Most Popular Stories, Part One

Al Capone
The full, unvarnished story of the brilliant and brutal Chicago crime czar. Most people don't realize that if Capone's father hadn't died when he did, Al would not have gone into a life of crime, but would probably have stayed a bookkeeper in a legitimate Baltimore construction company. Capone's father, a respectable Italian immigrant, who worked hard to own his own business, would never have permitted his son to become a gangster.

Being of Neopolitan rather than Sicilian heritage, Capone could never be part of the Mafia. Also, he married a middle-class Irish-American girl. These two factors gave him an independence from the New York Mafia. What better place for an entrepreneurial gangster to get started than the wild and wooly Chicago in the 1920s.

Capone's older brother James was a strong-minded and independent boy who wanted to escape the crowded city and go west where the prospects were better. Strong and muscular, anxious for adventure and wide open spaces, he joined the circus and traveled all over the Midwest. For the first time, he was exposed to American Indians and became fascinated with their culture.

He had changed his name to Richard Hart to fit the Anglo culture of the West and joined the federal Prohibition agency as enforcer on Indian reservations. Known as "Two-Gun Hart," he served as a body guard for President Calvin Coolidge.

Jack the Ripper
Jack the Ripper was the most famous serial killer of all time. Brutally murdering prostitutes in London's notorious Whitechapel district, he caused a panic in 1888.

Why does this long-ago killer who murdered a few prostitutes merit the attention he gets? Because Jack the Ripper represents the classic whodunit. Not only is the case an enduring unsolved mystery that professional and amateur sleuths have tried to solve for over a hundred years, but the story has a terrifying, almost supernatural quality to it. He comes from out of the fog, kills violently and quickly and disappears without a trace. Then for no apparent reason, he satisfies his blood lust with ever-increasing ferocity, culminating in the near destruction of his final victim, and then vanishes from the scene forever. The perfect ingredients for the perennial thriller.

A criminal profile by former FBI profiler Gregg McCrary and a penetrating analysis of the many suspects shed light on this legendary killer.

Charles Manson
Many hardened criminals blame their crimes on their parents, but few have as clear a case as Charles Manson. His mother was an alcoholic prostitute who sold him for a pitcher of beer. In and out of reform school as a youngster, he had an IQ of 109 and became a kind of institutional politician and manipulator by age 19.

From then on his continuous scrapes with the law landed him in prison. His record there described Charlie as having "a tremendous drive to call attention to himself.

On March 21, 1967, Charlie was released from prison in California. He was 32 years old and more than half of his life had been spent in institutions. He protested his freedom. "Oh, no, I can't go outside there...I knew that I couldn't adjust to that world."

Charlie started to attract a group of followers, many of whom were very young women with troubled emotional lives who were rebelling against their parents and society in general.

This was the core of the Manson Family execution team who he ordered to kill pregnant actress Sharon Tate, her wealthy house guests, and the well-to-do LaBiancas.

Charlie was trying to start a race war and vet himself as a prophet of doom.

Ted Bundy
The most frightening of serial killers: a handsome, educated psychopathic law student who stalked and murdered dozens of young college women who looked very much like a young woman who broke off her relationship with him.

Bundy was a very adept and glib con artist who faked a broken arm in a sling to convince young women to help him carry his textbooks to his car. Once there, he battered them with a baseball bat and carried them off for ghoulish rituals.

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