The phrase, “partners in crime” has evolved to encompass various different meanings. Rather than using it literally, people are more apt to use the phrase when referring to their best friend, or the person they “do everything with.” Having a “partner in crime” doesn’t necessarily indicate criminal behavior — but that wasn’t always the case.
The original meaning of the phrase actually referred to two people who committed crimes together. There are many infamous crime duos who worked side by side to fuel each other’s illegal, and often heinous, activities. The crimes these partners committed wouldn’t have been possible had they not been incahoots. Check out this list of some of history’s most infamous partners in crime.
1. Bonnie And Clyde
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were criminal outlaws who were active throughout North America during the Great Depression. Their crimes (mostly bank robberies) received national publicity. The American press and its audience were intrigued by the pair. The couple also traveled with other criminals, known as the Barrow Gang. On May 23, 1934, Bonnie and Clyde were killed in a roadside ambush by a group of police officers.
2. Kenneth Bianchi And Angelo Buono
The infamous “Hillside Strangler” actually consisted of two men — cousins Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono. These criminals operated between 1977 and 1978, and they were eventually convicted of kidnapping, raping, torturing, and killing girls and young women in the hills above Los Angeles, California. When victims were found it was clear to investigators that they had been raped and murdered by strangulation. It was assumed that these crimes were being committed by one person, which is why the mystery killer was dubbed “the Hillside Strangler.”
The public finally realized these attacks were not a solo operation when the two men were caught, but the name for the killer(s) stuck. Together, Bianchi and Buono murdered 10 women between the ages of 12 and 28, but many suspect the victim count to be higher. Both were sentenced to life in prison, which Bianchi is still serving. Buono died in prison from a heart attack in 2002.
3. Caril Fugate And Charles Starkweather
Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate were in a romantic relationship, and on January 21, 1958, Charles went to visit Caril at her home where she lived with her parents. After a vicious argument with her mother and stepfather, he shot them dead inside their home, and then proceeded to kill Caril’s two-year-old sister.
Charles and Caril fled the scene and skipped town, which marked the beginning of a nationwide crime spree. Together they murdered 11 people across the United States including a farmer and two teenagers who offered them a ride. The story of Charles and Caril was adapted for the film Natural Born Killers.
4. Myra Hindley And Ian Brady
Myra Hindley and Ian Brady are two of the most heinous criminals in British history, particularly because their crimes targeted young children. During the 1960s, Brady and Hindley murdered five children, which are now infamously known as the Moors Murders. Years later, Brady told police that there were five additional victims, but he and Hindley had buried their bodies.
Police were never able to prove his claims, but the speculation remains. The judge in their murder trial stated that the Moors Murders were the most detested crimes of the past century, and Brady and Hindley continue to evoke feelings of hatred among citizens.
5. The Menendez Brothers
In 1989, Lyle and Erik Menendez shot and killed both their parents at their home in Beverly Hills, California. They fled the scene to dump the guns and quickly find an alibi. They went to a local movie theater and bought tickets so that they could use movie stubs to show where they were at the time of the crime. When they got home, Lyle called 911 to report the shooting. He cried into the phone, “Somebody killed my parents!”
Officials began to get suspicious when it was revealed that the pair had been living a life of luxury and excessively spending their dead parents’ money — about $1 Million was spent by the brothers in just six months. These suspicions led the brothers to be pinned as suspects, and later, after two trials, they were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
The Partnerships Continue
Criminals continue to partner up to commit their offenses as a pair, but partnerships are not always clear at first. Sometimes offenders are caught together, and other times the evidence of an accomplice is not revealed until a criminal investigation is underway.
One of the strangest aspects of many partnerships is that the criminals turn out to be related in some way. They often have different surnames, but by searching public records and conducting in-depth background investigations, police are able to connect the dots and expose these family ties fairly quickly.
Ashley Welter is a blogger from San Diego, CA. She specializes in writing about the nature of criminal partnerships.