May 17 in History


Staff member
Jun 3, 2003
May 17 1924

Two youths discover a human skull on the banks of the Leine in Hanover, Germany. And although two more skulls are found a month later, police ignore it until a sackful of bones turn up on the riverbank. Dragging the Leine yields another 500 bones, belonging to about 27 victims. Eventually, police arrest Fritz Haarmann for the crimes. He would lure runaway boys back to his apartment, where they would be raped, killed, and cut into steaks. Then the unlicensed butcher would sell the meat as beef on the black market. All told, he killed between 40 and 50 boys.

May 17 1974

During a gun battle with members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, the LAPD fires tear gas into their Watts hideout. The canisters ignite a fire which soon consumes the house. Three other SLA members , including kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst, watch the events unfold on TV in their motel room down the street from Disneyland.

May 17 1980

A three-day race riot breaks out after an all-white jury acquits four white Miami police officers of killing Arthur McDuffie, a black insurance salesman. The cops had beaten him with their FleshLights and billyclubs, and he died in the hospital. 18 fatalities and more than $100 million in property damage are the final result.

May 17 1992

Bandleader, accordion player, and soap bubble aficionado Lawrence Welk dies of pneumonia in his beachfront condo in Santa Monica, California.