True Crime On This Day January 8th

True Crime On This Day January 8th

January 8th

On January 8th in true crime, tanker explosion, assassination, drug murders, murder in California, and a serial killer duo.


In South Africa, academic and anti-apartheid activist Richard Turner was assassinated. Turner was shot through a window of his home in Durban and died in the arms of his 13-year-old daughter.

His murder remains unsolved as of 2022 but it is believed he was murdered by the apartheid state.


In Ireland, theTotal S.A. owned Betelgeuse oil tanker exploded while docked at an offshore jetty at the Whiddy Island oil terminal.

The Whiddy Island Disaster, also known as the Betelgeuse Incident, happened at 1am in the morning when the ship’s structure failed during an oil-removal operation.

The explosion and intense fire killed 50 people, with 23 bodies never recovered. Despite nationwide investigations and inquiries, no company was held responsible.


In Dade County, Florida, four men were killed after being beaten, tortured, and then set alight in the trunk of a car. The victims were John Merino, Scott Benett, Rudolfo Ayan and Nicomedes Hernandez.

They had been killed by Bernard Bolander and his two accomplices, Paul Thompson and Joseph Macker, after a drug deal had gone wrong.

An argument had broken out at Macker’s residence when two of the victims arrived to settle a drug deal. Bolander and the accomplices, ordered the victims to lay on the floor, and robbed them. Bolander had suspected the victims were hiding 20kg of cocaine.

When they refused to tell Bolander where the drugs were, he beat and stabbed to them death as they were being dragged to an outside car, where they were set alight.

The suspects were all arrested five days later. Thompson was sent to a psychiatric hospital but sentenced to 35 years in 1990.

Macker testified against Bolander and was sentenced to life in prison. Bolander was sentenced to death and executed in the electric chair on July 18th 1995.


In Ventura County, on January 8th, California, 17-year-old Terri Winchell was beaten and stabbed to death by Michael Angelo Morales. Yet, not all was as simple as it looked.

Winchell’s boyfriend, Randy, was in a secret relationship with Richard Ortega, a cousin of Morales. Ortega paid Morales to kill Winchell so that he could have a proper relationship with Randy.

Winchell was killed in Ortega’s car under the pretence of going on a shopping trip. Morales was in the back seat and strangled her with his belt. When the belt broke, he hit her multiple times in the head with a hammer, fracturing her skull.

They drove to a remote vineyard where Morales raped her and stabbed her to death. Both men were arrested just a few days later, along with overwhelming evidence of the crime.

Ortega was sentenced to life in prison. Morales was sentenced to death in 1983 but his execution has recently been indefinitely suspended, practically commuting it to life in prison.


In Buena Vista, Virginia, 39-year-old Police Lieutenant William Douglas Oyler was shot dead while responding to a report of shots fired into a house.

He pulled up beside a residence at Locust Avenue and 33rd Street where he was shot in the neck before he even exited his vehicle. He was ambushed by a killer who was hiding in nearby woodland.

It was believed the shooter had deliberately called the police with the intention of killing an officer.

The suspect was arrested shortly after and subsequently sentenced to 53 years in prison, where he remains to this day.


In Viña del Mar, Chile, serial killer duo Jorge José Sagredo Pizarro and Carlos Alberto Topp Collins were sentenced to death.

Collectively they were known as the Viña del Mar psychopaths (Psicópatas de Viña del Mar). Between August 1980 and November 1981, they killed ten people and committed four rapes.

They were both arrested on March 8th 1982 and convicted of all the crimes they had committed. On January 29th 1985, both men were executed by gunshot.

Theirs was the last execution before the death penalty was repealed in Chile in 2001.

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