Valentine’s Day is not a day for murders; it is believed to be a day of love. On the other hand, for some it was the day of heartbreak, tears and sorrow. Murders that happened on Valentine’s Day are not always linked to romance, jealousy or controlling spouses. The romantic day shared by millions of lovers worldwide is a happy day of love, romance and good fortune. As Valentine’s Day has a significant impact on the world, any murders or traumatic events occurring on this day do spark a frenzy of never forgetting the disaster happening on Valentine’s Day.
On February 14, 1971, Jesse McBane, and Patricia Mann attended a Valentine’s Day dance in Durham. Patricia never returned home after the dance. A missing person file was opened after roommates and family members notified the police. Days went by, there was no sign of Patricia or Jesse, and on a cold winter’s night a survey worker, working in the woods northwest of Durham noticed an unfamiliar sighting of what seemed to be a mannequin’s leg. Curious about the finding, the worker took a closer look and discovered a dead couple covered with leaves.
The murdered couple had been tied to a tree with thick ropes, knotted around the neck. A medical examination revealed the couple was tortured and strangled several times before dying. The murder became big news on Television, radio stations, and local newspapers, and dubbed the Valentine’s Day Murder.
Perhaps the most notorious killing on Valentine’s Day was the massacre on February 14, 1929 when Al Capone masterminded a plot to slay members of a rival gang. Al Capone was known for often displaying a violent temper combined with a high sense of honor and loyalty. Capone had an extensive spy network in Chicago, and plans of assassination were never successful. Capone ordered many killing and remained skillful at isolating rivals and enemies. On the night of hit, two of Capone’s men were dressed in police uniform. Capone’s men stormed into the garage, headquarters of bootlegger George Moran’s north side gang, the seven men dropped the weapons and stood against the wall suspecting the raid to be a police one.
Capone’s men fired over 150 bullets from shotguns and machine guns into the victims. The operation was quick and members of the Moran gang were killed instantly together with an unidentified visitor. The target was to kill the leader, Moran, who, fortunately, survived the onslaught by not being there on Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s day 2001, Susan wife of a successful doctor John Hamilton was murdered. Known as a perfect couple, happily married for 14 years and appeared as a loving couple to the world. In defense, Hamilton said that on February 14, 2001 upon returning home with a bouquet of flowers found Susan lying in a pool of blood with a slit throat. Hamilton did not have the chance to show Susan the symbol of love on Valentine’s Day.
At first, Hamilton was not a suspect and played the role of a distraught husband splendidly. It was information given by one of Hamilton’s expert witnesses that triggered a successful conviction for the murder of Susan.
Tara, the wife of Stephen Grant, went missing, and a distressed Grant called the police on February 14, 2007. The police wasted no time and immediately began a search,after a short investigation found the mutilated body of Tara in the garage of the home the couple shared. Grant unable to deal with the devastation gave a voluntary confession of the killing. Grant was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 50 years in prison.
Is it rejection that causes a ruthless killing to take place? In the case of Tomicka Peterson, it would appear that rejection caused a premature death. Peterson told then-boyfriend Gibson Paul that the relationship was over and unable to accept this statement, Paul shot Peterson five times. Peterson died instantly, and Gibson was sentenced to life imprisonment after convicted of first-degree murder.
1993, Valentine’s Day is the day the Manriquez family will never forget. Ignacia Manriquez was shot in the head by jealous boyfriend, Juan Manuel Navarro. The tragedy of that day will haunt the four-year-old daughter who witnessed the killing. Although the couple was in a long-term relationship and had three children, the anxiety and jealousy became a problem, Navarro wanted out of the relationship and the couple amicably, agreed to end the broken union. After a period of wandering, Navarro wanted to renew the relationship and girlfriend Manriquez did not want to, resulting in a sudden death. It took almost nineteen years to convict and sentence Navarro for the murder of girlfriend Manriquez. Navarro was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the murder of Manriquez.
South Africa, Valentine’s Day, 2013, turned into a nightmare for the Steenkamp and Pistorius families. Infamous Para-Olympian Oscar Pistorius shot and killed live in girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at the couple’s Pretoria home in the early hours of Valentine’s Day. After a humiliating and exhausting trial, Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide and currently serving a 10-month sentence that will be reviewed by the courts. The Pistorius case gave emphasis to the justice system of South Africa and televised throughout the world.
Is it the abusive and uncontrollable jealousy of spouses that trigger an unplanned death? Is it about the complete control and ownership of another person that sparks the mind to take drastic action and kill in cold blood? Valentine’s Day, the day of love; is shrouded in mystery, murder, and romance.
Opinion By Laura Oneale
Photo by Janine – License