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Interesting Facts Strange and Unexplained Mysteries and Secrets
Interesting Facts - Crime

Based on the victim-to-population ratio, an adult has a greater chance of being physically assaulted in the state of Arizona than anywhere else in the country. The state with the second highest rate of assault is North Carolina, third is New Mexico.

In past centuries infants in China were sometimes kidnapped and turned into "animal children." Every day, starting with the back, the captors would remove a bit of the unfortunate child's skin and transplant pieces of the hide of a bear or dog in its place. The process was tedious, for the hide adhered only in spots, and the children had a habit of dying in the midst of treatment, The captors also destroyed their victims' vocal cords, forced them by means of ingenious mechanical contraptions to walk on all fours, and tortured them to such an extent that the innocents were soon bereft of all reason. One result of such atrocities was the "wild boy of Kiangse," exhibited in the nineteenth century before a group of westerners in China. The child walked on all fours, made a peculiar barking sound, and was covered with a fuzzy, leathery kind of hide. An American doctor named Macgowan who witnessed this spectacle recorded that another method of creating child-monsters in China was to deprive the children of light for several years so that their bones would become deformed. At the same time they were fed certain foods and drugs that utterly debilitated them. Macgowan mentioned an Oriental priest who subjected a kidnapped boy to this treatment and then displayed him to incredulous observers, claiming he was a religious deity. The child looked like wax, having been fed a diet consisting mostly of lard. He squatted with his palms together and was a driveling idiot. The monk, Macgowan added, was arrested but managed to escape. His temple was burned to the ground.

An embezzler in Thailand, sentenced to 865 years in jail, was lucky enough to get his sentenced reduced to just 576 years.

Forensic scientists can determine a person's sex, age, and race by examining a single strand of hair.

Today, handguns are used in 51 percent of all murders committed in the United States. Knives were used in 20 percent of all murders, shotguns in 8 percent, and personal weapons such as rocks and bottles in 9 percent. Six percent of murders were committed by miscellaneous methods, and another 6 percent by poisoning. This, however, may be a deceptive statistic, as it is estimated that 64 percent of all murders by poisoning go undetected.

In ancient China the punishment for small criminal infractions such as shoplifting or breaking a curfew was to brand the offender's forehead with a hot iron. Petty thieves and people who molested travelers had their noses sliced off. For the crime of damaging city bridges or gates, the ears, hands, feet, and kneecaps were cut off. Abduction, armed robbery, treason, and adultery were punished by castration. Death by strangulation was the price one paid for murder and for an even more unspeakable crime-drunkenness.

According to the Federal Aviation Authority, airline securitycheck stations at airports have, since 1973, detected more than 15,000 firearms that passengers have tried to smuggle onto airplanes. More than 5,000 arrests have resulted from these discoveries.

In seventeenth-century Europe there were wandering bands of smugglers called comprachicos whose stock in trade was buying children, deforming them, and selling them to the aristocracy, who thought it fashionable to have freaks in court. The comprachicos' "arts" included stunting children's growth, placing muzzles on their faces to deform them (it was from this practice that Dumas took his theme for The Man in the Iron Mask), slitting their eyes, dislocating their joints, and malforming their bones. James 11 of England hired comprachicos to kidnap the heirs of families whose lines he wished to extinguish. Victor Hugo's The Man Who Laughs had a grotesque permanent smile carved by the comprachicos.

Crimes through Time
and the Punishments that came with them

(Being slanderous and rude; a public nuisance)

Ancient China (penalty = death)
Under the Tang code, scolding one's parent or grandparent was punishable by death, even when the parent was proven to be in the wrong.

Elizabethan England (penalty = the brank)
Reserved specifically for women, gossips and scolds were sometimes fitted with a brank or "scold's bride." This was an iron cage that fit over the head, with a tab over the tongue to prevent speech.

Colonial America (penalty = the ducking stool)
The ducking stool was a punishment for scolds as well as quarrelsome couples. It could be swung out over a body of water, allowing the culprit to be ducked a number of times according to the sentence.

Modern United States (penalty = misdemeanor charge)
There are no regulations related to the specific crime of "scolding" but many states have the laws that restrict public profanity and disorderly conduct, which are usually charged as a misdemeanor.

Public Intoxication
(The display of drunkenness in a public space)

Aztec Empire (penalty = shaving, loss of house)
Unless it was on the last 5 days of the calendar year or the person was elderly, public intoxication was punished by having one's head shaved and house destroyed.

Elizabethan England (penalty = stocks or drunkard's cloak)
An offender would be publicly humiliated, usually in the stocks or more rarely be forced to wear a barrel known as the "Drunkard's Cloak."

Modern Iran (penalty = hanging)
A young man was hanging in Iran for his third conviction on public intoxication. Under Iran's laws, Muslins are forbidden from taking intoxicants. The standard sentence for the first 2 convictions is 100 lashes.

Modern United States (penalty = subject to circumstance)
Missouri is an especially lenient state in that it has legalized public intoxication; get it is specifically illegal to sit on any street curb in St. Louis, Missouri and drink beer from a bucket.

(The use of harmful supernatural powers)

Babylonian Empire (penalty = drowning)
The code of Hammurabi called for the victim of a spell to jump into a river. If he drowned, the accused would then get the victim's house. If he lived, the accused had to give the victim his own house.

Colonial America (penalty = hanging or pressing)
In the summer of 1692, 19 Puritans were hanged in Massachusetts, accused of witchcraft in the famous Salem trials. 81-year-old Giles Corey was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial. His final words are said to have been, "More weight!"

Modern Malawi (penalty = prison and hard labor)
86 Malawians, mostly elderly women, were sent to prison for 6 years of hard labor after they were accused of witchcraft, although it is not even a crime under Malawian law.

Modern United States (penalty = none)
Witchcraft is no longer recognized as a crime in the U.S., so accusations cannot be prosecuted.

(Infidelity to one's spouse)

Ancient India (penalty = eaten by dogs)
The laws of Manu of ancient India said, "If a wife, proud of the greatness of her relatives or (her own) excellence, violates the duty which she owes to her lord, the king shall have her devoured by dogs in a place frequented by many."

Colonial America (penalty = flogging and a badge)
In 1639, a Massachusetts woman was convicted of "uncleanness" with a Native America. She was sentenced a whipping through the streets on a cart and to wearing a badge with the letters "AD."

Modern Somalia (penalty = stoning)
In 2008, a 13-year-old girl was buried up to her neck in a stadium and stoned to death in front of over 1000 spectators. She had allegedly pled guilty to adultery but it was discovered that the girl had in fact reported being raped by 3 men.

Modern United States (penalty = subject to circumstance)
Adultery laws vary from state to state. In states were adultery is still prosecutable, the penalties vary from a life sentence in Michigan, to a fine of $10 in Maryland.

(The illegal acquisition of wild animals)

Medieval England (penalty = hanging)
After William the Conqueror decreed that hanging should only be used in wartime, he ordered that the criminals should only be castrated and have their eyes put out. His successor reintroduced hanging but only for those who poached the royal deer.

Colonial Australia (penalty = exile)
In its colonial period, English courts often transported convicts to hard labor in America or Australia. In 1837, two men were found guilty of stealing six eggs and two chickens, for which they were deported to Australia for 7 years.

Modern China (penalty = prison and a fine)
Chinese courts sentenced a man to 12 years of prison and a fine of 580.00 yen for killing a rare Indochinese tiger. Traditional Chinese medicines make use of tiger parts for such prescriptions as the nose to cure epilepsy or whiskers for headaches.

Modern United States (penalty = work service and a fine)
A man was caught smuggling lobsters out of a Marine Conservation Area in California for the fourth time; he was cited after wardens noticed "odd bulges" in his pants. He was sentenced to 13 days of service, a 3-year suspension of all fishing and a $500 fine.

(Taking another's property without consent)

Ancient India (penalty = trampling by elephant)
The laws of Manu recommended that "the king should have any thieves caught in connection with the disappearance (of property) executed (trampled to death) by an elephant."

Aztec Empire (penalty = death)
Theft was a serious crime for the Aztecs; theft from merchants or from a temple, theft of weaponry, or of more than 20 ears of corn resulting in death.

Elizabethan England (penalty = subject to circumstance)
For a first offence, a petty thief could make use of a loophole in the law called "benefit of the clergy." By this law, if a person could read (or memorize, as the population was mostly illiterate) the bible's psalm 51, his sentence was reduced.

Modern United States (penalty = subject to circumstance)
Petty theft is usually punishable by a fine or up to 6 months in jail. In rare cases, there are other sentences: In Pennsylvania, 2 women stole Wal-Mart gift cards from a child on her birthday. They were made to hold up shame signs admitting their crimes outside the courthouse.

(An unsanctioned act of thievery or violence at sea)

Roman Empire (penalty = crucifixion)
On a voyage across the Aegean Sea in 75 BC, Julius Caesar was kidnapped by Cicillian pirates when they decided on a ransom of 20 gold talents. Caesar is said to have insisted that he was worth at least 50. After his release, Caesar raised a fleet, captured the pirates and crucified them.

North Africa (penalty = beheading)
Dutchman Simon de Dancer, the barbary pirate, commanded a squadron in the service of Algiers. He captured over 40 ships in a 2-year period. But after he had retired, he was lured out of hiding in France, seized and beheaded.

Colonial America (penalty = hanging and gibbetting)
Captain William Kidd began as a privateer (a raider under the protection of their government), but later turned to piracy. Both Kidd and his wife were imprisoned, he in conditions so poor that he was driven insane. He was hanged in London and his body was gibbetted (hung in an iron cage) for 3 years afterwards.

Modern United States (penalty = life 80+ years in prison)
8 Somali men were charged with the first piracy conviction in the U.S. in nearly 200 years, after attacking a Navy ship that they somehow mistook for a merchant ship. They were each sentenced to life plus 80 years, in prison.

(an act of betrayal of one's nation or sovereign)

Ancient Egypt (penalty = execution and erasure)
After Pharaoh Teti was assassinated by his bodyguards, they were executed. The noses and feet of their mortuary statues were hacked off and their inscriptions were erased to ensure them being lost and crippled in the afterlife.

Ancient China (penalty = slow slicing)
Slow slicing or "Ling chi," was a gruesome form of torture where the victim was slowly cut into pieces until death. The number of cuts was set out in the law according to the crime; treason called for 1000 pieces. Cuts were made in a specific order, ending with the heart.

Elizabethan England (penalty = drawn and quartered)
In a punishment only for men, a traitor was hanged, taken down before he was dead, dragged face downward through the streets behind a horse and "quartered" (hacked into 4 pieces).

Modern United States (penalty = subject to circumstance)
At the least, traitors are imprisoned for no less than 5 years and fined no less than $10,000. In 2006, a grand jury issued the first indictment for treason since 1952, charging an American for appearing in videos as a spokesman for al-Qaeda.

(intentionally killing another without the sanction of the law)

Roman Empire (penalty = drowning in a sack)
Someone convicted of patricide (the killing of your own father) would immediately be blindfolded as "unworthy of the light." He would then be sewn up in a sack and thrown into the sea. Later, a serpent was added in the sack and still later, an ape, a dog and a rooster.

Incan Empire (penalty = thrown off a cliff)
Murderers were pushed off a cliff but then so were people who were judged to be "lazy" in their mandatory public service.

Aztec Empire (penalty = death)
The punishment for murder was death, by methods including disembowelment, stoning, strangulation and cutting out the heart however, families of victims could intervene; the murderer's sentence would then be removed and he would become a slave of the victim's family.

Modern United States (penalty = death or life in prison)
Federal punishment for murder in the first degree is death or life imprisonment. In 2010, there were 46 executions; 44 by lethal injection, 1 by firing squad and 1 by electric chair.

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