10 Inglorious Criminal Deaths

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A Brief History

As has already been established on our site, we at History and Headlines are fascinated by unusual deaths.  Accordingly, earlier today, we featured an article on the death of gangster Frank Nitti.  Nevertheless, we suspect you hunger for even more inglorious criminal deaths…

Digging Deeper

10. Saddam Hussein (2006)

Known for waging unprovoked war and using poison gas against Iran and his own people, Saddam was hanged while being jeered by his prison guards and recorded on cell phone video.  He was apparently not even hanged properly as his neck was ripped open, and the indignity continued as his guards stabbed his body several times after being hanged.

9. Lee Harvey Oswald (1963)

The alleged assassin of John F. Kennedy, Oswald was gunned down 2 days later while in police custody on national television by “wannabe” mobster Jack Ruby.  Sadly, whatever insight Oswald may have shared into the assassination of JFK died with him while he was being transferred from the city to the county jail.  He had claimed to be a “patsy.”  Was he???

8. Benedict Arnold (1801)

20 years after committing treason against the United States during the Revolutionary War after having served as a general in the American Army, Arnold had been suffering ill health with extreme gout in one leg and the other lame from battle.  Barely able to walk with a cane and diagnosed with dropsy, he died after several days of delirium (or if you take your history from Ubisoft, he was assassinated by Connor as seen in Assassin’s Creed III…).  Arnold was only 60 years old.

7. Joseph Stalin (1953)

This Soviet dictator who had enemies and perceived enemies murdered by the millions ranks along with Hitler and Mao among the top mass murderers in history.  Stalin spent his last several years in poor health and his last several days in urine soaked babbling, probably from a stroke that eventually killed him.  As with many diabolical national leaders, Stalin’s death has long been rumored to have been an assassination.

6. Adolf Hitler (1945)

The Nazi leader and war criminal responsible for untold millions of deaths shot himself deep in his bunker to avoid capture, while raving about how Nazi leaders and the German people let him down.  Despite his grandiose rhetoric and public persona as a macho man, Hitler died cowering in his bunker, afraid to face the justice that awaited him above ground.

5. Osama Bin Laden (2011)

The nasty terrorist leader and alleged mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks, he was shot in the face in his own bedroom by US Navy Seals in a secret night raid in Pakistan.  He had been in hiding since the 9/11 attacks.

4. Jesse James (1882)

Perhaps the most famous Wild West outlaw was shot in the back by a “friend” while hanging a picture.  Numerous books, movies, and even songs have been made concerning the assassination of this popular outlaw.  James was living under an alias while hiding out from the law when he was killed by a punk.

3. Al Scarface Capone (1947)

Possibly the all-time most famous gangster died from a heart attack brought on by pneumonia brought by a stroke.  He had been suffering brain damage from syphilis and spent his last 8 years raving and babbling.  Contrary to popular misconception, Scarface did not die in prison, but at his home in Florida.  He was only 48 years old when he died.

2. John Gotti (2002)

The Teflon Don died in prison choking on his own blood and vomit due to throat cancer, kind of ironic after having escaped so much legal attention and the nefarious aims of his mob enemies over the decades.

1. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow (1934)

The infamous couple were riddled with bullets at an ambush without a warning.  Photos of their bullet riddled car and corpses are widely available.  The car, which of course was stolen, was claimed by the sheriff in charge of the ambush, though the rightful owner (Ruth Warren of Topeka, Kansas) laid claim to her property as soon as she found out about the sheriff’s bogus claim.  The car has been a tourist attraction ever since.  An interesting note, is that Clyde Barrow once wrote a letter to Henry Ford himself, praising Ford automobiles with their V-8 engine as getaway cars!

Question for students (and subscribers): Did these criminals deserve to die in such inglorious manners?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more infamous deaths, see…

Simmons, Ian and Ed Traquin.  Strange deaths: More than 375 freakish fatalites.  Barnes & Noble, 2000.

Warwick, Harold.  Weird Deaths.  Ox Books Publishing (OxBo), 2013.


About Author

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.