafter after lynching in Ada, Oklahoma, 1909

'Killer' Jim Miller, far left, wearing black hat, hangs from a livery stable rafter after lynching in Ada, Oklahoma, 1909

One of the most downright murderous figures of the Old West, Jim “Killer” Miller was an assassin and gunfighter who is credited with killing at least 14 people, though legend has it that the number is somewhere closer to 50. One of the most famous stories about him involves a confrontation he had with a sheriff named Bud Frazer over Miller’s alleged involvement in the murder of a cattle rancher. Miller pulled his gun on Frazer, who proceeded to shoot him six times. Killer’s friends managed to escape with him, only to find that he had been wearing a metal plate under his shirt, which had blocked all of Frazer’s bullets. Two years later, Miller tracked the Sheriff down and killed him with a shotgun. Described as being cold to the core, Miller famously declared that he would kill anyone for money, and is rumored to have gunned down everyone from political figures to famed sheriff Pat Garrett. His days of bloodshed finally came to an end in 1909, when he was arrested for the murder of a U.S. Marshall.  After a mob of some forty people broke into the prison, Miller and three other outlaws were dragged to a nearby barn and lynched. In his typical maniacal fashion, prior to being hanged Miller is said to have shouted, “Let ‘er rip!” and voluntarily jumped off the box to his death.

2. Tom Horn

TomHorn1903 203x300

Tom Horn spent a good portion of his life legitimately employed both as a lawman and a detective, but in actuality he was one of the most cold-blooded killers of the Old West. In the 1880s, Horn made a name for himself as a scout and tracker, and was responsible for the arrest of many feared criminals. This caught the attention of the famed Pinkerton Detective Agency, and Horn worked for them for several years as a tracker and bounty hunter. Though known as being eerily cool under pressure, Horn was considered to have a dangerous capacity for violence, and in 1894 he was forced to resign his post as a detective after he became linked to the murders of 17 people. Following his resignation, he developed a reputation as a killer for hire, and is said to have been responsible for the deaths of some 20 cattle rustlers over the course of several years. Horn was finally caught and hanged in 1901 after being linked to the murder of a 14-year-old boy. Ironically, some modern historians have claimed that on this particular occasion Horn was actually innocent. Still, there is no denying that he was responsible for a great many other killings. Some historians have reasoned that he may have had a hand in as many as 50 murders.

1. John Wesley Hardin

John Wesley Hardin

In a relatively short life, famed outlaw and gunslinger John Wesley Hardin established himself as easily the most bloodthirsty figure of the Old West, and is credited with the deaths of no less than 42 people. The son of a Methodist preacher, Hardin displayed a capacity for violence early on in life when he stabbed a fellow student in the schoolyard at the age of 14. At 15, he gunned down an ex-slave, and then proceeded to kill three Union soldiers before going on the run. He was known for carrying two pistols in holsters strapped to his chest, which he claimed facilitated the quick draw, and he used them to gun down three more people in various gunfights soon after his flight. Hardin was eventually arrested at age 17 for the murder of a Texas City Marshal, but he was able to procure a gun while in jail, and when transferred he killed one of his guards and again went on the lam. Now a celebrated gunfighter, he made his way to Abilene and fell under the tutelage of Wild Bill Hickok. But Hardin was forced to flee the city soon after his arrival when he is said to shot and killed a fellow guest at his hotel because the man’s snoring was keeping him awake.  At 25, Hardin was finally arrested by a team of Texas Rangers, and eventually served a total of 16 years in prison before being released at the age of 41. Reformed form his years behind bars, Hardin began studying law and even passed the bar, but his old reputation eventually caught up with him. In 1895, he was killed after being shot in the back by a lawman in El Paso, Texas.

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10.  Automated license plate recognition cameras

All the car thieves out there have to now learn a magic trick as well. Once they steal the car, they have to make it disappear because taking it out for a run might land them behind bars.
Automated license plate recognition cameras are being used by patrol cars (even choppers) to track down auto-related crimes. These cameras can take pictures of the license plates from a distance. The pictures are run against a database of stolen vehicles to find possible matches.

9. Brain Fingerprinting

Remember how cops are advised to get into the mind of the criminals to handle them better? Well, they are now taking the advice literally. In brain fingerprinting, the subject is shown pictures on a computer screen. This person has to wear a headband that will measure cognitive brain responses to the stimuli he watches on the screen. An EEG (electroencephalograph) picks up distinct responses to words, sounds or images that are related to the crime.

The technology has been used to obtain guilty plea from criminals who had refuted allegations of knowledge about their crimes. Brain fingerprinting revealed that their brains responded to crime-related details shown on the computer.

8. Shoe Printing

shoe prints
Here is another technology that is going to make “perfect crime" something that happens only in fiction. Researchers in UK have made an automated system that compares features on shoe soles of suspects with those of the shoe prints left behind at the crime scene.  Since shoe prints are something that criminals often leave behind, a UK act gives this forensic evidence the same legal validity as DNA and fingerprints.

Shoe prints have been used in the past as evidence but it involved human analysis and interpretation. The new technology uses image processing to find out about the sole’s features like logos, circles or ridges. The results are compared with the prints taken in custody suites for a possible match.

7. Shot Spotting

The time between a gunshot and arrival of police can make a huge difference in nabbing the criminal or providing medical help. Cops in Washington, D.C. have employed an acoustics-based system called ShotSpotter to drastically minimize this response time.

The gunshot sensor system picks up sound waves of a muzzle blast. GPS receivers in the system narrow down to the exact coordinates of the spot and forward it to nearest 911 centers.

6. Plant DNA to knock off Counterfeiters

plant dna 300x187
The bad news has arrived for the fakers worldwide. Scientists have discovered something that is all set to bust the fake brand party. This little something is no GPS tracking device but a simple code embedded in a plant. An elite label is now going to use plant DNA in its products to make them distinctly unique. All that the law enforcement agencies would need are scanners to tell the genuine product from the fake one.

A similar DNA marker was embedded in a bank's cash boxes. When two men tried to tamper with the boxes in bank heist, the DNA strands in the cases helped the police to nab the culprits.

5. 3-D Technology

SceneVision Poser 486x400
Law enforcement agencies have finally found their new crime buster and it comes in the “avatar” of three-dimensional technology.  It can pervade all aspects of law, right from nabbing the criminal to bringing him to justice.

It is now possible to create a 3-D image of a bullet that has been fired and then find a match from previous criminal cases of shoot-outs. A Forensic Science institute in Connecticut can deftly produce 3D images of crime scene using software called DeltaSphere-3000 3D Scene Digitizer. Police in Japan have employed the technology for facial recognition to fight crimes committed by people of foreign origin. Three-dimensional images of public places and structures are being stored to help the police foil future terrorist attempts.

4. Property Marking System

smartwater detection 396x400
No, we are not talking about dogs here. Humans too, can now mark their property and goods to deter trespassing and forceful entries.

Many houses in the UK are using a generic property marker called SmartWater to deter thieves and burglars. This water-based solution can be sprayed or painted to mark your prized possessions with a unique chemical code. In cases of thefts, stolen items can be identified by the chemical “barcode” and returned to the actual owner.

3. Vehicle Slowdown System

Car chase movie scene just got shorter. General Motors has equipped its cars with a unique in-vehicle safety system called OnStar. Besides being GPS-enabled, the system also comes with a helpful vehicle slowdown feature. Cops can ask an OnStar operator to transmit a signal to the car being pursued. The signal restricts the vehicle’s fuel reserves and slows it down to about five miles an hour.

2. Body Odor to sniff out criminals

You read it right. It is now possible to use body odor as a biometric identifier to nab a culprit. A police canine research center in China is creating a unique database of people with criminal records. The center is collecting body odor of criminals so that they can be later used to match the smell in a crime scene with the help of their ace canines.

1. Vomit Inducing Flashlight

The US Department of Homeland Security has developed a flashlight that is guaranteed to bring a fleeing criminal down on his knees. What else would he do when he is gripped by a sudden bout of horrid puking?

The hi-tech flashlight, called the Dazzler, emits LEDs that can have psychophysical effects on a person. It can cause immediate immobility through extreme physical imbalance like disorientation and nausea. Now we know why the cops crib about how policing has become a really dirty job.

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10. Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum Revolver (Dirty Harry’s gun)

Magnum Dirty Harry

True or False: The “giant handgun” craze began with the Dirty Harry movie series. The answer: False. Harry’s use of the outrageously chambered .44 Magnum revolver was widely popularized, leading to the sales of countless Smith & Wesson and other spin-off model .44s. Action sequences in the movie depict bad guys flying backward through windows or spinning in circles before landing flat on the ground after being struck by Harry’s “badass .44.” The simple fact of the matter is that no projectile, short of a 20mm cannon or .50 cal BMG, will cause the human body to fly backwards through the air or even change direction to a noticeable degree. Despite its famed impracticality, the .44 Magnum was not the first oversized revolver and it would certainly not be the last.

9. Desert Eagle .45 Long Colt / .410 Shotgun Load Pistol

Desert Eagle Long Colt and Shotgun Load

Somewhere along the line weapons engineers realized that if a shotgun and a pistol got married, they would produce a baby that looked like it was on steroids and who could hold a .410 shotgun shell or a .45 long Colt pistol round. The results were variants on the classic Long Colt revolver like Taurus’ “The Judge” and Desert Eagle’s “.410/.45 Long Colt” revolvers. While the .410 shotgun shell theory has tested well in close quarters scenarios, it is not highly recommended for anyone attempting to engage a target at over, say, fifteen feet. The shotgun blast, since it is spun by the rifling of the pistol barrel, will fly in a circular pattern and spread to the size of a small car after 15 or more yards. Not only will you risk missing your target, you will risk hitting other targets that may not have been targets in the first place.

8. Desert Eagle .50 Caliber Handgun

Desert EagleCaliber Handgun

This baby is quite unique. The Desert Eagle .50 cal. is one of the largest (if not the largest) magazine-fed handguns in the world. Developed for use in the Israel’s military, the .50 caliber projectile packs a massive punch that will tear apart any human target. The gun looks incredibly modern and “sexy” (as some would describe it), thus increasing its popularity amongst gangsters, young people, and crime bosses. The Desert Eagle brand, although they create a multitude of other pistols, has become synonymous to meaning “fifty caliber handgun,” and when a person refers to a “Dezzy” you can bet they mean the .50 cal.

7. Smith & Wesson Model 460XVR Compensated Hunter

SW 460XVR Compensated Hunter

Leave it to the hunters to begin making a series of firearms to dwarf anything else on the U.S. production schedule. These moose killing, beer drinking, moonshine stilling, happy-go-lucky animal hunters needed a revolver that would penetrate dense brush, foliage, even small trees, and still bring down a grizzly bear. A 5-shot-wonder, the 460XVR, as its name suggests, will compensate for the hunter’s package size and allow a brief moment of glory in the field comparable only to dropping an atomic bomb.

6. Smith & Wesson 500 Magnum

Smith and Wesson500 Magnum

Read the piece about the 460XVR and imagine adding .04 calibers to the diameter of the round and pinching more powder into the larger cartridge. I once witnessed this projectile strike a deck of Bicycle poker cards at 25 yards. The deck of cards literally, and I mean literally, disintegrated into the air.

5. .50 Caliber Black Powder Wheel Lock Pistol

CalBlack Powder

The .50 caliber flintlock or hammerlock pistols date back hundreds and hundreds of years. The need for the .50 caliber chambering was due to the production standards of the day. A .50 caliber round is exactly one half inch in diameter, making it easy to measure and reproduce accurately by any weapon or ammunition manufacturer. Back in those fabled times, little clamps were produced in the shapes of this common load, meaning that any regular metallurgist could melt down a block of lead or steel and create a projectile for his weapon. It was as easy as using a modern day hole punch. Couple this easy-to-replicate ball projectile (this is not a pointed bullet, rather a ball which is not rifled) with the fact that you can put a whole heck of a lot of black powder behind it, and you have created a weapon which can take down a horse—much less a man—with relative ease. But remember, you only get one shot, and that one shot is not going to be accurate beyond 15 yards and will severely decelerate beyond this distance. Why would you want one for self defense? You wouldn’t. Regardless, they are highly prized collector’s items.

4. Colt 45-70 Peacemaker

ColtPeacemaker 274x399

At some point during the 1970s some genius was under the impression that the .45 caliber Colt Peacemaker (John Wayne’s gun of choice) did not “have enough stopping power.” How anyone could arrive at this conclusion is beyond sane reasoning, given that discharging the standard .45 caliber load feels akin to slapping a brick wall. American engineering, however, devised a way to make this gun even larger and more powerful. Thus, the 45-70 load, originally developed for use in an infantry and/or “buffalo” rifle, was introduced into the sphere of modern day handguns.

3. Magnum Research 45-70 Government Hand Cannon

Magnum Research 45 70

Despite what some people will tell you, there are variants on the standard 45-70 government load. Some feel like a jackhammer, while others feel like you’ve pulled the pin on a grenade and forgot to let go. The “Hand Cannon” delivers that good old “grenade-in your-hand” feeling. It is a weapon that should not be fired by the unsuspecting individual, or anyone for that matter. It is utterly beyond practicality in every sense of the word. Certain models measure over two feet in length and are impossible to wield (safely or effectively) with one arm.

2. WTS .50 BMG (Browning Machine gun Cartridge) Pistol

BMG Pistol 296x399

Beyond all reasonable doubt, this is the largest and most formidable handgun you could ever actually wield in a gunfight. Following in the footsteps of Hitler’s obsession with giant railroad cannons, the Germans are still producing the biggest, most outlandish crap on the market today. The .50 Browning Machinegun cartridge was designed for use against tanks, airplanes, armored personnel carriers, and in some cases it may be used by high-powered sniper rifles. It is more than twice as powerful as the fabled 45-70 government round, and one can only imagine that shooting it in a pistol format would be painful, unwieldy, and quite hazardous for everyone involved. If a soft target is hit with a .50 caliber BMG bullet, it will be shredded/exploded into pieces. The gargantuan .50 caliber death-monster projectile can fly at a breakneck speed for miles, even after penetrating one or two targets. Discharging it at your common household thief is ill advised… unless you don’t mind the possibility of inadvertently pegging one of your neighbors. Would someone be scared of it? Yes. Would they run away? Yes. Would you be able to use your right hand to jot down the grocery list post-firing? Doubtful.

1. Pfeifer Zeliska 28mm Revolver

Pfeifer 314x400

The biggest, most worthless manifestation of an inferiority complex ever created by one man. Originally manufactured under the name “Remington Model 1859,” this copy of the formerly U.S.-made revolver was built by Ryszard Tobys and measures 4-foot-(1.26 m) long. To give some basis for comparison, the 28mm projectile is 8mm wider than the U.S. military’s fabled “20mm Cannon,” a weapon used primarily for destroying tanks, sinking boats, or shooting down heavily armored airplanes. While entirely impractical and, one would guess, impossible to use as an even mildly effective tool for any purpose other than felling trees, the 28mm revolver has made its mark as truly being the world’s largest pistol. And simultaneously the world’s most comical waste of lead.

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Top 10 america
1.) Remington 870
With nearly 10 million and counting in the hands of American hunters, has anything taken more game with the mere swap of an indestructible barrel? This multi-purpose American classic is reliable, affordable and so versatile it's also a top choice for home defense and even holds its own with clay targets, as the legendary Rudy Etchen proved.

2.) Browning Auto-5
Revolutionary as the first mass-produced, recoil-operated shotgun, John Browning's uniquely recognizable design was the gun of choice for notables from World War II flying ace and former NRA President Joe Foss to General George S. Patton.

3.) Beretta 680 Series
Kyle was two for two, but his No. 8 is my No. 3. Since launching this innovative, lightweight line in the 1980s, Beretta has been churning out models in various grades ever since. Elegant, easy to swing and not as costly as some finer options, these may be the best mass-produced over/unders available, from the 682 to the simple-but-elegant 686.

4.) Browning Superposed
Though heavy for some, the first affordable over/under turned enough heads to pull more than a few American hunters away from their prized pumps.

5.) Winchester Model 12
Dubbed the "perfect repeater" in 1912, this classic is the most famous American pump of all time, raising the bar for what was to come.

6.) Benelli Super Black Eagle
Based on the M1 Super 90, this gun was the first 31/2-inch option for semi-autos.

7.) Winchester Model 21
Production of this gun even outlasted that of the Parker. And how unique that it's loaded by lifting the barrel to insert shells at the breech. 

8.) Purdey Game Gun
More sophisticated and of better quality than Holland & Holland, Purdey represents all British side-by-sides. The name set the standard by which all other British guns were judged and will hold its place in time. 

9.) Parker Invincible
Clark Gable may have owned an L.C. Smith, but he cherished his Parkers. And what a following this vintage American double maintains. Though Parkers came in more grades and sizes than any other American double, they're a challenge to collect.

10.) Fabbri Ornamental 8SQS

If I were covering the top 10 musical instruments I'd include a Stradavarius, so here I'll include a gun in a class of its own. A Fabbri shotgun melds ancient artisan skills with modern technology. It will hold its position over time, thanks to state-of-the-art, precision parts of stainless steel and titanium alloy. This gun is not only the best fitting or most finely engraved, but the most reliable and durable-it will never break. Says Ivo Fabbri: "Rome lasted 1,000 years. Shouldn't a Fabbri

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