No Thanks: 5 Notorious Crimes Committed On Thanksgiving Day

By: Mike McPadden

Photo by: Public Domain Clip Art

Public Domain Clip Art

In 1789, President George Washington declared November 26 to be officially recognized “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.”

Since then, Americans have celebrated Thanksgiving Day on each fourth Thursday in November, with most citizens typically observing a traditional gathering of families and intimate friends for a turkey-centered feast.

Then there are these people.

For the following criminals, at least one Thanksgiving Day didn’t mean drumsticks and football and pumpkin pie, but instead led to police involvement, booking, and (for most) Black Friday behind bars.

A Thanksgiving Massacre 20 Years in the Making

On November 26, 2009, South Florida resident Paul Michael Merhige ate a hearty Thanksgiving meal with 16 family members and friends, conversing and joking and even joining in sing-alongs. After dinner, Merhige whipped out a handgun and executed four relatives, including his cousin-in-law, his twin sisters, one of whom was pregnant, and his cousin’s six-year-old daughter. Afterward, Merhige reportedly said, “I’ve waited 20 years to do this.” Merhige fled the scene but was captured, and eventually cut a plea deal for seven consecutive life sentences to avoid the death penalty. [CBS]

Colorado Father Kills Son Over Unfinished Thanksgiving Chores

Photo by: Ayalis Clay Oliver [El Paso County Jail]

Ayalis Clay Oliver [El Paso County Jail]

The annoyance Ayalis Clay Oliver, 76, felt toward his son Keith Oliver, 49, over the younger man’s refusal to help out around the house escalated to homicidal rage on Thanksgiving Day 2009. The father and son had reportedly been “arguing for hours” prior to Marjorie Oliver, 75, Ayalis’s wife and Keith Oliver’s mother, asking her son to leave. He refused. His father went upstairs, retrieved a .357-caliber revolver, and shot Oliver to death. [Fox News]

Muslim Taxi Driver Shot in Thanksgiving Hate Crime
At around 1 A.M. on Thanksgiving Day 2015, an unidentified 38-year-old Muslim cab driver picked up a fare outside Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. The customer asked where the driver was from, to which the driver said, “I’m from Morocco, but I’m an American guy.” The passenger reportedly then talked at length about ISIS, prompting the driver to say, “Actually, I’m against ISIS. I don’t like them.” The passenger allegedly then mocked Islam for the duration of the ride. After arriving at his destination, the passenger went into a residence and returned with a shotgun. The driver sped away, but the passenger fired and hit him in the upper back. The driver survived his serious wounds, and said: “In our religion, Islam, we forgive, even in such conditions… I could forgive this, but I still want my rights.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Woman Stabs Half-Brother in Neck With Serving Fork Over Thanksgiving Dinner

Photo by: Shenika Allsup [Annapolis Police Department]

Shenika Allsup [Annapolis Police Department]

Thanksgiving 2012 turned gory for celebrants gathered at the home of Shenika Allsup, 27. In the course of a sibling spat about the food being served, Allsup stabbed her half-brother, Deonte Antionio Wallace, 23, in the neck with a serving fork. Wallace survived, and Allsup went to jail for first-degree assault, second-degree assault, and reckless endangerment. [Huffington Post]

Thanksgiving Guest Threatened With Hatchet Over Trivial Pursuit Question
Sometimes, a game of Trivial Pursuit can be described as “cutthroat,” but on Thanksgiving Day 2013, one such match almost literally lived up to the term. Police in Port Matilda, Pennsylvania, responded to an dispute at a Thanksgiving celebration between Trivial Pursuit players, in which one contestant grew so heated he threatened another with a hatchet. Alas, the hatchet actually turned out to be a piece of drug paraphernalia, and its wielder got arrested. [Centre Daily Times]

Stick-Up Bandit Robs Pedestrian of Turkey and Stuffing, Cops Buy Victims Dinner

On Thanksgiving Day 2013, Bridgeport, Connecticut, resident Jimmy Mulligan was carrying a turkey and stuffing while walking to a friend’s house to celebrate the holiday. A thief then approached Mulligan at gunpoint, and robbed him.

Mulligan called 911 and said, “They took my turkey. … Somebody came up behind me, pushed something in my back, told me to face the garage, give them my wallet and to let go of the plastic bag.”

Police 911 dispatcher Denny Viera and responding Officer Daniel Mendez later went to a nearby Boston Market and bought two turkey dinners, delivering them to Mulligan and his friend.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch thanked Viera and the officers by stating: “I can’t say enough about the compassion and empathy shown by the men and woman who work in the 911 center. It’s is a difficult job. When they answer the phone, usually they are speaking to someone in crisis. Denny did her job well, got police to the scene and then thought, ‘I want to do more.’ She and her colleagues rallied around this man and brightened his Thanksgiving.” [NBC Connecticut]