Quiz about Murder Trials of the Century
Quiz about Murder Trials of the Century

Murder Trials of the Century Trivia Quiz


"Trial of the Century" is a phrase freely bandied about by the media whenever it is deemed to be worthy of extensive coverage. Although logically there should be only one "Trial of the Century," here are ten major murder trials of the 20th century.

A multiple-choice quiz by Aliquis. Estimated time: 4 mins.
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Author
Aliquis
Time
4 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
360,437
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
8 / 10
Plays
3354
Awards
Top 5% quiz!
Last 3 plays: Fiona112233 (9/10), Guest 71 (5/10), hosertodd (10/10).
This quiz has 2 formats: you can play it as a or as shown below.
Scroll down to the bottom for the answer key.
1. At Oklahoma City's Murrah Federal Building, 168 people were killed on April 19, 1995 when a rented truck filled with explosives was detonated. What was the name of the US Army veteran convicted of setting off the blast and murdering the innocent people?
Hint

Mike Nichols
Timothy McVeigh
Terry McVeigh
Phil Nicholson

2. On June 12, 1994, the ex-wife of a sports celebrity was stabbed outside her home along with a male acquaintance. Which sports star's trial received an even bigger spotlight than his sports career?
Hint

John Madden
Tiger Woods
Tony Hawk
O.J. Simpson

3. A few days before Christmas, December 22, 1984, a New York subway rider shot and seriously wounded four men who accosted him. Who was this "vigilante"?
Hint

Bernard Goetz
David Berkowitz
George Zimmerman
Mark David Chapman

4. A psychologically unstable ex-convict sent his "Family" to a southern California residence for a little "Helter Skelter" which left five innocent people dead at one location and two more at another. Who was this demonic man? Hint

Jim Jones
Charles Manson
Marshall Applewhite
David Koresh

5. In the mid-fifties a 14-year old African-American from Chicago left for a two-week visit to relatives in Mississippi. During the stay, the boy and several of his friends went to a general store where the Chicago boy was apparently forward with a white woman.

Not long after that, Roy Bryant and his half-brother John W. Milam decided they needed to "teach a lesson" to the outsider. Three days later the boy's body was found in the Tallahatchie River.

At their trial, Bryant and Milam admitted they picked up the boy but insisted they dropped him off unharmed. The defense cast doubt on whether the body pulled from the river was actually the missing boy. After 68 minutes, the jury of all white men found the defendants not guilty.

What was the name of the murdered boy?
Hint

Emmett Till
James Earl Chaney
Harry T. Moore
Jonathon Daniels

6. In 1954, in a suburban lakefront house in Cleveland a beautiful woman, four-months pregnant, was brutally murdered in her upstairs bedroom. Her husband, a doctor who was sleeping downstairs on a daybed, claimed an intruder knocked him out before attacking his wife. The press loved the sensational aspects of the case, especially as details of extramarital affairs surfaced. Who was the doctor accused of drastically flouting the Hippocratic Oath? Hint

Sam Sheppard
Joseph Lyle Menendez
Jeffrey MacDonald
Richard Bailey

7. One of the nation's most outstanding heroes of the period has his infant son kidnapped from the second floor of his NJ residence in March 1932. A ransom was paid, but the boy was found dead. Who was this larger-than-life American who suffered such a tragedy? Hint

Herman (Babe) Ruth
Charlie Chaplin
Charles Lindbergh Jr.
Johnny Weismuller

8. Believing themselves to be above the rules and laws that govern ordinary people, two rich and intelligent (some say genius) Chicagoans kidnapped and murdered the 14-year son of a millionaire in 1924 to prove they could commit the perfect crime. Who were these two self-deluding, would-be "ubermenschen"? Hint

Leopold & Loeb
Wilson & Brown
Ludwig & Leonardi
Spaulding & Williamson

9. During a Braintree MA robbery at a shoe factory on April 15 1920, two employees were shot with a revolver. A month later two Italian anarchists were arrested and charged with the two murders. With their conviction the following year, the public divided into two camps vehemently proclaiming the two men's guilt or innocence. What were the names of these two anarchists who went to the electric chair in 1927?
Hint

Sacco & Vanzetti
Carducci & Pirandello
Solti & Bartoletti
Rosetta & Volta

10. Shortly before quitting time on March 25 1911, a fire broke out in a New York City factory. Locked exit doors resulted in the deaths of 146 people, mostly young girls working in the factory. Throughout the summer, the press was full of reports from survivors and witnesses, and a special Commission investigated the poor safety conditions. That December, the two owners went on trial for manslaughter. What's the name of the fatal factory? Hint

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory
Binghamton Factory
West Fertilizer Company
Blue Bird Laboratory


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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. At Oklahoma City's Murrah Federal Building, 168 people were killed on April 19, 1995 when a rented truck filled with explosives was detonated. What was the name of the US Army veteran convicted of setting off the blast and murdering the innocent people?

Answer: Timothy McVeigh

Timothy McVeigh had received the Bronze Star during his service in the Gulf War and an Honorable Discharge from the Army in December 1991. Less than four years later, he had become radicalized by conspiracy theories to the point that he became one of the nation's deadliest terrorists.

In June 1997, McVeigh was convicted of murder and received the death penalty. Six months later, Terry Nichols, McVeigh's accomplice, escaped the first degree murder conviction and death penalty but was convicted of conspiracy to bomb a federal building and eight counts of involuntary manslaughter. Nichols received a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
2. On June 12, 1994, the ex-wife of a sports celebrity was stabbed outside her home along with a male acquaintance. Which sports star's trial received an even bigger spotlight than his sports career?

Answer: O.J. Simpson

The murder of OJ's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman was an attention-grabber from the very beginning. To begin with, a grisly murder in a "safe" well-to-do neighborhood always draws interest. The Brentwood neighborhood was near Los Angles and home to hundreds of "entertainment reporters" who search out anything of interest in the lives of celebrities, having a sports star such as O. J. Simpson as the suspect was an opportunity too good to pass up.

When Simpson failed to turn himself in to police as arranged by his lawyer, the police went looking for him. As a passenger in a white Ford Bronco, over a dozen police cars gave a lengthy slow-speed pursuit as news helicopters broadcast the incident live to viewers around the country.

Six months after the murder, in January 1995, O.J. Simpson went on trial for the two murders. A flamboyant legal defense team added to the spectacle. Every minute of the 133-day trial was broadcast by TV cameras in the courtroom. At 10 am on October 3, O.J. Simpson was found Not Guilty as 91% of the television viewing public watched.

Simpson has remained in the court spotlight through a civil trial related Ron Goldman's death as well as other financial proceedings including bankruptcy. In 2008, thirteen years after being acquitted of murder, Simpson was convicted of armed robbery in Las Vegas for attempting to recover what he claims are his sports memorabilia.

John Madden, a football player and announcer, Tony Hawk the skater, and Tiger Woods the golfer have never been suspects in a murder trial.
3. A few days before Christmas, December 22, 1984, a New York subway rider shot and seriously wounded four men who accosted him. Who was this "vigilante"?

Answer: Bernard Goetz

At 1:00 in the afternoon, four 18-19 year-old men were riding the subway carrying screwdrivers with which to break into vending machines. They asked Goetz for some money in a way that made him feel threatened. Goetz produced a handgun and shot all four men.

After lengthy pre-trial proceedings including two grand juries and numerous pre-trial motions resulting in dismissal of several charges and subsequent reinstatement by the Appeals Court, Goetz's trial began on December 12, 1986. Jury selection was exhaustive and opening statements weren't made until the following April 27. In June, the jury found Goetz guilty on the charge of
criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. The jury found him not guilty on all charges of attempted murder and assault.

George Zimmerman is the Florida "vigilante" who killed Trayvon Martin. David Berkowitz was the Son of Sam serial killer. Mark David Chapman killed John Lennon.
4. A psychologically unstable ex-convict sent his "Family" to a southern California residence for a little "Helter Skelter" which left five innocent people dead at one location and two more at another. Who was this demonic man?

Answer: Charles Manson

With a criminal history dating back some twenty years to his youth, Charles Manson finished serving a ten-year sentence during which prison psychiatrists identified his "deep-seated personality problems." In the summer of 1968, Manson and followers he called "The Family" moved to a ranch in southern California.

The evening of August 8, 1969, Manson prepared four of his followers saying "Now is the time for a little Helter Skelter." After midnight on August 9, his followers entered the mansion of actress Sharon Tate where they stabbed her and three of her guests a total of 102 times. A fourth guest was shot. In the early morning hours of August 10, the Family enters the nearby home of Leno
and Rosemary LaBianca, stabbing them both to death.

The Tate-LaBianca murder trial opened in Los Angeles on July 4, 1970 with Charles Manson and three followers as defendants. All defendants were convicted of first-degree murder on January 25, 1971.

The story of Manson and his "Family" has continued in the press as the subject of numerous books, documentaries and dramatic recreations.

Jim Jones led his followers called "The People's Temple" from California to Jonestown Guyana where in November 1978, 909 members died in a mass murder-suicide. Marshall Applewhite was the leader of 39-member Heaven's Gate, who in March 1997 all died of suicide in Rancho Santa Fe, California. David Koresh was the leader of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas where 76 members died in a fire following a 51-day standoff with authorities.
5. In the mid-fifties a 14-year old African-American from Chicago left for a two-week visit to relatives in Mississippi. During the stay, the boy and several of his friends went to a general store where the Chicago boy was apparently forward with a white woman. Not long after that, Roy Bryant and his half-brother John W. Milam decided they needed to "teach a lesson" to the outsider. Three days later the boy's body was found in the Tallahatchie River. At their trial, Bryant and Milam admitted they picked up the boy but insisted they dropped him off unharmed. The defense cast doubt on whether the body pulled from the river was actually the missing boy. After 68 minutes, the jury of all white men found the defendants not guilty. What was the name of the murdered boy?

Answer: Emmett Till

The triggering incident happened four days after Till's arrival in Money, Mississippi on August 20, 1955. His cousins took him to Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market to purchase some candy. Till was alone in the store for a few minutes with a white woman Carolyn Bryant. News of the incident spread quickly through the small town.

That weekend, the two men Roy Bryant and John Milam, accompanied at least part of the time by their wives and some other white men, found the offending youth. There are differing versions of the exact events but they all agree that Till was severely beaten. After he died, his body was dumped in the Tallahatchie River where it was later discovered.

Investigation was half-hearted with the Sheriff stating publically the he doubted the body from the river was Till's. Publicity of the murder was nationwide, stirring interest in civil rights at the highest levels of government which forced the prosecution to proceed.

The jury selection process, begun on September 19, chose twelve white men from the county in which the crime took place. Less than a month after Till arrived in Money, more than seventy reporters from as far away as London jammed the small county courtroom. After a five-day trial, the jury deliberated for about an hour before returning a Not Guilty verdict.

Harry T. Moore was an NAACP worker who along with his wife were killed in 1951 by the Ku Klux Klan in Florida. James Earl Chaney and two other men were lynched by the Ku Klux Klan in June 1964 for trying to register voters in Mississippi. Jonathon Daniels was shot in August 1965 Mississippi by volunteer deputy sheriff.
6. In 1954, in a suburban lakefront house in Cleveland a beautiful woman, four-months pregnant, was brutally murdered in her upstairs bedroom. Her husband, a doctor who was sleeping downstairs on a daybed, claimed an intruder knocked him out before attacking his wife. The press loved the sensational aspects of the case, especially as details of extramarital affairs surfaced. Who was the doctor accused of drastically flouting the Hippocratic Oath?

Answer: Sam Sheppard

After sixty years, the Sam Sheppard case continues to stir interest. The handsome thirty-year old doctor seemed to have it all when his wife was brutally slain. Sheppard denied any involvement, claiming that drug thieves invaded his home. His story unraveled as the investigation uncovered affairs which were made public.

The October 1954 trial began in a courtroom with numerous celebrity reporters covering the trial. The testimony delivered delightful quantities of mystery and sex for those following the sensational trial, especially as Sheppard himself testified. Despite his insistence that he was innocent, the jury found him guilty of second degree murder.

But the story didn't end there. While in a maximum-security prison, Sheppard hired a new attorney, F. Lee Bailey who succeeded getting the original conviction overturned by the Supreme Court on the basis that pretrial publicity created a "carnival atmosphere" which made the trial a "mockery of justice." During his second trial which began in October 1966, Sheppard did not testify. He was acquitted following a month-long trial.

Sam Sheppard's trials left in their wake a host of books, documentaries and made-for-TV movies. In addition, the TV series "The Fugitive" and subsequent movies were loosely based on Sheppard's insistence of his innocence.

Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald was a Green Beret doctor at Fort Bragg North Carolina was convicted in 1979 of stabbing to death his pregnant wife. Joseph Lyle Menendez and his brother Eric Galen were convicted of the August 1989 shotgun murder of their parents in their Beverly Hills home. Richard Bailey was suspected of not convicted of killing Helen Voorhees Brach following her 1977 disappearance in Chicago.
7. One of the nation's most outstanding heroes of the period has his infant son kidnapped from the second floor of his NJ residence in March 1932. A ransom was paid, but the boy was found dead. Who was this larger-than-life American who suffered such a tragedy?

Answer: Charles Lindbergh Jr.

Sometime during the night of March 1, 1932 the twenty-month old child of pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped while sleeping at home. A ransom note was left in his place. Through a long and complicated process, the $50,000 ransom was paid but the child was not returned. Several months later, on May 12, the body was found in a woods about two miles from the Lindbergh home. After an exhaustive two-year manhunt, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, a 35 year old German immigrant, was arrested in September 1934.

In the 1935 trial, the prosecution presented evidence against Bruno Richard Hauptmann resulting in a conviction. Hauptmann was sent to the electric chair in April 1936. Even until the end, Hauptmann maintained his innocence and refused to confess even in exchange for commutation to a life sentence.

From the morning the child was reported missing, the media followed every step of the case. HL Mencken called this trial the "the greatest story since the Resurrection." (!) Since the trial, controversy continues about the evidence which was primarily circumstantial. Some people also doubt that a single kidnapper would have been able to commit the crime without assistance.

Besides countless documentaries, this story was the basis for the award-winning 1996 TV-movie "Crime of the Century."

None of the facts fit Charlie Chaplin a movie actor and director, Johnny Weismuller an Olympic swimmer and Tarzan in the movies, or Babe Ruth the baseball superstar.
8. Believing themselves to be above the rules and laws that govern ordinary people, two rich and intelligent (some say genius) Chicagoans kidnapped and murdered the 14-year son of a millionaire in 1924 to prove they could commit the perfect crime. Who were these two self-deluding, would-be "ubermenschen"?

Answer: Leopold & Loeb

Nathan Leopold, a 19-year old student at University of Chicago Law School, reportedly had an IQ of 210 and spoke numerous languages fluently. At 18, Richard Loeb was the University of Michigan's youngest graduate at that time and planned to enter University of Chicago Law School. Heavily influenced by Nietzsche's writing, the two considered themselves to be "ubermensch" or "supermen" to whom normal rules do not apply.

The two men spent months planning the perfect crime, primarily to demonstrate that they could accomplish it. Their victim and the ransom were almost secondary parts to their plan. They chose their young victim, Robert "Bobby" Franks who lived in their Kenwood neighborhood, almost at random. They lured their victim into their car where they killed him. After driving the body to a nearby Indiana marshland, they poured acid over the body to impede identification, stuffed his body into a drainage culvert and burned his clothes.

They sent a ransom note to Bobby's parents, who were prepared to pay it. However, shortly before the money was to be paid, the police informed the parents that his body had been found dead.

The investigation sounds like the storyline of a TV cop show. Near the body, police recovered Leopold's glasses near the body that were one of three sold in Chicago. Later they identified the typewriter used to prepare the ransom note. Under questioning, both men were eventually pointed the finger at each other.

Their high-profile court-proceedings received much media coverage. The young, innocent upper-class victim stirred people's hearts while the callous, intellectual perpetrators, were totally revolting, though superficially they appeared perfect gentlemen. Clarence Darrow had his clients plead guilty to the crimes, but at their month-long sentencing hearing, he delivered impassioned arguments against capital punishment. His argument, plus the fact that being under 21, they were not considered "adults" resulted in both men receiving a life sentence plus 99 years.

In prison, both became model prisoners and taught classes in the prison school. In 1936, Loeb was attacked and killed by a fellow inmate. Leopold was released on parole in 1958, after 33 years in prison.

Alfred Hitchcock fictionalized their story in his 1948 movie "Rope," and the theme of a senseless murder by a genius attempting to commit the perfect crime has become a staple of TV's detective-show genre.
9. During a Braintree MA robbery at a shoe factory on April 15 1920, two employees were shot with a revolver. A month later two Italian anarchists were arrested and charged with the two murders. With their conviction the following year, the public divided into two camps vehemently proclaiming the two men's guilt or innocence. What were the names of these two anarchists who went to the electric chair in 1927?

Answer: Sacco & Vanzetti

Questions to remain about the verdict of this highly-charged emotional case. After WWI and the Bolshevik Revolution, the country was swept by a "red scare" fearing revolution from all quarters. Foreigners in general were suspect, especially when they were involved with "workers' rights" such as unions or the IWW (or Wobblies) political party. The public widely viewed strikes as a prelude to outright revolution.

The two Italian immigrants were workers who were also involved in anarchist activities. At the time of the crime, Nicola Sacco was 39 and Bartolomeo Vanzdetti was 22.

They were tried and convicted in 1921. From the beginning, the results of the trial were questionable. Major questions remain about the impartiality of the judge and the effectiveness of the defense counsel. Forensic evidence about the gun has been challenged. In addition, the witness testimony and identifications, including a confession by another inmate convicted of different murder, do not appear very reliable. Nevertheless, motions for new trials and appeals all the way to the Massachusetts Supreme Court were fruitless. Both men were electrocuted on August 23, 1927.

More recent reexaminations, including ballistic test in 1961, present a third possibility, that Sacco was guilty but not Vanzetti. Unfortunately, the actual truth may never be known.
10. Shortly before quitting time on March 25 1911, a fire broke out in a New York City factory. Locked exit doors resulted in the deaths of 146 people, mostly young girls working in the factory. Throughout the summer, the press was full of reports from survivors and witnesses, and a special Commission investigated the poor safety conditions. That December, the two owners went on trial for manslaughter. What's the name of the fatal factory?

Answer: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory occupied the top three floors of a ten-story building on Washington Square in New York. Most workers were young immigrant women who spoke little English. Near quitting time on March 25, 1911, fire erupted and spread quickly as a result of the fabric, garments and machine oil. The fire hose was not operational and all the exits were locked to prevent workers from leaving early without permission.

Factory owners Max Black and Isaac Harris went on trial for manslaughter in early December of 1911. The prosecution presented a strong case based on reports of the Coroner and the Fire Marshall and Building Commissioner about the numerous deficiencies and inadequacies that resulted in the avoidable deaths.

The defense stressed two main arguments. Witness statements, repeated multiple times, were always identical which some believe indicates that the witnesses had been coached and memorized their statements. Also, there was no direct evidence indicating that the owners were aware that the doors were locked.

Three weeks later, the case went to the jury on Dec 27, two days after Christmas. After deliberating for only two hours, the jury found both men not guilty.

Although the defendants were cleared, the tragedy resulted in a host of fire safety improvements and legislation across the nation. Starting in 2008, the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition was formed and seeks to establish a permanent memorial at the site of the fire.
Source: Author Aliquis

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor bloomsby before going online.
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