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Atta, Mohamed (01 September 1968–11 September 2001), terrorist, was born in the delta province of Kafr el Sheik, Egypt, the son of Mohamed el-Amir Awad el-Sayed Atta, a lawyer, and Bouthayna Mohamed Mustapha Sheraqi. He was the youngest of three children and the couple's only son. Both parents were Muslim by birth, and Islamic cultural traditions were observed by the family; however, no one remembers the family openly practicing their religion. A fervent belief in the power of education, not religion, was the driving force behind Atta's father, a self-made man known as Mohamed el-Amir. Reportedly ruling his family with a proverbial iron fist, the elder Mohamed restricted their social activities and insisted that all his children concentrate on their studies. Playing outside the home was forbidden to Atta and his sisters, and their mother's activities were also limited by the father; former neighbors remembered the family as antisocial and reclusive. Those habits continued following the family's move to Cairo in the late 1970s....

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Borden, Lizzie Andrew (19 July 1860–01 June 1927), the accused murderer of her father and stepmother in a celebrated trial, was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, the daughter of Andrew Jackson Borden, who started as a fish peddler and undertaker and ended as an investor worth a half-million dollars, and Sarah Anthony Morse. When Borden was two, her mother died. Her twelve-year-old sister, Emma, became her surrogate mother, even though two years later her father married thirty-seven-year-old Abby Durfee Gray. Borden developed into a pretty young woman with carefully kept red hair and large gray eyes who wore stylish clothes. Often pitted against their miserly father and 200-pound stepmother, Borden and her sister found their home a battleground. But the customs of the time kept the daughters from leaving the small, drab house, located in an area losing its residential character. After graduating from high school, Borden escaped her unhappy home by engaging in activities at the Central Congregational Church. At age thirty she toured Europe with a group of young Fall River women. On her return she taught a Sunday school class of immigrant children, became secretary-treasurer of the Christian Endeavor, and joined the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union....

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Bundy, Ted (24 November 1946–24 January 1989), serial murderer, was born Theodore Robert Cowell at the Elizabeth Lund Home for Unwed Mothers in Burlington, Vermont, the son of Louise Cowell. (His father’s name is unknown.) About two months after Ted’s birth, Louise Cowell returned with her son to her parents’ house in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When Ted was about five, his mother took him to Tacoma, Washington, where she met Johnnie Bundy, a cook at a military hospital. They were married in 1951. For the first few years of Ted’s life he apparently was led to believe that his mother was his sister and that his grandparents were his parents. Despite this somewhat nontraditional upbringing, by most accounts he experienced a happy and normal childhood and adolescence, albeit a frugal one, as the family did not have much money. A good-looking and serious young man, Bundy earned above-average grades and graduated from high school in 1965. That same year he entered the University of Puget Sound, where he felt uncomfortable around the predominantly affluent student body. He transferred to the University of Washington for his sophomore year and finally earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1972. During his college years Bundy became involved with Republican party politics, serving on the ...

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Floyd, Charles Arthur (03 February 1904–22 October 1934), bank robber and killer, commonly known as Pretty Boy Floyd, was born in Bartow County, Georgia, the son of Walter Lee Floyd and Mamie Echols, farmers. The Floyd family lived in Georgia until 1911, when they moved to Sequoyah County, near the Cookson Hills, in the new state of Oklahoma. They settled first in Hanson and five years later relocated to Akins, near Sallisaw. Charles attended school and worked on the family cotton farm, earning the reputation of a prankster and the nickname “Choc,” for illegal Choctaw beer. He was an athletic, friendly teenager who enjoyed hunting and fishing but had little interest in school....

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Gein, Edward (27 August 1906–26 July 1984), basis for Alfred Hitchcock's classic terror film Psycho, whose ghoulish crimes became the basis for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic terror film Psycho, was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin, the son of George Gein and Augusta Loehrke, farmers. In 1913 the family (which also included Gein’s older brother, Henry) moved to a small dairy farm near Camp Douglas, forty miles east of La Crosse. Less than one year later, they relocated again—this time permanently—to a 195-acre farm six miles west of Plainfield, a remote, tiny village in the south central part of the state....

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Hardin, John Wesley (26 May 1853–19 August 1895), gunman, was born in Bonham, Texas, the son of James G. Hardin, a Methodist preacher, and Mary Elizabeth Dixon. He attended school in Polk and Trinity counties in East Texas, where his father also taught school and practiced law. Though he owned no slaves in 1860 and opposed secession, the elder Hardin became an ardent supporter of the Confederacy. “Wes” Hardin imbibed his family’s devotion to the cause as well as his father’s lessons regarding “the first law of nature—that of self preservation” (Hardin, p. 125). The Sixth Commandment and Methodist strictures regarding drinking and gambling seem to have made much less of an impression on him....

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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....

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Leopold, Nathan Freudenthal, Jr. (19 November 1904–29 or 30 Aug. 1971), and Richard Albert Loeb (11 June 1905–28 January 1936), criminals, were both born in Chicago, Illinois. Leopold was the son of Nathan Leopold, millionaire box manufacturer, and Florence Foreman; Loeb of Albert H. Loeb, the vice president of Sears, Roebuck and Company, and Anna Bohnen. As a child and young man, “Babe” Leopold enjoyed the customary comforts and advantages that derive from wealthy parentage. Yet he also suffered from glandular disorders that may have contributed to his psychological problems. Endowed with great intelligence— ...

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See Leopold, Nathan Freudenthal, Jr.

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Lyles, Anjette Donovan (23 August 1925–04 December 1977), restaurateur and multiple murderer, was born in Macon, Georgia, the only daughter of Jetta Watkins and William Donovan, who owned and operated a produce company. While Lyles was an unremarkable student, she was pretty and possessed a charming personality that enabled her to bend people to her will. Even as a child, she usually got what she wanted....