This Day In History, June 27th

What happened on this day in history: Joseph Smith is killed, the BTK Killer pleads guilty to murder, and more historical events that happened on June 27th.

1829: James Smithson Dies

James Smithson dies in Genoa, Italy, at the age of 64. One of Europe’s leading scientists, Smithson inherited a fortune from his mother. In his will, he decreed that if his nephew died without heirs, his estate would go to “the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” And since his nephew did die without heirs, the now-famous Smithsonian Institution was born.

1844: Joseph Smith Is Killed

Joseph Smith

Public DomainJoseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, in a painting from circa 1842.

Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum are shot and killed by a mob in Carthage, Illinois. The founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith claimed to have communicated with an angel, who led him to an ancient text, which he translated into The Book of Mormon. Though he attracted many believers, anti-Mormonism also began to spread, and he and his brother were brought to Carthage to face charges of conspiracy and treason before they were killed.

1922: The First Newbery Medal Is Awarded

The first Newbery Medal for children’s literature is awarded to Hendrik Willem van Loon for his book The Story of Mankind. The award, given by the American Library Association, sought to encourage originality and excellence. Other winners include The Giver by Lois Lowry, Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan, and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

2005: The BTK Killer Pleads Guilty To Murder

Btk Killer

Larry W. Smith/AFP/Getty ImagesDennis Rader being escorted into the El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas. August 19, 2005.

Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer — so named for his method of binding, torturing, and killing his victims — pleads guilty to 10 counts of murder. Between 1974 and 1991, Rader operated in plain sight, killing victims in Wichita and Park City, Kansas. His friends and family, including his daughter Kerri Rawson and wife Paula Deitz, never suspected a thing.

2005: Marcus Wesson Is Sentenced To Death

Marcus Wesson, the infamous leader of the incestuous “Wesson Clan,” is sentenced to death in California. One year earlier, Wesson had brutally murdered nine of his children at his home in Fresno. Authorities later discovered that seven of the children had been born out of incest, as Wesson had raped two of his daughters and three of his nieces.