Top 10 Criminal Partnerships
It is hard to determine the most delicate way in which one should rank criminal partnerships without causing mass offence in one way or another. Should their place in a ‘top ten’ list be relative to the nature or volume of their crimes? Should it be determined by the overall notoriety of the pair in question? I’m going to go with notoriety…
10. Leopold and Loeb
Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were two young academics from Chicago Illinois who, in 1924 decided to carry out the crime they had been planning for months previously. Their plot involved the kidnap and murder of a 14-year-old school boy named Robert Franks, the son of a local millionaire. The pair carried out the deed, disposing of the body in a culvert near Hammond, Indiana and heading home to make a ransom call. Before anything could come of their efforts however, the body was discovered- along with a unique set of spectacles which the police were quickly able to trace to Leopold. The teenagers quickly crumbled and spent the rest of their lives behind bars.
9. Caril Fugate and Charles Starkweather
Have you have seen that early Martin Sheen movie ‘Badlands’? That movie is pretty much based on the story of these two teenage lovers from Nebraska and the spree of murder they unleashed over the winter of 1957/8. 19-year-old Starkweather was a frustrated small town boy with no real prospects and a community who had him pinned as no good. In December 57’ he decided to kill a gas attendant, following this up with his girlfriend Fugate’s parents the following month- the two then embarked on an 8 day rampage killing a total of 10 people. Apprehended in Wyoming, Starkweather received the death penalty whereas Fugate eventually served 18 years- being released in 1976.
8. The Menendez Brothers
Lyle and Eric Menendez were the sons of two wealthy socialites who, in 1989, murdered their parents in their own home. Having previously been concerned of her sons’ increasingly sociopathic behaviour in previous months, nothing could have prepared Kitty Menendez for what they did to her and husband Jose that night. First, Jose was shot point blank in the head with a shotgun whilst relaxing in his den, causing his Kitty to wake and be gunned downed whilst trying to get away. After committing the atrocity, the brother went out to catch a movie in an attempt to provide a future alibi. Upon returning, they informed the police and so began an elaborate case which saw the brothers enjoy a wealthy orphan life until their indictment in the spring of 1990.
7. Ottis Toole and Henry Lee Lucas
Two deeply trouble lovers who in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s committed a still unconfirmed amount of homicides together and separately. Preying on many of their victims along the interstate 35, a 2,500km stretch of highway running from Laredo, Texas right up to Duluth, Minnesota, both men were unquestionably psychotic in nature. A lot is known of Lucas’s childhood- all of which calculates towards his life as a serial killer. His early life is said to have been extremely traumatic, with him suffering at the hands of his neglectful and violent parents from a young age. Ottis Tool had suffered a similarly sexually traumatic upbringing, so when the two met in the mid to late 1970’s after Lucas had been released from jail (where he had been diagnosed with extreme schizophrenia), it led to a gruesome chapter in American crime history.
6. Myra Hindley and Ian Brady
‘The Moors Murderers’ Myra Hindley and Ian Brady committed the murder and sexual abuse of five children between 1963 and 1965. As one of the most hated criminal couples in UK history, the pair committed these atrocities in the Greater Manchester region of England’s North West- a part of the country known for its expansive and desolate moors. The couple utilised this geography whilst carrying out their crimes, mostly as means of disposing of their victim’s remains. Befitting to a recurrent theme in such criminal partnerships, their original motive was in search of the ‘perfect crime’ of which they would be able to walk away from. Hindley has since claimed that her involvement was forced Brady, who would often threaten and blackmail her. Despite this, she did display remorse for her ‘enticement’ role in the crimes prior to her death in 2002. Ian Brady is still incarcerated, however refuses to declare the whereabouts of the undiscovered remains of one of the couples victims.
5. Fred and Rose West
This English couple committed a string of sexual assaults and murders in the 70’s and 80’s, their victim’s mostly being their own children. They murdered 2 of their daughters (one was Fred West’s from an earlier marriage), concealing the bodies often in the backyards etc. of their home at the time. The West’s crimes were usually sexually motivated, with Rose a fan of sadomasochism as well as being a prostitute, victims were picked with sexual intention. Eventually in 1992 after 2 decades of abuse, the couple were arrested. Fred was accused of raping his 13-year-old daughter and Rose with child cruelty. The former case folded when the young girl refused to testify in court, as well as this- Fred committed suicide in 1995. Rose was found guilty of all charges, including 10 counts of murder. She was sentenced to life imprisonment on November 22nd 1995.
4. Bonnie and Clyde
A very famous criminal partnership, Bonny and Clyde’s tale is one of legendary status. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were a handsome young couple known most commonly for the spree of robbery and murder they undertook over a 21-month period in the mid 1930’s. Travelling the US far and wide, the pair were as discreet as possible in their methods- a fact that probably explains why they were able to go on doing what they were doing for so long. Despite this cautious approach however, they were nonetheless brutal whilst on the job, never refusing to remove anyone who got in their way. After killing several police officers in 1934, they made their way to the withering heights of the top of country’s most wanted list. Before long they were found, going in down in a hail of bullets when confronted by lawmen in Louisiana.
3. Burke and Hare
19th Century Edinburgh must have already been a grim enough place to be, even without notorious body snatchers Williams Burke and Hare on the prowl. Emigrating from Ireland in the early 1800’s, the pair soon found a living selling cadavers to curious and, more importantly, wealthy backstreet surgeons who required such product, upon which to carry out biological experiments. They found a consistent customer in Dr. Robert Knox, an Edinburgh native and physician who liked to carry out such probes into human anatomy. Before long, the pair were creating the cadavers themselves- embarking on a murderous spree across the city between November 1827 and October 1828. The two were eventually caught, with Burke as the mastermind being hung the following January. Hare was released, he is rumoured to have died a blind beggar some years later.
2. The Kray Twins
Reinstating the classic gangster run rackets of the prohibition era US upon an unsuspecting 1960’s London, these identical twins came from humble beginnings to the height of celebrity in just a few years. Their empire appeared on the surface to be down to the success they found as club owners, mingling with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland on a regular basis, however under the surface lay many dark secrets. Murder and extortion were no foreign concepts to this pair, and both soon contributed to their downfall. In no time at all the twins descended from the ranks of the a-list to that of violent mobster criminals. After a spate of unwilling witnesses, enough evidence was gathered finally in May 1968 to arrest both brothers as well as several members of their ‘firm’. They were convicted for two counts of murder and sentenced to life.
1. Frank and Jesse James
Dividing public opinion since their heyday, the James brothers, along with their famous gang, have become an American legend. At the height of their activity, the brothers would travel the US far and wide, carrying out precise yet brutal robberies. Trains, convenience stores and banks all featured on the hit-list and as time went on, the heists became increasingly daring. The brothers became famous in the mid 1860’s following a particularly fruitful bank job, this however resulted in an increase in the amount of law enforcement aimed their way. This heat contributed towards more deaths and general carnage during the gangs’ heists- leading to its eventual demise in the late 1870’s. After reducing their operations as way of precaution, the brothers parted. It was during this time that Jesse was famously betrayed by gang members the Ford brothers, one of whom shot him in the back at his own home.
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