John “Jack” Gilbert Graham, was an American terrorist who, on November 1, 1955, killed 44 people aboard United Airlines Flight 629 near Longmont, Colorado, using a dynamite time bomb. Graham planted the bomb in his mother’s suitcase in an apparent move to murder her and claim $37,500 worth of life insurance money from policies he purchased in the airport terminal just before the flight departure.
Graham was charged with and convicted of the murder of his mother. He was sentenced to death and was executed by the state of Colorado in January 1957.
John Gilbert Graham, fought to hold down the contents of his stomach when he heard that an airliner, out of Denver’s Stapleton Airfield had crashed shortly after takeoff, on the night of November 2, 1955.
No one, however, had to tell Graham that the plane was United Airlines Flight 629 bound for Anchorage, or that his mother Daisie King was on the doomed DC-6B. He knew this before anyone because he had carefully loaded his mother’s suitcase with 25 sticks of dynamite and rigged the explosives to detonate 20 minutes after takeoff.
John Gilbert Graham was born on January 23, 1932, in Denver, Colorado, the child of Daisie Graham and her second husband.
Nicknamed “Jack,” Graham was Daisie’s second child, as she already had a daughter from her first marriage. Graham was born during the height of the Great Depression, and, in 1937, his father died from pneumonia, causing Daisie to send the young Jack to an orphanage due to their poverty.
Graham was executed in the Colorado State Penitentiary gas chamber on January 11, 1957.
he was 24 years, at the time of his execution.
Warden Harry Tinsley, who unsuccessfully lobbied for executions to be broadcast live on the radio, strapped Graham into the chair in the gas chamber. God bless, he told the doomed young man who replied, thank you.
A few minutes later, Graham joined his victims in the hereafter, becoming the 96th person to die under the Colorado death penalty. His newly widowed wife was not in Canon City for the execution.
In a bit of the brand of irony that frequently accompanies atrocity, Graham was able to convert his own death into insurance money.
As part of a complicated bit of litigation with his mother’s estate and the insurance company that underwrote the policy he’d purchased at the airport, Graham’s widow was able to cash in on a $10,000, about $93,000 in todays money,policy on his passing.
Graham’s life was short but the aftermath of his crimes has reverberated considerably. The Mainliner bombing, sparked a wave of insurance-motivated airline bombings, though none as deadly as Graham’s. In July 1957, the U.S. Congress passed an act making airline and bus bombings a federal crime.
TV cameras are now routine fixtures in courtrooms across the country, and have been ever since Graham’s trial.
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