by Michael Thomas Barry
On March 26, 1997, police enter a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, an exclusive suburb of San Diego, California, and discover 39 victims of a mass suicide. The deceased were all found lying peaceably in matching dark clothes and Nike sneakers and had no noticeable signs of trauma. It was later revealed that the men and women were members of the "Heaven's Gate" religious cult, whose leaders preached that suicide would allow them to leave their bodies and enter an alien spacecraft hidden behind the Hale-Bopp comet.
The Scottsboro Nine
On March 25, 1932, the United States Supreme Court hands down its decision in the case of Powell v. Alabama. The case arose out of the infamous Scottsboro case. Nine young black men were arrested and accused of raping two white women on train in Alabama in March 1931. The boys were fortunate to barely escape a lynch mob sent to kill them, but were railroaded into convictions and death sentences. The Supreme Court overturned the convictions on the basis that they did not have effective representation.
On March 24, 1998, Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden shoot and kill five and wound 10 at the Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Golden, 11, the younger of the two boys, asked to be excused from his class, pulled a fire alarm and then ran to join Johnson, 13, in a wooded area 100 yards away from the school's gym. As the students streamed out of the building, Johnson and Golden opened fire on students and teachers.
On March 22, 1984, seven teachers at the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California were indicted on molestation charges by the Los Angeles County grand jury after hearing testimony from 18 children. Included among the charged are Peggy McMartin Buckey, the head of the school and her son Ray Buckey.
On March 21, 1963, Alcatraz Prison was closed. At its peak period of use in 1950s, "The Rock” housed over 200 inmates at the maximum-security facility. Alcatraz remains an icon of American prisons for its harsh conditions and record for being inescapable.
On March 20, 1995, packages of sarin gas are set off in the Tokyo subway system killing twelve people and injuring thousands. Sarin gas is one of the most lethal nerve gases known to man. Tokyo police quickly learned who had planted the chemical weapons and checkpoints were set up across the nation in the massive manhunt.
On March 19, 1943, mobster Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti, one of Al Capone’s henchmen and later front man for the Chicago Outfit, committed suicide after being indicted for extorting money from Hollywood producers.