April 1999

April 1, 1999
In Frackville, PA, an inmate has been charged with raping a 9-year-old girl numerous times in the prison's visiting room over the past year, state police said (4/1/99). The child said inmate John Mims, 34, sexually assaulted her during most of her 16 visits to Schuylkill County Prison since April 1998. Mims knew when the visiting room guard was occupied and used that opportunity to assault the child, Trooper Jeffrey Szczecina said. Mims' wife accompanied the child, a relative of hers, on each visit from April 4, 1998, to January 23, 1999, and knew her husband was abusing the girl, police said. Mims was arrested Friday at the prison and was arraigned on felony counts of rape and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. The wife was arrested at her home and charged with felony counts of criminal conspiracy to commit rape and endangering the welfare of children. Mims has been incarcerated at the prison since Jan. 6, 1998, after he violated parole related to a 1993 convenience store robbery, officials said. (APB Online)

April 2, 1999
Henry Clay Frick was a ruthless and extremely successful steel tycoon in the late 1800's and early 1900's. The death of his daughter Martha in 1891 would cause him the greatest pain he ever suffered. Martha was born a happy and healthy child on August 5, 1885. She flourished until she was two. Then she took ill, and despite the best possible medical care, her condition became chronic. No one knew what the cause might be until one day, two years later, her nurse noticed a small wound on the child's right side that was oozing pus. She wiped it away and was horrified to find a pin emerging from the wound. Apparently Martha had swallowed it just before she took ill, and for two years it had slowly worked its way through her body, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. A doctor cleaned and dressed the wound, but aseptic procedures were in their infancy then, and the infection festered for another two years. Martha slowly and inexorably went from bad to worse. She was in nearly contant pain, her hair fell out, and she lost weight. Finally, in the summer of 1891, the wound opened again, and pus poured out. The nurse, named Annie, called for Frick. He took one look and said in desperation, "Annie, what shall I do? What shall I do?" But there was nothing to be done, given the medical science of the day. A few hours later the child died, leaving a hole in Frick's heart that would never be filled. In his personal conduct a typical Victorian male, Frick rarely spoke of her afterward, except that on her birthday he would say at the dinner table that Martha would have been so many years old that day. But when a Pittsburgh bank that catered to children's accounts failed, Frick sent checks to each of the young depositors to make up their lost money. Each check had Martha's image engraved on it. (American Heritage)

April 3, 1999
A man who apparently was attempting to get a place in the Guinness Book of World Records was killed when he fell from the Brooklyn Bridge. A witness told investigators that Robert Landetta, 27, was trying to set a record by climbing five bridges in four hours when he slipped off a cable Friday and fell 500 feet to the street, said police spokesman John Giammarino. Police have a videotape of the fall taken by a friend of Landetta's. (CNN Interactive
, donated by Fiendish Freya Harris)

April 4, 1999
About 100,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes each year, and the typical alcoholic dies 10 to 12 years early. (The Big Book Of Vice)

April 6, 1999
In February, 1999, Claudia Archer, 52, settled her malpractice lawsuit against Walter Reed Army Medical Center for about $4 million. Archer entered the hospital to have a benign tumor removed from her neck, but over the next four months, allegedly because of errors and infections, both her legs had to be amputated below the knee and tubes inserted in her body to help her eat and breathe. (News Of The Weird)

April 9, 1999
Pietro Aretino was an Italian satirist who was known as the "Scourge of Princes" for his bitingly witty attacks on the aristocracy. When his good friend, the painter Titian, came to him with a problem, Aretino was quick to offer assistance. The Duke of Urbino had commissioned Titian to paint a nude portrait of his old and ugly wife. As Titian feared the consequences, Aretino hired a beautifully proportioned prostitute to pose for the body and urged Titian to paint a flattering portrait of the duchess for the head. The duchess was extremely pleased with the result, which Titain had named The Venus of Urbino. When the pair of friends presented the painting to the duke, he turned to Aretino and sighed, "If I could have had that girl's body, even with my wife's head, I would have been a happier man." Aretino found the remark so exceedingly funny that he collapsed in a fit of laughter that provoked a stroke. Aretino was unconscious by the time a priest was brought to administer the last rites. No sooner had the priest finished, when Aretino opened his eyes, spoke his final two sentences,"Now I'm oiled. Keep me from the rats," and expired. (Famous Last Words, donated by Jason Langlois)

April 11, 1999
The man who confessed to killing four women after walking into a sheriff's office and pulling out a woman's breast from his pocket has described a grisly killing to grand jurors. Wayne Ford, 36, was informed Wednesday that he had been indicted on one count of first-degree murder by grand jurors who heard the truck driver's tearful confession with investigators. The panel heard details of a slaying in Humboldt County in October 1997. Ford allegedly picked up the woman as she walked near a shopping mall in Eureka. Her nude torso was found 12 days later in a slough. The trucker did not know what killed the woman but tried to revive her, according to his interview with police. When he realized she was already dead, he allegedly decapitated her, severed her arms and breasts and cooked one breast in the oven, the Eureka Times-Standard reported today. Ford disposed of the body parts in various locations and burned the woman's clothing. He said he did not know her name or where she was from. Ford told investigators he often picked up prostitutes and other women who hung around truck stops. He said it was not uncommon for women to stop breathing while they were having sex with him. Ford was arrested Nov. 3 after he walked into the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department and said he had hurt a lot of people. He pulled the breast from his coat pocket, saying the evidence was "the tip of the iceberg." (
APB Online, generously donated by Rita Blaize-Watson)

April 12, 1999
In August, 1940, Russian Communist Leon Trotsky, 60, living in exile in Mexico, was hacked to death by an assassin with an ice axe. (The People's Almanac #2)

April 14, 1999
In January, a 16-year-old driver and his 20-year-old passenger smashed their car at a high rate of speed through the glass doors of their high school gym in Doylestown, Pa., and into a concrete wall, in what the driver said was a suicide attempt brought on by depression. However, both were wearing seat belts and were not seriously hurt. (News Of The Weird)

April 15, 1999
The last execution with Guillotine took place in France September 10, 1977 in Marseille, when the murderer Hamida Djandoubi was beheaded. (

April 20, 1999
In the face of advancing Japanese troops, U.S. and Filipino forces under Gen. Douglas MacArthur abandoned Manila and retreated west to the Bataan Peninsula on January 6, 1942.. Crippled by malaria, weakened from their decision to share their rations with the civilian population, and demoralized after MacArthur's departure for Australia in March, the surviving defenders surrendered on April 9, when they became convinced that no outside help would be forthcoming. What followed came to be called the Bataan Death March. The Japanese conquerors led the 10,000 American and 45,000 Filipino POWs on a brutal six-day, 120-mi. trek to prison in Pampanga Province. Each day en route ended with the slaughter of all prisoners too sick to continue. About half the captives died in this way and another 25% perished in the prison camp before war's end. ( The People's Alamanac #2)

April 22, 1999
Coal mine accidents skyrocketed in the early part of the century as heavy industry demanded more and more fuel. The Red Cross Magazine of 1909 quoted American Red Cross leader Mabel Boardman as saying: "Statistics show that in our mines alone over seven men are killed a day and nearly twenty injured." Later that year, on November 13, over 250 miners were entombed in the St. Paul coal mine at Cherry, Illinois. The final death toll mounted to nearly 260 as would-be rescuers were trapped in a fire on the second level. Acting quickly, the Red Cross established a pension fund for the widows and orphans, encouraging contributions from individuals, labor unions, and others, including the Illinois legislature. The fund was credited with influencing the eventual passage of workmenís compensation laws in many states, which forced industries to take more responsibility for the welfare of their employees. (
The American Red Cross)

April 27, 1999
Sigmund Freud was an early proponent of cocaine, calling it a "magical drug," and recommending it for various physical and psychological ailments -- including addiction to other drugs. Freud himself used it for many years; as a result, he suffered nasal sores and bleeding -- which he treated with more cocaine. He later admitted his enthusiasm for the drug had been a great mistake. Freud delved deeply into the sexual symbolism in our everyday lives, but is also said to have admitted, "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." In his case, it proved to be a death sentence -- habitual cigar smoking led to his slow, painful demise from cancer of the jaw. (The Big Book Of Vice)

April 30, 1999
A Hong Kong widow who promised to keep her husband's body for a week, hoping for his resurrection, turned the corpse over to authorities after four days because she was unable to stand the smell. A feng shui master had advised her 72-year-old husband that he had a chance of coming back to life. (Bizarre Magazine)