Unfortunately, evil runs rampant in the world, and Oklahoma has been the birthplace of several criminals responsible for this evil. From an assassination attempt on a U.S. President to crimes that made the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List, Oklahoma born criminals have left a dark stain on history. Here are their stories:
1. John Hinckley Jr.
John Hinckley Jr. was born on May 29, 1955, in Ardmore, Oklahoma. He attempted to assassinate U.S. President Ronald Reagan in Washington, D.C., on March 30, 1981, as the culmination of an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster. Hinckley became obsessed with the 1976 film Taxi Driver, in which disturbed protagonist, Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), plots to assassinate a presidential candidate. Hinkley began stalking Foster and attempted to get her attention in many ways. After failing many times, Hinckley decided he would assassinate the president, thinking that, by achieving a place in history, he would appeal to her as an equal.
On March 30, 1981, at 2:25 p.m. Hinckley shot a .22 caliber Röhm RG-14 revolver 6 times at Reagan as he left the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Hinckley hit a police offer, Secret Service agent, and critically wounded press secretary James Brady. Hinckley did not directly hit President Reagan, but seriously wounded him when a bullet ricocheted off the side of the presidential limousine and hit him in the chest. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity on June 21,1982. Hinckley was confined at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C.
2. Jon Schillaci
Schillaci was born in Oklahoma in 1971, and was given up for adoption as an infant. His early childhood was described as "turbulent" and abusive. Schillaci's first crime was in 1989, at the age of 17, when he and a 20-year-old man were accused of having sex with two 11-year-old twin brothers. He was was convicted on April 26, 1990 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. While in prison, Schillaci completed a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees in humanities and literature from the University of Houston. He won several awards from major publications for his poetry. He told his family he has turned his life around and was ready for a fresh start.
After his release he got a job at a music store and taught music lessons. A 5 year-old boy reported being sexually abused by Schillaci during piano lessons. Along with this charge, Schillaci was also charged with 23 counts of possession of child pornography. Schillaci was last seen fleeing to California and crossing into Mexico. In 2007, he was put on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List. After being a fugitive for 8 years, Schillaci was arrested in the town of San José de Gracia, Michoacán on June 5, 2008, without incident. On December 22, 2009, Jon Schillaci was sentenced to 20 to 50 years in state prison after pleading guilty to one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault and 23 counts of possession of child pornography. He is up for parole in 2039.
3. Patrick Henry Sherrill
Patrick Henry Sherrill was an average postman. After 16 months as a part-time letter carrier for the post office in Edmond, Sherrill was still receiving complaints from his managers about misdirected mail and tardy performance. The weeks prior to his rampage, after two supervisors reprimanded him, Sherrill told a local steward for the American Postal Workers Union, that he was being mistreated. "I gotta get out of here," he said. Instead, the irritated mailman returned the next morning with a vengeance. On August 20, 1986, at about 7 a.m. he marched into the post office in his blue postal uniform, carrying three pistols and ammunition in a mailbag held over his shoulder.
Without speaking, he gunned down Richard Esser, one of the supervisors who had criticized him, and fellow Postman Mike Rockne, grandson of the famous Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne. He then chased after a group of fleeing employees through a side exit, shooting one man, who later died in the parking lot. Bolting several doors, he sought out workers cowering under tables and in cubicles, killing three people in one work station, five in another. Minutes after the shooting started, police arrived outside the post office. For 45 minutes they tried to communicate with Sherrill by telephone and bullhorn. There was no response. When an Edmond SWAT team finally stormed the building at 8:30 a.m., they found Sherrill's body amid the carnage. After killing 14 people and wounding six, he put a bullet into his own head. It was the third worst mass murder in U.S. history.
4. Donald Eugene Webb
Donald Eugene Webb was born "Donald Eugene Perkins" on July 14, 1931, in Oklahoma City. Webb is (or was) an American career criminal and fugitive wanted for attempted burglary and the murder of a police chief in the small community of Saxonburg, Pennsylvania. It was the first murder in the town's history. Webb has convictions of burglary, possession of counterfeit money, possession of a weapon and dangerous instruments, breaking and entering, armed bank robbery, grand larceny and car theft.
In the mid-1970s, Webb served a two-year prison term in New York state prison. In 1979, Webb and his two accomplices allegedly burglarized suburban Albany homes while posing as sewer and water inspectors. They were charged for attempted burglary, but after their bails were posted, they failed to appear at a December 1979 court date. On December 4, 1980, police chief Gregory Adams made a routine traffic stop in Pennsylvania. When he asked the suspect for his driver's license, he gave fraudulent identity documents and shot Adams. The man got out of the car and fought with the officer. The officer later died of his injuries. The investigation led police to believe the crime was committed by fugitive Donald Eugene Webb. Having been on the Ten Most Wanted list for 25 years, 10 months, and 27 days, Webb was removed from the list on March 31, 2007. He was on the list longer than any other fugitive before 2010. Although Webb is still a fugitive who is considered armed and dangerous by the FBI, significant lack of leads has made some investigators believe Webb is deceased.
5. Richard Lee McNair
Known for his ability to escape and elude capture, Richard Lee McNair is a convicted murderer who was born in Altus, Oklahoma, in 1958. In 1987, McNair murdered one man and shot a second man four times during a botched robbery. He is currently serving two terms of life imprisonment for these crimes.
After his arrest, he escaped three times from three different institutions using an array of creative methods. On his first attempt he used lip balm to squeeze out of a pair of handcuffs. He escaped a second time by crawling through a ventilation duct. In his last escape from a federal prison in April 2006, he mailed himself out of prison in a crate. This resulted in his mugshot being featured a dozen times on the TV show America's Most Wanted, and made him one of the top 15 fugitives wanted by US Marshals. McNair traveled to Canada twice in order to evade capture, traveling across the country for over a year before being apprehended in a random police check.
6. Kevin Underwood
Kevin Ray Underwood was born December 19, 1979, and is a convicted murderer from Purcell, Oklahoma. Underwood was a shy 26-year old grocery store clerk that described himself on his blog as a "single, bored and lonely" man with "dangerously weird" fantasies. He recognized that he was depressed and socially incompetent, noting that his days off were spent in front of his computer, blogging or playing computer games.
On April 17, 2006, FBI agents found 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin's body in a plastic tub in Kevin Ray Underwood's bedroom in Purcell, Okla., along with skewers and a meat tenderizer. Underwood abducted the girl (who lived above his apartment), bludgeoned her with a wooden cutting board and strangled her with duct tape and his bare hands. He sexually assaulted the girl after killing her, and authorities believe that he planned to dismember her, drain her blood and eat her corpse. On April 3, 2008, McClain County District Judge Candace Blalock ordered Underwood's execution by lethal injection.
7. Gene Leroy Hart
Hart, a Cherokee Native American, was born and raised in Locust Grove, Oklahoma. Gene Hart was convicted on October
14, 1966, on two counts of first degree rape
and kidnapping of 2 pregnant women in Tulsa. On March 16, 1969, Hart was paroled from Granite State Penitentiary. He was sent to McAlester State Penitentiary where he would serve 40 to 140 years on charges of rape, two counts of kidnapping, and two counts of burglary.
In 1973, Hart and 2 other prisoners hacksawed their way out of the Mayes County Jail. Law enforcement found the other two prisoners, but Hart had remained free since the jail break. Even though he was a convicted rapist, no one looked for him until 1977, when he became a prime suspect in the Camp Scott Girl Scout murders of 3 girls, ages 8, 9, and 10. He was eventually caught and tried - but acquitted of all three of the murders. Then he died, two months later, at the age of 36. A local Cherokee medicine man prophesied Hart’s fate, saying that the “Great Spirit” would rise up and strike Hart down for what he had done, if guilty, that is. Hart did die, and (ironically) on the anniversary date of the initial June 1966 crime.
The crimes committed by these Oklahomans were truly senseless and tragic. We will never forget those affected by their terrible acts.