August 8: The Body in the Shoebox

  Today in 1886, three men on a logging road near Wallingford noticed a large wooden shoe box nestled under some bushes, unwittingly breaking open one of the strangest and most gruesome murder mysteries in Connecticut history. Joseph Samson, Edward Terrill and Joseph Terrill first noticed the box, about 30 inches long and a foot…

August 2: Connecticut’s Final Public Hanging

  In 2012, Connecticut became the 17th state to outlaw the death penalty. For the first 200 years of Connecticut’s history as colony and state,however, public executions with large crowds attending were viewed as an effective deterrent of serious crimes. They were major community events, attracting hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of onlookers to watch the…

June 17: Windsor’s “Murder Factory” Takes It’s Last Breath On Broadway

  Today in 1944, a Broadway comedy based on one of Connecticut’s most infamous true crime tales wrapped up a wildly successful, multiyear New York run after over 1,400 shows. The unlikely inspiration for “Arsenic and Old Lace,” written by Joseph Kesserling in 1939, was the story of Amy Archer-Gilligan, a twice-widowed caretaker who ran…

May 15: Hotels’ “Queen of Mean” Checks Into Danbury For a Long Stay

  Leona Helmsley was one of the most visible celebrity billionaires of late 20th century New York. The wife of hotelier Harry Helmsley, Leona became the face of an immensely successful marketing campaign that cast her as a “queen” who would tolerate only the highest and most exacting standards for the Helmsley-owned luxury-class hotel properties….

April 4: Angry Riots Rip Hartford After MLK Assassination

Today in 1968, the streets of Hartford, Connecticut exploded with anger following the assassination of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. Dozens of residents in Hartford’s North End took to the streets — most of them young, black men — expressing their frustration and anger by breaking storefront windows, overturning…

March 23: The First “Mad Dog” Murder

  Hartford’s Joseph Taborsky had already acquired a long rap sheet for stealing, robbery, and other petty offenses by his early 20s. On March 23, 1950, he decided to “celebrate” his 25th birthday with a crime-ridden night on the town, with his younger brother Albert. Telling Albert they were going to “get some money,” the…

March 19: A Fallen Star Rises Again

  When 32-year-old Joseph Ganim became mayor of Bridgeport in 1991, he had the distinction of being the youngest mayor in the city’s history. At the time, there were few politicians who even wanted the job, as Connecticut’s largest city had just filed for bankruptcy and was the only municipality in the state to have…

March 18: A Rising Star Falls Twice

  The day after St. Patrick’s Day was anything but a lucky one for John G. Rowland, who found himself on the wrong end of the law on March 18, 2005, and then again 10 years later on March 18, 2015. Once considered one of Connecticut’s best and brightest politicians, Rowland first won elected office…

February 3: The First Mass Murder in U.S. History

  One of the darkest days in Connecticut history occurred today in 1780, as 19-year-old Revolutionary War deserter Barnett Davenport brutally murdered his employer and his entire family in what many historians recognize as the first documented mass murder in American history. Born in New Milford in 1760, young Barnett was a troubled youth who,…

December 23: Bridgeport Benefactor James Beardsley Mortally Wounded

  In 1812, James Walker Beardsley was born to a prominent cattle-farming family in Monroe, Connecticut, and remained a farmer for his entire life, splitting his time between his family’s Monroe farm and a second residence in the then-bustling city of Bridgeport. In addition to farming, Beardsley also dabbled in speculation and trading cattle futures,…