11/13/1955 - The mystery of what destroyed United Air Lines Flight 629, a DC-6B out of Denver's Stapleton Air Field that crashes 11 minutes after takeoff (the flight leaves, bound for Portland, Oregon, at 6:52 in the evening) into a sugar beat farm near the town of Longmont, killing all 44 people aboard (39 passengers, including an infant, and 5 crew members) is sadly solved, with the culprit being greed turned murderous!
Rocket science or Sherlock Holmes not necessary, combing the crash site for clues, it quickly becomes apparent that the plane has been brought down by an explosive device ... an explosive device that is tracked back to jerkwad, Jack Gilbert Graham ... a Colorado resident with gambling debts that bought over $30,000 in life insurance on his mom, Daisy King, at the airport terminal only minutes before the flight goes down in flames.
Humpty-Dumpty Time For Investigators
Using pieces of luggage and other forensic clues, on 11/13 the FBI shows up with a search warrant at Graham's home, and quickly find bomb making materials that match the explosive device that brought down the plane ... and in checking their suspect's history, discover that Graham has made an insurance profit before ... profiting from a truck being destroyed when it "accidentally" stalled on a railroad track and was hit by a train, along with a payout for "vandals" attacking the restaurant (a gas line is disconnected and blows) his mother owned. Confronted with a mounting horde of evidence, at first Graham claims he did nothing beyond giving his mother an early Christmas gift of a tool kit ... but then, as the pressure mounts, he finally confesses to putting a small bomb with a timing device in his mother's luggage ... killing her, and the other passengers for the insurance money.
Handcuffs, bars, and then a feeble failed suicide attempt (by way of a noose made of socks to help with his insanity plea), Graham goes on trial in February of 1956 ... immediately dropping his insanity plea, recanting his signed confession (the infamous police coercion strikes again!), the murderer pleads not guilty in a trial that will be the first of its kind as television is allowed to locally telecast the unfolding drama. The prosecution makes its case though through the testimony of 80 different witnesses and 174 exhibits, while the defense counters with only 8 witnesses of their own. Slam dunk, on May, 15, 1956, the Colorado jury hearing the case takes only 69 minutes to find Graham guilty of murder and sentence him to death.
Guilty ... And Crazy Too!
Sent to the Colorado State Penitentiary at Canon City, after a series of motions by his attorneys are denied, Graham is gassed on January, 11, 1957. He is only 24 years old when he goes to Hell and an entire state sighs good riddance!