Oxygen's critically-acclaimed true-crime franchise, “Snapped,” launches its 20th season of mystery, murder and misconduct with “Snapped Notorious: Scott Peterson,” a two-part special premiering Sunday, May 7th at 6PM ET/PT.
There are real life Frank Underwoods out there: politicians turned murderers. Sure, these guys didn’t get away with it like Frank did, and weren’t exactly as politically motivated, but nevertheless, they went from public office to prison for killing. We’re not talking about making executive orders on war strategy either. We’re talking about politicians who personally killed. These murders weren’t done in the line of duty--they were personal. Here are five politicians who committed murder.
1. Charles Severance
Charles Severance (who, yes, sounds like the bad guy in a Harry Potter movie), is a former Virginia political candidate who ran for mayor and Congress. He was also responsible for three murders over an 11 year period: killing real estate agent Nancy Dunning in 2003, the shooting death of regional transportation planner Ronald Kirby in 2013 and the homicide of music teacher Ruthanne Lodato in 2014. Severance allegedly shot all three, who were all strangers to him, in acts of revenge against middle class society in the upscale suburb of Alexandria, Washington. He’s currently serving three life sentences.
2. Leonard Peltier
An American Indian activist and member of the American Indian Movement, Leonard Peltier was allegedly involved in a shoot-out at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 1975 which resulted in the deaths of two FBI Agents. Peltier was convicted of murder in 1977 and sentenced to two life sentences in prison. To this day, many believe he was framed.
3. Dan White
In a high profile case you might already be familiar with, former San Francisco Supervisor Dan White murdered fellow Supervisor Harvey Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone in 1978. Milk was famously the first openly gay person to ever be elected to public office in California. White had his murder charged reduced on grounds of insanity--he claimed that his diet of sugary food and drink made him mad, infamously known as the “Twinkie defense”--but after serving his sentence of only five years in prison, killed himself in 1985.
4. Byron Low Tax Looper
Running for the House of Representatives and the Senate in Tennessee at different times between 1987 and 1998, Byron Low Tax Looper (who legally changed his own middle name from Anthony to Low Tax), shot and killed his competitor in 1998. He was running against Tommy Burks for a state senate seat, and obviously wanted to eliminate the competition. He was sentenced to life without parole.
5. Bobby Seale
Bobby Seale co-founded the Black Panther Party in 1966, and was in trouble with the law many times, notably for his dishonorable discharge from the U.S. Airforce in the late ‘50s and being one of eight defendants charged with crossing state lines to incite a riot in 1968. In 1970 he was charged with ordering the murder of Alex Rackley, a fellow Black Panther who was a police informant, but charges were eventually dropped by a hung jury--so in the eyes of the law, he never really did the crime, despite any speculation.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.