True Crime On This Day February 8th

Last Updated on September 20, 2022 by Ben Oakley

True Crime On This Day February 8th

February 8th

On February 8th in true crime, Bangalore circus fire, kidnapping, double murder, car theft murder, and cold cases.


In Modesto, California, 22-year-old Theresa Graybeal was kidnapped and then shot dead. Douglas Stankewitz and three friends were stranded in the town and were unable to hitch a ride back to Fresno where they lived.

Instead, they staked out a car park at a local Kmart store and followed Graybeal to her car. They shoved her inside and drove to a town called Calwa to buy some heroin for the journey back.

Witnesses said that Stankewitz then shot Greybeal in the back of the head at close range, killing her instantly.

Stankewitz’s own version of events was that he blacked out and could not remember shooting Greybeal. Stankewitz was arrested shortly after and subsequently sentenced to death.

Due to various legal challenges, he has remained on death row ever since, making him one of the longest serving death row inmates.


One day earlier, in Kent County, Delaware, William Henry Flamer had brutally stabbed to death his uncle and aunt. 68-year-old Byard Smith was stabbed 79 times and 69-year-old Alberta Smith had been stabbed 66 times.

Their son found their bodies in a pool of blood on the living room floor. On February 8th, Flamer was arrested and charged with two murders, his motive was that he wanted to use their social security check for a drinking binge.

Another man, Andre Deputy, was also arrested as an accomplice. Flamer was sentenced to death and executed by lethal injection in Delaware on January 30th 1996.

Deputy was also sentenced to death but maintained his innocence right up until his execution in 1994.


In Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, David Vogler Jr., was stabbed to death in his car during a robbery gone wrong. He was murdered by career criminal Johnny Taylor Jr., who was attempting to steal Vogler’s vehicle.

Vogler’s body was found in the trunk of his car the following day. Four months later in Alabama, on June 17th, Taylor was caught driving Vogler’s wife’s car which he had stolen instead.

He was charged with the murder and subsequently sentenced to death. Taylor was executed in the electric chair on February 19th 1984.


In Bangalore, India, a circus fire killed 92 people and injured hundreds more. The fire started during a matinee performance of the Venus Circus.

The big top caught fire and burned while 2,000 spectators were inside. The fire was said to have been caused by a discarded cigarette that was buoyed by strong winds.

Within minutes, the fire caused the poorly-built structure to collapse, trapping hundreds of people inside. 56 of the dead were children on a school trip. Many of the performers risked their own lives by running back into the big top to save children.

No animals were harmed as they were not in the tent at the time. A resulting inquiry concluded with an open verdict, meaning that it may or may not have been the result of arson.


In Cobb County, Georgia, police officer Gregory Mullinax was shot dead by Floyd Ernest Hill, while resisting arrest during a violent domestic dispute.

In the early evening, Hill was at home drinking with a friend when a domestic argument erupted between Hill’s neighbours who lived in a trailer behind his residence.

Shortly after, Hill involved himself in the dispute and shots were fired. Mullinax arrived at the scene with another officer but the confrontation had escalated with more people involved.

During the incident, Mullinax shot bystander Daryl Toles while Hill shot Mullinax, both died of their wounds at the scene.

Hill was wounded and arrested the same day. He was later sentenced to death on July 24th 1982 but it was overturned on federal appeal in December 1997.

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