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A murderous husband is executed

A murderous husband is executed


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Arthur Eggers, who was convicted of killing his wife, Dorothy, because of her alleged promiscuity, is executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin Prison. He probably would have gotten away with the crime had the investigators not received a few lucky breaks.

In January 1946, hikers came across a woman’s body, wrapped in a blanket, in a very remote area of the San Bernardino Mountains in California. The head and hands had been chopped off—making identification very difficult—but the body had only been lying there for less than a day, so there was still hope.

When investigators noticed that Dorothy Eggers had been reported missing by her husband around the time that the corpse was found, they decided to follow through on the lead, despite the fact that the initial report described her as being thinner and taller than the unidentified body. Upon talking with her doctors, detectives discovered that Eggers had been treated for a bunion on her foot, which matched the one on the body.

Although investigators knew the identity of the body and had good reason to be suspicious of Arthur Eggers, they had no evidence to connect him to the crime. But when Eggers happened to sell his car to a police officer, the cop noticed that there were spots of dried blood in the trunk, and, in 1946, Eggers was arrested. A subsequent search turned up pieces of his wife’s flesh, a gun and a handsaw in Eggers’ home. Pieces of tissue, bone and fat were found on the gun.


Timothy Wilson Spencer

Timothy Wilson Spencer (March 17, 1962 – April 27, 1994), also known as The Southside Strangler, was a serial killer who committed three rapes and murders in Richmond, Virginia and one in Arlington, Virginia in the fall of 1987. [1] In addition, he is believed to have committed at least one previous murder, in 1984, for which a different man, David Vasquez, was wrongfully convicted. [1] He was known to police as a prolific home burglar.

Spencer became the first serial killer in the United States to be convicted on the basis of DNA evidence, with David Vasquez being the first to be exonerated following conviction on the basis of exculpatory DNA evidence.


Ruth Brown Snyder was a housewife from Queens, who began an affair in 1925 with Henry Judd Gray, a married corset salesman. She began to plan the murder of her husband Albert, enlisting Gray's help, but he appeared to be reluctant. Some claim that Ruth's distaste for her husband apparently began when he insisted on hanging a picture of his late fiancée, Jessie Guischard, on the wall of their first home and named his boat after her. Guischard, whom Albert described to Ruth as "the finest woman I have ever met", had been dead for 10 years. [1] However, others have noted that Albert Snyder was emotionally and physically abusive, blaming Ruth for the birth of a daughter rather than a son, demanding a perfectly maintained house, and physically assaulting both her and their daughter, Lorraine, when his demands were not met. [2]

Ruth first persuaded Albert to purchase insurance, and with the assistance of an insurance agent (who subsequently was fired and sent to prison for forgery), "signed" a $48,000 life insurance policy that paid extra if an unexpected act of violence killed the victim. According to Gray, Ruth had made at least seven attempts to kill Albert, all of which he survived. [3] [4] On March 20, 1927, the couple garrotted Albert and stuffed his nose full of chloroform-soaked rags, then staged his death as part of a burglary. [4] Detectives at the scene noted that the burglar left little evidence of breaking into the house. Moreover, Ruth's behavior was inconsistent with her story of a terrorized wife's witnessing her husband being killed. [3]

Police discovered that the property Ruth had claimed had been stolen was still in the house, but hidden. A breakthrough came when a detective found a paper with the letters J.G."on it (it was a memento Albert had kept from former lover Guischard) and asked Ruth about it. A flustered Ruth's mind immediately turned to Gray, whose initials were also J.G., and she asked the detective what Gray had to do with the murder. It was the first time Gray had been mentioned, and the police instantly became suspicious. Gray was found in Syracuse, New York. He claimed he had been there all night, but it was found out a friend of his had set up Gray's room at a hotel to support his alibi. Gray proved far more forthcoming than Ruth about his actions. He was caught and returned to Queens and charged along with Ruth. [3] [4] Dorothy Parker told Oscar Levant that Gray tried to escape the police by taking a taxi from Long Island to Manhattan, which Levant noted was "quite a long trip." According to Parker, in order "not to attract attention, he gave the driver a ten-cent tip." [5]

The trial Edit

Ruth and Gray turned on each other, contending the other was responsible for killing Albert both were convicted and sentenced to death. [6]

Execution Edit

Ruth was imprisoned at Sing Sing in Ossining, New York. On January 12, 1928, she became the first woman to be executed at Sing Sing since Martha Place in 1899. She went to the electric chair 10 minutes before Judd Gray, her former lover. [3] [4] Her execution (by New York State Electrician Robert G. Elliott) was caught on film at the moment electricity was running through her body with the aid of a miniature plate camera strapped to the ankle of Tom Howard, a Chicago Tribune photographer working in cooperation with the Tribune-owned Daily News. [7] Howard's camera later was owned by inventor Miller Reese Hutchison [8] and later became part of the collections of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. [7]

Ruth was interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. Her footstone reads "May R." and includes her date of death. [9]

Albert and Ruth had one child, a daughter named Lorraine, who was nine at the time of her father's murder. Following the pronouncement of the death sentence on her mother in May 1927, legal disputes arose between the relatives of both parents regarding the care of the child. Warren Schneider, brother of Albert, petitioned to be allowed to appoint a legal guardian who was not a member of Ruth's family. Josephine Brown, mother of Ruth, also petitioned for custody of the girl. [10] Lorraine had been in the care of Mrs. Brown since the murder. [11] Lorraine was formally placed by her maternal grandmother in the Catholic institution where she had been residing at the time of her mother's execution. Ruth requested that her daughter not be brought to the prison for a final visit. [12]

On September 7, 1927, Josephine Brown was awarded guardianship of the girl. [12] [13] During this time, there were disputes with the insurance company Ruth had used to insure her husband's life. Although one policy, worth US$30,000, was paid without contest, [14] they filed suit to void two other policies, worth $45,000 and $5,000 (the three combined policies worth $1.19 million in 2020). By May 1928, the insurance company made available $4,000 for the maintenance of Lorraine. In November 1928 a ruling in the case was reached, with a court finding the policies could not be collected because they had been issued fraudulently. [15] At the time of the judgment, the lawyer acting on behalf of Ruth's family asked the court to allow them to appeal without a printed record on the basis that the family was destitute and unable to sell the house due to the notoriety of the case. By May 1930, it was ruled on appeal that the two policies were invalid. [16]

While incarcerated on death row, Ruth Snyder wrote a sealed letter which she requested be given to Lorraine "when she is old enough to understand". [17] One year after her mother's execution, Lorraine was apparently aware that her parents were both dead, but not of the manner of either of their deaths. [18]


Contents

The first execution took place in Maine in 1644. [2] In 1876 the Maine legislature abolished the death penalty by a vote of 75 to 68, [2] it was then reestablished in Maine in 1883. [2] Maine abolished the death penalty a second time in 1887 mainly due to a botched execution attempt in 1885, when a poorly tied noose caused Daniel Wilkinson to die of strangulation, making him the last person to be executed in the state of Maine. [3] [2]

A bill was introduced by the Maine Legislature to reinstate the death penalty in Maine in 1925, but no action was taken on it. There was other attempts to reinstate the death penalty in Maine in 1937, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1979 but no legislative actions were taken upon these attempts. [2]

Mrs. Cornish Edit

Mrs. Cornish (first name unknown) is the first person on record to be executed by the state. [4] She and her husband, Richard Cornish, moved to Maine in 1636 shortly after getting married in Massachusetts and in 1644, Richard's body was found in a river with stab wounds and a bludgeoned head. Mrs. Cornish denied any responsibility for the murder upon being questioned, but evidence for a motive surfaced when it was revealed that she was engaging in multiple affairs. She named one person, Edward Johnson, as one of her lovers. To test their guilt the authorities used "Trial by Touch", which involved having the guilty party touch the deceased's body if the body bled, then the suspect was considered guilty of the crime. [5] When performing this test Mr Cornish's body oozed blood, which the authorities used as evidence to prosecute and sentence Mrs. Cornish to death. She was executed by hanging in December 1645 in York, but denied any involvement in the murder up to the time of her death. [6] [7] Johnson was later acquitted of murder. [5]

Jeremiah Baum Edit

Baum is known as the only person to be executed by the state of Maine for treason, as all of the other people who were executed by the state were charged with murder. [2]

Daniel Wilkinson Edit

Daniel Wilkinson was executed for murder on November 21, 1885. He and his partner John Ewitt were caught trying to break into the Gould Ship Chandlery and fled. They were discovered by Officer William Lawrence, who threatened to arrest them but was shot in the head with a .32 caliber revolver by Wilkinson. Ewitt was able to flee to England and avoid prosecution, while Wilkinson was caught and arrested after about a week and was hung for his crime. He died slowly by strangulation due to a poorly tied noose, a fact that was later used by the anti-death penalty movement in Maine to successfully argue for the elimination of the death penalty, making Wilkinson the last person to be executed by the state of Maine. [3] [2] [8]


Contents

Gissendaner was born into a poor cotton-farming family. [3]

According to sworn affidavits by friends and family members, she was molested by her stepfather and other men during her childhood and adolescence. [3] During her senior year of high school, she claimed to have been date raped. Nine months later, her first son was born. [3] In 1987, at the age of 19, Kelly Gissendaner married her first husband Jeff Banks. They stayed together for six months. [3] [4]

Kelly married Douglas Gissendaner for the first time on September 2, 1989. [3] They had a baby together, lost their jobs, and moved in with Kelly's mother. [3] Douglas joined the Army and they were sent to Germany. Kelly became pregnant by another man who later died of cancer. She and Douglas were divorced in 1993. [3] In May 1995, she remarried Douglas. [3] In December 1996, the couple bought a house together in Auburn, Georgia. [5]

Kelly, in addition to her daughter with Douglas, had two sons. [6] Douglas was the stepfather to her sons. [6]

Murder Edit

On February 7, 1997, Gregory Bruce Owen (born March 17, 1971) hid near the couple's home in Auburn. When Douglas arrived, Owen forced Douglas into his car at knifepoint and drove him to a wooded area in Gwinnett County near Harbins Park. [3] After striking Douglas in the head with a nightstick, Owen stabbed Douglas in the neck and back multiple times. When Kelly arrived at the scene moments later, the two set fire to her husband's car and hid the body in the woods. [3]

Trial Edit

Before trial, prosecutors offered both Owen and Gissendaner a plea deal of life in prison and no chance of parole for twenty-five years. [7] Gissendaner, however, rejected the plea deal. [7]

Gissendaner was convicted of orchestrating her husband's murder and sentenced to death in 1998, after Owen testified against her in a plea agreement in which he was sentenced to life imprisonment. [1] Owen told a jury that Gissendaner had first approached him about "a way to get rid of" her husband three months before the murder. [3] He further testified that Gissendaner thought murder was the only way to get Douglas out of her life and still get the house and a payoff from his life insurance policy. [8] During the trial, Gissendaner was discovered to have threatened witnesses and also plotted to pay a witness to commit perjury. [9]

Ministry Edit

After being sentenced to death, Gissendaner resided in Metro State Prison until it was closed in 2011. She was then transferred to Arrendale State Prison. While in prison, Gissendaner had a conversion to Christianity. [10] During her time in prison, Gissendaner ministered to other women living in prison with her. [7]

A group of women who were incarcerated with Gissendaner formed a group called the "Struggle Sisters" after they were released from prison. Gissendaner had spoken to the women through an air vent and prevented some from committing suicide, while other women tell of how Gissendaner's words encouraged them to turn their lives around. [11] The women released a video detailing the impact Gissendaner had on their lives. [7]

Theology studies Edit

In 2010, Gissendaner enrolled in a theology studies program for prisoners, run by a consortium of Atlanta-area divinity schools, including the divinity school at Emory University. [10]

During theology studies, she became a student of Christian thinkers like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Rowan Williams. [10] Gissendaner developed a friendship with Jürgen Moltmann while she was in prison. [10] Gissendaner sent Moltmann a paper which she had written on Bonhoeffer. He was impressed with her paper, and he wrote back. After that, the two became penpals exchanging letters about theology and faith. [10] Gissendaner completed a theological degree program through Emory University. [7]

Gissendaner's execution was scheduled for February 25, 2015 when weather delayed it until March 2, 2015. Her execution was further delayed when one of the execution drugs (pentobarbital) was thought to have been spoiled through improper storage, though it was later determined that the drug had merely precipitated out of solution due to colder than recommended storage conditions. [1]

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, on behalf of Pope Francis, urged the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles to spare Gissendaner's life. [12] Gissendaner's clemency application to the Board of Pardons included support from a number of correctional officers whom she had met while in prison. [7] Norman S. Fletcher, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, urged clemency because capital punishment was not proportional to her crime. [13] The Georgia Republican Party's general counsel and Republican Bob Barr also supported clemency. [14]

The board again declined to commute her sentence on September 29, 2015. [15] (Georgia is one of three US states in which the governor is not empowered to grant clemency to the condemned.)

Gissendaner was scheduled to be executed on September 29, 2015, but was again delayed by appeals. She was finally executed by lethal injection at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia, on September 30 at 12:21 a.m. [16] [17]

Gissendaner cried, prayed, sang "Amazing Grace", [18] and said, "Tell the Gissendaner family, I am so sorry. That amazing man lost his life because of me and if I could take it back, if this would change it, I would have done it a long time ago. But it's not. And I just hope they find peace, and I hope they find some happiness. God bless you." [19] [20] She was the first woman executed in Georgia since 1945, as well as the only woman executed in 2015. [21]


Contents

John Christie was born in Northowram near Halifax in the West Riding of Yorkshire, [3] [4] the sixth in a family of seven children. He had a troubled relationship with his father, carpet designer Ernest John Christie, an austere and uncommunicative man who displayed little emotion towards his children and would punish them for trivial offences. John was also alternately coddled and bullied by his mother and older sisters.

During his later life, Christie's childhood peers described him as "a queer lad" who "kept himself to himself" and "was not very popular". [5] On 24 March 1911, his grandfather David Halliday died aged 75 in Christie's house after a long illness. Christie later said that seeing his grandfather's body laid out on a trestle table gave him a feeling of power and well-being a man he had once feared was now only a corpse. [6]

At the age of 11, Christie won a scholarship to Halifax Secondary School, where his favourite subject was mathematics, particularly algebra. He was also good at history and woodwork. [7] [8] It was later found that Christie had an IQ of 128. [9] He sang in the church choir and was a Boy Scout. Christie also attended Boothtown Council School (also known as Boothtown Board School) in Northowram. After leaving school on 22 April 1913, [7] he entered employment as an assistant projectionist. [10]

Christie's problem with impotence began in adolescence his first attempts at sex were failures, and he was branded "Reggie-No-Dick" and "Can't-Do-It-Christie" throughout adolescence. [11] His sexual difficulties were life-long most of the time he could only perform with prostitutes. (A post-mortem report found that Christie's genitals were physically normal.) [12]

In September 1916, during the First World War, Christie enlisted in the British Army he was called up on 12 April 1917 to join the 52nd Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment to serve as an infantryman. In April 1918, the regiment was despatched to France, where Christie was seconded to the Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment as a signalman. During the following June, he was injured in a mustard gas attack and spent a month in a military hospital in Calais. Christie claimed this attack left him permanently unable to speak loudly. Later in life, he also claimed the attack had rendered him blind and mute for three-and-a-half years. [13] His period of muteness was, he claimed, the reason for his inability to talk much louder than a whisper for the rest of his life. Ludovic Kennedy points out that no record of Christie's blindness has been traced and that, while he may have lost his voice when he was admitted to hospital, he would not have been discharged as fit for duty had he remained a mute. [13] His inability to talk loudly, Kennedy argues, was a psychological reaction to the gassing rather than a lasting toxic effect of the gas. [14] The reaction, and Christie's exaggeration of the effects of the attack, stemmed from an underlying personality disorder that caused him to exaggerate or feign illness as a ploy to get attention and sympathy. [15]

Christie was demobilised from the army on 22 October 1919. [16] He joined the Royal Air Force on 13 December 1923, but was discharged on 15 August 1924. [17]

Christie married Ethel Simpson, also from Halifax, at the town's Register Office on 10 May 1920. [18] His impotence remained, and he continued to visit prostitutes. [19] Early in the marriage, Ethel suffered a miscarriage. [20] They separated after four years of marriage. Ethel worked at the "Garside Engineering Co" on Ironbridge Road in Bradford, and later worked at the "English Electrical Co" on Thornton Road in Bradford until 1928. [21] [22] That year, Ethel and her siblings moved from Halifax and Bradford to Sheffield. In 1923, Christie moved to London he spent the next decade in and out of prison, while Ethel remained in Halifax, Bradford, and Sheffield with her relatives. He was released from prison in January 1934, [23] when the couple reunited and moved to Rillington Place. [24]

During the first decade of his marriage to Ethel, Christie was convicted of several criminal offences. He started work as a postman on 10 January 1921 in Halifax, and his first conviction was for stealing postal orders on 20 February and 26 March, for which he received three months' imprisonment on 12 April 1921. [19] He served his sentence in HM Prison Manchester and was released on 27 June. [25] Christie was then convicted on 15 January 1923 of obtaining money on false pretences and of violent conduct, for which, respectively, he was bound over and put on 12 months' probation. [26] He committed two further crimes of larceny during 1924, and received consecutive sentences of three and six months' imprisonment on 22 September 1924 in HM Prison Wandsworth. [27] [24] On 13 May 1929, after working for over two years as a lorry driver, [28] Christie was convicted of assaulting Maud Cole, with whom he was living at 6 Almeric Road in Battersea, and was sentenced to six months' hard labour [29] He had hit Cole over the head with a cricket bat, which the magistrate described as a "murderous attack" for which he was again sent to HM Prison Wandsworth. [24] Finally, Christie was convicted of stealing a car and was re-imprisoned in HM Prison Wandsworth for three months on 1 November 1933. [30] [31]

Christie and Ethel were reconciled in 1934 after this release from prison. He ended his recourse to petty crime but continued to seek out prostitutes. [32] In 1937, Christie and his wife moved into the top-floor flat of 10 Rillington Place in Notting Hill, then a rather run-down area of London. They moved into the ground-floor flat in December 1938. The house was a three-storey brick end-terrace, built in the 1870s during a period of intensive speculative building in the area resulting in much jerry-built property which declined into poorly-maintained and unimproved multi-occupancy rentals. Number 10 was of a common design: the ground and first floors each contained a bedroom and living room, with a kitchen/scullery in the adjacent extension but the second-floor flat had two rooms only: a kitchen/living room and a bedroom. Living conditions were "squalid"—the building's occupants shared one outside lavatory, and none of the flats had a bathroom. [33] The street was close to an above-ground section of the Metropolitan line (now the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines), and the train noise would have been "deafening" for the occupants of 10 Rillington Place. [32]

After three years of working as a foreman at the Commodore Cinema in King Street, Hammersmith, [34] at the beginning of the Second World War Christie applied to join the War Reserve Police and was accepted despite his criminal record, as the authorities failed to check his records. [35] He was assigned to the Harrow Road police station, where he met a woman called Gladys Jones [36] with whom he began an affair. Their relationship lasted until mid-1943, when the woman's husband, a serving soldier, returned from the war. After learning of the affair, he went to the house where his wife was living, discovered Christie there, and assaulted him. [37]

Christie committed his murders over a 10-year period between 1943 and 1953, usually by strangling his victims after he had rendered them unconscious with domestic gas some he raped as they lay unconscious.

First murders Edit

The first person Christie admitted to killing was Ruth Fuerst, a 21-year-old Austrian munitions worker who supplemented her income by occasionally engaging in prostitution. [38] Christie claimed to have met Fuerst while she was soliciting clients in a snack bar in Ladbroke Grove. According to his own statements, on 24 August 1943, he invited Fuerst to his home to engage in sex (his wife was visiting relatives at the time). Afterward, Christie impulsively strangled her on his bed with a length of rope. [39] He initially stowed Fuerst's body beneath the floorboards of his living room, then buried it in the back garden the following evening.

Soon after the murder, at the end of 1943, Christie resigned as a special police constable. [40] The following year he found new employment as a clerk at an Acton radio factory. There he met his second victim, colleague Muriel Amelia Eady. On 7 October 1944, [41] he invited Eady back to his flat with the promise that he had concocted a "special mixture" that could cure her bronchitis. [42] Eady was to inhale the mixture from a jar with a tube inserted in the top. The mixture in fact was Friar's Balsam, which Christie used to disguise the smell of domestic gas. Once Eady was seated breathing the mixture from the tube with her back turned, Christie inserted a second tube into the jar connected to a gas tap. [42] As Eady continued breathing she inhaled the domestic gas, which soon rendered her unconscious—domestic gas during the 1940s was coal gas, which had a carbon monoxide content of 15%. [43] Christie raped and strangled her before burying her alongside Fuerst. [44]

Murders of Beryl and Geraldine Evans Edit

During Easter of 1948, Timothy Evans and his wife Beryl moved into the top-floor flat at Rillington Place, where Beryl gave birth that October to their daughter, Geraldine. In late 1949, Evans informed police that his wife was dead. [45] A police search of 10 Rillington Place failed to find her body, but a later search revealed the bodies of Beryl, Geraldine, and a 16-week male foetus [46] in an outdoor wash-house. Beryl's body had been wrapped twice, in a blanket and then a table cloth. The post-mortem revealed that both mother and daughter had been strangled and that Beryl had been physically assaulted before her death, shown by facial bruising. [47] Evans at first claimed that Christie had killed his wife in a botched abortion operation, but police questioning eventually produced a confession. The alleged confession may have been fabricated by the police, as the statement appears contrived and artificial. [48] After being charged, Evans withdrew his confession and once again accused Christie, this time of both murders.

On 11 January 1950, Evans was put on trial for the murder of his daughter, the prosecution having decided not to pursue a second charge of murdering his wife. [49] Christie was a principal witness for the Crown: he denied Evans's accusations and gave detailed evidence about the quarrels between him and his wife. [50] The jury found Evans guilty despite the revelation of Christie's criminal record of theft and violence. Evans was originally due to be hanged on 31 January, but appealed. After his appeal on 20 February had failed, Evans was hanged at HM Prison Pentonville on 9 March 1950. [51] Christie had started work at the Post Office Savings Bank on 21 May 1946 as a Grade 2 Clerk and worked at Kew. He was sacked when his past criminal record came to light, leaving on 4 April 1950. [52] [53]

Mistakes in the investigation Edit

The police made several mistakes in their handling of the case, especially in overlooking the remains of Christie's previous murder victims in the garden at Rillington Place one femur was later found propping up a fence. [54] The garden of the property was very small, about 16 by 14 feet (4.9 by 4.3 m), and the fence was parallel to the wash-house where the bodies of Beryl and Geraldine were later found. Several searches were made at the house after Evans confessed to placing his wife's remains in the drains, but the three policemen conducting the search did not go into the wash-house. [55] The garden was apparently examined but was not excavated at this point. [56] Christie later admitted that his dog had unearthed Eady's skull in the garden shortly after these police searches he threw the skull into an abandoned bombed-out house in nearby St. Marks Road. [57] There was clearly no systematic search made of the crime scene, in which this or other human remains would have been found and pointed to Christie as the perpetrator. [55] Several police searches of the property showed a complete lack of expertise in handling forensic evidence and were quite superficial [58] at best. Had the searches been conducted effectively, the investigation would have exposed Christie as a murderer, and the lives of Evans and four women would have been saved. [59]

The evidence of builders working at the house was ignored, [60] and their various interviews with Evans suggest that the police concocted a false confession. [61] It should have been clear, for example, from the very first statement made by Evans in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, on 30 November 1949, that he was totally unaware of the resting place of the body of his wife or how she had been killed. [62] He claimed that his wife's body was in either a manhole or a drain at the front of the house, [63] but a police search failed to find any remains there. That should have prompted a thorough search of the house, wash-house and garden, but no further action was taken until later, when the two bodies were found in the wash-house. Evans was also totally unaware at his first interview that his daughter had been killed. The police interrogation in London was mishandled from the start, when they showed him the clothes of his wife and baby and revealed that they had been found in the wash-house. Such information should have been kept from him so as to force him to tell police where the bodies had been concealed. The several apparent "confessions" contain questionable words and phrases in high-register language such as "terrific argument" which seem out of place for a distressed, uneducated, working-class young man such as Evans and bear no relation to what he probably said. These were almost certainly inventions made much later by the police, according to comments made by Ludovic Kennedy long after the truth about Christie had emerged. [64]

The police accepted all of Christie's statements as factual without major scrutiny, [65] and he was the crucial witness at the trial of Evans. As Kennedy wrote, the police accepted the former war reserve policeman Christie as one of their own, and largely took what he said on face value without any further investigation. [66] Bearing in mind Christie had criminal convictions for theft and malicious wounding (while Evans did not have any previous convictions for violence), the reliance on his testimony was questionable. It is significant that Christie had claimed to be an abortionist prior to his meeting the Evanses, having said so to a colleague in 1947. [67] He also repeated this claim after the Evans trial to women he spoke to in cafés, whom he possibly regarded as future potential victims. Such an approach aligns with Christie's modus operandi of offering help to women so as to gain their confidence and lure them back to his flat, as demonstrated in Eady's case.

Nearly three years passed without major incident for Christie after Evans's trial. He soon found alternative employment as a clerk with the British Road Services at their Shepherd's Bush depot starting work there on 12 June 1950. [68] [69] At the same time, new tenants arrived to fill the vacant first- and second-floor rooms at 10 Rillington Place. The tenants were predominantly black immigrants from the West Indies this horrified Christie and his wife, who both held racist attitudes towards their neighbours and disliked living with them. [70] Tensions between the new tenants and the Christies came to a head when Ethel prosecuted one of her neighbours for assault. [71] Christie successfully negotiated with the Poor Man's Lawyer Centre to continue to have exclusive use of the back garden, ostensibly to have space between him and his neighbours, but quite possibly to prevent anyone from uncovering the human remains buried there. [70] [72]

Murder of Ethel Christie Edit

On the morning of 14 December 1952, Christie strangled Ethel in bed. She had last been seen in public two days earlier. [73] Christie invented several stories to explain his wife's disappearance and to help mitigate the possibility of further inquiries being made. In reply to a letter from relatives in Sheffield, he wrote that Ethel had rheumatism and could not write herself to one neighbour, he explained that she was visiting her relatives in Sheffield to another, he said that she had gone to Birmingham. [74] Christie had resigned from his job on 6 December and had been unemployed since then. To support himself, he sold Ethel's wedding ring and watch on 17 December for £2 10s. [75] and furniture on 8 January 1953 for which he received £11. Christie kept cutlery, two chairs, a mattress, and his kitchen table. [76] From 23 January to 20 March, Christie received his weekly unemployment benefit of £3 12s. [77] [78] On 26 January 1953, [79] he forged his wife's signature and emptied her bank account. [80] On 27 February 1953, Christie sold some of his wife's clothing for £3 5s. [81] He also received a cheque for £8 on 7 March from the Bradford Clothing and Supply Company. [82]

Further murders Edit

Between 19 January and 6 March 1953, Christie murdered three more women he invited back to 10 Rillington Place: Kathleen Maloney, Rita Nelson, and Hectorina MacLennan. Maloney was a prostitute from the Ladbroke Grove area. Nelson was from Belfast and was visiting her sister in Ladbroke Grove when she met Christie she was six months pregnant at the time of her murder. [83] Christie first met MacLennan, who was living in London with her boyfriend, Alex Baker, in a café. All three met on several occasions after this, and Christie let MacLennan and Baker stay at Rillington Place while they were looking for accommodation. [84] On another occasion, Christie met MacLennan on her own and persuaded her to come back to his flat, where he murdered her. Later, he convinced Baker, who came to Rillington Place looking for MacLennan, that he had not seen her. Christie kept up the pretence for several days, meeting Baker regularly to see if he had news of her whereabouts and to help him search for her. [85]

For the murders of his final three victims, Christie modified the gassing technique he had first used on Eady he used a rubber tube connected to the gas pipe in the kitchen which he kept closed off with a bulldog clip. [86] He seated his victims in the kitchen, released the clip on the tube, and let gas leak into the room. The Brabin Report pointed out that Christie's explanation of his gassing technique was not satisfactory because he would have been overpowered by the gas as well. Nevertheless, it was established that all three victims had been exposed to carbon monoxide. [87] The gas made his victims drowsy, after which Christie strangled them with a length of rope. [86]

As with Eady, Christie repeatedly raped his last three victims while they were unconscious and continued to do so as they died. When this aspect of his crimes was publicly revealed, Christie quickly gained a reputation for being a necrophiliac. [88] One commentator has cautioned against categorising Christie as such according to the accounts Christie gave to the police, he did not engage sexually with any of his victims exclusively after death. [89] After Christie had murdered each of his final victims by ligature strangulation, he placed a vest or other cloth-like material between their legs [90] before wrapping their semi-naked bodies in blankets (in a similar manner to the way in which Beryl's body had been wrapped), [86] [91] before stowing their bodies in a small alcove behind the back kitchen wall. He later covered the entrance to this alcove with wallpaper. [92]

Christie moved out of 10 Rillington Place on 20 March 1953, [93] after fraudulently sub-letting his flat to a couple from whom he took £7 13s 0d (£7.65 or about £215 as of 2019). [94] The landlord visited that same evening and, finding the couple there instead of Christie, demanded that they leave first thing the next morning. [85] The landlord then allowed the tenant of the top-floor flat, Beresford Brown, to use Christie's kitchen. On 24 March, Brown discovered the kitchen alcove when he attempted to insert brackets into the wall to hold a wireless set. Peeling back the wallpaper, Brown saw the bodies of Maloney, Nelson and MacLennan. After getting confirmation from another tenant in 10 Rillington Place that they were dead bodies, Brown informed the police and a citywide search for Christie began.

After he left Rillington Place, Christie went to a Rowton House in King's Cross, where he booked a room for seven nights under his real name and address. He stayed for only four nights, leaving on 24 March when news of the discovery at his flat broke [95] after which he wandered around London, slept rough, and spent much of the daytime in cafés and cinemas. [95] On 28 March, he pawned his watch in Battersea for 10 shillings. [96] On the morning of 31 March, Christie was arrested on the embankment near Putney Bridge after being challenged about his identity by a police officer all he had in his possession were some coins, a wallet, his marriage certificate, his ration book, union card and an old newspaper clipping about the remand of Timothy Evans. [97] [98]

Christie was placed under arrest and at first only admitted to the murders of the women in the alcove and his wife during police questioning. [99] When informed about the skeletons buried in the back garden, Christie admitted responsibility for their deaths as well. On 27 April 1953, he confessed to the murder of Beryl Evans, which Timothy Evans had originally been charged with during the police investigation in 1949, although for the most part he denied killing Geraldine. [100] However, on one occasion following his trial, Christie indicated that he may have been responsible for her death as well, having said so to a hospital orderly. [101] It is speculated that Christie would not have wanted to readily admit his guilt in Geraldine's death in order not to alienate the jury from his desire to be found not guilty by reason of insanity and for his own safety from his fellow inmates. [102] On 5 June 1953 Christie confessed to the murders of Muriel Eady and Ruth Fuerst, which helped the police identify their skeletons. [103]

Christie was tried only for the murder of his wife Ethel. His trial began on 22 June 1953, in the same court in which Evans had been tried three years earlier. [104] Christie pleaded insanity [105] and claimed to have a poor memory of the events. [106] Dr. Matheson, a doctor at HM Prison Brixton who evaluated Christie, was called as a witness by the prosecution. He testified that Christie had a hysterical personality but was not insane. [107] The jury rejected Christie's plea, and after deliberating for 85 minutes found him guilty. [108] On 29 June 1953, Christie announced that he would not be appealing against his conviction.

On 2 July, Evans's mother wrote to Christie asking him to "confess all". [109] On 8 July 1953, his MP George Rogers interviewed Christie for 45 minutes about the murders. [110] Five days later Home Secretary David Maxwell Fyfe said that he could not find any grounds for Christie to be reprieved. Christie's final visitors were an ex-army friend Dennis Hague on 13 July [111] along with the Prison Governor and Christie's sister Phyllis Clarke, who both visited Christie the night before the execution. [112] George Rogers wanted to speak to Christie a second time on the night before his execution but Christie refused to meet him again. [113]

Christie was hanged at 9am on 15 July 1953 at HM Prison Pentonville. His executioner was Albert Pierrepoint, who had previously hanged Evans. [114] After being pinioned for execution, Christie complained that his nose itched. Pierrepoint assured him that, "It won't bother you for long". [115] After the execution, the body was buried in the precincts of the prison. [116]

  • Ruth Fuerst, 21 (24 August 1943)
  • Muriel Eady, 31 (7 October 1944)
  • Beryl Evans, 20 (8 November 1949)
  • Geraldine Evans, 13 months (8 November 1949)
  • Ethel Christie, 54 (14 December 1952). [117]
  • Rita Nelson, 25 (19 January 1953)
  • Kathleen Maloney, 26 (February 1953)
  • Hectorina MacLennan, 26 (6 March 1953)

Other murders Edit

Based on the pubic hair that Christie collected, it has been speculated that he was responsible for more murders than those carried out at 10 Rillington Place. Christie claimed that the four different clumps of hair in his collection came from his wife and the three bodies discovered in the kitchen alcove, but only one matched the hair type on those bodies, Ethel Christie's. Even if two of the others had come from the bodies of Fuerst and Eady, which had by then decomposed into skeletons, [118] there was still one remaining clump of hair unaccounted for—it could not have come from Beryl Evans, as no pubic hair had been removed from her body. [119]

Writing in 1978, Professor Keith Simpson, one of the pathologists involved in the forensic examination of Christie's victims, had this to say about the pubic hair collection:

It seems odd that Christie should have said hair came from the bodies in the alcove if in fact it had come from those now reduced to skeletons not very likely that in his last four murders the only trophy he took was from the one woman with whom he did not have peri-mortal sexual intercourse and even more odd that one of his trophies had definitely not come from any of the unfortunate women known to have been involved. [118]

No attempts were or have been made to trace any further victims of Christie, such as examining records of missing women in London during his period of activity. Michael Eddowes suggested that Christie had been in a perfect position, as a special police constable during the war, to have committed many more murders than have been discovered. [120] On the other hand, historian Jonathan Oates considers it unlikely Christie had any further victims, arguing he would not have deviated from his standard method of killing in his place of residence. [121]

Following Christie's conviction, there was substantial controversy concerning the earlier trial of Timothy Evans, who had been convicted mainly on the evidence of Christie, who lived in the same property in which Evans had allegedly carried out his crimes. [122] Christie confessed to Beryl's murder and although he neither confessed to, nor was charged with, Geraldine's murder, he was widely considered guilty of both murders at the time. [123] This, in turn, cast doubt on the fairness of Evans's trial and raised the possibility that an innocent person had been hanged. [123]

The controversy prompted the then Home Secretary, David Maxwell-Fyfe, to commission an inquiry led by John Scott Henderson QC, the Recorder of Portsmouth, to determine whether Evans had been innocent and a miscarriage of justice had occurred. Henderson interviewed Christie before his execution, as well as another 20 witnesses who had been involved in either of the police investigations. He concluded that Evans was in fact guilty of both murders and that Christie's confessions to the murder of Beryl were unreliable and made in the context of furthering his own defence that he was insane. [124]

Far from ending the matter, questions continued to be raised in Parliament concerning Evans's innocence, [125] [126] along with newspaper campaigns and books being published making similar claims. [127] The Henderson Inquiry was criticised for being held over too short a time period (one week) and for being prejudiced against the possibility that Evans was innocent. [128] [129] This controversy, along with the coincidence that two stranglers would have been living in the same property at the same time if Evans and Christie had both been guilty, kept alive the issue that a miscarriage of justice had taken place in Evans's trial. [130]

This uncertainty led to a second inquiry, chaired by High Court judge, Sir Daniel Brabin, which was conducted over the winter of 1965–66. Brabin re-examined much of the evidence from both cases and evaluated some of the arguments for Evans's innocence. His conclusions were that it was "more probable than not" that Evans had killed his wife but not his daughter Geraldine, for whose death Christie was responsible. Christie's likely motive was that her continued presence would have drawn attention to Beryl's disappearance, which Christie would have been averse to as it increased the risk that his own murders would be discovered. [131] Brabin also noted that the uncertainty involved in the case would have prevented a jury from being satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of Evans's guilt had he been re-tried. [132] These conclusions were used by the Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, to recommend a posthumous pardon for Evans, which was granted, as he had been tried and executed for the murder of his daughter. [133] [134] Jenkins announced the granting of Evans's pardon to the House of Commons on 18 October 1966. [134] It allowed authorities to return Evans's remains to his family, who had him reburied in a private grave. [133]

There was already debate in the United Kingdom over the continued use of the death penalty. Evans's execution and other controversial cases contributed to the 1965 suspension, and subsequent abolition, of capital punishment in the United Kingdom for murder. [135]

In January 2003, the Home Office awarded Evans's half-sister, Mary Westlake, and his sister, Eileen Ashby, ex-gratia payments as compensation for the miscarriage of justice in his trial. The independent assessor for the Home Office, Lord Brennan QC, accepted that "the conviction and execution of Timothy Evans for the murder of his child was wrongful and a miscarriage of justice" and that "there is no evidence to implicate Timothy Evans in the murder of his wife. She was most probably murdered by Christie." [136] Lord Brennan believed that the Brabin Report's conclusion that Evans probably murdered his wife should be rejected given Christie's confessions and conviction. [134]


Woman executed for murder of her husband, begins a ghost story about her skeleton

Corriveau’s first husband may or may not have died as a result of being wed to Corriveau. While there is no concrete evidence suggesting she may have murdered him, rumors circulated after her second husband’s death, and theories were proposed that the first husband met a grim fate at her hands, as well.

When her second husband, Louis Étienne Dodier, was found dead with head wounds that were officially explained as horse kicks, locals began to suspect either Corriveau or her father had a part in the death. It was known Dodier was not getting along well with his wife and her father. A trial was held and Corriveau’s father was found guilty and sentenced to die, while Corriveau was sentenced to 60 lashes and to be branded with the letter M on her hand. However, just before his execution, Corriveau’s father confessed he had nothing to do with the murder and only assisted his daughter after Dodier was dead. Another trial began, and Corriveau was found guilty and sentenced to hang before being placed in a gibbet (a human-shaped metal cage).

Corriveau’s body and gibbet were left at a busy crossroads for more than a month before locals requested she be buried, as her decomposing body was no doubt unkind to the eyes and nose. She was buried with her cage until it was unearthed by the church in the mid-19th Century. The newly rediscovered skeleton brought interest to Corriveau back, and tales of her vengeful ghost, in the shape of a skeleton housed in the metal cage that delighted in terrorizing travelers, began circulating.

Her skeleton and gibbet were put on display at the church until stolen, eventually winding up in the hands of P. T. Barnum and later the Boston Museum.


Proof of Guilt: The Tragic Life and Public Death of Barbara Graham

"If any life could be squeezed into a one-dimensional archetype of the bad and beautiful female, it was that of Barbara Graham," Cal Poly history lecturer Kathleen A. Cairns writes in "Proof of Guilt: Barbara Graham and the Politics of Executing Women in America." "(Her) life story might have sprung from the imaginations of any of a number of hard-boiled fiction writers specializing in stories of . voluptuous women who brandished their seductive charms as lethal weapons."

Charged along with two male friends in the murder of an elderly widow during a botched robbery attempt, Graham became the third woman to be executed by the state of California on June 3, 1955. Years later, her case - chronicled in a popular Hollywood movie - became a rallying cry for anti-death penalty activists.

"She could be used as a symbol for both sides. The people who were using her were sophisticated enough to understand that," Cairns said, whether they were abolitionists, prosecutors looking for a swift conviction, or members of the press seeking a sacrificial lamb.

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In "Proof of Guilt," published in May by University of Nebraska Press, Cairns sets aside the question of Graham's guilt or innocence to explore how her case helped color attitudes about capital punishment. She also examines the ease with which police, prosecutors, reporters and others shape the public narrative.

A former journalist, Cairns has dedicated her career as a historian to documenting women who defy society's expectations. Her first book, 2003's "Front-Page Women Journalists, 1920-1950," looked at newspaperwomen who helped transform the face of journalism while reshaping public perceptions of women in the workplace.

Cairns tackled the topic of rehabilitating female inmates in 2009's "Hard Times in Tehachapi: California's First Women's Prison." And in "The Enigma Woman: The Death Sentence of Nellie May Madison," published in 2007," the author profiled the first woman on Death Row in California -- a former Palm Springs hotel manager who was "good with the pistols and the ponies."

Although convicted in 1934 of first-degree murder for shooting her husband, Madison avoided the hangman's noose by claiming to be the victim of emotional and physical abuse.

Like the attractive, oft-married Madison, Graham didn't fit the traditional mold of modest womanhood, Cairns said. "Her crime was flaunting society's rules as to have a women should act and dress and behave."

Born in Oakland in 1923 to an unwed teenager, young Barbara Ford bounced from foster home to convent school to orphanage before being sent, just after her 14th birthday, to the California School for Girls in Ventura -- the same brutal institution where her mother had been incarcerated. Shortly after her parole at age 16, she married for the first time, giving birth to the first of her three sons in 1940.

By the early 1950s, Barbara had worked in bars, brothels and gambling joints across California and racked up a rap sheet that included arrests for perjury, prostitution, narcotics possession and writing bad checks. She met her fourth husband, bartender Henry Graham, around the same time that she went to work for gambling parlor owner Emmett Perkins, a bit player in Los Angeles mobster Mickey Cohen's operation.

Although Graham associated with people with criminal pasts, including Perkins, John Santo and John True, "I'm not sure she was totally aware of how bad they really were," Cairns said.

That changed on the night of March 9, 1953. According to True, Graham accompanied him, Perkins and Santo to the Burbank home of Mable Monahan -- rumored to contain a hidden safe holding $100,000 left behind by her former son-in-law, a Las Vegas gambler.

Once inside, True testified, Graham struck Monahan with a gun butt before the gang ransacked the house in search of loot. As they prepared to leave, True said, Graham slipped a pillowcase over Monahan's head while Perkins tied her hands together and Santo fastened a piece of cloth around her neck.

Roughly two months later, the Los Angeles Police Department arrested Graham, Perkins and Santo on suspicion of killing Monahan.

According to Cairns, the case against Graham was circumstantial. Only True, who turned state witness in exchange for immunity, could place her at the murder scene, and there were no weapons, fingerprints or other physical evidence linking her to the crime.

Nonetheless, Graham found herself on trial alongside Perkins and Santo in Los Angeles Superior Court in August 1953 -- in danger of becoming, in the words of one reporter, "the most beautiful victim the gas chamber has ever claimed." Her attorney, Jack W. Hardy, had never before represented a defendant in a capital murder case, while the judge, Charles Fricke, had sentenced dozens to death.

Although men could be executed in the mid-20th century for anything from kidnapping to rape and theft, few offenses were considered capital crimes for women, said Gordon Morris Bakken, who wrote the 2009 book "Women Who Kill Men: California Courts, Gender, and the Press" with Brenda Farrington. "Primarily, it was a first-degree murder or conspiracy to commit a first-degree murder . (But) you could get away with it defending yourself, defending your children, defending your husband."

Graham couldn't plead self-defense, but she could play on the sympathies of the jury, press and public by dressing modestly, emphasizing her status as a mother and behaving "submissive and deferential to authority."

"As a decidedly unconventional woman charged with bludgeoning a stranger . Graham had a particularly strong incentive to heed these rules," Cairns writes. Instead, the author said, she appeared in court in tight clothing and high-heeled pumps "that showed off her trim ankles and shapely legs . radiat(ing) anger and resentment as she sat, casually smoking, at the counsel table."

"My sense of her all through writing the book was that she was always her own worst enemy," Cairns said, pointing to one incident in particular.

Since nothing directly linked Graham to Monahan's murder, "police and prosecutors decided to trick her into admitting involvement," Cairns writes. Posing as a fixer who could provide her with a fake alibi, an undercover officer met with Graham and secretly recorded their conversations, including a forced confession.

"Frankly, by today's standards, with a decent attorney, Barbara Graham would have not been convicted," said Bakken, editor of the 2010 book "Invitation to an Execution: A History of the Death Penalty in the United States." But back in September 1953, jurors found enough evidence to convict Graham and her friends of first-degree murder, an automatic death sentence.

Graham's trial might have been over, but her story was far from complete. "In being drawn to her and interviewing her, (journalists) came to believe she was innocent," Cairns said. "She was pretty canny in that she let these people talk to her and got (them) to take her side of the story."

One of Graham's strongest allies was San Francisco Examiner reporter Edward S. Montgomery, who, by his own admission, usually sided with the prosecution. "Why would this story have grabbed him so much?" Cairns asked. "I couldn't figure out why. Was it because she was beautiful? Because she was interesting? Because he thought it was a travesty?"

Whatever the reason, Montgomery campaigned hard to exonerate Graham, even after her death. He contacted Hollywood producer Walter Wanger, who specialized in "socially significant message films that challenged power structures."

Wanger jumped at the chance to tell Graham's tragic story, bringing aboard director Robert Wise and screenwriters Don Mankiewicz and Nelson Gidding. Susan Hayward signed on to play Graham.

Unlike other crime dramas of the era, "I Want to Live!" was told from the accused woman''s perspective. Although the movie didn't shy away from depicting Graham as "risk-taking or anti-authoritarian," Cairns said, it did emphasize her vulnerability -- portraying her as "an innocent woman sent to her death by arrogant, uncaring men."

"I Want to Live!" opened in 1958 to uniformly positive reviews and strong box office receipts, earning Hayward an Academy Award and providing capital punishment critics with fresh ammunition. "The abolition movement . used all this sympathy for Barbara Graham to promote abolition," Cairns said.

Although Graham's story is largely forgotten today, Cairns said, she remains a powerful symbol of a woman marginalized by society, abused by the legal system and besmirched by the media.

"Whenever somebody wants to bring up a case of someone who might (have been) innocent (but was executed), they can bring up Barbara Graham," she said. "Stories like Barbara Graham's are really significant because they show you how the system works - or doesn't."


4 Carroll Cole152

Carroll Cole is a twisted serial killer who took the lives of at least 15 women and one boy between 1948 and 1980. He was executed for his crimes, but with an IQ of 152, his fate could have been much different. Cole was bullied badly as a child his cruel mother dressed him as a girl, and his school friends would taunt him for his &ldquogirl&rsquos name.&rdquo [7] Cole&rsquos first victim was a classmate who he drowned in a lake, but the crime went unnoticed, as it was considered an accident.

Cole then turned to minor theft before he began more taking part in more sinister crimes. In 1960, he attacked a couple in a car and confessed to the police that he was obsessed with fantasies that involved strangling women. Cole spent time in many mental institutions and was diagnosed with an antisocial sociopath personality, yet just three years later, he was regarded fit for release.

Moving between states, his killing spree really took off. Cole claimed that he had murdered at least 14 women over nine years, although the actual victim count remains unknown, as he was usually drunk at the time of the murders, so he couldn&rsquot remember them all. In 1985, he was executed by lethal injection at Nevada State Prison.


Those Executed Who Did Not Directly Kill the Victim

Everyone who has been executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 participated in a crime in which at least one victim died. In most cases, the person executed directly killed the victim. In a small minority of cases, the person executed ordered or contracted with another person to carry out the murder. In another group of cases, the person executed participated in a felony during which a victim died at the hands of another participant in the felony. The defendant in such cases was typically found guilty of “felony murder” or under the “law of parties,” and in some states can receive the death penalty, despite not having killed or directed the killing of the victim. The US Supreme Court has restricted the use of the death penalty in such cases. See Enmund v. Florida and Tison v. Arizona.

We list below the cases that we are aware of in which the defendant was found guilty of felony murder. We separately list the cases in which the person executed contracted to have the victim killed, though these cases do not fit under the class of felony murder and are not meant to imply less culpability. We welcome any additions or corrections to these lists.

See also DPIC’s page Kennedy v. Louisiana regarding the Supreme Court decision striking down statutes that allowed the death penalty for non-homicide crimes against individuals.

Felony Murders

NameStateRace of
Defendant
Execution DateDescription of Crime
1.Doyle SkillernTXWhite1/16/1985Accomplice in the murder of an undercover narcotics agent. He was waiting in a car nearby when the murder happened. The shooter is serving a life sentence, but eligible for parole. (“Killers’ Fates Diverged Accomplice Is Executed Triggerman Faces Parole,” Washington Post, January 16, 1985)
2.Beauford WhiteFLBlack8/18/1987Stood guard while two men went into a house looking for drugs and then killed six of the house’s occupants. The two shooters were executed as well. (“Florida Prisoner Executed after 10-year Fight for Life,” St. Petersburg Times, August 29, 1987)
3.G.W. GreenTXWhite11/12/1991Participated in a robbery, where one of his accomplices shot the probation officer who owned the home. The shooter was executed on 9/10/87 and another accomplice is serving a life sentence. (󈫿 Years After Crime, Texas Inmate Is Executed,” New York Times, November 13, 1991)
4.William AndrewsUTBlack7/30/1992Participated in a robbery and torture, but his accomplice murdered the victims after he left. The shooter was executed as well. (“Utah Execution Hinges on Issue of Racial Bias,” New York Times, July 19, 1992)
5.Carlos SantanaTXLatino4/23/1993Participated in a robbery. During the robbery his accomplice murdered a security guard. His accomplice was executed on December 8, 1998. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice)
6.Jessie GutierrezTXLatino9/17/1994Participated in a robbery with his brother, Jose Gutierrez, who killed the victim. Jessie was apparently present during the murder and even brandished a gun while continuing with the robbery. Jose was also executed (in 1999). (Texas Attorney General press release, Nov. 17, 1999)
7.Gregory ResnoverINBlack12/8/1994A police officer was killed when trying to arrest Resnover and Tommie J. Smith. Smith and Resnover both fired shots at the police, but Smith was convicted as the one who fired the fatal shoot. Smith was executed on 7/18/1996. (“Capital Punishment in Indiana,” Indy Star, June 15, 2007)
8.Steven HatchOKWhite8/9/1996Steven Hatch with his co-defendant Glenn Ake participated in a home invasion. After abusing the family for several hours, Hatch went out to the car while Ake killed the parents. Ake is serving a life sentence. (“Oklahoma Justice: Should Crime Partner Get Death Penalty,” Christian Science Monitor, August 7, 1996)
9.Dennis SkillicornMOWhite5/20/2009Skillicorn and co-defendants Allen Nicklasson and Tim DeGraffenreid kidnapped Richard Drummond, who had stopped to help the three with their broken down car. While Skillicorn and Graffenreid waited in the car, Nicklasson led Drummond a 1/4 mile away and shot the victim. (“Missouri is about to execute Dennis Skillicorn. The state’s death penalty may not outlive him very long.,” Kansas City Pitch, May 12, 2009)
10.Robert ThompsonTXBlack11/19/2009Thompson and co-defendant Sammy Butler entered a Seven Evenings convenience store in Houston with intent to rob. Thompson shot one clerk who survived the attack. On the way out, another clerk came out firing shots at the vehicle. Butler shot and killed that clerk. Butler was given a life sentence. The Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles recommended clemency for Thompson, which Texas Governor Rick Perry rejected. (“Killer executed after Perry rejects panel’s advice,” Houston Chronicle, November 20, 2009)
11.Joseph GarciaTXLatino12/4/2018Garcia was one of the “Texas 7,” a group of men who escaped from a maximum-security Texas prison on December 13, 2000. After escaping, the men robbed a sporting goods store, where some of the men were confronted by police officer Aubrey Hawkins. Hawkins was killed in a shootout and Garcia, who was not involved in the shootout, was convicted and sentenced to death under the Texas “law of parties.” (David Martin Davies, Texas Matters: ‘Texas 7’ Escapee Set For Execution, Texas Public Radio, November 30, 2018 Keri Blakinger, ‘Texas 7’ escapee fights death sentence as Dec. 4 execution nears, Houston Chronicle, November 23, 2018)

Contract Killings

NameStateRace of
Defendant
Execution DateDescription of Crime
1.Anthony AntoneFLWhite1/26/1984Planned the Murder of a former Police Detective. The shooter committed suicide while in jail. (“Contract Murderer Dies in Florida,” New York Times, January 27, 1984)
2.Mark HopkinsonWYWhite1/22/1992Convicted of ordering the bombing deaths of a family. The bomber died before he could be questioned. Hopkinson was executed proclaiming his innocence. (“Executed in Wyoming,” The Washington Times, January 23, 1992)
3.Larry HeathALWhite3/20/1992Contracted for the murder of his wife. The shooter was given a life sentence. (HEATH v. ALABAMA, 474 U.S. 82 (1985))
4.Robert Black Jr.TXWhite5/22/1992John Wayne Hearn placed an ad in Soldier of Fortune magazine offering his skills as a mercenary. Black contacted him and paid him to murder his wife. Hearn is serving a life sentence in Florida. (“Killer Tells of Requests for His Help in Crimes,” New York Times, February 21, 1988)
5.Markham Duff-SmithTXWhite6/29/1993Contracted for the murder of his adoptive mother. Of the co-defendants, one was given a 30-year sentence and another was paroled after serving three years in prison. The shooter was executed on 7/24/2003. (“Murderers Are Put to Death in Texas and Georgia,” New York Times, June 30, 1993)
6.David FisherVAWhite3/23/1999Contracted for murder to collect a life insurance policy. The shooter received a life sentence. (“Virginia Executes Man Who Arranged Murder for Hire.” The Washington Post, March 23, 1999)
7.Marilyn PlantzOKWhite5/1/2001Conspired with two men to have her husband killed, allegedly to collect insurance money that they would share in. One of the killers (her lover), William Bryson, was also executed. (“Oklahoma Executes Second Female Prisoner,” Washington Post, May 2, 2001)
8.Clarence Ray AllenCANative American1/19/2006While in prison, Allen contracted Billy Ray Hamilton to murder witnesses who had testified against him. Hamilton also received a death sentence, but died of cancer while on death row. (“Death Row Inmate, 58, Dies of Cancer,” The Los Angeles Times, October 26, 2007)
9.Gregory Lynn SummersTXWhite10/25/2006Contracted for the murder of three family members. The shooter was given a death sentence as well. (Texas Department of Corrections: Texas Offender Information)
10.Teresa LewisVAWhite9/23/2010Contracted for the murder of husband and adult stepson. The two shooters received life without parole sentences. (“Virginia executes Teresa Lewis for role in slayings of husband, stepson in 2002,” Washington Post, Sept. 23, 2010)
11.Kelly GissendanerGAWhite9/30/2015Arranged to have her boyfriend kill her husband. The boyfriend received a life sentence after a plea bargain. (“Georgia Executes Woman on Death Row Despite Clemency Bid and Pope’s Plea,” N.Y. Times, Sept. 30, 2015)

Pre- 2000 cas­es were iden­ti­fied in ​ “ Death Row USA ,” Further research on these and sub­se­quent cas­es is from DPIC .


The most infamous murderers and massacres in Pa. history

Some crimes are so heinous that they gain statewide or even national notoriety. Here are a list of some of the most horrendous in Pennsylvania history, whether they be crimes of passion or calculated killings.

In 1878, Charles Drews, Frank Stichler, Henry F. Wise, Josiah Hummel, Israel Brandt and George Zechman conspired to murder Joseph Raber. Raber was 65 years old and surviving largely on charity, and the six men (each of whom had blue eyes) agreed to take care of him, but only to arrange for $8,000 of life insurance policies for Raber, which they then tried to collect.

The six may have gotten away with the murder if a witness to the crime hadn't come forward. Zechman was acquitted, but the other five were found guilty and executed by hanging.

In 1934, Elmo Noakes, his niece Winifred Pierce and Noakes' three daughters arrived in Pennsylvania from California with no job or money. The three children were found dead on Nov. 24, and it is believed that Noakes killed them in order to prevent them from starving. On the same day, Noakes killed Pierce and then himself.

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

West Nickel Mines School Shooting

In 2006, Charles Carl Roberts IV invaded an Amish school house near Lancaster, taking 10 female students hostage and barricading himself inside of the building with him. After police arrived, he shot eight girls, killing five, before killing himself.

In the aftermath of the French and Indian War, antagonism grew between the native tribes and the European settlers who were encroaching on their territory on the Pennsylvania frontier. The settlers organized behind Reverend John Elder, whom they nicknamed the "Fighting Parson" for his tendency to preach with a rifle at his pulpit.

Eventually, a group of vigilantes dubbed the Paxton Boys would attempt to ensure their safety via the murder of the native Conestoga people living near present-day Millersville. The Conestoga had lived in peace with settlers for decades, and many had been converted to Christianity, but they were blamed regardless. Six were killed and scalped and the settlement was burned.

The survivors were taken into protective custody by governor John Penn, but that didn't stop the Paxton Boys from breaking in and murdering six adults and eight children.


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