Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mamacidal maniac

Matricide is a heinous crime. It’s uncommon, but it happens. A man killing his mother by violence is bad enough, but when he kills 43 other people with her that's about as bad as it can be.

In 1955 John Gilbert “Jack” Graham slipped a couple of dozen wrapped sticks of dynamite, a clock and a battery into his mother's luggage. She took a flight out of Denver, and sometime later the DC-6B in which she and 43 others were traveling exploded in mid-air, spreading debris over farms and fields. It took weeks for inspectors to reconstruct the incident, and when they did someone noticed the smell of dynamite. Jack Graham fell under suspicion when it was discovered he had taken out a large amount of flight insurance on his mom. Graham was questioned, confessed to the crime, went to trial where he recanted his confession, but was ultimately found guilty. He died in the gas chamber in 1957, unrepentant to the end. He felt no remorse for his victims; a true sociopath.

This article, from the November 28, 1955 issue of Life explains the story to the point of Graham's arrest, and includes pictures of the victims. A few years later the crime was dramatized in The FBI Story, starring Jimmy Stewart, with Nick Adams as Graham.

Copyright 1955, 2012 Time-Life

A longer and more detailed article on the explosion of United Airlines Flight 629, the subsequent investigation and mass murderer Jack Graham can be found here.

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