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December 16, 2019: Judge Robert Vance Killed


Today is Monday December sixteenth. Two Thousand Nineteen on this day in nineteen eighty nine nine federal judge Robert Vance opened a mail bomb delivered to his house. The explosion killed him instantly. Welcome to today and true crime. Apar- cast original due to the graphic nature nature of today's crimes listener. Discretion is advised extreme. Caution is advised for listeners. Under thirteen today were covering judge advances death after he opened a plane unmarked package that contained a bomb. Let's go back to a suburb of Birmingham Alabama Emma on December sixteenth nineteen eighty nine in the early afternoon. Temperatures weren't predicted to rise above freezing and the strong gusts showed no signs of dying going down days like this made Robert Vance all the more eager to sit by a crackling fire and enjoy the toasty warmth of his home. He'd already spent the morning handling chores outside. The wind had cut through his jacket leaving his skin red and chilled old but the gusts hadn't disturbed the week old snow which had frozen into a hard pack. Each time Robert took a step tiny clods broke off trickle down inside his boots and froze his feet after a brutally cold morning he was happy happy to shut himself indoors and warm up while he waited for lunch. Robert sipped his apple CIDER. Her his wife. Helen had brute it special. He could taste the cinnamon cardamom. A hint of honey and something else inscrutable scruple. Helen had never revealed her secret ingredient. Even after all these years of marriage whatever it was it was good. Robert knocked back the final Gulp and just as he mused on whether it would be greedy to go for a refill. Helen pulled the mud from MS hands and slipped back into the kitchen to pour more. Yes Robert had a good life and nothing made him appreciate his his fortune quite like a warm home and a happy family. Plus Christmas was coming. That reminded Robert. He hadn't checked the mail that day. December always meant a mass of cards and letters and even the occasional gift delivered by post even though he was only stepping outside for the briefest of moments Robert pulled on his coat scarf. Gloves and boots. Let's after all he'd only just defrosted his fingers and toes. He kept his chilly trek to the end of the driveway. Quick and sure enough. He found a plethora of correspondences a plain Brown package even laid on the ground too big to fit in the the mailbox. Robert cringed at the thought that the snow might have soaked through the cardboard ruining the contents back. The warmth of his kitchen Robert considered the mystery. He wasn't expecting anything in particular. The box wasn't decorated with wrapping paper Era Ribbons like a gift would be and his address was typed out so he couldn't even examine the handwriting. No real clues as is to. WHO'd sent it? Robert remembered that a coworker judge Lewis. Morgan had said something about sending him a gift but usually Lewis. This would include a card or something outside the box. Robert had a wicked thought. Christmas was only nine days away and he knew it would be rude to open his package early but perhaps inside the box he'd find some hint about who sent it. He the reason that it would be impolite not to call the sender and let them know. He'd received their present so etiquette dictated that he had to see what was inside. Roberts spent a few moments rifling through kitchen drawers before Helen produced scissors from the one one place he hadn't looked she also handed him a fresh cider before sitting at the table across from him. She was intrigued by the mystery to. They shared a kiss before Robert began to cut through the packing tape. He lifted the cardboard flap from the top. It would be the last thing Robert ever did up next. The FBI investigates the mail bomber. Who Killed Judge? Robert Vance launching a deadly campaign of terror. 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That's better help dot com slash today in true crime. Why not get help? Better help dot com slash today in true crime now back to the story. On December sixteenth nineteen eighty nine fifty eight year old judge. Robert Vance received a mysterious unmarked package in the mail when he opened it the bomb inside the box exploded killing Robert and and injuring his wife. Helen in his time on the bench Robert had made many enemies thanks to his controversial rulings and political activism. He was an ardent Democrat. who advocated for Racial Justice he was at the forefront of Alabama a civil rights efforts in the nineteen sixties? He even personally confronted segregationist. George Wallace banks to his track record after Robert died in the deadly blast. Police investigated a possible political angle. This theory became more credible on December. Eighteenth when another activist Savannah Attorney Robert Robinson was killed by a second mail bomb then a short time I am later. Explosive packages were intercepted before they could be delivered to Atlanta's federal courthouse and Jacksonville's NWEA CPT. He headquarters the pattern was clear but not enough to crack the case the FBI thought they knew the bomber's summer is motive but had few clues to their identity. They pursued every lead. They could find no matter how thin it was. They identified identified the manufacturer. Who'd made the paint on the bombs parts? They examined the printed mailing labels and traced the store where the typewriter had been purchased chest. They pulled saliva from the postage stamps and compared it with their own DNA database but investigators didn't get their first first major break in the case until an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms realized that the bombs and the package looked familiar. Millier in fact he recognized their construction as nearly identical to a case heat investigated seventeen years before officials determined that the mail bombs had been sent by Walter Leroy Moody who was arrested in Nineteen seventy a two for a different pipe bomb incident he targeted a car dealership after his vehicle was repossessed but accidentally injured his wife in a premature explosion. Moody served three years in federal prison for the crime in the following decades moody came to nurse a deep resentment and hatred for the criminal justice system when he had another legal mishap in the nineteen. Eighties Judge Robert. Robert Vance came onto Moody's radar and his hit list the F. B. I.'s. Original theory that the bombings were racially. Motivated proved false instead moody targeted civil rights leaders in an effort to frame local hate groups for the bombings and throw investigators off his sent on June twenty eighth nineteen ninety one moody was convicted of more than seventy separate criminal criminal charges related to the bombings. He was sentenced to seven life. Terms plus four hundred years in prison. mm-hmm but in nineteen ninety seven an Alabama judge determined that this ruling was too lenient. He's sentenced sentenced Moody to death. Eighty three year old Walter Moody died of a lethal injection on April nineteenth. Two thousand eighteen. He approached his execution with resigned silence and refused to give any last words but others have spoken Fokin up Robert and Helen. Vance's son Robert. Vance junior has given many interviews on his own grief and sense of loss after his father's I death but as deep as his grief felt Robert Junior didn't find any comfort in Moody's execution. He held old moral objections to the death penalty as did his father instead. He's urged the press and the public to remember Judge Vance not as a tragic victim of a deadly attack but rather as a champion for equality and a force for org good. Although judge Robert Vance had no control over the way his life ended his family continues to shape his legacy today. Thanks for listening to today in true. Crime I'm Vanessa. Richardson today in true. Crime is a podcast original. You can find more episodes of today and true crime and all other podcast originals for free the on spotify not only spotify already. Have all of your favorite music but now spotify is making it easy for you. Enjoy all of your favorite podcasts originals. Like today and true crime for free from your phone desktop or smart speaker to stream today and true crime on spotify. Just open the APP and type today in true crime in the search bar at par cast. Were grateful for you our listeners. You will allow us to do what we love. Let us know how we're doing reach out on on facebook and instagram at par cast and twitter at podcast network. We'll be back with a brand new episode tomorrow in True Crime Time. Thanks for listening to today in true. Crime I'm Vanessa. Richardson today in true. Crime was created by Max Wchs Cutler is a production of cutler media. And is part of the podcast network it is produced by Max and Ron Cutler. Sound design by Andy Weights with production assistance. By Ron Shapiro Carly Madden and Freddie Beckley. This episode of today and true crime was written by Angela. Jorgensen with writing assistance by Maggie. He admir-. I'm Vanessa Richardson.

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