9 May 1947 – Willie Francis

Willie FrancisWillie Francis defied death via the electric chair once only to be electrocuted again today in 1947. His was the first electrocution to fail in the United States.

Botched job

Nicknamed Gruesome Gertie, Louisiana’s electric chair first clapped a hold of Francis on 3 May 1946 at the tender age of just 16. Turns out the prisoner officer had been bladdered when he prepared Gruesome Gertie alongside an inmate.

So, when the switch was flicked, the chair apparently danced across the floor with him on it. But not long after, a muffled voice from under the hood said ‘take this off, I can’t breathe’. ‘You’re not supposed to breathe’, came the surreal response. ‘I am not dying’ was Francis’s blunt retort and, sure enough, the dead man was still walking.

Francis had been done for murdering his boss. The crime itself went unsolved for around nine months, but he was eventually hauled in on suspicion after he was found in the vicinity of a completely unrelated crime.

Police claimed that they then found his supposed victim’s wallet on him when he was apprehended, and he was later said to have written a confession. It stated that he shot his boss five times. As a result of this confession, Francis was found guilty of murder and sentenced to die.

Willie, won’t he?

But, with one failed execution under his belt, many saw this as an act of God. Indeed Francis himself said, ‘God fooled with the electric chair’. There were high hopes that his sentence would be commuted to life. After all, this would be seen as undue suffering. But the hard-line Louisiana panel considering the case were happy to send him right back into the arms of Gertie.

On this day just over a year after the first execution, Francis was fried for the second time and this time Gertie lived up to her gruesome name.

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One Response to “9 May 1947 – Willie Francis”

  1. CHERYL Says:

    where the hell were his parents?

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