On October 15, 1917, exotic dancer Mata Hari was executed by a French firing squad for the crime of espionage. She was born Margueretha Gertruida Zelle in a small town in northern Holland and formerly married to a captain in the Dutch army; Mata Hari had performed in Paris as a dancer since 1903. She adopted an elaborate stage persona, claiming she was born in a sacred Indian temple and taught ancient Indian dances by a priestess who gave her the name Mata Hari, which meant "eye of the dawn." Her exotic dances soon earned her fans all over Europe, where she packed dance halls, largely because of her willingness to dance almost entirely naked in public.
Scene of the Amityville murders
On October 14, 1975, the murder trial of Ronald DeFeo Jr. began. DeFeo was accused of killings his parents and four siblings in their Amityville, New York home. The family’s house was later said to be haunted and served as the inspiration for the Amityville Horror book and movies.
On October 12, 2002, three bombings shatter the peace on the island of Bali. The blasts, the work of militant Islamist terrorists, left 202 people dead and more than 200 others injured. The attacks shocked residents and those familiar with the mostly Hindu island, long known as a tranquil and friendly island paradise.
Edward O. Heinrich, private detective
On October 11, 1923, three men blow up the mail car of a Southern Pacific train carrying passengers through southern Oregon in a botched robbery attempt. Just as the train entered a tunnel, two armed men jumped the engineer. A third man appeared with a bomb that the thieves intended to use to open the mail car. However, the explosives were too powerful and the entire mail car was blown to bits, killing the clerk inside. In the ensuing chaos, the train robbers shot the train's engineer, fireman, and brakeman, and then fled. They left behind the detonator and some clothes, but bloodhounds were unable to track them.
On October 8, 1991, former U.S. postal worker Joseph Harris shoots two former co-workers to death at the post office in Ridgewood, New Jersey. The night before, Harris had killed his former supervisor, Carol Ott, with a three-foot samurai sword, and shot her fiancé, Cornelius Kasten, in their home. After a four-hour standoff with police at the post office, Harris was arrested.
On October 9, 1942, notorious Chicago area bootlegger Roger "The Terrible" Touhy escapes from Statesville Prison by climbing the guard's tower. Touhy, who had been framed for kidnapping by his bootlegging rivals, was serving a 99-year sentence for a crime he did not commit.
James Arthur Ray
On October 8, 2009, two people die and more than a dozen others are hospitalized following a botched sweat lodge ceremony at a retreat run by motivational speaker and author James Arthur Ray near Sedona, Arizona. A third participant in the ceremony died nine days later.