True Crime On This Day December 19th

Last Updated on September 19, 2022 by Ben Oakley

True Crime On This Day December 19th

December 19th

On December 19th in true crime, a massacre in Turkey, mystery body in Philadelphia, robbery, murder, and the World Cup stolen.


In Turkey, The Maraş Massacre began and lasted until December 26th. Over the course of seven days, more than 100 Alevi civilians in the city of Kahramanmaraş were slaughtered.

It began with a bomb thrown into a cinema which was used by Turkish nationalists. Up to 3,000 people were injured and over 500 people were arrested during the riots and massacre.

The Turkish Government later classified all files relating to the massacre.


In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the body of 18-year-old school student Michelle Martinko was found in her family’s car in the car park of a local shopping mall. She had been stabbed to death.

Despite numerous tips and suspects, the case went cold until 2018. 39 years after the crime, advances in DNA technology linked Jerry Lynn Burns to her death.

Burns was arrested shortly after. In February of 2020, Burns was found guilty of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.


In Sacramento, California, in the early hours of the morning, 78-year-old Leah Schendel was brutally abused and beaten to death.

Her assailant was Manuel Pina ‘Manny’ Babbitt, who had broken into her home with the intention of robbing her. Schendel’s partially nude body was found later in the day on her bedroom floor.

In the evening, Babbitt attempted to rape and rob another woman in Sacramento but was caught shortly after. Despite not claiming to have any memory of the attacks, he was sentenced to death.

Babbitt was executed by lethal injection on May 4th 1999.


In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an off-duty police officer found an unconscious black man in his thirties on the side of a highway near Presbyterian Hospital. He was rushed to the emergency room where he was revived and placed on life support.

The man was admitted with a high amount of alcohol in his system but tested negative for drugs. He remained on life support but suffered a depressed central nervous system due to his neurological functions slowing down, Diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a serious side effect of diabetes, and gastrointestinal bleeding.

He died on January 6th 1982. It appeared he had consumed too much alcohol, but some online investigators suspect he may have been deliberately poisoned with alcohol and thrown out of a moving vehicle.

Another suggested he had fallen unconscious due to alcohol consumption, and the people he was with became scared and dumped him on the side of the highway. Despite having a recognisable face, he remains unidentified, and his case remains unsolved.


In Terre Haute, Indiana, 23-year-old Steven Agan was abducted and brutally murdered. His body was discovered in remote woodland, nine days later on December 28th.

An outbuilding on an abandoned farm close to where his body was found, displayed remnants of human flesh and blood. Investigators suspected that Agan had been suspended against the walls of the outbuilding where he was tortured.

An autopsy suggested the killer had showed ‘tremendous rage’ and that there may have been more than one attacker.

Agan had been murdered by American serial killer Larry William Eyler, AKA: The Highway Killer. Eyler killed between 21 and 24 teenage boys and young men between 1982 and 1984.

He was captured on August 21st 1984 and sentenced to death. He confessed to a further 20 killings before dying of AIDS-related complications on death row in 1994. He also alluded to accomplices but took his secrets to the grave.


In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the FIFA World Cup trophy, known as the Jules Rimet Trophy, was stolen from a bullet proof cabinet at the Brazilian Football Confederation’s headquarters.

The trophy had been on display since 1970 when Brazil were the last footballing country to win the World Cup before the new and current trophy was introduced in 1974.

Four men were later charged and convicted in absentia but the full trophy has never been recovered. Only the base of the trophy was recovered. Made of gold plated silver, it was suspected to have been melted down and sold.

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