Soldiers arrest Gavrilo Prinzip, assassin of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo.

The Origin of the Tale that Gavrilo Princip Was Eating a Sandwich When He Assassinated Franz Ferdinand

Was it really a lunch-hour coincidence that led to the death of the Archduke in Sarajevo in 1914—and, by extension, World War I?

Marm Mandelbaum, the "Queen of Fences"

The Life and Crimes of “Old Mother” Mandelbaum

She had the eyes of a sparrow, the neck of a bear and enough business acumen to build an empire as the "Queen of Fences"

Ty Cobb

The Knife in Ty Cobb’s Back

Did the baseball great really confess to murder on his deathbed?

From the upcoming Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory: (l to r) Bruce Sinofsky, Damien Echols and Joe Joe Berlinger

Paradise Lost’s Joe Berlinger on the Roots of his West Memphis Three Films

The director of the award-winning documentary reflects on what it was like to film a "real-life Salem Witch Trial"

Mrs. Grace Humiston, a.k.a. "Mrs. Sherlock Holmes"

“Mrs. Sherlock Holmes” Takes on the NYPD

When an 18-year-old girl went missing, the police let the case grow cold. But Grace Humiston, a soft-spoken private investigator, wouldn't let it lie

Mortuary photo of the unknown man found dead on Somerton Beach, south of Adelaide, Australia, in December 1948. Sixty-three years later, the man's identity remains a mystery, and it's still not clear how – or even if – he was murdered.

The Body on Somerton Beach

Anne Bonny (left) and Mary Read, as rendered in A General History of the Pyrates

If There’s a Man Among Ye: The Tale of Pirate Queens Anne Bonny and Mary Read

Renowned for their ruthlessness, these two female pirates challenged the sailors’ adage that a woman’s presence on shipboard invites bad luck

"I will not live in silence," said Thomas A. Drake, in Washington, D.C. in May. He was charged with retaining national defense information.

Leaks and the Law: The Story of Thomas Drake

The former NSA official reached a plea deal with the government, but the case still raises questions about the public’s right to know

Mike Tyson's tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. Entertainment this spring, claiming that the use of his design in the movie The Hangover Part II was copyright infringement.

Ten Famous Intellectual Property Disputes

From Barbie to cereal to a tattoo, a copyright lawsuit can get contentious; some have even reached the Supreme Court

Richard Crowninshield bludgeoned 82-year-old Capt. Joseph White while the former slave trader and shipmaster slept.

A Murder in Salem

In 1830, a brutal crime in Massachusetts riveted the nation—and inspired the writings of Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne

On the anniversary of the assassination of an anti-mafia magistrate, Palermo's citizens joined politicians in a fiaccolata, or candlelight vigil, in his honor.

In Sicily, Defying the Mafia

Fed up with extortion and violent crime, ordinary citizens are rising up against organized crime

After doing some digging, author Joshua Hammer discovered an anti-mafia movement going on in Sicily and thought it would make a good Smithsonian story.

Joshua Hammer on “In Sicily, Defying the Mafia”

People of every income level and skin color mix comfortably on Rio's gorgeous beaches like here at Ipanema-Leblon.

Reinventing Rio

The dazzling but tarnished Brazilian city gets a makeover as it prepares for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games


Ten Infamous Islands of Exile

Established to banish dissidents and criminals, these islands are known for their one-time prisoners, from Napoleon to Nelson Mandela

Among botanist Robert Fortune's tasks in China was to learn the procedure for manufacturing tea, as shown in this 18th century tea plantation.

The Great British Tea Heist

Botanist Robert Fortune traveled to China and stole trade secrets of the tea industry, discovering a fraud in the process

Abraham Lincoln ca. 1846, photographed in Springfield Illinois by N.H. Shepherd

Abraham Lincoln, True Crime Writer

While practicing law in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln defended a man in a highly unusual case and later recounted the mystery as a short story

In the Ecuador wilderness (guides Nelson, at the helm, and Paa), Charles Bergman sought the roots of the illegal animal trade (a blue-headed parrot chick).

Wildlife Trafficking

A reporter follows the lucrative, illicit and heartrending trade in stolen wild animals deep into Ecuador's rain forest

Mali's long history as a sub-Saharan trade route underlies its artistic traditions.

Looting Mali's History

As demand for its antiquities soars, the West African country is losing its most prized artifacts to illegal sellers and smugglers

"That cigar bit [that] folks like to tell about is phony," said W.D. Jones, whose photograph of Bonnie was seized in a police raid.

The Irresistible Bonnie Parker

A pistol-wielding, cigar-chomping bank robber hams it up shortly before she and Clyde Barrow met their violent end

The boy's skeleton was crammed into a cellar pit with a broken ceramic milk pan lying across his rib cage.

Solving a 17th-Century Crime

Forensic anthropologists at the National Museum of Natural History find answers to a colonial cold case

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