The notable crime stories of 2010 include foreign and American-born terrorists, collegiate and professional athletes, a college professor, the disturbing and ever-increasing problem of bullying, and the satisfying arrest of the man long suspected of having committed a similar murder. I’ve limited my selections to those crimes that actually occurred in 2010, but as always, there are far more notable crimes than there is space to list them.
On January 14, 15-year-old Phoebe Prince of South Hadley, Massachusetts, committed suicide after being tormented for months. Prince had recently moved to western Massachusetts from Ireland. Six teens––four girls and two boys––face charges including statutory rape, assault, violation of civil rights resulting in injury, criminal harassment, disturbance of a school assembly and stalking. Three younger girls face delinquency charges.
On February 12, Amy Bishop, who had a Ph.D. in genetics from Harvard and taught biology at the Huntsville branch of the University of Alabama, killed three professors and wounded several faculty members with a handgun. In 1986, Bishop killed her brother with a shotgun, a death that initially was ruled an accident. And in 1993, she was questioned after Dr. Paul Rosenberg, who had been her supervisor when she worked at the neurobiology lab at Children's Hospital Boston, received two pipe bombs. Bishop denied the allegations and was not charged. After the Huntsville shooting, she was charged with one count of capital murder and three of attempted murder. In June, Massachusetts’ authorities reopened her brother's case and indicted her for his murder.
On February 18, Joe Stack posted an online rant against the government, set fire to his house, and flew a Piper Cherokee into a commercial building housing an IRS office in Austin, Texas, killing himself and seriously injuring two people on the ground.
On March 4, John Patrick Bedell, armed with two 9mm semi-automatic weapons, shot two Pentagon police officers at a security checkpoint. The officers returned fire, striking Bedell in the head. He died a few hours later.
On May 1, a bomb made by Faisal Shahzad failed to ignite inside the Nissan Pathfinder he’d parked in a no-parking zone in Times Square. Street vendors saw the smoke from the car and alerted a mounted police officer. Shahzad was tracked down and arrested after the flight to Dubai he had boarded was ordered to taxi back to the airport. The Pakistani-born U.S. citizen, who said he’d been to a terrorist training camp, pleaded guilty to several charges and was sentenced to life in prison.
On May 3, George Huguely V, who played on the University of Virginia’s top-ranked men's lacrosse team, murdered Yeardley Love, a member of the women’s lacrosse squad, after they dated and then broke up. Huguely told police her death was an accident, though he admitted that he’d kicked in her locked bedroom door and shook her head, causing it to repeatedly hit the wall.
On May 7, former New York Giants linebacker and Hall of Fame member Lawrence Taylor was arrested and charged with the third-degree rape of a 16-year-old runaway who was brought to his hotel room by a pimp. Taylor could face up to five years in prison if he's given the maximum sentence served concurrently.
On May 30, five years to the day after he was accused of murdering Natalee Holloway in Aruba, Joran Van der Sloot murdered Stephany Flores Ramirez in his Lima, Peru hotel room. He fled to Chile but was arrested and returned to Peru to face murder charges. Holloway’s body has never been recovered and no charges have ever been filed against him in the case.
On September 22, Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, threw himself from the George Washington Bridge in New York City after his roommate secretly recorded a video of Clementi kissing another man—and allegedly put the news out on Twitter. His roommate, Dharun Ravi, and a friend, Molly Wei, have been charged with invasion of privacy. The case highlighted how the Internet and social networks have become tools for bullying.
On October 9, the father of 10-year-old Zahra Baker, who wore hearing aids and had a prosthetic leg due to her battle with cancer, was reported missing. On December 3, Elisa Baker, the stepmother of the North Carolina girl, reportedly agreed to cooperate with investigators to avoid a first-degree murder charge and a possible death sentence. She confessed that Zahra was dismembered, placed in trash bags, and then rolled up in a bed comforter and a car cover and placed in a dumpster.