25 May 1979 – John Arthur Spenkelink

John Arthur SpenkelinkFellow inmates rattled their cages as a send-off for condemned colleague John Arthur Spenkelink, according to anti-capital punishment observer Rick Halperin. The death row inhabitant’s time was up and he was strapped to Old Sparky to face his electrifying ending.

Chills multiplying

Necking two tots of whiskey before he met his maker, Spenkelink was Florida’s first execution since the penalty was resumed in 1976 and the second in the US.

But, chillingly, all may not have been as it appeared. He had resisted his sentence throughout, never more so than in those last few hours leading up to his death.

Halperin reported that there were rumours Spenkelink was beaten into submission and gagged before being dragged to the chair. Indeed other sources went even further, touting that the criminal was dead before he even hit the chair. Such was the powerful intensity surrounding the damaging and ever-multiplying claims that, posthumously, Spenkelink was exhumed for another autopsy.

Lost control

Some reports state that he was convicted of murdering an accompanying hitchhiker who’d forced an incensed Spenkelink to commit a sexual act on him at gunpoint, before playing Russian roulette. But a transcript of an appeal makes no mention of these, instead basing the killing on the fact that the hitchhiker had, in fact, pocketed Spenkelink’s money.

Whatever the motive, Spenkelink took a gun to the hitchhiker’s head and blew a bullet into the left side of his brain before firing another shot into his back in self defence apparently.

However, prosecution reports state that there were gunpowder residues on the motel room’s pillow, which indicate the hitchhiker’s head was on it at the time of death – hardly a struggle.

He then made for a fast getaway with another mate, but they were apprehended soon after and accused of murder. Spenkelink was found guilty and sentenced to death. However, his lawyer said that he’d been offered a plea bargain – second-degree murder would have earned him life. But he flatly refused and was to pay for the decision with his life.


In a moment of profundity, Spenkelink is said to have accurately observed that ‘Capital punishment means those without capital get the punishment’ and with that he was alleged to have died of a broken neck from being beaten up, before he was placed on the chair and given three fatal shocks to his system.

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9 Responses to “25 May 1979 – John Arthur Spenkelink”

  1. this m*********r killed my grandpa.

  2. cedric ceballos Says:

    he should have remembered , the golden rule.

  3. Peter Goesinya Says:

    He should have known that hanging out with such people as other former inmates usually results in negative consequences. He was simply a product of the company which he willingly kept.

  4. Robert Davis Says:

    He was very much still alive when he was strapped in. A reporter/witness reported that Spinkelink’s “eyes darted from side to side in terror”.

  5. danielt Says:

    He was selected to be the first Florida execution after they reinstated the death penalty because he was white. Spenkelink was hardly the worst monster on death row.

    The guy he killed had a long history of crime and sexual assaults. This was clearly 2nd degree murder.

  6. Kevin Says:

    This article is complete b*******. I was there, John was NOT beaten, did NOT have a broken neck, the other inmates did NOT rattle their cages and he walked, on his own power. Rick Halperin has made this all up. I would like to know, exactly where was he when John met his death and how did he come by this fictional information?

  7. Tedd Phillips Says:

    Florida is the most ignorant state,anyway. A state that votes against there own,people..So why wouldent they execute a guy that just defended himself.. Because it is an idiot state..That idiot attorney general they had Robert Shrevons was just wanting recognition..Just to say I did it! I reinstated the death penalty, back..For the first one against his own will..and for a man that was wanting to live, unlike Gilmore. Save it for the real bad ones more deserving like a Ted Bundy or Robert Lee Willie.. Not a guy that is killing a scum bag in self defense, just like himself..Spenkelink was scum too.. But in this case it was a botched deal. Might as well be in Malaysia getting caned for overstaying your visa,getting your ass beating beyond recognition..

  8. azure28 Says:

    There was no abuse of John Spenkelink prior to the execution. He was given the opportunity to have a shot of whiskey with the prison superintendent. A second autopsy conducted by famous medical examiner Dr Thomas Noguchi on Spenkelink’s corpse failed to find any signs of abuse or cause of death aside from electrocution.

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