PHOTO BY: Jason DeCrow/AP Photo
Bernie Madoff's Arrest and Conviction (2008-2009)
Investment giant turned fraudster Bernie Madoff, 79, is serving a 150-year life sentence for ripping off thousands — in what’s now known as the biggest case of investment fraud in U.S. history. His sons turned him
in tofederal authorities in late 2008, exposing the multibillion dollarPonzi scheme. From celebrities to everyday people, he defrauded his clients of nearly $20 billion dollars in principle investments. Trustees have been working to pay back billions to his victims. As for the Madoff family, Bernie reportedly has had health problems while in prison. His two sons have died since his arrest — one from suicide, the other from cancer.
PHOTO BY: George Frey/Getty Images
Elizabeth Smart's Kidnapping (2002-2003)
When news broke of Elizabeth Smart’s kidnapping, it sounded like a scene from a suspense movie — a 14-year-old girl taken from her bedroom in the middle of the night. But it was all too real for the Smart family, as they desperately searched for the girl near Salt Lake City. For nine months, Smart was held captive by Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, until someone called with a possible sighting of her. Smart was located just miles from her home. Despite the torture she suffered, she has gone on to be an accomplished author and child activist.
PHOTO BY: Ben Margot/AP Photo
Laci Peterson's Disappearance and Murder (2002)
Four months after the pregnant 26-year-old Laci Peterson went missing on Christmas Eve 2002, her body and the fetus of her unborn child washed ashore on a section of the San Francisco Bay shoreline. In the weeks following Peterson's disappearance, suspicions began to mount against her husband, Scott. He was exposed for having an affair with a massage therapist, though he said Laci knew and was “OK with it.” Scott was charged with murdering Laci and her unborn son days after their bodies were found. Despite his lawyers’ theory that a satanic cult had kidnapped and murdered Laci, Scott was convicted and is now on death row.
PHOTO BY: Victor Watts / Alamy Stock Photo
Murder of Gianni Versace (1997)
Italian fashion designer and founder of the Versace empire, Gianni Versace was murdered outside the entrance of his Miami Beach mansion in 1997. The gunman, Andrew Cunanan, had been on a cross-country killing spree. The world-renowned designer was his last victim. Cunanan, 27, killed himself eight days after killing Versace. Some have speculated that Cunanan murdered Versace, 50, to gain worldwide attention. Among those who attended Versace's memorial service to pay their respects was Britain's Princess Diana — a mere month before her own tragic death.
PHOTO BY: Randall Simons/Polaris,photoSpark
JonBenét Ramsey’s Killing (1996)
A child-beauty-pageant queen murdered after she went to bed on Christmas night — the case of JonBenét Ramsey has never been resolved. Initially, the Ramseys thought someone kidnapped their 6-year-old daughter as she slept. Her mother,
Patsy, said she found a ransom note demanding $118,000 for JonBenét's return on the morning of Dec. 26, 1996. But later that day her father, John, discovered her body in the basement of their Boulder, Colo., home. She had been strangled and suffered a blow that had fractured her skull. For more than 10 years, her parents were under suspicion for the death and for child abuse, although analysis of DNA found at the scene was eventually determined to be from an unknown male. In 2008, the district attorney apologized and cleared the Ramsey family. The apology came too late for Patsy, who died in 2006 from ovarian cancer at age 49. To this day no one has been charged with JonBenét's murder. John Mark Karr was arrested 10 years later in Thailand, but it turned out that he had falsely confessed.
PHOTO BY: Sam Mircovich/AP Photo
O.J. Simpson’s Arrest and Trial (1994-1995)
One of the most-watched trials ever on television was that of former NFL player O.J. Simpson. For nine months, viewers listened to testimony trying to connect him to the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, 34, and her friend, Ron Goldman, 26. The two victims were stabbed to death outside of Brown Simpson’s condo in 1994 — while the Simpsons' young children slept in their bedrooms. Police immediately began questioning Simpson, eventually asking him to surrender. Instead, he got into his white Ford Bronco and led police on a two-hour televised chase. The “trial of the century” was notable for its many twists and turns — from flare-ups between the judge and a prosecutor to infighting among Simpson’s many attorneys — but the most dramatic moment came when O.J. Simpson struggled to put on a glove found at the crime scene. His attorney Johnnie Cochran told the jury, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” On Oct. 3, 1995, 150 million Americans tuned in to learn the jury’s decision: “We the jury … find the defendant, Orenthal James Simpson, not guilty of the crime of murder.” Thirteen years later, Simpson ended up in prison for a different crime — a robbery case in Las Vegas. He was locked up for nine years until a judge granted him parole in 2017.
PHOTO BY: Nick Ut/AP Photo
The Menendez Brothers (1989)
Did they kill their wealthy parents for their money, or were Lyle and Erik Menendez
drivento murder because of a lifetime of abuse? Both theories played out in courtrooms twice, because the jury in their first trial was deadlocked. The brothers — now in their late 40s, but 21 and 18 at the time of the murders — killed their parents with shotguns in their Beverly Hills mansion. Jose was shot point-blank in the back of the head, and Kitty shot 15 times. At first, the brothers were not arrested, as they told police it was likely a Mafia hit or a bad business deal. But in the weeks that followed, suspicions mounted as the brothers began spending money from their parents' $14 million estate. Seven months after the murders, both brothers were arrested — and eventually convicted in 1995. Despite being sentenced to life in prison, both brothers got married while incarcerated and remain in contact.
PHOTO BY: AP Photo
Jeffrey Dahmer's Path of Terror (1978-1991)
Serial killer Jeffry Dahmer victimized 17 men and boys over the course of 13 years, beginning in 1978. He tortured and dismembered his victims, often keeping their body parts — and sometimes eating them — in his Milwaukee home. Dahmer was finally caught after a man he had handcuffed in his apartment managed to escape. The investigation revealed that Dahmer, a chocolate factory worker, had been luring men he met at bars to his home, where he would drug and murder them. He was sentenced to 15 life terms for the killings. But after just about two years in prison, the 34-year-old was beaten to death during a work detail in 1994.
PHOTO BY: AP Photo
Ted Bundy's Rampage (1974-1978)
Serial killer, kidnapper, rapist and prison escapee Ted Bundy victimized women for several years in the mid-
to late 1970s. Prior to his execution in 1989, he admitted to at least 30 murders, but investigators believe there were many more. The killings started in the Northwest a couple of years after Bundy graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in psychology. The victims often resembled his college sweetheart, a breakup that tore him apart. The mass murderer went to prison in 1976,but escaped twice — killing several more women along the way. He was finally caught on Feb. 15, 1978.
PHOTO BY: Popperfoto/Getty Images, FotoWare fotostation
Charles Manson Murders (1969)
In August 1969, the Manson Family cult killings in Los Angeles stunned the nation. The most notorious
werethe brutal murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others at her Benedict Canyon home. The cult’s leader, Charles Manson, was sentenced to several life terms and died in 2017 at 83. Several of his followers are still serving life sentences in prison for those five murders, as well as four additional killings. One of the reasons Manson gave for the killings referred to the Beatles’ song “Helter Skelter,” which he wrongfully interpreted as a call for a violent race war.
AARP Offer: Be Part of Something Bigger Than Yourself
AARP helps seniors in need, provides tax aide to millions, helps rebuild communities and tutors children. It also represents you in Washington, D.C., and fights for your benefits for healthcare and Social Security.
Sign up for the eAdvocate newsletter to keep up to speed on what’s happening in DC, and join AARP to keep building our community stronger.