“Don't do the crime if you can't do the time”
State 37: Tennessee April 19, 2018
We woke up at a Walmart in Sevierville, TN well rested, and ready for a brand new day. We spent yesterday freestyle exploring Eastern Tennessee, and could not wait to see what adventures lie ahead! The first item on the agenda is to drive across town for the Cross Country Couple's “Roadside Attraction” for Tennessee: Alcatraz East. Formerly the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington DC, Alcatraz East is a 2 story museum consisting of 24,000 square feet, with 28 interactive exhibits, and 500+ artifacts highlighting the history of crime in America.
Most are familiar with the Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco Bay, but few have heard of Alcatraz East. Although externally Alcatraz East appears to be a prison, it is actually a museum interpreting the history of crime and punishment in the US. A CSI lab, safe cracking, a simulated shooting range, DUI interactive safety training, and digital fingerprinting are some of the activities awaiting visitors! The Google reviews for Alcatraz East were stellar with 4.4 stars and 1000 reviews! After paying $24.99 per person for general admission, we were excited to begin our exploration! Alcatraz East is divided into five galleries; A Notorious History of American Crime, The Consequence of Crime, Crime Scene Investigation, Crime Fighting and Counterfeit Crime & Pop Culture.
A Notorious History of American Crime
This gallery highlights the evolution of crime including: Plundering pirates, train robbers from the Old West, bootleggers, gangsters, mobsters, serial killers, white-collar criminals, cyber crimes, identity thieves, the 9/11 terrorists, and countless other cases which gripped the nation! Please see pictures below!
Also on display were ample artifacts from notorious outlaws, and the tools of the criminal trade including; Charles Manson’s guitar, money with dye pack, moonshine still, speakeasy door, rubble from the WTC, Ted Bundy's VW beetle and even OJ Simsons White Ford Bronco. Also featured were movie prop guns from the movie “Godfather”, and the Uzi 9mm machine gun used by Al Pacino in the final scene of the 1983 movie “Scarface”. See the pictures below.
The Consequence of Crime
From the police lineup, to mug shots, a lie detector test, court room, Tennessee’s old smokey (electric chair), gas chamber, and Delaware’s lethal injection machine the museum presents the severe consequences of crime. Do you recognize any of the people pictured below?
I wanted to personally experience one form of criminal punishment without permanently maiming myself. After opting out of the medieval breast ripper (OUCHY!), the one form of punishment I was willing to partake in was the pillory! Believed to have been founded in France in 1168, the pillory is a device made of wood with metal framework erected on a post with holes for securing the head and hands of a criminal typically in a public location. Once secured inside the pillory, the criminal is subjected to humiliation and public abuse which can be throwing anything from rotten food, to being pelted with bricks and stones. My experience with the pillory was quite uncomfortable as it forced you to stand precariously bent over proving quite unpleasant over a long duration. Fortunately, Lori did not have anything to throw at me! Please see the pictures below.
Since “never have I ever” been arrested, I could not pass up the opportunity to experience what it was like inside of a jail cell. Well there was that one time Lori and I found ourselves behind bars in Indiana, which you can read more about by clicking here. Albeit an interesting experience, finding myself confined behind cold iron bars on the wrong side of a jail cell was a tad too claustrophobic, so I successfully plotted my escape documented in the pictures below. I am free!!!!
Crime Scene Investigation
This exhibit displayed how forensic science solves crimes through the use of ballistics, dental identification, footprints, autopsy, how time of death is determined, DNA and blood analysis, fingerprinting, facial reconstruction, and toxicology. All were explained in an easy to understand manner, and was fascinating to explore. Please see the pictures below.
From local police officers, to federal agencies such as the FBI, and special units like the bomb squad, and SWAT team, the crime fighting gallery highlights the agencies and the equipment they use to keep our communities safe. Please see the pictures below.
One commonly used tool in law enforcement's arsenal is the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list! Founded on March 14, 1950 by FBI Director; J. Edgar Hoover, The FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list is extremely low tech yet shockingly effective! Of the 518 fugitives featured, 484 have been apprehended! Fugitives are only removed from the list when they are captured, surrender, confirmed deceased, or rarely if law enforcement feels they no longer are a threat to society. The FBI does not rank the list to avoid criminals competing for the #1 spot. Apparently, it is fairly common for criminals to turn themselves in after learning they are on the FBI's “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list. The program relies heavily on the assistance of citizens and the media from across the country and around the world!
The shortest amount of time spent on the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list was two hours, by Billy Austin Bryant, and the longest amount of time spent on the list was over 32 years by Victor Manuel Gerena. Of the 484 fugitives apprehended, 162 were captured as a result of citizen cooperation, and the most memorable was the capture of convicted serial killer; Hugh Bion Morse. Morse became the 157th addition to the FBI's “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list on August 29th, 1961. Two months later, an individual, who wishes to remain anonymous, was on vacation touring the FBI Headquarters in Washington D.C, and recognized Morse’s photo displayed on the "Top Ten" exhibit. The following day Hugh Bion Morse was arrested in St. Paul Minnesota, and died while incarcerated at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Faribault in 2004.
Please see the pictures below of the current list of the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives”, and please contact law enforcement if you recognize anyone. You can remain anonymous!
Law enforcement gets a very bad rap, and are often hated by the very people whom they are sworn to protect. People hate the police because some perceive them to be bossy, rude and on power trips! People hate the police because they pull us over for going 7mph over the speed limit when we are already late for work! People hate the police because we see them on the news shooting unarmed suspects! WE INTERRUPT THIS CROSS COUNTRY COUPLE BLOG POST FOR THIS LATE BREAKING NEWS STORY!!!” There are also bad teachers who have sex with their students! There are also bad nurse’s who abuse patients and steal narcotics! Unlike the professions of teaching and nursing, when a cop makes a major mistake the entire law enforcement community is publicly bastardized! Cops, teachers, and nurses are rightfully held to a higher standard because of the inherent trust society places in their hands, and when that trust is violated their must be stiff consequences! Like teachers and nurses, law enforcement is tasked with a very difficult job, and even when they do their job well they receive little acknowledgment. Next time you encounter a cop make a point to thank them for protecting our community! Everyone always thinks crime happens to others until one day you find yourself a victim! Lori’s mother was murdered in a home invasion in 2006, so this is a fact we regretfully know all too well!
Counterfeit Crime & Pop Culture
Have you ever purchased a Faux-lex (Fake Rolex) watch or a Faux-cci (Fake Gucci) purse? If so, then this gallery is for you! Welcome to the trillion-dollar industry of counterfeit crimes! Beyond luxury goods, counterfeit crimes include medicine using sub-par or expired ingredients, and counterfeit electronics which can cause fires or personal injury. Also featured are crimes committed against celebrities such as Selena, and Christine Grimme. Please see the pictures below!
I was a tad apprehensive about visiting the Alcatraz East Museum as I perceived it to be a venue which glorifies crime and criminals! What I discovered was an educational, thorough, fascinating tasteful and family friendly depiction of the history of crime and punishment in America. By studying the most heinous crimes is how society sparks change, institutes laws, and rallies action to keep us all safe. Below is one such example I would like to highlight from the museum's archives: On January 13th, 1996, Jim Kenvil, a 78-year-old retired Machinist from Arlington, TX was in his backyard enjoying a warm winter afternoon when suddenly he heard the sound of a little girl scream! In a nearby parking lot, Kenvil saw a White or Hispanic male aged 25-40, under 6 feet tall, with medium build grab a female child off her bike, throw her into the back of a dark colored pickup truck before speeding away. Kenvil immediately called the police who arrived on the scene minutes later! In days that followed, law enforcement and hundreds of community members scoured the neighborhood for any signs of the missing little girl. Four days after the abduction, the little girls body was found nude in a creek behind an apartment complex with cut wounds to her neck less than five miles from where she went missing. The Medical Examiner determined the child was kept alive for two days after the kidnapping. The abducted 9 year old child’s name is Amber Haggerman!
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 75% of children kidnapped and murdered by strangers are killed within 3 hours of the abduction. In the years following Amber's abduction, it became imperative to get the word out to the public as fast as possible when a child is kidnapped! Thus the Amber Alert was founded, and named in honor of Amber Haggerman! Established in 1996, Amber Alert is a public announcement by law enforcement which includes: name and description of the abductee, a description of the suspected abductor, and a description of the abductor's vehicle if available. When an Amber Alert in issued, the notification is publicly distributed via: commercial radio stations, internet radio, satellite radio, NOAA weather radio, TV stations, display scroll boards in front of lottery terminals in stores, commercial electronic billboards, electronic traffic condition signs, wireless text messages, on Google, Bing, and Facebook. We as a nation have a moral responsibility to keep our children safe from predators. I encourage all of my Cross Country Couple followers to sign up to receive Amber Alerts on your wireless device by clicking here.
As of March 2018, 924 abducted children have been recovered due to Amber Alerts. Tragically, the 1996 abduction and murder of Amber Haggerman remains unsolved! Anyone with information about Amber’s murder is asked to contact Detective Ben Lopez at 817-459-5373. There is a $10,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and Grand Jury Indictment of the suspect. Tipsters can also remain anonymous by contacting Tarrant Country Crime Stoppers at 817-469-TIPS.
After departing Alcatraz East, we drove back across town where we found a Walmart to spend the night.