Thursday, October 28, 2010

Many other crimes

Choosing Lincoln's ten most infamous crimes was a challenge.  Although the top two were easy, the picture quickly became clouded.  We tend, of course, to forget our history rather quickly. Many of the crimes I felt were among the most significant are barely remembered today, if not completely forgotten.

Some readers will take issue with my list.  Several comments have mentioned other crimes that were certainly major events in the City.  In choosing ten, here are the others I considered, in no particular order.  They are all murders:

Mary O'Shea
Nancy Parker
Charles Mulholland
Victoria Lamm and Janet Mesner
Martina McMenamin
Regina Bos (presumably murdered)
Patty Webb
Marianne Mitzner

I also thought about the five murder-suicides in which a mother or father killed multiple family members before taking their own life. Though tragic, these crimes did not command the same kind of attention as the others, perhaps because there was no lengthy investigation, no tantalizing whodunit, no stranger-killer, nor any of the details that come out in the coverage of a major trial.

The Sereies:


Former Deputy D said...

There's the rest of my top ten list. I was with you for 6 of the 10 although it helps enjoying history and previously working at "The Big House." Excellent posts Chief!! Thanks!!
On a side note, The LPD new look is really fresh!" I bet the sweat stains from the summer sun and Kevlar Vests won't be as noticable in the dark navy. What do the troops think? Are most in favor of the new stuff or would they like to keep what they have? Thanks again for the great posts, I look forward to them everyday.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that of the nine names listed here, eight are women. Not sure why I find that interesting, I just do. I suppose the murder of women, especially "society" women or those who were stranger-murdered does garner a lot of publicity.

Anonymous said...

Chief-A few years ago, the Starkweather case, Kansas' own BTK, the Clutter "In Cold Blood" murders and others caused quite the stir. Everyone was scared. Previously unlocked doors were locked. Hunting rifles were loaded.

On my internet news page today is some kook from Missouri is on the loose after killing three people. A San Diego Police Officer was murdered. And there were probably three shootings in Omaha last night.

It's all page three news in the press.

Times have changed, certainly not for the better.


Anonymous said...

The few that have gotten the new uniform seem to like them. It's hard to get a good read though since only a small few who actually work the street have been given them. As usual, the grunts are the last ones.

Tom Casady said...


"...been given them..."? Has someone been denied a shirt order that I don't know about?

Steve said...


I'm not sure why, but I'm glad Starkweather topped the list. Maybe it was because that was my guess, or maybe it was because it was "closer" to me than any of the others (both in time and the effect it had on my life). The fact that he went to the chair was a significant lesson in the life of a 9-year old, as well as many others.

Grundle King said...

Chief, two things...

First, I can't remember the name, but it seemed to me that the case from a few years ago where the body was found by a farmer in a drainage culvert was sort of a big deal at the time, just because the body had been missing for so long. What was the name of the victim and suspected (or convicted) killer in that case?

Second, if someone calls my cell phone claiming to be a county attorney and needing to meet to resolve some legal issues (that they don't describe), and does so at midnight when all government offices are closed, does that constitute some sort of fraud? If so, how do I go about reporting it?

Tom Casady said...

Grundle King-

First, your thinking of Melissa Schmidt, who was killed in 1995 at age 15. She was reported as a missing person at the time, but the case was later determined to be an abduction and murder. Her remains were discovered in western Lancaster County in 2007. Todd S. Baker is serving a life term for her murder. Certainly a major case, but the passage of time resulted in less media attention than these others.

Second, that might constitute the crime of criminal impersonation, and you should simply call our non-emergency number, 441-6000 and an officer will be assigned to initiate an investigation.

Grundle King said...

Thanks x2!

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know what proportion of females murdered are killed by strangers, and compare that to the percentage of males murdered by strangers. I'd imagine that most of the males murdered in Nebraska are murdered in Omaha, and are gang-related shootings, with both the killer and the victim being gang-affiliated. On a related note, maps like these are quite interesting.

Mark said...

Hello Sir:
Really enjoyed reading your list. What was the name of the young girl that was hit by a car and died out at Mahoney park here in Lincoln? Has her killer ever been found? (around the mid to late 70's)

Tom Casady said...


Shanda Dixon, April 4, 1986. Unsolved fatal hit & run. You have a good memory-- like me. Why do I lose my keys twice a day?

Anonymous said...

Since the subject has been changed a couple times already, I noticed that the new cruiser's for 2011 are Crown Vic's. Are we going back to Fords?

Tom Casady said...


Haven't even received the 2011 model year bids yet. You must mean the 2010's, which are 4 Crown Vic's, 3 Escapes, and 15 Chargers.

JIM J said...

Animal Control is worthless. Dog still left out and barks again. I have told them I will go to the open mike Council meeting and do what ever needs to be done to find out who is NOT doing their job. At this point the law is toothless. Last week I waited 40 minutes and NO ONE ever drove by, as they said. And if they did and I missed them, they should turn the radio down and roll the windows down as this dog barked non-stop for 40 mins.
NEVER tell them you will take the matter into your own hands. They translate that into " I am going to harm the dog"
Sorry for the strong label here, but that guy on the phone is an idiot. as well as the women who asked me to go out and buy ear plugs. CLUE!
For his information, taking the matter into one's own hands, for some people, means resolving an issue in a non-violent and unthreatening way. I assume they (A?C Dept) have many people who would harm an animal. I was offended to be classed as a threat to a canine. Hence, the idiot tag.
Thanks, better now......(medication time)

Anonymous said...

I like the quick turn around time from conviction to execution of sentence in the Starkweather case.

Anonymous said...


Wish I had the pictured item in my office. I may have to use the photo as a pattern. Maybe a small sign saying "Complaint Dept. Have a Seat". Too much fun. Happy Halloween to all.


Anonymous said...

I remember the Shanda Dixon hit & run. If my memory serves me correctly there was a young man who committed suicide a year later. He happened to have a vehicle that matched the description of the hit & run vehicle and it had been in storage for a year. But I may be remembering some other crime.

Anonymous said...

I was in Junior High at Lefler when Mary O'Shea was murdered. I still recall the police cars surrounding that home on south Cotner in Piedmont.

JIM J said...

It is about that time of the year for :
1. Most visits
2. Page views
3. Number of states ect
4. Most commented blog post

The Holiday season is close and our manager has started to ply Christmas music, good thing he picked Vince gill. Thanks for all your hard work on the blog all year, it is a highlight of my day, every day..

Former Classmate of Shanda said...

I went to elementary school with Shanda. I had heard that the driver killed himself too. She was the sweetest person, loved everyone and was always nice to everyone she came in contact with. Can't believe it's been 25 years already. I do wish that parks and rec took better care of her memorial though. It's filled with weeds now and the sign by the wooden bridge needs to be replaced. It's all peeled off and you can hardly make out her name anymore. Very sad to see it such disarray.

Alice Flowers said...

I always wonder why the 1973 murder of Wendy Hile is not mentioned. She was a sophomore at Lincoln Northeast when she disappeared in the fall of 1973. Her body was found in Table Rock early in 1974. Mark Goldsberry, a junior at Lincoln Northeast was arrested for the crime. It was scary to think that a young girl like Wendy could disappear without a trace during my first semester of high school. Unthinkable that another student was accused of the crime.

Tom Casady said...


Escaped my imperfect memory, to tell the truth. Wendy Hile's murder certainly should have been one I at least considered for inclusion on my list, back in 2010 when I was contemplating the most significant cases that have punctuated Lincoln's history. Melissa Schmidt is another. As someone noted back in 2011, Shanda Dixon was a big case, too. There are undoubtedly more....