On This Day, August 31st

1. 1985: Mob of citizens apprehend the Night Stalker

Photo: ocregister

Photo: ocregister

Photo: thedailybeast

Photo: thedailybeast

Panic ran wild through the city of Los Angeles during the summer of 1985 due to a serial killer dubbed the ‘Night Stalker’ by local media. They came up with that name because the killer, later identified as Richard Ramirez, would sneak into peoples homes at night. The crimes he committed were extremely violent and sadistic far beyond the actual murders. As of August 1985, he had been linked to at least 12 fatalities. Police had gotten a tip about a license plate which led to a partial print on the vehicle. L.A.P.D. had just installed a multi-million dollar fingerprint database which was able to identify Ramirez. Police were desperate to catch him and eventually decided to release his picture to the public. That ended up being a great idea, because on this date in 1985 Ramirez was spotted near the bus terminals in east Los Angeles. He apparently saw his picture on the newspaper rack at a convenience store and fled in a panic. He attempted to carjack a woman, but that attracted more bystanders and soon he had a mob of people chasing him. By the time police got to him they had to physically remove him from the crowd, he apparently was hit in the head with a metal bar by one of the citizens. Ramirez was arrested and sentenced to prison where he would stay until he passed away in June of 2013 of natural causes.

2. 1959: Sandy Koufax strikes out 18 in a single game

It was on this date in 1959 that Sandy Koufax set a then-National League record when he struck out 18 batters in a single game. The Brooklyn Dodgers lefty would end up putting on a repeat performance almost three years later against their rivals, the San Francisco Giants. That night he also broke the record for most strikeouts over consecutive games with 13 strikeouts in his previous start. Koufax would end up retiring after the 1966 season due to arthritis in his elbow even though he was just 30 years old. While he played just 11 seasons, he was able to earn a reputation respectable enough to warrant him being inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1972.

3. 1955: First demonstration of the solar-powered car

General Motors Powerama 1955 Photo: flickr

General Motors Powerama 1955
Photo: flickr

The Sunmobile model Photo: wiki

The Sunmobile model
Photo: wiki

William G. Cobb displayed a 15 inch model of the first solar-powered vehicle on this date in 1955 at the General Motors Powerama in Chicago, Illinois. The Powerama was a month-long event that spanned over 1 million square feet and featured more than 250 exhibits along the shores of Lake Michigan. It reportedly cost over $7 million to put the event on, but there was just about every automotive accessory and invention  on display. Cobb, who worked for GM, demonstrated what he called the “Sunmobile” which utilized 12 photoelectric cells to provide power to a tiny motor. The cells were made of a non-metal substance with excellent conducting properties called selenium.