Unlike their victims, serial killers on death row know when the end is coming. In the quiet of their cells, as the seconds tick down to their execution, serial killers are eating their last meal; probably thinking of what their last moments will be like, and what their last words will be. After all, their final words are the last impression anyone will ever have of them.
The last words of famous serial killers are wide and varied. When faced with imminent death, some serial killers resort to jokes, taunts, arrogance, sincere apologies, heartless remarks, and out of left field musings.
Below are the chosen last words of 25 of the most despicable serial killers in history.
“I’d like you to give my love to my family and friends.”
Theodore Robert “Ted” Bundy was a handsome, charismatic, articulate serial killer, kidnapper, rapist, and necrophile who murdered dozens of women during the 1970s. Before being executed, Bundy confessed to 30 murders committed in seven states between 1974 and 1978. But the exact number of victims is unknown; some say it could be in the 100s.
On February 10, 1980, Bundy was sentenced for a third time to death by execution. The third death sentence was carried out on January 24, 1989 at Raiford Prison in Florida.
Age: Died at 42 (November 24, 1946 – January 24, 1989).
Thomas J. Grasso
“Please, tell the media, I did not get my Spaghetti-Os, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.”
Thomas J. Grasso murdered Hilda Johnson, 87, in her Tulsa home on December 24, 1990; strangling her with her own Christmas tree lights. He stole $4 in loose change, $8 from her purse, and sold her television for $125. Six months later, on July 4, 1991, Grasso, along with his wife Lana, murdered Leslie Holtz, 81, from Staten Island. He stole Holtz’s Social Security check.
The two were arrested shortly after committing the second murder. Grasso pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years to life on April 21, 1992. But, he was extradited to Oklahoma just 11 days after George E. Pataki became governor of New York. Pataki campaigned hard on capital punishment, and signed an agreement with Oklahoma governor Frank Keating, allowing Oklahoma correction officers to take custody of Grasso. He was flown to the state penitentiary at McAlester on January 11, 1995.
Grasso’s last meal consisted of two dozen steamed mussels, two dozen steamed clams, a Burger King double cheeseburger, six barbecued spare ribs, two large milkshakes, a mango, half a pumpkin pie, strawberries and cream, and a 16-ounce can of Spaghetti-Os with meatballs.
The kitchen messed up his request and gave him spaghetti instead. At 12:22 a.m., inmate #209207 died; his last meal spoiled.
Age: Died at 32 (November 23, 1962 – March 20, 1995).
“I don’t care if I live or die. Go ahead and kill me.”
Alternately, according to Joyce Flint, she asked her son when they spoke on the phone every Sunday night “if he was safe.” Dahmer would reply, “It doesn’t matter, Mom. I don’t care if something happens to me.”
Jeffrey Dahmer was a serial killer and sex offender who tortured and murdered 17 males between 1978 and 1991. His other crimes included necrophilia and cannibalism. Dahmer was arrested in 1991 and sentenced to 16 life terms (936 years). He died on November 28, 1994 after Christopher Scarver, a fellow inmate, crushed his skull with a metal bar. Dahmer died en route to the local Divine Savior Hospital.
Age: Died at 34 (May 21, 1960 – November 28, 1994).
“Tell me. After my head has been chopped off, will I still be able to hear, at least for a moment, the sound of my own blood gushing from the stump of my neck? That would be a pleasure to end all pleasures.”
Peter Kürten, also known as the “Düsseldorf Vampire” was born into an impoverished and abusive household in in Köln-Mullheim, a suburb of Cologne, Germany in 1883. His murder spree began in 1913, but his most notorious sex crimes and murders against women and children took place from February to November 1929 in Düsseldorf.
Kürten was finally arrested on May 24, 1930.
He confessed to 79 offenses, and was charged with nine murders and seven attempted murders. He explained that some victims had more stab wounds than others because it sometimes took him longer to have an orgasm.
Kürten initially pleaded not guilty when he went on trial in April 1931, but changed his plea a few weeks later. He was found guilty and was executed on 2 July 1931 by guillotine in Cologne.
Age: Died at 48 (May 26, 1883 – July 2, 1931).
“Let’s do it!”
Gary Gilmore was a career criminal who murdered Max Jensen, a gas station employee in Orem, Utah on the evening of July 19, 1976. The next night, he robbed and murdered Ben Bushnell, a hotel manager in Provo. A garage mechanic saw Gilmore hiding a gun in some bushes before paying for repairs done to his truck. The mechanic heard about a shooting at a nearby motel and called police. Gilmore was charged with the murders of Jensen and Bushnell, but was only tried on Bushnell’s murder as there were no witnesses in the Jensen case.
In October 1976, Gilmore was sentenced to death. He chose death by firing squad and was the first person executed in the U.S. after the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. His last words were “Let’s do it.” His parting words have lived on too; advertising guru Dan Wieden says Gilmore’s last words were the inspiration for Nike’s tagline, “Just Do It.”
Age: Died at 36 (December 4, 1940 – January 17, 1977).
John Wayne Gacy
“Kiss my ass.”
John Wayne Gacy was an American serial killer and rapist who tortured, raped, and murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men from 1972 to 1978 in Cook County, Illinois. He was known as the “Serial Killer Clown” because he would dress up as “Pogo the Clown” at charitable events, fund-raisers, and parties. He also murdered his victims dressed up like the psychotic clown.
Gacy long maintained his innocence, but the evidence was overwhelming. He was convicted of 33 murders on March 13, 1980 and sentenced to serve 12 death sentences and 21 natural life sentences.
He spent 14 years on death row before being executed on May 10, 1994 by lethal injection at Stateville Correctional Center. His notorious last words were “Kiss my ass.”
Age: Died at 52 (March 17, 1942 – May 10, 1994).
“I’d just like to say I’m sailing with the rock, and I’ll be back like Independence Day, with Jesus, June 6th. Like the movie, big mother ship and all. I’ll be back.”
Aileen Wuornos was sexually abused by her grandfather and had a sexual relationship with her brother. She became pregnant in her early teens, gave the child up for adoption, and was kicked out of her home. She made a living as a sex worker and in 1989, killed Richard Mallory, a man who picked her up. She went on to kill at least five other men along Florida highways.
On January 27, 1992, Aileen was found guilty of the first-degree murder of Richard Mallory. The “Damsel of Death” later confessed to murdering five other men and received a death sentence for each plea.
After a decade on death row, Wuornos volunteered for the death penalty, saying she would kill again. “There is no point in sparing me. It’s a waste of taxpayer’s money.”
Aileen Wuornos’ final words, which are an odd mix of science fiction and religion, hint at her sanity, which had long been in question.
She was executed by lethal injection on Wednesday, October 9, 2002 at the Florida State Prison in Starke, and pronounced dead at 9:47 a.m.
Age: Died at 46 (February 29, 1956 – October 9, 2002).
“Hurry up, you Hoosier bastard. I could kill ten men while you’re fooling around.”
Carl Panzram is a not so long forgotten American serial killer, rapist, arsonist, and burglar. The six-foot tall, tattooed giant of a man claimed to have murdered 21, and raped over 1,000 boys and men.
One of his most notorious killings occurred in Angola around 1920. He hired six local guides for a crocodile hunting expedition. The trip took an ugly turn while canoeing down a river; Panzram shot the six crew members and fed their bodies to the hungry crocodiles.
In 1928, Panzram was arrested for a series of burglaries, and jailed at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas. He was sentenced to 25 years after voluntarily confessing to killing two boys.
While there, he crushed the laundry foreman’s skull with an iron bar. This landed him a spot on death row, where he refused the efforts of human rights groups’ to spare him. He even threatened to kill members of the human rights groups if they intervened on his behalf.
While not as eloquent as Ted Bundy, he was certainly much more direct and honest. In an autobiography penned the year before his execution, Panzram said, “For all of these things, I am not the least bit sorry. I hate the whole damned human race including myself.”
Panzram was hanged on September 5, 1930. As his executioners were fumbling with the hood, Panzram ordered them to hurry up, “I could kill ten men while you’re fooling around.”
Age: Died at 38 (June 28, 1892 – September 5, 1930).
“Turn up the radio and I’ll go quietly.”
Peter Manuel is one of Scotland’s most notorious serial killers. Born in New York City in 1927, Manuel and his family migrated back to their native Scotland in 1932, settling in Birkenshaw, Lanarkshire. Bullied as a child, Manuel was known to police by the age of 10. By 16, he committed sexual assaults on at least a dozen women; this resulted in a nine year prison sentence.
He was arrested and convicted of murdering seven people across Lanarkshire between January 2, 1956 and January 1, 1958. But it is believed that he was responsible for nine murders.
On January 2, 1956, he murdered his first victim, 17-year old Anne Kneilands, on a golf course. His father provided police with a false alibi. In September 1956, Manuel committed a triple murder; in December 1957, he shot and killed a taxi driver, later murdering a 17-year old girl. On January 1, 1958 he committed another triple murder. He was arrested shortly thereafter.
Manuel represented himself in court. The presiding judge noted that Manuel defended himself “with a skill that is quite remarkable.” But he was sentenced to hang regardless.
He was hanged on July 11, 1958. His last words were reportedly, “Turn up the radio and I’ll go quietly.”
Age: Died at 31 (March 13, 1927 – July 11, 1958).
“My head is bloody but unbowed…I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
Timothy McVeigh, along with Terry Nichols, perpetrated the April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing which killed 168 people and injured almost 700. It was the deadliest act of terrorism on the U.S. before the September 11 attacks, and remains the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in the U.S.
It is believed that McVeigh, who was a Gulf War veteran, was seeking revenge against the federal government for the siege that took place in Waco, Texas, exactly two years before the 1995 bombing. The siege in Waco ended with the death of 86 people, including sect leader David Koresch and many children.
McVeigh was also unhappy with the 1992 incident at Ruby Ridge and, more broadly, U.S. foreign policy.
Unlike the other serial killers on this list, McVeigh went quietly. Although he released a statement through a spokesperson before being executed. It was a handwritten copy of English poet William Ernest Henley’s 1875 poem, “Invictus.”
“My head is bloody but unbowed. I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
“Invictus” is Latin for “unconquered,” and suggests that in the end, McVeigh was true to his own convictions and, despite being executed, was not conquered.
Age: Died at 33 (April 23, 1968 – June 11, 2001).
“I have nothing to say.”
Amelia Elizabeth Dyer has largely been forgotten, but she is easily one of the most prolific serial killers in history. Trained as a nurse, she turned to baby farming in 1869 to support herself.
Baby farming entailed adopting unwanted children from single mothers for an upfront fee. In Victorian England, single mothers and illegitimate children were stigmatised and had little hope for a decent future. While many baby farmers had good intentions, the same cannot be said for Amelia Dyer.
Following the discovery of a baby’s body in the River Thames, evidence led police back to Dyner. Police described her as both “motherly” and “homely.” Inside her rented terraced house, police found vast quantities of baby clothes, pawn tickets for baby clothes, and dozens of vaccination papers. They also found receipts for newspaper advertisements arranging adoptions under various aliases.
What really tipped investigators off, though, was the stench of rotting flesh coming from the kitchen and under her bed. Police ordered a dragging operation of the river, and, after finding the 50th baby, Dyner said, “You’ll know all mine by the tape around their necks.”
After 30 years as a baby farmer, it is estimated that Dyer murdered more than 400 children; conservatively, one a month.
It is thought that many were killed within hours or days of being dropped off at her place. She initially drugged the babies with opium-based products, leaving them in a vegetative state until they died.
On May 22, 1896, Dyer appeared at the Old Bailey (Criminal Court) and pleaded guilty to one murder. While many were suspicious of her, nothing was ever done. It also emerged that Dyer, like so many serial killers, escaped detection on a number of occasions.
She was sentenced to death and hanged at Newgate prison on June 10, 1896. Asked on the gallows if she had anything to say, Dyer replied, “I have nothing to say.”
According to records of her hanging, “On account of her weight and the softness of the textures, rather a short drop was given. It proved to be quite sufficient.”
Age: Died at 60 (1836? – June 10, 1896).
“Well, gentlemen, you are about to see a baked Appel.”
Having a sense of humor and love of puns helped send convicted murdered George Appel to his death by electric chair in New York in 1928.
Appel was convicted of murdering a New York City police officer in 1928. The sentencing came swiftly. While being strapped to the electric chair he allegedly laughed and said, “Well, gentlemen, you are about to see a baked Appel.”
Just before his execution, Appel also said, “Damn, no power outage.”
Age: Died at 40 (1888? – August 9, 1928).
Robert Charles Towery
“I love my family. Potato, potato, potato.”
Robert Charles Towery was convicted of strangling philanthropist Mark Jones after robbing his Phoenix home in 1991. Jones, 68, knew Towery and previously lent him money.
On the night of the murder, Towery pulled a weapon on Jones and handcuffed him. He then stole $1,200, and loaded jewelry, electronics and other items into Jones’ car. With an accomplice, Towery then led Jones to his bedroom at gunpoint. Towery laid Jones face down on his bed and injected him with battery acid; then strangled him to death.
Towery and his accomplice were arrested weeks later.
Before being put to death, Towery apologized to the victim’s family, friends, and his own family. He then went on to talk about the bad choices he made, concluding with, “I love my family. Potato, potato, potato.”
No one knows what the potato reference means.
Towery’s last meal consisted of “a Porterhouse steak with sautéed mushrooms, baked potato with butter and sour cream, steamed asparagus, a cup of clam chowder, a soft drink, apple pie with vanilla ice cream, and some milk.”
Age: Died at 47 (July 20, 1964 – March 8, 2012).
“Hey, fellas! How about this for a headline for tomorrow’s paper? ‘French Fries.’”
James D. French was the last person executed under Oklahoma’s death penalty laws prior to Furman v. Georgia, which suspended capital punishment in the U.S. from 1972 to 1976.
French was already serving a life sentence in prison for murdering Frank Boone, a man who gave French a ride while he was hitchhiking in the Texas Panhandle. French murdered Boone after they hit Oklahoma; he then stole Boone’s car and was arrested driving the dead man’s car.
Not content with life in prison, the depressed French was said to be too afraid to commit suicide, so he killed his cellmate, Eddie Shelton, instead. This, he hoped, would compel the state to execute him.
He was executed on August 10, 1966. As he was being strapped into the electric chair, French said, “How’s this for your headline? ‘French Fries’”
It is not known if any newspapers used his suggested headline.
Age: Died at 30 (1936 – August 10, 1966).
Sean P. Flanagan
“I love you.”
Sean P. Flanagan, a former Marine turned male prostitute, was arrested for killing two homosexual men. Flanagan confessed to the killings after being arrested in Orange County for jaywalking.
He said he strangled and dismembered James Lewandowski, a 45-year old chef he befriended after he allegedly made advances towards him in a motel room. Flanagan cut his body up and dumped the parts in the trash. Four days later, he strangled Albert Duggins, 59, a pianist, after Duggins offered Flanagan a ride.
In a seven-page statement, Flanagan said he hated his own homosexuality. He could not say for certain why he killed the two men, “the thought that I would be doing some good for our society crossed my mind.”
Flanagan, who maintained he was a born-again Christian, volunteered to be executed, saying he would “kill more homosexuals if he ever got out.” Before being led to the execution room, Flanagan sang hymns and read from the Bible.
As he was strapped to the table, Flanagan raised his head and mouthed the words, “You are just a man. I love you,” to Dan Seaton, the Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted him.
Seaton said Flanagan uttered those words before, “He means it in terms of Christian love and forgiveness.”
Age: Died at 28 (1961 – June 23, 1989).
“I’ll be in Hell before you start breakfast, boys. Let her rip.”
Tom Ketchum, also known as “Black Jack,” was a famous outlaw in the late 1800s, who rode with Butch Cassidy’s Hole in the Wall Gang. Along with his brother, Sam and their gang, Ketchum also made a name for himself, making a number of daring, high-profile robberies and murders.
He was eventually arrested for a botched 1899 train robbery. Despite his prolific career as an outlaw, it is his execution that garnered the most attention.
Officials in Clayton, New Mexico were not experienced with hangings. In fact, Ketchum was the first person to be executed that way. Their inexperience led to a seriously botched hanging. When a prisoner is hanged, they typically die of a broken neck. Ketchum’s execution, though, used a rope that was too long and rigid.
After placing a black hood over Ketchum’s head, he was allegedly heard saying, “I’ll be in Hell before you start breakfast, boys. Let her rip.”
The trap door was released and the 193-pound Ketchum swung seven feet to the ground. He was decapitated and his body landed upright on its feet, stood for a moment, swayed, and fell to the ground, with blood spurting from his severed neck.
The head was sewn back onto the neck and the body was prepared for burial.
Age: Died at 37 (October 31, 1863 – April 26, 1901).
“Take your time. Don’t bungle it.”
Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as H.H. Holmes, was one America’s first serial killers. Often referred to as the “Beast of Chicago,” it is believed that Holmes killed anywhere from 20 to 200 people.
Holmes killed many of his victims in a specially constructed, three story mansion in Chicago, which was later dubbed the “Murder Castle.” The upper floors had living quarter and small rooms where he tortured his victims. He also constructed trap doors and chutes that allowed Holmes to move the bodies in the basement where he would later dispose of them.
Holmes was an especially prolific killer during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where he opened up his home as a hotel. Many checked in, few ever checked out.
After weeks on the run, Holmes was finally caught in November 1894. In custody, he admitted to killing 27 people. He was convicted of murder in 1895 and was executed on May 7, 1896.
No papers quote Holmes’ last words in the exact same way. The Record wrote Holmes’ last words as: “What’s your hurry, there’s plenty of time.” The Inquirer said it was, “Take your time old man,” and the Philadelphia Times said “Take your time, Richardson, you know I am in no hurry.”
Since Holmes was perched above the reports and spoke only to the executioner through a hood, it’s fair to say no one clearly heard what was said.
Age: Died at 34 (May 16, 1861 – May 7, 1896).
“You sons of bitches. Give love to Mother.”
Francis Crowley made his mother proud in the end. Better known to his friends and enemies as “Two Guns,” Crowley was one of the most feared and notorious gangsters in 1931. His crime spree only lasted for three months, but it was long enough to cement the 19-year old as one of America’s greatest gangsters.
After years of petty crimes, Crowley ramped it up on February 21, 1931 when he crashed a dance in the Bronx. Several there tried to eject Crowley, he responded by shooting two of them. This elevated the 5’6” Crowley, who also went by “The Half-Pint Killer,” to being wanted for two attempted murders.
Less than a month later, Crowley, now in hiding, found himself in a shootout with police; one detective was seriously injured. Four days later, Crowley, along with four accomplices, robbed a bank in New Rochelle. They escaped, further angering the New York Police Department.
In late April, Crowley and his friend Rudolph “Fats” Duringer committed their first murder. The two were joyriding in a stolen car with Virginia Brannen; she brushed off Fats’ passes. This did not please him. He raped her and shot her in the head. With the help of Crowley, the two dumped her body outside St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Yonkers.
It all came to an end in May. On the 6th, he was approached by two officers while sitting in another stolen car. Crowley fatally shot one officer and seriously wounded the other. The next day, one of the biggest gun battles in the history of New York City took place.
Crowley, who was holed up in a building, was ratted out by a jealous ex-girlfriend. A total of 300 officers surrounded the building as 15,000 onlookers watched on. Over the next two hours, Crowley engaged in an epic shoot-out. Police fired over 700 rounds and tossed tear gas canisters. Crowley responded by shooting back and throwing the tear gas back out onto the streets.
He was eventually apprehended and quickly convicted. He was sentenced to death on January 21, 1932. When the warden asked Crowley if he had any last words, he asked for a rag to clean the chair. After Duringer’s execution, Crowley said, “I want to wipe off the chair after that rat sat in it.” His wish went unfulfilled.
As the electrodes were being applied to his head, he gave one last sarcastic parting shot, “Give my love to my mother…”
Age: Died at 19 (October 31, 1912 – January 21, 1932).
James Allen Red Dog
“I’m going home, babe.”
James Allen Red Dog was a member of the Lakota tribe and grew up on Fort Peck Reservation in Poplar, Montanan. He blamed his crime spree on reservation life, saying there were no jobs; the only way to make a living was as a criminal.
His life of crime eventually led to Red Dog being jailed for four murders. He committed his fifth killing, the murder of Hugh Pennington, in February 1991; he was in the federal witness protection program when he committed that murder.
Red Dog pleaded no contest in 1992 to the February 1991 murder. He also requested the death penalty and refused an appeal.
On March 3, Red Dog was executed by lethal injection in Delaware. Before entering the execution chamber, Red Dog thanked his family and friends, and his public defender, Edward Pankowski Jr. for their support and treating him with kindness. “As for the rest of you, you can kiss my ass.”
As the lethal injection began to take effect, Red Dog chocked and told his wife, “I’m going home babe.”
Age: Died at 39 (1954 – March 3, 1993).
Steven Timothy Judy
“I don’t hold any grudges. This is my doing. Sorry it happened.”
Steven Timothy Judy was just another petty criminal until a heinous murder elevated him to the most hated man in Indiana.
When Judy was 13, he posed as Boy Scout, forcing his way into the home of an Indianapolis women. He raped her and tried to kill her with his pocket knife, but the blade broke. He hit her over the head with a hatchet, fracturing her skull, and cut off one of her fingers as she defended herself.
Judy was caught and given six months in a juvenile detention center. From there, he was sent to a mental hospital; while receiving treatment, he was diagnosed as a “sexual psychopath.”
After his term was up, Judy went back to a life of crime. He later recounted that he was involved in around 200 shoplifting incidents, a number of burglaries, 20-50 robberies, 24 car thefts, and 12-16 rapes.
His crime spree reached its zenith on April 28, 1979, when Judy raped and killed 21-year old Terry Chasteen, and then murdered her three children. Judy waved down Chasteen, signalling that she had a flat tire. Once she stopped, he removed an ignition wire and disabled her vehicle. He then offered Chasteen and her three children a lift in his car.
He drove them to a secluded spot and proceeded to beat, rape, and strangle the young mother to death. He then drowned her three small children Misty, 5, Steven, 4, and Mark, 2.
Two hours after the grizzly killings, mushroom hunters discovered the bodies of Terry Lee Chasteen and Misty in White Lick Creek. Police searched the creek and found the bodies of her two sons.
Judy pleaded insanity when caught but the jury disagreed. At the judgement phase, Judy threatened each member on the jury, telling them he knew where they lived and if they had children etc.
Judy was convicted of murdering Terry Chasteen and her three children on April 28, 1979. He ushered along his execution date, refusing any appeals. He was executed in the electric chair less than two years later, on March 9, 1981, at the Indiana State Prison.
Shortly before being executed, he gave his watch to Jim Lowery, a fellow prisoner, and told prison officials, “I don’t hold any grudges. This is my doing. Sorry it happened.”
There were no last words uttered after he was strapped into the electric chair.
Age: Died at 24 (May 24, 1956 – March 9, 1981).
John Avalos Alba
“Okay Warden, let’s do it. I love y’all. I can taste it already. I am starting to go.”
In June 1991, John Avalos Alba was accused of molesting a 12-year-old girl who was staying over at his apartment for a slumber party. A warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of indecency with a child.
As he was being handcuffed, Alba told his wife he’d kill her if she didn’t come and get him out of jail. While in jail, Alba continued his threatening ways, sending her numerous intimidating letters.
While he was in jail, she moved in with friends, Robert Donoho and Gail Webb. She was also looking to find a place to stay in a woman’s shelter.
On August 4, 1991, Alba was released from jail. The following day, he purchased a .22 caliber semiautomatic pistol, and a box of ammunition from a pawn shop in Plano. He then managed to track down his wife.
At around 10:00 p.m., Alba tried to break into the house where she was staying. Donoho went to the back of the apartment and placed a 911 call; Webb and his wife, Wendy tried to force the door closed but were overpowered by Alba.
He grabbed Wendy by the hair, dragged her to the doorway of the apartment, pistol whipped her, and shot her to death. He then grabbed Webb, who was crouched on the floor.
Wendy, who was on the floor, was then shot six times at point-blank range; he then shot her in the temple – but she lived. Their six-year-old son saw everything. Alba fled from the scene, but was later arrested after a lengthy standoff with police in a Plano, Texas shopping center on August 6, 1991.
Alba was executed on May 25, 2010 at the state prison in Huntsville. He apologized to everyone and asked for their forgiveness and thanks his own family for standing by his side.
As the lethal mixture began pulsing through his veins, Alba is alleged to have said, “Okay Warden, let’s do it. I love y’all. I can taste it already. I am starting to go.”
Age: Died at 54 (Jun 26, 1955 – May 25, 2010).
John W. Rook
“Freedom, freedom at last man —it’s been a good one!”
John William Rook was arrested for raping and murdering Ann Marie Roche, 25 in May 1980. On May 12, Roche was walking along a road near Raleigh, North Carolina when she was abducted by Rook.
He drove to a remote site several miles away, where she was brutally beaten, slashed with a fishing knife, and raped. He then ran over her with a car and left her to die. Her body was found the next day.
He was tracked down by police after witnesses gave authorities the license plate number of the car he drove. On May 15, Rook was arrested for unrelated misdemeanor charges of assault on a minor, and failing to appear in court for driving under the influence.
During questioning, Rook admitted to killing Roche; giving police detailed statements about her murder. He was charged with first-degree rape, kidnapping, and first-degree murder. He pleaded guilty on all charges, but was convicted on October 23, 1980.
Strapped down to die, Rook said, “Freedom, freedom at last man —it’s been a good one!” He was allowed to wear western boots and a Harley Davidson t-shirt. Rook was pronounced dead at 2:11 a.m.
Age: Died at 27 (March 17, 1959 – September 19, 1986).
“I think I’d rather be fishing.”
Glass and his accomplice, Jimmy Wingo were both executed for killing Newton Brown, 55, and his wife, Erlene Nealy Brown, 51, at their home in Dixie Inn, outside Minden, Louisiana on December 24, 1982. Why? No motive was established, but it is thought the two men needed money.
The two escaped from the Webster Parish Jail in December 1982. While on the run, the two men killed the middle-aged couple in their own home. Their family discovered their bodies Christmas morning.
At the trial, Glass contended that Wingo, his cellmate, held a gun to his head while they were robbing the Browns, and made him kill the couple after he addressed Wingo by name. For his part, Wingo said he had absolutely nothing to do with the murders.
The two were sentenced to death by the electric chair.
Glass did not want to die. Instead, he asserted that the electric chair violated his Eighth and Fourteen Amendments of the Constitution as “cruel and unusual punishment.” The courts rejected his pleas by a 5-4 margin.
His execution went ahead as scheduled. Glass allegedly grinned as he was strapped into the electric chair. When asked if he had any final words, replied, “I’d rather be fishing.”
Age: Died at 25 (1962 – June 12, 1987).
“Good people are always so sure they’re right.”
Barbara “Bloody Babs” Graham, was as an American criminal and convicted murderer who went to the gas chamber on June 2, 1955 for the murder of 64-year-old widow, Mabel Monohan,
Graham was charged, along with two men, for the murder of Monohan after a botched robbery attempt. The three targeted Monohan because it was alleged she kept large amounts of cash stashed in her home.
In March 1953, Graham asked Monohan if she could use her home. Once the door opened, her accomplices burst in. The gang demanded money and jewels from Monohan, but she refused to give them anything. Graham then pistol-whipped Mohohan, and suffocated her with a pillow.
They left empty-handed, but later learned Monohan had $15,000 in jewels and other valuables stashed in a purse in the closet.
Some of the gang members were eventually arrested with one member, John True, agreeing to become a state witness in exchange for immunity from prosecution. True testified against Graham who maintained she was innocent.
To no avail, Graham, and two friends, were sentenced to death for the robbery and murder. Graham appealed her sentence but they all failed. The attractive red head was transferred to death row at San Quentin State Prison.
On June 3, 1955, at 11:28 a.m., Graham was led from her cell to be strapped in the gas chamber. She requested a blindfold. Her last words were: “Good people are always so sure they’re right.”
Age: Died at 32 (June 26, 1923 – June 3, 1955).
“Capital punishment: them without the capital get the punishment.”
On February 4, 1973, John Spenkelink, then 24, picked up a hitchhiker, Joseph J. Szymankiewicz while traveling in the midwest. Like Spenkelink, Szymankiewicz was an ex-con.
While at a Tallahasse motel, Spenkelink said Szymankiewicz made a pass at him and forced him to play Russian roulette. The two ended up fighting, and, according to Spenkelink, he beat Szymankiewicz with a hatchet and shot him. It was self-defense.
Police, however, think Spenkelink shot Szymankiewicz while he slept in bed; once in the head just behind the left ear, and a second shot in the back.
Spenkelink left the following day with another hitchhiker, Frank Brumm. The two were arrested less than one week later for suspicion of armed robbery in Buena Park California.
The murder weapon was found in an apartment that Brumm was leasing. When they returned to Florida, they were tried for first degree murder. Because Spenkelink said he acted in self-defense, his attorney told him there was a good chance the sentence would be commuted.
Spenkelink was told he could plead guilty to second-degree murder and receive a life sentence. He refused. A jury found Spenkelink guilty; Brumm was acquitted.
Spenkelink was executed on May 25, 1979. He was the first person in Florida, and second American, to be executed after the death penalty was set aside for 12 years (reinstated in 1976). Gary Gilmore was the first.
Spenkelink made no final statement before being electrocuted, but his last known words were, “Capital punishment: them without the capital get the punishment.”
Interestingly, later that spring, Ted Bundy was placed in the same cell at Florida State Prison that Spenkelink once called home.
Age: Died at 30 (March 29, 1949 – May 25, 1979).