On December 11, 1964, in response to a reported shooting, officers of the Los Angeles Police Department were dispatched to the Hacienda Motel, where they found singer Sam Cooke dead on the office floor, shot three times in the chest by the motel's manager, Bertha Franklin. The authorities ruled Cooke's death a case of justifiable homicide, based on the testimony of Franklin, who claimed that Cooke had threatened her life after attempting to rape a young woman with whom he had earlier checked in.
Frank Sinatra Jr.
On December 10, 1963, Frank Sinatra Jr., who was kidnapped in Lake Tahoe, California, two days earlier is allowed to talk to his father briefly. The 19-year-old man, who was trying to follow in his father's footsteps by pursuing a singing career, was abducted at gunpoint from his hotel room at Harrah's Casino and taken to Canoga Park. After the brief conversation between father and son, the kidnappers demanded a ransom of $240,000.
On December 9, 1981, Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner is found dead on the street with Mumia Abu-Jamal, a well-known activist and freelance journalist, lying severely wounded nearby. In 1982, Abu-Jamal was tried for and convicted of Faulkner's murder, but because of the murky circumstances surrounding the incident and a trial that many believe was unfair, activists have since protested Abu-Jamal's imprisonment.
On December 7, 1992, Colin Ferguson opens fire on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train from New York City, killing 6 and injuring 19. Other train passengers stopped the perpetrator by tackling and holding him down. Ferguson later attributed the shooting spree to his deep-seated hatred of white people.
The Reno Bros. Gang
On December 6, 1868, a guard, who had been shot by brothers Frank, William, and Simeon Reno during a train robbery in May, died of his wounds. His death so infuriated the public that a group of vigilantes yanked the three brothers from their Indiana jail cell five days later and hanged them. Although the Reno gang had a short reign of terror, they are credited with pulling off the first train robbery in American history and are believed to be the inspiration for criminal copycats like Jesse James and others.
Warren Avenue Baptist Church
On December 5, 1873, Bridget Landregan is found beaten and strangled to death in the Boston suburb of Dorchester. According to witnesses, a man in black clothes and a flowing cape attempted to sexually assault the dead girl before running away. In 1874, a man fitting the same description clubbed another young girl, Mary Sullivan, to death. His third victim, Mary Tynan, was bludgeoned in her bed in 1875. Although she survived for a year after the severe attack, she was never able to identify her attacker.
Black Panther leader Fred Hampton
On December 4, 1969, Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were gunned down by police in their Chicago, Illinois apartment. About a hundred bullets had been fired in what police described as a fierce gun battle with members of the Black Panther Party. However, ballistics experts later determined that only one of those bullets came from the Panthers' side.