True Crime On This Day August 16th

Last Updated on September 27, 2022 by Ben Oakley

True Crime On This Day August 16th

August 16th

On August 16th in true crime, serial killer David Dowler, the Rostov Ripper, multiple murders, Denmark Place arson, protests, and cold cases.


Infamous Pennsylvanian gang leader Bruce Alfred Johnston Sr. killed three people in one day. His victims were 18-year-old James Johnston, 20-year-old Wayne Sampson, and 17-year-old Dwayne Lincoln.

The Johnston Gang started in the mid-1960s and would end in 1978 after Johnston’s son, Bruce Jr., testified against him.

Johnston Sr. would subsequently be sentenced to six consecutive life sentences for five murders and numerous other gang-related crimes. In 2002, he died of natural causes at Graterford Prison, Pennsylvania.


In North South Wales, at Terania Creek, the world’s first rainforest protest with human shields began. Workers arrived at the site to begin the logging process but were met with over 200 singing, guitar-playing protesters.

A local couple’s cabin became the campaign HQ. Suddenly, 120 police were sent in and 17 people were arrested. After that, Terania Creek hit the headlines.

Australia’s first environmental campaign became a template for those that followed. However, the campaigners were successful and in 1982, the Wran State Government protected 120,000 hectares of the rainforest.

In a cruel twist of fate in November 2019, the couple who had the cabin saw the forest burn to the ground when a wildfire ripped through it.


In London, UK, a fire caused by arson ripped through 18 Denmark Place and killed 37 people from eight nationalities.

Most were Spanish or Latin American and were customers in two unlicensed bars at the top of the building. Scottish-born John Thompson had entered the Spanish Rooms to drink for the night but ended up having a fight with the bartender.

Thompson found an empty two-gallon container outside of the building and went to a nearby gas station to fill it up with petrol.

He returned to the building, poured the petrol through the letterbox, and set it alight with a piece of paper. The fire tore through the mostly timber construction, leaving people on the top floors trapped.

The illegal bars also had boarded-up windows which stopped people from escaping. The fire was said to have been so powerful that people inside died where they were sitting or standing.

Thompson was arrested in May of 1981 and sentenced to life in prison. He died of lung cancer in 2008. The fire remains one of the UK’s worst mass murders.


In Belfast, Northern Ireland, 54-year-old labourer and father of five, Charles Armstrong, was abducted and killed. His family have long believed he was a victim of mistaken identity.

Armstrong was on his way to mass when he vanished. His car was discovered nearby with shotgun residue found inside. On July 29th 2010, his remains were discovered in a bog near Castleblayney, they had been weighed down with stones.

He became known as one of the Disappeared. The IRA have long been suspected in his disappearance but no one has ever been charged with the murder.


In Rostov Oblast, Soviet Union, just three days after brutally killing Oleg Pozhidayev and removing his genitals, the Rostov Ripper struck again.

16-year-old Olga Kuprina was lured to her death by Andrei Chikatilo who was alleged to have eaten part of her body.

He confessed to chewing upon the uterus of his female victims and the testicles of his few male victims. But he still maintained that he never ate them, he simply chewed and discarded.

Kuprina’s mutilated body was found on October 27th 1982, near the village of Cossack camp.  Chikatilo was captured in 1990 and found guilty of 52 murders.


Serial killer David Dowler

In Odessa, Texas, the body of 26-year-old Lisa Krieg was found in her home by her father. He had been contacted by Lisa’s co-worker David Dowler who suggested something may have happened as she hadn’t showed for work.

An autopsy at the time could not determine cause of death as Lisa was severely underweight. Dowler then began telling different stories to different people including one that involved international spies who had been trying to kill Lisa for years.

He also spoke to Lisa’s ex-husband the day of her death and told him that his wife had killed herself with cyanide.

He said professionals would have cleaned her death scene to make it look natural and that he was an undercover FBI agent.

The FBI at the time failed to respond to an information request by Lisa’s ex-husband to confirm whether or not Dowler was telling the truth.

In 1986, Dowler was arrested for the murder of Leza Chandler who had been killed in June 1986. New forensic tests on the bodies of Lisa, Leza, and another victim, Juan Casillas, showed up signs of lethal dosages of cyanide.

He was also suspected of another murder in 1986 but no charges were ever made. In 1988, Dowler was convicted of three murders and sentenced to life in prison.

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