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Cannon, Patty (1760–11 May 1829), purported leader of a criminal gang that kidnapped free black people and sold them into slavery, was likely born in the mid‐1700s. Little has been discovered about Cannon's private life. The Narratives and Confessions of Lucretia P. Cannon...

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Chessman, Caryl Whittier (27 May 1921–02 May 1960), criminal and writer, was born in St. Joseph, Michigan, the son of Serl Whittier Chessman, whose occupations were varied and who spent some time on welfare, and Hallie Cottle. Because of his mother’s precarious health, Chessman and his parents moved to southern California a few months after his birth. Chessman was a sickly child, suffering from attacks of pneumonia, asthma, and encephalitis. (Psychiatrists suggest that his bout with encephalitis may have precipitated his psychopathic tendencies.) A serious car accident in Los Angeles in 1929 left his aunt dead, his mother paralyzed from the waist down, and Chessman with a broken nose and jaw. Overwhelming medical bills forced the family onto welfare, and he obtained a paper route to help out....

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Hauptmann, Bruno Richard (26 November 1899–03 April 1936), convicted kidnapper and murderer, was born in Kamenz, Saxony, Germany, the son of Herman Hauptmann, a stone mason, and Paulina (maiden name unknown). As the youngest of five children, Richard, as he was called, grew up pampered and spoiled by his mother and older siblings. At the age of fourteen, he quit school and began an apprenticeship to a master carpenter; he quickly grew to love carpentry and to become expert at it. In 1918 he was drafted into the German army and suffered two minor wounds during his service as a machine gunner. In early 1919, hungry and out of work, Hauptmann and a friend burglarized three houses in his home region. They were arrested and sentenced to five years in jail. Released after four years, Hauptmann again burglarized houses and businesses, for which he served another year in jail. After escaping, he tried twice unsuccessfully to stow away on German ships bound for the United States. On his third try, he stowed away on an American liner and landed in Hoboken, New Jersey, in the spring of 1924....