What happened on this day in history: Lady Jane Grey becomes Queen of England, John Paul Getty III is kidnapped off the streets of Rome, and more.
138 C.E.: Emperor Hadrian Dies
Roman Emperor Hadrian dies in Baiae in present-day Italy at the age of 62. In power for a little over two decades, Hadrian is perhaps best remembered for his architectural accomplishments. He ordered the building of Hadrian’s Wall to demarcate the northern limit of Roman control in Britannia and the reconstruction of the Pantheon.
1212: The ‘Great’ Fire Burns Across London
The Great Fire Of London 1212, also called the Great Fire of Southwark, burns through London. It started south of the Thames before spreading across the city, including the London Bridge, which then included wooden houses and shops.
The true death toll is unknown, though one 17th-century historian estimated that some 3,000 people died in the blaze.
1553: Lady Jane Grey Becomes Queen Of England
Lady Jane Grey is proclaimed Queen of England by decree of her late cousin, Edward VI, who chose her over his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth. However, Jane ruled for just nine days. Supporters of the “Nine Days’ Queen” abandoned her to support Mary, and Jane was subsequently executed on February 12, 1554.
1889: Frank Leslie Murders ‘Blondie Mollie’ Williams
Frank “Buckskin” Leslie murders “Blonde Mollie” Williams, a sex worker and his lover, in Tombstone, Arizona. According to the Tombstone Daily Epitaph, Leslie came home drunk and found Williams speaking to a man. Filled with jealousy, he shot them both and killed her, and later plead guilty to murder.
1973: John Paul Getty III Is Kidnapped
John Paul Getty III — the grandson of J. Paul Getty — is abducted in Rome, Italy.
His kidnappers held him for five months, demanded millions of dollars in ransom, and cut off John Paul’s ear when his grandfather refused to pay. Though he was eventually released, John Paul Getty III developed an addiction to drugs and alcohol which led to an overdose and a debilitating stroke in 1981.
1981: Ken McElroy Is Killed
Ken McElroy — the “town bully” of Skidmore, Missouri — is shot and killed in broad daylight. McElroy had terrorized the town for years and had nearly killed the town grocer.
Shortly thereafter, McElroy was killed on a busy Friday afternoon in the middle of town — and dozens of witnesses claimed that they hadn’t seen a thing. To this day, no one has been charged in his death.