crimes

The Conviction of de Rais. September 15, 1440.

Even if there had been nothing else unusual about the Breton nobleman Gilles de Rais (1404–40), his outstanding career as a soldier in the Hundred Years’ War and as a comrade in arms of Joan of Arc would have been enough to guarantee his place in history. Today, though, those achievements can only be seen in the shadow of the secret life he led as the perpetrator of more than a hundred gruesome child murders, a rampage which made him arguably the first serial killer in recorded history. The early life of Gilles de Rais was marked by tragedy. Both his parents died about 1415: his father, Guy de Laval, was killed in a hunting accident that de Rais may have witnessed, and his mother, Marie de Craon, died of an unknown cause. He was raised by his maternal grandfather, Jean de Craon. As a young...

Life and death of a criminal. June 22, 1903.

John Herbert Dillinger was born on June 22, 1903 in the Oak Hill section of Indianapolis, a middle-class residential neighborhood. His father, a hardworking grocer, raised him in an atmosphere of disciplinary extremes (“spare the rod and spoil the child”), harsh and repressive on some occasions. John’s mother died when he was three, and John was taken care of by his elder sister and her husband until his father remarried six years later. John resented his stepmother, although later they fell in love and had a three-years long relationship. In adolescence, his bewildering personality became evident, and he was frequently in trouble. Finally, he quit school and got a job in a machine shop in Indianapolis. Although intelligent and a good worker, he soon became bored and often stay...

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