D.B. Cooper

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FBI age progression of D.B. Cooper, who ransomed 36 airline passengers for $200,000 in 1971, then ordered the plane into the air again and jumped out somewhere over southwest Washington.

No trace of him has ever been found. It’s still the world’s only unsolved skyjacking.

No Tips Either Way

Okay, you’re a chef. Which of these trays was requested for a singer’s dressing room, and which is the last meal of a Texas death-row inmate?

A. Neil Diamond (“Love on the Rocks”)
B. Nelly (“Hot in Herre”)
C. Smokey Robinson (“Tears of a Clown”)
D. B.B. King (“The Thrill Is Gone”)
E. Cornelius Goss (beat a Dallas homeowner to death with a board)
F. Gerald Mitchell (shotgunned two customers during a Houston drug deal)
G. James Collier (shot two Wichita Falls residents while stalking his daughter)
H. James Powell (raped and murdered a 10-year-old in Beaumont)
I. Paul Nuncio (strangled a 61-year-old in Plainview)

1. BBQ chicken wings, chips, fruit, ginger ale
2. 1 apple, 1 orange, 1 banana, coconut, peaches
3. One pot of coffee
4. Enchiladas, burritos, chocolate ice cream, cantaloupe (whole, split in half)
5. Chinese takeout, coffee
6. 1 bag of assorted Jolly Ranchers
7. Baked salmon, french fries, fruit platter, salad, soda
8. Nothing
9. Thirty jumbo shrimp, cocktail sauce, baked potato, French fries, ketchup, butter, one T-bone steak, one chocolate malt, one gallon of vanilla ice cream, and three cans of Big Red

Click for Answer

Benjamin Bathurst

On Nov. 25, 1809, British diplomat Benjamin Bathurst was preparing to leave the small German town of Perleberg. He stood outside the inn, watching his portmanteau being loaded onto the carriage, stepped out of the light, and was never seen again.

A nearby river was dragged, and outbuildings, woods, ditches, and marshes were searched, but no trace of Bathurst was ever found. A reward was offered for information, but none came forth.

Bathurst had been urging Austria into war against the French, but Napoleon swore on his honor that he had played no part in the disappearance. The mystery has never been solved.

“Wonderful Peculiarity in the English Character!”

“The French, however wretched may be their condition, are attached to life, while the English frequently detest life in the midst of affluence and splendour. English criminals are not dragged, but run to the place of execution, where they laugh, sing, cut jokes, insult the spectators; and if no hangman happens to be present, frequently hang themselves.”

Memoirs of Lewis Holberg, quoted in The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, July 28, 1827

Caveat Emptor

French forger Vrain Denis-Lucas must have had a golden touch. His customers bought “manuscripts” from all of the following authors:

  • Robert Boyle
  • Isaac Newton
  • Blaise Pascal
  • Cleopatra
  • Judas Iscariot
  • Pontius Pilate
  • Joan of Arc
  • Cicero
  • Dante Alighieri

… even though all of them were written in contemporary French. All told, Denis-Lucas sold 27,000 manuscripts before the French Academy of Science realized something was wrong. He spent two years in prison and then disappeared.

“Guillotine”

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Account of an execution by guillotine, recorded in The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, July 7, 1827:

Arrived near the fatal machine, the unhappy man stepped out of the vehicle, knelt at the feet of his confessor, received the priestly benediction, kissed some individuals who accompanied him, and was hurried by the officers of justice up the steps of the cube-form structure of wood, painted of a blood-red, on which stood the dreadful apparatus of death.

To reach the top of the platform, to be fast bound to a board, to be placed horizontally under the axe, and deprived of life by its unerring blow, was, in the case of this miserable offender, the work literally of a moment. It was indeed an awfully sudden transit from time to eternity. He could only cry out, ‘Adieu, mes amis,’ and he was gone. The severed head, passing through a red-coloured bag fixed under, fell to the ground-the blood spouted forth from the neck like water from a fountain-the body, lifted up without delay, was flung down through a trap-door in the platform.

Never did capital punishment more quickly take effect on a human being; and whilst the executioner was coolly taking out the axe from the groove of the machine, and placing it, covered as it was with gore, in a box, the remains of the culprit, deposited in a shell, were hoisted into a wagon, and conveyed to the prison. In twenty minutes all was over, and the Grande Place nearly cleared of its thousands, on whom the dreadful scene seemed to have made, as usual, the slightest possible impression.

Much Ado About Nothing

You can fool some of the people all of the time.

Perhaps inspired by Thomas Chatterton, the teenage Samuel William Henry Ireland (1777-1835) “found” an old deed with Shakespeare’s signature.

His father, a collector, was overjoyed, so Ireland went on finding more Shakespeareana — a promissory note, a declaration of Protestant faith, letters to Anne Hathaway and to Queen Elizabeth, books with notes in the margins and “original” manuscripts for Hamlet and King Lear.

Amazingly, these were all authenticated by experts of the day. Ireland wasn’t caught until at age 18 he wrote an entire “lost” play, which was mounted at Drury Lane Theatre. As a playwright, he couldn’t match the Bard, and Vortigern and Rowena closed after a single performance on April 2, 1796.

Sadly, his father took the blame, as no one could believe such a young man could pull off such a forgery. His son fled to France and died in obscurity.

Shergar

Kidnappers don’t always target humans. On Feb. 8, 1983, a group of men abducted the Irish racehorse Shergar, winner of the 1981 Epsom Derby.

A local radio station received a ransom demand for £1.5 million, but the horse was never recovered, and to this day his fate is still unknown.

03/04/2018 UPDATE: In 2008, Telegraph reporter Andrew Alderson found the answer. (Thanks, Paul.)