Take a look at some of the longest sentences ever given out, with some criminals being convicted to an almost infinite number of years that no human could ever live to. From 1,050 years to the equivalent of thirty life sentences, find out what heinous crimes were behind such harsh sentences.
Behind Bars: The Lengthiest Prison Sentences in HistoryPublished 2 months ago
For eight months in 1984, Bobby Joe Long went on a serial killing spree, terrorizing the entire population of the Tampa Bay area in Florida. He would kidnap and murder his victims, killing an estimated ten women throughout his spree.
Amongst them was a woman called Lisa McVey who he decided to release afterward, in a change from his modus operandi with other victims. McVey ended up playing a crucial role in tracking Long down and eventually having him tried and convicted for his horrendous crimes.
During the trial, it was revealed to the public that Long had had a broken relationship with his mother, apparently even sleeping in the same bed as her until he reached his teenage years. It was also shared that Long had been born intersex, which resulted in an extra X chromosome that made him have breasts.
He was eventually sentenced in 1985 to 28 life sentences, 99 years, and the death penalty. Though the traumas he suffered were depicted as the reason why he had become such a horrible criminal, nothing justified the pain and horror he caused. He was put to death by lethal injection in May of 2019.
Unfortunately, James Eagan Holmes’s name is a recognizable name all over the internet as a result of him being responsible for the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting. Holmes invaded a midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises, set off several tear gas grenades, and then shot at everyone in the audience.
In total, he killed 12 people and injured 70 others. The shooting was the deadliest mass shooting in American history until the Orlando shooting that happened in 2016. Investigators later found out that he had booby-trapped his entire apartment with explosives so police could not enter.
Not long after the shooting, Holmes was arrested. Interestingly, he barely had a criminal record- just a speeding ticket from 2011 and no links to terrorism. No one had ever suspected that this would lead to a mass shooting.
During the trial, the judge gave him a different sentence for every single person he killed, with Holmes being sentenced to 12 consecutive life sentences and 1,318 years without parole. After some time in jail, he attempted to take his own life several times and was hospitalized multiple times as a result of it.
Martin Bryant is a mass murderer who killed 35 people and injured another 23 at the Port Arthur site in 1996. Even though Bryant has shared conflicting reasons as to why he would commit such a terrible crime, the apparent reason was his need for attention, as he had allegedly shared with a neighbor.
Before arriving at the Port Arthur ruins, he killed two people, David and Noelene Martin. Bryant seemed to believe that the Martins had contributed to his father’s depression, which eventually led to his death.
After killing the Martins, Bryant arrived at the port and committed a series of mass murders that were seemingly inspired by the Dunblane massacre that had happened in Scotland. After committing several murders and taking a hostage, he drove back to the Martins’ guest house, where he was eventually caught by the police.
He was fit to see trial, although his mental well-being was argued to be debatable, as he had an IQ of 66. He pled guilty and was sentenced to 35 life sentences in addition to 1,652 years in prison with no parole. This massacre was the deadliest in Australia's history and after it happened, Australia imposed stricter gun laws.
Until the day he was released, Albert Woodfox continued to profess his innocence, despite being the person who has lived through the longest time in solitary confinement in the USA. Woodfox was already serving a sentence for robbery when he became one of the three men known as “The Angola Three”.
The Angola Three were three black men, all prison inmates, who were held in solitary confinement in the Angola Prison. Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were convicted for killing a prison guard, although both of them denied it.
Years later, activists started working hard on having Woodfox’s case appealed and his conviction overturned due to the lack of clarity with regards to his original trial. Woodfox’s conviction was eventually overturned in 2014, and he was released in 2016 after spending 43 years in solitary confinement.
During that time, he was only allowed to have one hour of daily exercise in a concrete yard that was completely fenced, while he was kept alone.
Terry Nichols is an American domestic terrorist known for his involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995. Along with Timothy McVeigh, Nichols was responsible for orchestrating one of the deadliest acts of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.
On that fateful day, a massive bomb exploded outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, including 19 children, and injuring hundreds more. The blast caused widespread destruction and shook the nation.
Terry Nichols' role in the tragic Oklahoma City bombing of April 19, 1995, led to his conviction on a staggering 161 counts, including first-degree murder, first-degree arson, and conspiracy in the Oklahoma state court. In addition to his state charges, he faced federal charges related to terrorism and eight counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Remarkably, Nichols received consecutive life sentences for each of these counts, setting a world record for the most consecutive life sentences ever imposed on a single individual. The sheer number of life sentences, coupled with the absence of any possibility of parole, solidified his status as having received the longest officially confirmed sentence ever issued globally.
Patrick Wood Crusius is a notorious individual who gained widespread attention in 2019 for carrying out a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. On August 3, 2019, he entered the store and opened fire on shoppers, killing 23 people and injuring many others.
This tragic incident was fueled by a white supremacist ideology and anti-immigrant beliefs, as a manifesto attributed to Crusius cited concerns about a "Hispanic invasion of Texas."
Crusius was arrested shortly after the shooting and faced numerous charges, including capital murder. He was indicted on multiple counts of murder, as well as federal hate crime charges. The prosecution argued that his actions were racially motivated, targeting the Hispanic community.
In 2020, Patrick Crusius pleaded not guilty to the charges, but he later changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. This plea suggested that his defense would argue that he was not mentally sound at the time of the shooting.
Abdullah Barghouti is a Palestinian militant who gained notoriety for his involvement in a series of deadly suicide bombings during the Second Intifada, a period of Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation that began in 2000
One of the most devastating attacks attributed to him occurred at the Hebrew University cafeteria in Jerusalem on July 31, 2002, resulting in the deaths of nine people, including five American students. He was also responsible for the Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem on August 9, 2001, which claimed the lives of 15 civilians.
Abdullah Barghouti was arrested by Israeli security forces in early 2003 and subsequently tried and convicted in Israeli courts for his involvement in these and other attacks. He was sentenced to 67 life terms in prison for his role in planning and executing the bombings, making it one of the most severe sentences ever handed down by Israeli courts.
His lengthy prison sentence reflects the gravity of the attacks he orchestrated, which caused significant loss of life and had a profound impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In 1976, Dudley Wayne Kyzer shot his estranged wife and his mother-in-law on Halloween in their house in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Apparently, Kyzer committed the crimes while their six-year-old son watched.
The six-year-old managed to run to a neighbor’s home and was kept safe. Kyzer also killed a college student who was there that day to help with yard work and had found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. When police arrived, Kyzer was named the main suspect and was arrested not too long after.
Initially, Kyzer was sentenced to death by electric chair in 1977, but the sentence was later considered inhumane by some, resulting in another trial. Kyzer was tried once more in 1980, and instead of the death sentence, he received three life sentences in addition to 10,000 years in prison.
Since then, he has been denied parole at least 10 times. Apparently though, some of his friends who still visit him in prison claim that Kyzer is now a born-again Christian and a completely changed man.
Otman el-Gnaoui, Jamal Zougam, and Emilio Suarez Trashorras were identified as the men behind the 2004 Madrid train bombings. The terrorist attack resulted in 191 deaths and 1,800 injuries, being the worst Islamist terrorist attack to happen in Europe.
The bombings happened in four different locations and happened three days before the general elections in Spain took place. There was a lot of controversy coming after in the way that both main parties handled the aftermath of the terrorist attack. The image above shows them laughing court.
After the attacks, protests, and demonstrations began to take place all over the country, demanding that the government tell the public “the truth”. In addition to the three men, seven other people were taken in as suspects but were later acquitted for a lack of evidence.
After a long trial, Otman el-Gnaoui was given a 42,924-year prison sentence, with his accomplice, Jamal Zougam getting two years less, 42,922 years. Tachorras, who was accused of supplying the bombers with dynamite, got 34,715 years. Under Spanish law though, each man can only serve a maximum of 40 years in prison.
To this date, Chamoy Thipyaso has officially received the longest prison sentence to ever be recorded worldwide. Over the course of several years, Thipyaso operated a pyramid scheme in Thailand that defrauded over 16,000 people.
To everyone’s surprise, she was able to sustain her scheme for an incredibly long amount of time, even though it involved so many people. Through the scheme, Thipyaso was able to steal between $200-300 million until she was eventually caught and arrested. Seven other people were also arrested alongside her, accused of corporate fraud.
It was later found out during the investigation and the trial, that Thipyaso was able to pull off such a huge scheme because of the connections she had with the Petroleum Authority of Thailand, and also because she was married to a very high-ranking member of Thailand’s Royal Air Force.
She was sentenced to 141,078 years for corporate fraud, although the Thai law at the time only allowed her to serve for 20 years maximum. In the end, she only spent eight years in prison before being released.
Andrew Aston is the criminal who received the longest sentence ever in the United Kingdom. Over a period of three months around early 2001, Aston attacked and stole from a total of 26 elderly and disabled people within their homes near Smethwick and in the area of Birmingham.
Two of the victims, Frank Hobley, 80, and George Dale, 87, died a number of weeks after being attacked, as a result of the injuries inflicted by the cocaine-addicted murderer.
Aston was caught and arrested while attacking a 92-year-old man in his home in 2001. He was tried for two murders and the remaining robberies and attacks. He received 26 concurrent life sentences from the Birmingham Crown Court in 2002.
Apparently, his defense team told him to plead guilty, hoping to receive some sort of reduced sentence, but Aston preferred to have his day in court. This meant that his victims were forced to relive their attacks as witnesses so that Aston would receive the punishment that he deserved.
Though not the longest sentence ever handed down, Paul Geidel Junior is the prisoner who has spent the longest time in jail in the United States while still managing to die of old age out of prison. All the way back in 1911, Geidel Junior was a 17-year-old teen when he worked at a New York hotel. At some point, he snuck into the room of a wealthy guest named William H Jackson.
Jackson woke up, startled by Geidel’s presence in his room. Geidel killed the 71-year-old, suffocating him with a rag that was filled with chloroform. He then ran away with only a couple of bucks to show for his crime and was caught soon after.
Geidel was convicted of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. He was granted parole in 1974, but he was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to adjust to the outside after spending his entire adult life in prison, so chose to stay in prison for another six years.
Some 68 years and 245 days later, Geidel was released at the age of 86. He died seven years later in a nursing home at the age of 93, after getting to enjoy some years of freedom.
Situated at 29 Avenue Montaigne, Paris, France, Harry Winston is a jeweler that still trades today. In 2007, however, a series of events began which would see jewelry worth more than $100 million stolen in heists so clean and mysterious they could have been in a movie. Stocking “Rare Jewels of the World” and trading to the ultra-wealthy of Europe, Harry Winston sells, and has always sold, pieces worth up to several millions of dollars each.
On the morning that changed everything for the famous store, one particular emerald necklace was displayed for sale at a little under $3 million. This story begins on October 6, 2007, shortly before Harry Winston opened its doors, with an inventory worth $36,683,281, and one of the most audacious heists in modern history took place.
The three robbers who would liberate Harry Winston of its stock that morning were already inside when staff began to arrive for work between 9:30 am and 10:30 am on October 6, 2007. First on the scene was the security guard, who had received the keys overnight and followed protocol by waiting outside the locked store for its staff to arrive.
At 9:50 am, Harry Winston’s import-export director, Anne-Marie Capdeville, arrived and authorized the guard to open one entrance. The guard did as instructed and the two entered the building. The guard made his way to the toilet while Capdeville headed to her office. As soon as she entered the room, four men jumped from the shadows. They were wearing balaclavas and painter’s coveralls, similar to those a recent renovation team had been wearing on-site every day for months. They carried bludgeons and handguns.
Over the following minutes, the four men intercepted, restrained, and controlled each member of Harry Winston's staff as they arrived for work. It was a sales associate named Marie Bérénice Belzacq who opened the safe. It was at this moment that two of the robbers made what might have been their only mistake, they spoke. “Don’t worry, Bérénice, I’m nicer than the others,” said the man with a bucket hat on top of his ski mask and a large crooked nose poking through it.
“Farid, there’s no more time, there’s no more time!” yelled another thief to the crooked-nosed man moments later. The robbers took the store’s video surveillance tapes and sprayed tear gas on the hostages. CCTV recorded their Peugeot minivan driving away down Avenue Montaigne. With them were 480 stolen pieces, none of which have ever been recovered.
Aside from the naming of Farid and another gang member being referred to as Voldemort, the villain from the Harry Potter books, the only other words the robbers were heard saying were “Zarca” and “Ac”. Beyond that, there were no clues, not even fingerprints or DNA traces.
Pascal Fourré, a Parisian attorney general who prosecuted organized crime, immediately had his suspicions. “Given the preparations involved, it looked like the work of hard-core gangsters from the banlieues outside Paris,” Fourré said. “Otherwise it could only have been les Pinks.”
Les Pinks was a reference to a group of jewel thieves who had become known to Interpol as the Pink Panthers. Their name was taken from the famous Inspector Clouseau film series and was earned in 2003 when London police found a stolen blue diamond ring in a tub of face cream, a hiding place echoing one used in the movies.
The real-life Pink Panthers were thought to be a syndicate of thieves, primarily from the Balkans, who had stolen jewels worth hundreds of millions during nearly 400 heists around the world. Pascal Fourré believed the Harry Winston robbery might be another to add to the Pink Panther’s resume.
On February 8, 2008, police in the Bobigny suburb of Paris stopped a drunk driver who had been speeding through the streets and running red lights. He was in a highly agitated state and carried €40,000 in cash, which was later found to carry trace amounts of cocaine and heroin. The man was French, with Algerian heritage. He was 42 years old and had spent 20 years of his life in jail for eight separate felony offenses.
The driver was a large man with a scar running from his chin to his cheek. His nose was disjointed. His name was Farid Allou. Despite claiming he got the money from a friend in a bar, the €40,000 was seized by police until he could prove he had gained possession of it legitimately. Nobody connected this Farid with the Farid mentioned in the Harry Winston robbery four months before.
At 5:20 pm on December 4, 2008, what appeared to be one tall man with three blonde women - wearing silk scarves, high heels, and stockings - approached Harry Winston’s front door with a suitcase. Security guards took one look and opened the door for them to enter. 20 minutes later, they left with $73.3 million in jewels, including la Grosse Pierre, a 31-carat diamond solitaire ring worth $8 million which had only been delivered one day before.
The robbers had known exactly where the ring would be, in a secret compartment of the store’s main safe. They also knew the employees' full names and home addresses, which they made apparent as part of their intimidation. Again, the robbers made the mistake of speaking and staff later reported they had heard Slavic accents.
“Of course, there is a hypothesis that it is the Pink Panthers,” said a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office in Paris after the second Harry Winston heist. “But we cannot at this stage say absolutely that it is them.” Lloyd’s insurance company wasn’t willing to wait for the European police to track down the culprits and put up a $1 million reward for information leading to the recovery of the stolen goods.
Adverts were placed in lowbrow papers such as Le Parisien, which Loyds felt were more likely to reach their target audience. “Le Parisien gets left at zinc bars in the projects,” the loss adjuster John Shaw explained. “That’s where robbers have come from in the past. Until the Pinks came along, it was often someone from there.” Ads were also placed in Montenegro and Serbia, just in case the Pinks were involved.
After responses from what John Shaw described as, “the usual mediums, psychics, witch doctors, Ouija board people, you know: Is there anybody out there? types,” a call came from Romania which sounded like it might have some credibility. It suggested the Harry Winston robbers were currently trying to sell off their swag from a hotel suite in Romania, not too far from where the Pinks might usually be found.
“Apparently, the guys in the hotel were blowing off about being the biggest jewel robbers on the planet,” Shaw said. “They were saying they’d done Winston.” French police followed the process and apprehended the suspects. They were selling jewels, but from a robbery in Normandy, not from Harry Winston. “The whole thing was a bit of a palaver,” Shaw later said. “It led to arrests—but no reward.”
The tip-off from Romania might have been a wild goose chase but not all was lost, Parisian detectives finally had a lead. Not only had a Max & Enjoy handbag been left at the scene of the second robbery, from which fingerprints were lifted, but the thieves had neglected to take the video surveillance tapes.
The images showed the store’s security guard, Mouloud Djennad, moving around quite freely throughout the robbery. It seemed, if he’d chosen to, he could have raised the alarm easily.
After checking the records, police found that, while he hadn’t been present the morning of the first heist in 2007, Mouloud Djennad was the man who locked up at Harry Winston the evening before. Something was beginning to click.
The authorities checked Djennad’s social media and found he was friends with a shopkeeper who sold Max & Enjoy handbags just like the one found at the scene in Paris. It also seemed Djennad had been living it up with his girlfriend in Deauville, a French resort, where they had been paying for everything in cash.
Hoping to track down Mouloud Djennad, French investigators followed the trail of the Max & Enjoy handbag to a store in Enghien-les-Bains, a French resort town about 10 miles north of Paris.
There, they honed in on a shady bar-tabac called La Divette, which had a habit of attracting the sort of person who might just know where a thief could be found - if properly motivated. They struck gold. Djennad was a regular user of a local gym. He was also not a man known for keeping his business entirely to himself.
Sometime before the first Harry Winston heist, Mouloud Djennad had caught the attention of a man named Patrick Chiniah when bragging at the gym about his job. Djennad had talked of how he was often in contact with models and celebrities at the Paris store. He’d also claimed to have spotted some weaknesses in the security setup. Patrick Chiniah had gangster connections through family and so invited Djennad to La Divette to meet his brother-in-law, a hulking 43-year-old man known as Doudou, which translates to English as “safety blanket” or “stuffed toy”.
Doudou was a career criminal who’d spent 16 years in jail for various offenses. While incarcerated, he’d become friends with a man named Farid Allou. Over a series of meetings at La Divette, and in Doudou’s home, the three men had formed a plan to rob Harry Wintson of millions of dollars worth of jewelry.
John Shaw’s team had received 221 calls before the one they needed came through in 2009, and so far they had acted only on the erroneous information from Romania. “The 222nd call we got was convincing enough to be the second one we took seriously,” Shaw said. “The caller claimed to know the criminals and where they were. And they were from the banlieues, from Le Parisien’s readership circle.”
Doudou and Farid Allou were both named by the caller. Police immediately mounted a huge surveillance operation to monitor the activities and communications of both men.
Investigators tapped the personal phones of both suspects, bugged Doudou’s car, kept eyes on them at all times, and even monitored their payphone calls. Farid Allou and Doudou were careful, but not careful enough. Soon, they were recorded talking about “carats”, “percentages”, the Rapaport Diamond Price List, and - most significantly - the 31-carat Grosse Pierre diamond ring stolen in the 2008 heist.
The authorities also discovered lavish outlays such as rented Lamborghinis and €16,000 holidays being made, all in cash, by other suspected members of the gang. Soon, police had all the evidence they needed to begin making arrests.
After learning that Farid Allou planned to visit Doudou at his home on June 21, 2009, officers found nearby positions where they would be hidden from sight. Then, they waited. Allou arrived that evening with two women in his car. He parked up, got out, and looked around. Seeming to have second thoughts, he returned to his car and drove away.
The police kept their patience and were rewarded when Allou returned sometime later. Doudou emerged from his house and approached Allou before handing him a bag and greeting him with a hug. Masked officers descended on the two men and arrested them where they stood. The bag was seized and investigated. It contained €49,750 in cash.
It was February 2015 when the trial of Mouloud Djennad, Farid Allou, and Doudou was finally held. Doudou was assumed to be the ringleader and most dangerous of the three men and was confined to a glass cage for the duration of the trial.
While nothing was ever recovered from the 2007 heist, several items of jewelry and €800,000 in cash were found in a plaster wall of Doudou’s home. La Grosse Pierre was found hidden in a jar of face cream, just as you’d expect from the Pink Panthers, though Doudou and his accomplices were not accused of being the Pinks.
Though all three men were convicted, the court could not settle on who was ultimately responsible for the heist. Doudou was accused, to which his lawyers argued prosecutors were trying to make him “wear a hat that’s too big for my head.” Farid Allou batted away any suggestions it was him by pointing to himself on security footage, dressed as Bernadette Chirac, and saying “What does it mean to be a boss? If I’m the boss, me, I send little people in to do the actual work.”
Both Doudou and Allou alluded to someone above them, but both refused to give names. If it was the mysterious Pink Panthers steering the wheel of these particular heists, nobody was willing to admit that in court. “I won’t name names—no hints,” Allou said when asked. “I was invited and I followed and that’s it.”
Doudou narrowly avoided a life sentence and was ultimately given 15 years in jail. Farid Allou was handed a 10-year term. Mouloud Djennad, on the other hand, received only five years, three of which were suspended, despite the fact there was no way either robbery could have happened without him. In fact, Djennad admitted himself that, “if I hadn’t been fired, I think there could have been three or four more robberies.”
The reason for Djennad’s lighter sentence was that he had cracked and cooperated with authorities completely. He’d told how he enabled the first robbery by deactivating alarm sensors in the stairwell the night before so the robbers could stay overnight undetected. He also showed remorse, crying on the stand and saying, “[I’m] ashamed every day, but I cannot undo what I’ve done.”
“The truth is,” says Punch Stanimirovic, a founding member of the Pinks. “Some Pink Panther members don’t even know that they’re in the Pink Panthers.” Stanimirovic also alluded to another member named the Engineer, who is purported to have just one lung. “[Perhaps he] either organized it, or he did it, he planned it, he executed it, he was part of it,” suggested Stanimirovic, cryptically.
388 of the stolen Harry Winston pieces have been recovered, most from Doudou’s home, but 493 remain missing. It’s likely most have now been removed from France. One, according to an article in Le Parisien, has been spotted in Russia. One of the finest diamonds taken is said to have been placed on a ring that is worn by none other than Lyudmila Putina, ex-wife of the country's long-term president, Vladimir Putin. Of course, we only have their word for that.