7 ’70s Crime Stories That Captivated the Nation

7 ’70s Crime Stories That Captivated the Nation | Society Of Rock Videos

via Sacramento Bee / YouTube

The 1970s were not just about disco and bell-bottoms; the decade was also rife with crime stories that shocked and captivated America. These events not only caused waves in the media but created lasting impacts on the country’s legal and cultural landscapes. Here’s a look at seven of the most gripping crime stories of the 1970s.

The Kent State Shootings (1970)

May 4, 1970, marked a tragic day in American history. At Kent State University in Ohio, a group of National Guardsmen opened fire on students protesting against the Vietnam War. In just a matter of seconds, four students were killed, and nine others were wounded. The incident sparked national outrage and became a symbol of the deep divisions within the United States over the Vietnam War.

The public’s reaction to the shootings was immediate and intense, leading to a nationwide strike of college students. The event represents a dark chapter in American history where governmental force was used against civilians, prompting a nationwide debate on the use of lethal force by law enforcement.

The New Orleans Sniper (1973)

On January 7, 1973, Mark Essex launched an attack at a hotel in New Orleans, killing nine people, including police officers and hotel guests. Essex’s shootings were racially motivated, intended as retaliation for perceived racial injustices.

The incident culminated in a deadly shootout with police on the hotel rooftop where Essex was killed. His violent act shook the city of New Orleans and raised concerns about race relations and police preparedness during such crises.

The Golden State Killer (1974-1986)

Throughout the 1970s and the early ’80s, California was plagued by a series of brutal burglaries, rapes, and murders. The man behind these acts was known as the Golden State Killer, whose real identity remained a mystery for decades. His crimes consisted of over 50 rapes and at least 13 murders.

The case remained a focal point for law enforcement and true-crime enthusiasts alike. It wasn’t until 2018 that a suspect, a former police officer, was arrested and charged with the crimes, thanks to advancements in DNA technology and genealogy databases.

The Lynette Fromme Assassination Attempt (1975)

Lynette Fromme, a follower of Charles Manson and a member of his “family,” gained infamy on September 5, 1975, when she aimed a gun at President Gerald Ford. Although she did not fire the weapon, Fromme was apprehended at the scene and later received a life sentence.

Fromme’s assassination attempt was noteworthy not only for its target but also because it was part of a series of security breaches against the president. It led to an increase in the awareness and tightening of presidential security protocols.

The Chowchilla Kidnapping (1976)

In a small California town, a school bus carrying 26 children and their driver was hijacked and the victims were buried alive in a quarry. This chilling event took place on July 15, 1976, and is known as the Chowchilla Kidnapping. The kidnappers’ plan involved demanding a $5 million ransom.

Miraculously, after 16 hours, the victims managed to dig themselves out and escape unharmed. The three kidnappers were subsequently caught and faced justice. The case shocked the nation and led to changes in school bus security and procedures for handling mass abduction situations.

The Jonestown Massacre (1978)

The Jonestown Massacre is one of the most horrific incidents of mass suicide in recorded history. It took place on November 18, 1978, in Guyana, where over 900 followers of the Peoples Temple, led by Jim Jones, died. The event followed the murder of visiting U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan, who was investigating reports of abuses within the community.

The tragedy unfurled after Jones instructed his followers to drink a cyanide-laced beverage. The reason behind this mass murder-suicide ranged from a twisted utopian communalism to extreme paranoia. The chilling phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid” has since become a common metaphor for blindly following a destructive leader.

The Atlanta Child Murders (1979-1981)

Between 1979 and 1981, Atlanta was gripped by fear as over 25 African American children and young adults were found murdered. The community was terrorized, and law enforcement faced immense pressure to solve the cases.

In 1981, Wayne Williams, a local freelance photographer, was arrested and charged with two of the murders, and later linked to many others. Williams’ conviction in 1982 brought some closure to the city and its residents, however, doubts and controversy surrounding the case and Williams’ guilt continue to this day.

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