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Time Magazine Focuses on Villainy

By Timmy Watson in News on Mar 3, 2007 6:18PM

07_03_03_gacy.jpgFor the 75th anniversary of the Lindbergh kidnapping, Time released what they believe are the top 25 crimes of the century. We must say, we got sucked in and were captivated by the crimes, some of which we were familiar with and some we were completely unawares. Two of the crimes were from the Chicago area. John Wayne Gacy, executed by lethal injection in 1994, murdered 32 boys and young men. Police found 28 of them in a crawl space in his Des Plaines home. The mysteries of the human psyche, the false sense of security in suburbia, the facade of an upstanding citizen — these were all brought to the forefront in an American society that was getting comfortable.

07_03_03_speck.jpgThe second Chicago-area crime that made the list was the 1966 Richard Speck murders. Speck broke into the South Chicago Community Hospital and cruelly killed 8 women. Speck didn't know one of the nurses was hiding under a bed during the spree. A man recognized his picture in the paper; he was positively identified and sentenced to death. In 1972 the U.S. Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional, and Speck's sentence was changed to 100 years in prison. He died in 1991.

07_03_03_monalisa.jpgWhile the crimes specific to our area were murders, the list encompasses art thefts, bank robberies, and kidnapping. One of the stories we didn't know in depth was the theft of the Mona Lisa. Although she was created by Leonardo da Vinci in Florence, she called France home for over 4 centuries. Then, one day, she disappeared. The poet, Guillaume Apollinaire, was a suspect and implicated Pablo Picasso, but both were cleared of any wrongdoing. In 1914, three years later, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence notified the Lourve that Vincenzo Perugia was arrested by Italian officials for trying to sell the painting. Perugia, somehow, stole the painting by himself and was suspected of trying to drive up the price of fake Mona Lisas. Perugia received a few months in jail and was regarded as a patriot in Italy.

There were lots of Hollywood mysteries in the list, but we were a little surprised there weren't many political crimes in the list. Like Watergate? Regardless, it's an interesting insight into the many famous crimes in the last century that have been the inspiration for art, film, music, and discussion regarding society in America.

Gacy image via Crime Library, Speck image via Carpenoctem, Mona Lisa image via Wikipedia.