What happened on this day in history: Johnny Cash performs at Folsom State Prison, the Costa Concordia sinks, and more.
1898: Émile Zola Exposes The Drefyus Affair
Novelist Émile Zola publishes his famous “J’accuse!” letter. In this open letter to the president published in L’Aurore, Zola accused the French government of antisemitism in the case of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish army officer accused of treason. Dreyfus would later be exonerated, but not before spending five years at the notoriously brutal Devil’s Island penal colony.
1968: Johnny Cash Performs At Folsom State Prison
Country singer Johnny Cash performs at Folsom State Prison in California. Struggling with addiction and suicidal thoughts, Cash entered the prison as a star past his prime. But his subsequent album At Folsom Prison revitalized his career and influenced his advocacy for prison reform.
1996: Amber Hagerman Is Kidnapped
Nine-year-old Amber Hagerman is kidnapped in Arlington, Texas by a stranger in a black pickup truck. Four days later, her body was found in a stream. Though Hagerman’s killer has never been found, her kidnapping inspired the AMBER Alert system that’s used to find abducted children to this day.
2004: Serial Killer Harold Shipman Is Found Dead In Prison
Harold Shipman dies by suicide in his prison cell in Wakefield, England. Four years earlier, Shipman had been convicted of 15 counts of murder for killing some of his patients. A 2005 inquiry, however, suggested that he’d killed up to 250 people since 1971.
2012: The Costa Concordia Sinks Off Italian Coast
The Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia sinks off the coast of Tuscany after striking an underwater rock. Thirty-two people died in the sinking and 64 were injured. The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, was later found guilty of manslaughter for abandoning ship during the disaster.