6 September 1991 – Donald Henry ‘Pee Wee’ Gaskins
Most people take being a short arse in their stride and go on to make a tremendous success of their lives. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Tom Cruise (sometimes) are noteworthy cases in point.
But there are others who choose to be blighted by their bodily inadequacies and opt to make up for any vertical challenges with escalating anger instead.
Donald Henry Gaskin fell into the latter camp and had the life fried out of him as a result of his murderous deeds. Nicknamed ‘Pee Wee’ for his lack of stature, he has notoriously been dubbed America’s ‘meanest serial killer’ according to several sources, although his inflated ego may well have massaged the number of victims.
Nevertheless, he still stacked up an unhealthily large collection of corpses during his rampage across South Carolina, employing his own brand of cruel brutality.
Gaskin was a bit of an animal really. Even from a young age he was showing dysfunctional signs of serious depravity.
Bored or maybe disillusioned with school – he was the butt of all the jokes, after all – he quit at the tender age of 11 and went on to work in local garages.
There he fell into the path of two delinquents by the names of Marsh and Danny, and the three became the inseparable scourge of the neighbourhood, taking to burglary and other petty crimes to fill their days and pockets.
However, one key turning point was when they gang-raped a little girl – Marsh’s own sister being the sacrifice. Needless the parents went ape and beat the boys raw – it wasn’t long after that Marsh and Danny left home, so the trio was disbanded.
That certainly didn’t stop old Pee-Wee. He was in and out of reform school for his activities. And it was during these stints when he was banged up that the real seeds of criminality were sewn, not least because he would often become the dorm’s whipping boy. He’d end up turning tricks to earn protection from the head honchos, which saved him from being beaten to a pulp by bully-boy inmates.
Animosity bubbled within him and he was to admit to having ‘aggravated and bothersome feelings’ – and it was those same feelings that apparently were to propel him towards a life rife with murderous crimes.
Following reform school, Gaskin was to be let out where he was miraculously able to get a job. But it wasn’t long before dodgy dealings led to a fire and his boss confronted him about it.
Well, ok, so he was guilty as sin, but that didn’t stop Pee-Wee from losing the plot completely. In a vengeful rage he targeted the boss’s daughter, hitting her head so hard with a hammer that he cracked her skull open with the sheer force of his violence. She survived, but he was marched off to be imprisoned again.
And this time he was old enough to play with the big boys, and boy did they play with him. Banged up for five years on an attempted murder charge, he soon became sick of pandering to the big men with their slimy, sexual demands, so he wangled himself an opportunity to seize the balance of power.
Gaskin did this by wheedling his way into the affections of the meanest bad boy on the block. Then, only when the bloke was putty in his palm did he pounce. He slit the trusting man’s throat apparently, as he was unceremoniously taking a dump.
Of course, Gaskin’s actions earned him a stint in solitary, but this was a small price to pay, because his ploy had worked. Branded a nutter, he became a force to be reckoned with, and the other crims stayed well away.
Bear in mind Pee Wee was still only a teenager at this point and between spells in prison he’d managed to bag himself a jail-bait bride, who’d been aged 13. Yep, 13. Well she had grown older and wiser while he’d been banged up, so naturally she’d filed for divorce.
The news didn’t go down too well and Gaskin did his nut, vowing to stage a jail-break. It was successful and he wound up on the outside. He was able to make his way down to Florida where he bagged himself another wife, well for two weeks at least.
Pee Wee later hooked up with more dodgy characters who gave him a dose of his own medicine, stitching him up, then fleecing him of his stolen car. Eventually the police caught up with him and he found himself in jail again, that is until his release in 1961.
It was the ‘60s and free love was abundant, perfect for a man hell-bent on spreading his evil seed. Gaskin wasted no time in getting his end away by every means possible.
It was only a matter of time before Gaskin was done for raping a minor, aged just 12. He’d taken another wife aged just 17, but she eventually came to her senses and shopped him and he was promptly dumped back in prison.
Eight years later, the rampant reprobate was released and he was determined to resume where he’d left off. But the sadistic switch was flicked when a hitchhiker laughed off his lascivious advances. For that he beat her senseless, raped and tortured her, then drowned her by weighting her body down in a swampy area.
Well it was almost like the debauched demon had a brutal epiphany, according to a variety of sources from ‘Wikipedia’ to extracts from the ‘Final Truth’ – a biography based on Gaskin’s own words, compiled by Wilton Earle. Finally satiated by his killer activities, Gaskin had allegedly found that the murder provided the self-gratification he felt he’d been missing out on all his depraved life.
According to several sources, including Trutv.com, Mr Evil Incarnate would go on to perfect the dubious art of torturing his victims, cutting off body parts, sometimes even feasting on them right there in front of his terrorised victims. Some even go as far as to surmise that he force-fed his victims their own flesh.
This all formed part of a six-year solo spate of savage killings, which, according to Trutv.com, included a 23-year-old pregnant woman and her two-year-old.
Indeed even after he’d killed the pair, Pee Wee wouldn’t let the baby rest, branding her as the ‘best sex of his life’.
Partners in grime
Maybe he would have carried on his murderous mayhem had he not hooked up with a partner in crime.
Walter Neely was to get in on the act in 1975. By this time, Gaskin, who’d found time to become a grandfather, was busy branching out as a hired gun too. He roped his new mate and his sister into the scam, but this was to prove the beginning of the end.
Neely’s sister Diane started blackmailing the long-time murderer. What possessed her? Here was a man practised in the evil ways of murder. Did she really think she’d come off unscathed? She and her boyfriend soon joined the ranks of the rotting corpses festering in South Carolina.
Bodies of evidence
Her brother, on the other hand, was unaware of this latest development, nevertheless Neely was showing signs of breaking of his own accord anyway. The death toll was horrendous and the burden of guilt may have proven too much. So when a murdered girl by the name of Kim Gehlken led the police straight to Pee Wee, Neely buckled.
A bit of digging around revealed a whole raft of bodies literally crawling out of the woodwork. Eight counts of murder were levelled at Gaskin and Neely and the two were done for murder.
Naturally a death penalty came in tow, but unbelievably, it was commuted to life in 1976 after the penalty was deemed unlawful. Of course there was no fear of parole because he got seven consecutive life sentences instead.
However, in 1978 when the sentence was resurrected, he had the last laugh, because there was no way they could backtrack and reinstate his execution…that is until another crime emerged – the murder of a fellow prisoner, Rudolph Tyner. He was found guilty and along with the damning indictment came the order to execute.
Imagine, you’re on death row for murder – so what do you do to pass the time? Admit to more murders of course.
Among others he admitted to one infamous case involving a 13-year-old girl by the name of Peggy Cuttino. But someone had already taken the rap for her murder – William ‘Junior Pierce got a life sentence. 1
Unsurprisingly, none of these ploys to delay worked so, on the brink of being plonked on Old Sparky, and in a bid to cheat death, Pee Wee bizarrely decided to slit his wrists. But that failed and he wound up on South Carolina’s electric chair anyway, with his wrists bandaged up on this day in 1991, aged 58.
He’d been found guilty of nine murders, but Gaskin himself put the toll somewhere around the 100 mark. But the reality of that figure went with him to the grave.
1 Seamus McGraw from Crimelibrary.com has shed uncertainty on whether Pierce was actually guilty of Cuttino’s death based on ‘mysteriously’ disappearing evidence and DNA conflicts.