This Day In History
2001 Boston doctor found guilty of killing wife
On June 29, 2001, Boston doctor Dirk Greineder, 60, is found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Mabel Greineder, 58, his wife of more than 30 years.
Dirk Greineder was a distinguished allergist. His wife, known as May, worked for him as a nurse and was pursuing an advanced degree in healthcare. The couple had raised three children, and lived in Wellesley, a tony–and usually crime-free–Boston suburb. Neighbors and friends saw the couple as especially close and devoted to each other. Nearly every day, they walked their German shepherds together in a nearby park.
On October 31, 1999, Dirk called 911 from his cell phone to report that his wife had been attacked near a pond at their local park while the two were out for a walk. According to his testimony, he had left his wife to exercise their dog because she had been experiencing back pain, and when he returned to her, he found her beaten body prostrate on the path. She had been nearly decapitated and stabbed in the chest. Police found gloves, a hammer and a pocketknife believed to be used in the murder in a nearby storm drain.
In the course of their investigation, it was discovered that the well-respected and accomplished Dirk Greineder had been living a secret life. Using the alias “Thomas Young,” he had frequently downloaded internet pornography; rang up substantial phone sex bills; and regularly arranged meetings with prostitutes in hotels and at his home office. In fact, police found that he had contacted a prostitute the day after his wife’s murder. Believing that the doctor had killed his wife in order to more freely pursue his extramarital sexual activities, he was arrested in mid-November 1999.
Over the course of the trial, prosecutors described how Dirk had set up a phony company and used it to apply for a corporate credit card in the name “Thomas Young”; that he had frequently solicited group sex and escorts; and that this behavior seemed to become almost obsessive in the week before his wife’s murder. In those seven days, the doctor contacted several prostitutes, had sex with at least one, and sometimes spent more than four hours per day on internet porn sites, in addition to keeping up with a demanding career. Several witnesses testified that May had become increasingly insecure about the marriage, and had become focused on buying new clothes, exercising more often and had even thought about getting a face lift. Prosecutors pointed to the conclusion that May either had discovered her husband’s secret life, or was getting very close, and that Dirk wanted her out of the way.
Prosecutors also stressed that witnesses placed Greineder in the moments after the murder emerging from the area where the murder weapons were found hidden instead of heading in the most likely place to find help, the main road. The prosecution also introduced evidence that the doctor had delayed making the 911 call, that the gloves and hammer likely belonged to Dirk and that the blood found at the scene, including on Dirk’s body, was not consistent with his story.
Despite some seemingly damning evidence, Dirk Greineder enjoyed strong support from friends and family, including the couple’s three children. The doctor testified about how much he loved his wife and that they were looking forward to their daughter’s upcoming wedding. Although he said he was unsure if his wife knew of his sexual affairs, he intimated that the outside sex may have contributed to the strength of their relationship. The defense contended that the doctor had no reason at all to kill his wife.
Despite a mostly circumstantial case against him, Dirk Greineder was found guilty of first-degree murder on June 29, 2001, after a six-week trial and four days of deliberations. Later in the day, Greineder was given the mandatory sentence, life in prison without the possibility of parole.
This Day In History
Truman announces development of H-bomb
U.S. President Harry S. Truman publicly announces his decision to support the development of the hydrogen bomb, a weapon theorized to be hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II.
Five months earlier, the United States had lost its nuclear supremacy when the Soviet Union successfully detonated an atomic bomb at their test site in Kazakhstan. Then, several weeks after that, British and U.S. intelligence came to the staggering conclusion that German-born Klaus Fuchs, a top-ranking scientist in the U.S. nuclear program, was a spy for the Soviet Union. These two events, and the fact that the Soviets now knew everything that the Americans did about how to build a hydrogen bomb, led Truman to approve massive funding for the superpower race to complete the world’s first “superbomb,” as he described it in his public announcement on January 31.
On November 1, 1952, the United States successfully detonated “Mike,” the world’s first hydrogen bomb, on the Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific Marshall Islands. The 10.4-megaton thermonuclear device, built upon the Teller-Ulam principles of staged radiation implosion, instantly vaporized an entire island and left behind a crater more than a mile wide. The incredible explosive force of Mike was also apparent from the sheer magnitude of its mushroom cloud–within 90 seconds the mushroom cloud climbed to 57,000 feet and entered the stratosphere. One minute later, it reached 108,000 feet, eventually stabilizing at a ceiling of 120,000 feet. Half an hour after the test, the mushroom stretched 60 miles across, with the base of the head joining the stem at 45,000 feet.
Three years later, on November 22, 1955, the Soviet Union detonated its first hydrogen bomb on the same principle of radiation implosion. Both superpowers were now in possession of the “hell bomb,” as it was known by many Americans, and the world lived under the threat of thermonuclear war for the first time in history.
This Day In History
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, is assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu extremist.
Born the son of an Indian official in 1869, Gandhi’s Vaishnava mother was deeply religious and early on exposed her son to Jainism, a morally rigorous Indian religion that advocated nonviolence. Gandhi was an unremarkable student but in 1888 was given an opportunity to study law in England. In 1891, he returned to India, but failing to find regular legal work he accepted in 1893 a one-year contract in South Africa.
Settling in Natal, he was subjected to racism and South African laws that restricted the rights of Indian laborers. Gandhi later recalled one such incident, in which he was removed from a first-class railway compartment and thrown off a train, as his moment of truth. From thereon, he decided to fight injustice and defend his rights as an Indian and a man. When his contract expired, he spontaneously decided to remain in South Africa and launched a campaign against legislation that would deprive Indians of the right to vote. He formed the Natal Indian Congress and drew international attention to the plight of Indians in South Africa. In 1906, the Transvaal government sought to further restrict the rights of Indians, and Gandhi organized his first campaign of satyagraha, or mass civil disobedience. After seven years of protest, he negotiated a compromise agreement with the South African government.
In 1914, Gandhi returned to India and lived a life of abstinence and spirituality on the periphery of Indian politics. He supported Britain in the First World War but in 1919 launched a new satyagraha in protest of Britain’s mandatory military draft of Indians. Hundreds of thousands answered his call to protest, and by 1920 he was leader of the Indian movement for independence. He reorganized the Indian National Congress as a political force and launched a massive boycott of British goods, services, and institutions in India. Then, in 1922, he abruptly called off the satyagraha when violence erupted. One month later, he was arrested by the British authorities for sedition, found guilty, and imprisoned.
This Day In History
U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame elects first members
On January 29, 1936, the U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame elects its first members in Cooperstown, New York: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson.
The Hall of Fame actually had its beginnings in 1935, when plans were made to build a museum devoted to baseball and its 100-year history. A private organization based in Cooperstown called the Clark Foundation thought that establishing the Baseball Hall of Fame in their city would help to reinvigorate the area’s Depression-ravaged economy by attracting tourists. To help sell the idea, the foundation advanced the idea that U.S. Civil War hero Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown. The story proved to be phony, but baseball officials, eager to capitalize on the marketing and publicity potential of a museum to honor the game’s greats, gave their support to the project anyway.
In preparation for the dedication of the Hall of Fame in 1939—thought by many to be the centennial of baseball—the Baseball Writers’ Association of America chose the five greatest superstars of the game as the first class to be inducted: Ty Cobb was the most productive hitter in history; Babe Ruth was both an ace pitcher and the greatest home-run hitter to play the game; Honus Wagner was a versatile star shortstop and batting champion; Christy Matthewson had more wins than any pitcher in National League history; and Walter Johnson was considered one of the most powerful pitchers to ever have taken the mound.
Today, with approximately 350,000 visitors per year, the Hall of Fame continues to be the hub of all things baseball.
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