1974 — Dennis Rader commits his first murders

Dennis Rader was an American serial killer who abducted, tortured and killed ten people between 1974 and 1991, sending boastful letters the the police which he signed “BTK” (“Bind Torture Kill”). He ceased sending the letters for a time after his last murder, only to resume correspondence in 2004 – leading to his arrest and conviction in 2005.

His first victims were members of Otero family of Wichita, Kansas: parents Joseph and Julie, their son Joseph jnr, and daughter Josephine. Rader suffocated the males with plastic bags, strangling Julie with rope and hanging Josephine. His first letter, which he ‘mailed’ by concealing it inside an engineering book at the Wichita Public Library in October 1974, described the murder of the Oteros in gruesome detail.

As of this writing, Rader remains in the El Dorado Correctional Facility, where he is serving ten consecutive life sentences (175 years) without parole.

Referenced in:
B.T.K. — Church of Misery
Bind Torture Kill — Suffocation
Bind, Torture and Kill — Suicide Commando

1981 — “Hill Street Blues” premieres

One of the greatest television shows of all time, “Hill Street Blues” was first broadcast on this day in 1981. In its first season, it won eight Emmy awards (a record not beaten until “The West Wing”‘s first season) – and it would go on to be nominated 98 times over the seven seasons it ran. It was a weird blend of cop show and soap opera, with a level of realism little seen in either genre before that time.

It set new benchmarks in television drama, broadening the possibilities of the form – it is reasonable to think that such later shows as “The Sopranos”, “The West Wing” and most especially, “The Wire”, might never have happened without the trail that it blazed.

Referenced in:
TV Party — Black Flag

1990 — They Might Be Giants release “Flood”

They Might Be Giants’ third studio album, and probably their best known, “Flood” features their single best known song – a cover of “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” – as well as “Birdhouse in Your Soul” which was a top ten hit in both the US and UK. It would go on to be their best selling album, achieving platinum status in 2009.

The album as a whole is one of the most consistently excellent of all their albums, and is widely regarded as their best (although that may be something of an artifact of it being the most widely owned of their albums). It would be followed up by “Apollo 18” two years later.

Referenced in:
Theme from Flood — They Might Be Giants

1991 – The deadline for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait expires

In response to Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the government of the USA – with full United Nations approval – announced this deadline, requiring Iraqi forces to return to their own nation no later than it. Formally stated in UN Resolution 678, on November 29, it allowed approximately seven weeks for the withdrawal to occur, a generous amount of time considering that the original invasion had taken a matter of days.

Hussein remained intransingent, and on January 12, the US Senate approved the use of military force if the deadline expired. The ensuing war was quick, decisive, and by the normal standards of such things, almost restrained in character.

Referenced in:
The New Life — The Waterboys