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Top 10 crime stories of 2008

There where many crime stories in the year 2008. Here is a list of the top 10 crime stories in the year 2008.

1. Prison For O.J.

The crime that sent O.J. Simpson to prison seems petty compared to the accusation that history will remember him for: the brutal 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in Brentwood, Los Angeles. The ex-sports star, once one of the most popular athletes in the country, was acquitted of those killings in a trial that divided a tabloid-obsessed nation along racial lines. (He would later lose a 1997 "wrongful death" suit which awarded millions of dollars to the Goldman and Brown families.) But, in October 2008, he was found guilty several felonies as part of a 2007 break-in in a Las Vegas hotel. The case involved sports memorabilia and personal mementoes he claimed were still his — but were the property of two dealers. In December 2008, a judge imposed a complex series of penalties on Simpson. He could spend as many as 33 years in prison but is eligible for parole in nine.

2.A Dreamgirl's Nightmare

Even for Englewood — one of most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the South Side of Chicago— the details were gruesome: a grandmother slain in her home; her adult son shot shortly before through the kitchen window; her 7-year-old grandson missing, his bullet-riddled body later discovered in an abandoned SUV. The boy's stepfather remains accused of all three Oct. 24 murders. Yet it was not the victims themselves who caught the world's attention, but rising Hollywood star Jennifer Hudson. The 27-year-old actress first won fans' hearts as a failed contestant on American Idol, then in her Oscar-winning role in the 2006 blockbuster, Dreamgirls. But she was also a beloved daughter, sister, aunt — and now, survivor.

3. A Ranch Raided

It began with a late March tip to Texas police: a 16-year-old girl at a Texas polygamist sect's remote ranch was complaining of both physical and mental abuse. Within a few weeks, it had become one of the largest child custody cases in U.S. history. On April 3, more than 430 children and 100 mothers were removed from the Yearning for Zion Ranch after after a judge ruled them in imminent danger. The Ranch is part of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , a breakaway Mormon sect. Its leader, Warren Jeffs, had been convicted in 2007 of forcing a 14-year-old girl into marriage and sexual relations. Yet the authorities struggled to prove their case, and after the Texas Supreme Court ruled the state acted improperly, all but three dozen of the youngsters were returned to their home by early June. Still, nine men from the ranch have been indicted on charges that include sexual assault of a child, bigamy and failure to report child abuse.

4.The dungeon of Amstetten

Josef Fritzl owned a large, non-descript suburban house in Amstetten, Austria. But his cellar was allegedly a dungeon for his daughter Elisabeth. According to police and press acounts, he not only kept her imprisoned there but 24 years but fathered seven children with her. One child of this incestuous union apparentely died in infancy and Fritzl disposed of the body in the furnace. The horrific details — including the fact tenants through the years at the Fritzl home were never aware of that a woman was being kept prisoner right next to them — became one of the biggest global tabloid stories of the year. Fritzl, 73, is expected to go on trial in 2009 on charges of rape, false imprisonment, slavery and murder. Authorities contend that the infant who perished may have survived if Fritzl had sought medical care. His daughter Elisabeth is now 42 years old. She, her surviving children (three of whom lived in the cellar; three in the upper floors) and her mother are undergoing counseling.

5. A Missing Child

Nearly six months after she disappeared on June 15, police have still found no trace of three-year-old Caylee Anthony. But they do have a suspect: her mother. On Oct. 14, an Orlando, Fla. grand jury indicted Casey Anthony, 22, on murder charges, which could carry the death penalty. The young mother reported her daughter missing July 15, telling police she had left Caylee with a babysitter a month earlier. Anthony was immediately arrested as the authorities set out on a nationwide hunt for the missing toddler. What they found instead were 1,200 pages worth of evidence against her mother. Most damning? Anthony's abandoned car, which lab tests revealed traces of a decomposing body and chloroform.

6. A Bus Beheading

t's the stuff of urban legend: As a Greyhound bus travels through Canada, a man stabs and beheads his seatmate as fellow passengers look on. Except that the horrific scene was all too real. In August, dozens of witnesses say Vince Weiguang Li, 40, attacked fellow traveler 22-year-old Tim McLean without provocation as the bus drove through Manitoba province. Li allegedly stabbed McLean several dozen times as others fled the bus. The Chinese immigrant then severed McLean's head, displaying it for other passengers to see, before he began hacking at the body. Police reports allege Li then began to cannibalize the corpse. Li remains in jail on second-degree murder charges.

7. The Killing of the Anchorwoman

Could the death of Anne Pressley have been a random murder, as the police in Little Rock, Arkansas, have said? If so, the victim was hardly a random person. Anne Pressley was a popular local anchorwoman and had had a small role in Oliver Stone's W, a bio-pic about George Bush. (Pressley played an Ann Coulter-like TV personality who praised the President's "mission accomplished" moment in the Iraq war.) She had just come back from watching the movie when she was brutally beaten in her home in a posh part of the Arkansas city. Her jaw was so badly pummeled that bone was exposed. Her mother found her body in the morning and Pressley died five days after. Police have charged Curtis Lavelle Vance with the crime. Vance has denied any involvement.

8. France's $7 Billion Bank Bust

As the year began, the venerable Societe Generale — France's second largest bank — found itself trying to explain just how a mid-level futures trader had managed to lose $7 billion in a rogue operation without anyone noticing. On Jan. 24, bank officials acknowledged that Jerome Kerviel, 31, had committed what could amount to one of the biggest insider frauds in banking history. Using his knowledge of internal security controls, Kerviel allegedly hid dozens of improper trading positions with faked hedging transactions and client authorizations — risking up to $63 billion of Societe General's money. As world markets tumbled in early 2008, those positions amounted to billions of dollars in losses for the bank. Kerviel's motives remain unclear: the young trader personally saw no profit from the scheme. In fact, he continues to claim he never hid what he was doing from bank officials.

9. The Con Man

Clark Rockefeller's yarn was so extraordinary that no one thought to question its veracity. Claiming to be a scion of the Rockefeller dynasty, he joined prestigious clubs, gained prominent friends and married a socialite. He collected expensive art, securing an affluent life in rural Vermont for himself, his wife Sandra Boss and their seven-year old daughter Reigh. But after divorcing Boss in 2007, that tale began to unwind. In late July, the man calling himself Clark Rockefeller was arrested after the bizarre alleged kidnapping of Reigh during a custodial visit in Boston. Police then discovered he was actually German-born Christian Gerhartsreiter, with a record of swindling. Police have also connected him to the 1985 disappearance of a California couple from whom — under yet another alias — Gerhartsreiter rented an apartment. He has pleaded not guilty to the kidnapping charges and denies involvement in the California disappearance.

10. Murder and the Financial Crisis

The case may not have had anything to do with the global meltdown but the news of the unemployed financial analyst who killed his family and then himself made headlines just weeks after Lehman went bankrupt, the bailouts started and the markets took a dive, just as everyone began to worry about their jobs, their 401ks and their homes. Karthik Rajaram had been living the American dream: an immigrant who had made good, who had made huge amounts of money at work and by playing the real estate market. What then led him to shoot his wife, his mother-in-law, his two young sons and finally himself? Mental illness may have been at the core but the timing of the crime made it painfully symbolic.


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