Year
1983
Month Day
September 21

A 13-year-old newspaper delivery boy is found dead

The mutilated body of 13-year-old paperboy Danny Joe Eberle is found in his hometown of Bellevue, Nebraska. Eberle had been stabbed multiple times, bound with rope and tortured to death.

FBI investigators called in to help catch the vicious killer found only one clue that could help them: The rope that had been used to tie up the victim was so unusual that the FBI had no records of similar ropes made by any domestic manufacturers. As they began looking into international rope manufacturers, the body of another 12-year-old boy, Christopher Walden, was found deep in the woods near Bellevue, covered with snow.

With no leads as to the origin of the rope, the FBI concentrated on a witness who claimed to have seen Walden with a young man shortly before his disappearance. The witness, who agreed to be hypnotized to try to provide a description of the man, couldn’t produce a vivid picture, but managed to remember a tan sedan and seven digits, in no particular order, from the license plate. Unfortunately, Nebraska had over 1,000 license plates with these digits.

The break in the case finally came on January 11, 1984, when the operator of a Bellevue day care center noticed that a suspicious man was cruising the street outside, and reported the license plate number to the police. Detectives traced the car to a dealership that told them that the car was on loan to John Joubert, a 20-year-old radar technician. Joubert’s car, which was being fixed at the dealership, was a tan sedan that had a license plate containing two of the seven digits that had been recalled by the witness earlier.

When police caught up with Joubert, he had a duffel bag with a hunting knife and a length of rope inside. The rope turned out to be identical to the one found on Danny Joe Eberle, and Joubert was charged with multiple counts of murder. Apparently, the unusual rope had been especially made for the military in the Far East and brought back to the United States by one of Joubert’s friends.

Delving deeper into his background, investigators found that Joubert was also responsible for an earlier murder of an 11-year-old boy in Maine. After being convicted of the two murders in Nebraska and sentenced to death in 1984, he was convicted of murder in Maine as well and executed in 1996.

Tags
terms:

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Last baseball game played at historic Yankee Stadium

On September 21, 2008, the last game at historic Yankee Stadium—"The House That Babe Ruth Built"—is played. In the finale, the New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles, 7-3, as future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera closes the game with a perfect ninth inning. “The way I feel ...read more

The Great New England Hurricane

Without warning, a powerful Category 3 hurricane slams into Long Island and southern New England, causing 600 deaths and devastating coastal cities and towns. Also called the Long Island Express, the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 was the most destructive storm to strike the ...read more

Monarchy abolished in France

In Revolutionary France, the Legislative Assembly votes to abolish the monarchy and establish the First Republic. The measure came one year after King Louis XVI reluctantly approved a new constitution that stripped him of much of his power. Louis ascended to the French throne in ...read more

Benedict Arnold commits treason

On September 21, 1780, during the American Revolution, American General Benedict Arnold meets with British Major John Andre to discuss handing over West Point to the British, in return for the promise of a large sum of money and a high position in the British army. The plot was ...read more

The Superfortress bomber takes flight

On September 21, 1942, the U.S. B-29 Superfortress makes its debut flight in Seattle, Washington. It was the largest bomber used in the war by any nation. The B-29 was conceived in 1939 by Gen. Hap Arnold, who was afraid a German victory in Europe would mean the United States ...read more

FDR urges repeal of Neutrality Act embargo provisions

On September 21, 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appears before Congress and asks that the Neutrality Acts, a series of laws passed earlier in the decade, be amended. Roosevelt hoped to lift an embargo against sending military aid to countries in Europe facing the ...read more

The great Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph dies in Washington

On September 21, 1904, the Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph dies on the Colville reservation in northern Washington at the age of 64. White settlers had described him as superhuman and a military genius. But in truth, the Nez Perce Chief Him-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt (“Thunder Rolling ...read more

Clooney makes Facts of Life debut

On September 21, 1985, a little-known actor named George Clooney makes his first appearance as a handyman on the popular TV sitcom The Facts of Life. Clooney appeared in 17 episodes of the show, which aired from 1979 to 1988 and chronicled the lives of a group of young women who ...read more

Earthquake kills thousands in Taiwan

An earthquake in Taiwan on September 21, 1999 kills thousands of people, causes billions of dollars in damages and leaves an estimated 100,000 homeless. It was the worst earthquake to hit Taiwan since a 1935 tremor that killed 3,200 people. At 1:47 on the morning of September 21, ...read more

Mao Zedong outlines the new Chinese government

At the opening of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Peking, Mao Zedong announces that the new Chinese government will be “under the leadership of the Communist Party of China.” The September 1949 conference in Peking was both a celebration of the ...read more