Archive for October, 2008

31 October 1589 – Peter Stubbe

Posted in Breaking wheel, Death penalty with tags , , , , , on October 31 by Last Writes

As it’s Hallowe’en, here’s a depraved individual for you to savour.

Breaking wheel fun for all the family

Breaking wheel fun for all the family

Peter Stubbe (Stumpp, Stubbe or however it’s spelled) had a pet name – the Werewolf of Bedburg – and not without reason.

Apparently he was executed in 1589, having feasted his flesh-eating way round Cologne, targeting children, pregnant women and even unborn foetuses, according to various sources.

Scores on the Bores

The basis for most of the reports come from one source – a transcript written by George Bores, which was unearthed in 19201. His translation dates back to 1590 and is one of two remaining copies – the original was in ‘High Dutch’ of which there are no known copies left.

So, with a leap of faith, we’ll take this tale on trust.


Indeed, it starts off sounding familiar – very much like Goethe’s ‘Faust’, which was published around 1587… For Stubbe was into black magic and devil worship too. But while Faust sold his soul for knowledge, Stubbe traded his for the opportunity to ‘work his malice on men, women, and children, in the shape of some beast, whereby he might live without dread or danger of life’.

And then the tale started to lose the plot a bit, describing how the devil transformed him into a wolf. But one thing was for sure – he sure sounded malicious.

If you’re squeamish look away now…

Brains of the family

In one such murderous act, Stubbe targeted his own son and when he had killed him ‘he presently ate the brains out of his head as a most savory (sic) and dainty delicious mean to staunch his greedy appetite’. Yum…

He was to target a variety of different people, from those who’d just got his goat to innocent children. It describes how he would rip out his victims’ throats and pull them apart limb from limb. Like old Freddie Krueger out of ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’, Stubbe methods were just as violent – he was described as having ripped foetuses out of the wombs of their dead mums, before eating ‘their hearts panting hot and raw’.

Stubbe carried out these acts in cahoots with his daughter, whom he had sexually abused. The report even goes as far as to say his daughter, in turn, gave birth to his child. Likewise his girlfriend was embroiled in his cannibalistic activities, which spanned 25 years.

No-one suspected a thing until fate intervened and in the guise of his wolfish alter ego, he targeted a young girl and failed to kill her. Now the town knew their adversary, they set a trap for the lupine lech. They eventually caught him and he transformed into a man before their very eyes.

The feral felon was found guilty of various murders and sentenced to death along with his sidekicks, but more of the girls in a bit…

The main man got a real pounding – Stubbe was strapped to a breaking wheel where his flesh was torn off right down to the bone in 10 different places, before his arms and legs were beaten to a pulp with the blunt end of an axe and finally he was beheaded.

He then joined the two girls on a pyre and they were burned to ashes. That is all except his head, which was apparently plonked on top of the wheel and dressed in a wolf’s fur as a taut reminder of his visceral and depraved activities.

1 Transcript source:

Also on this day…

31 October 1923 – Frederick Jesse

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31 October 1923 – Frederick Jesse 

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , on October 31 by Old Sparky

Frederick William Maximillian Jesse’s aunt literally nagged herself to death.

Jesse really lost it when his aunt, Mabel Jennings-Edmunds, stormed into his room and pursued an argument with him. But she tipped him over the edge when she started whipping him with a police whistle and throwing the contents of a bottle in his face. Before he knew what had happened, she was dead on his bed – he’d strangled her.

Apparently a voice in his head told him to dispose of the body, which he did by cutting her up into little pieces. But then what was he meant to do with the pieces? Stumped, he did the decent thing and confessed all to the police. He was tried at the Old Bailey and found guilty of murder.

John Ellis and Robert Baxter hanged 26-year-old Jesse on this day in 1923 at Wandsworth.

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30th October 2008 – Gregory Wright

Posted in Death penalty, Lethal injection with tags , , on October 30 by Old Sparky

Gregory Wright

Gregory Wright

Update (11pm GMT): according to Michael Graczyk of Associated Press, Wright’s appeal was rejected less than an hour before he was due to be executed.


At 6.20pm Texan time, Gregory Wright was pronounced dead. Even as he lay strapped to his killer gurney, he professed his innocence, actually denying any involvement with the crime. Instead, Wright said that by choosing not to shop his mate, he had ultimately forfeited his life.

With a stack of evidence gathered by his wife that supposedly proves Gregory Wright’s innocence that she’s published on his website, is the state of Texas about to execute an innocent man?

Wright has been sat on death row awaiting his fate since 1997 and time is nearly up.

True he was granted a stay of execution recently while DNA was being re-examined, but that stay is due to expire at 6pm Texan local time.

Wright or wrong?

This is a truly poignant case where two homeless men attacked a would-be benefactor – 52-year-old widow Donna Duncan Vick. She was stabbed after she allowed Wright alongside accomplice John Wade Adams into her home for a bite to eat, money and some welcome respite from the elements.

Not content with this show of kindly hospitality, the two men wanted more and killed her before grabbing stuff they could sell for a stash of crack.

As Wright stands poised to do the dead man’s walk later today, his case is shrouded in uncertainty. Did he kill Vick or did Adams?

Wasn’t Wright?

Adams seems to be unequivocal in his certainty. ‘I want the record clear that Greg Wright is innocent of the crime he’s here on death row for.’

Indeed, Wright has always maintained his innocence, and while he admits to have been there at the time, he was not responsible for the slaughter. In a piece by Associated Press reporter Michael Graczyk, Wright states simply that ‘[Adams] blamed everything on me. I’m very upset. It’s a nightmare.’

And there’s the rub. Wright’s on death row for murder. And while the original case was founded on the basis of two killers, Adams’ new statement has thrown that into disarray.

There is definitely DNA evidence to prove Wright sold on some of the booty, but the DNA in question is that which links him to the actual murder.

According to ‘’, ‘Wright’s attorney has sought a delay so additional DNA testing could be conducted on Wright’s clothing, which prosecutors used at the trial to tie him to the woman’s slaying’.

The only problem is the time limit on that delay expires today.

Adams’ values

So why did Adams choose to come forward as the killer so late, having spent most of his time inside asserting it was Wright?


While on death row, Adams found religion and it was his newly found faith that spurred him to retract his original statement as he did not want Wright’s blood on his hands too.

Only time will tell if Adams has done enough in time. Watch this space for an update on whether 42-year-old Wright’s wrongs lead to the lethal injection or not. Remember, we’re six hours ahead, so we’ll hopefully update this post tomorrow based on the outcome in Texas.

As for his mate, in case you were wondering, Adams is also in residence on death row, but has not been given an end date…yet.

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30 October 1940 – Stanley Cole

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , on October 30 by Old Sparky

Stanley Cole was led to the gallows for murder in 1940.

He was hanged at Wandsworth for killing Doris Girl. Cole was just 23 when he was executed.

Also (maybe) on this day

30th October 2008 – Gregory Wright??

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29 October 1618 – Walter Raleigh

Posted in Beheaded, Death penalty with tags , , , , , on October 29 by Last Writes

Walter Raleigh

Walter Raleigh

El Dorado. By that, we don’t mean the really cringey soap from the ‘90s, but the destination that caused the ultimate downfall of our next subject.

The fall from grace was nothing short of spectacular for the writer, poet, sailor, pioneer, discoverer and queen’s favourite Sir Walter Raleigh (or Ralegh).

Spanning two monarchs’ reigns, his was a jam-packed life full of adventures. Not least were his expeditions to the Americas in search of wealth and territory.

This kind of swashbuckling heroism was to earn him a place in the sun at Queen Elizabeth’s court. It was here that his first fall from grace was to occur.

Walt frisky

He was a good looking bloke and able to charm the pants off the Virgin Queen Elizabeth. But he met and secretly fell in love with one of Lizzie’s ladies-in-waiting – Elizabeth Throckmorton (or Throgmorton depending on the source).

The torrid and illicit affair eventually wound up with a shotgun wedding, which covertly took place in 1591.

News of the marriage leaked out and old Queenie lost it completely, dumping her former favourite in the slammer.

Raleigh languished in jail for a while, but eventually charmed his way out of incarceration and led an expedition to what’s now known as Venezuela. His somewhat exaggerated findings made their way into one of his many books.

During this time, he also had it in for the Spanish and was busy capturing Cadiz or travelling to the Azores.

But then his ‘Get out of jail free card’ expired with the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. For the incoming king – James I of the House of Stuart – was not really a big fan, according to the ‘History Channel’.

Main man

It wasn’t long before James had him locked up on charges of treason. He was tried after he’d been implicated in the Main Plot – a bid to oust James in favour of her cousin Arabella, in cahoots with the Spanish. It failed needless to say and this time things didn’t look too good for Raleigh.

Thanks largely to old Walt’s consummate gift of the gab though, he was let off. James commuted his death penalty and Raleigh was chucked in the Tower for 12 years instead.

He got his second golden ticket to freedom in 1616 in order to hit Venezuela again in search of the now infamously tantalising El Dorado.

He obliged naturally, but this time his men attacked a post, which in turn incurred the wrath of the Spanish.

Well, the ambassador had stern words with James, who didn’t need much persuasion to lift the dormant death sentence.

Chop chop

The execution was scheduled to take place at Whitehall and the method, as was usual for landed gentry in those day, was beheading. When the day came, 66-year-old Raleigh didn’t want the whole thing drawn out: ‘Let us dispatch’ he said.

And if you were wondering if they really talked like that in Shakespeare’s day, get a load of this for a parting speech:
‘At this hour my ague comes upon me. I would not have my enemies think I quaked from fear’, while the axe he referred to as ‘sharp medicine’ but a ‘ sharp medicine for all diseases and miseries’. And with that, one of the greatest brains of the age was severed clean off.

Head case

The corpse was interred in a church in Beddington, but the head’s journey didn’t end there. It was embalmed and handed over to his wife Elizabeth who apparently carried it around with her in its own little bag, until the stench got too much.

Only when she died 29 years later, was the head reunited with his bod and both came to rest at St Margaret’s Church in Westminster.

Also on this day…

29 October 1901 – Leon Frank Czolgosz
29 October 1927 – Baldomero Rodrigues

29 October 1935 – Allen Grierson
Allen Grierson was hanged on this day in 1935 for killing a woman.
He’d been found guilty of murdering Louise Berthe Gann and was sent to the gallows at Pentonville, aged 27.

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29 October 1901 – Leon Frank Czolgosz

Posted in Death penalty, Electric chair with tags , , , , , on October 29 by Last Writes
Leon Czolgosz

Leon Czolgosz

The electric chair in Auburn was the final destination for today’s date with death.

A frisson (or three) of electricity was reserved for the demise of an American assassin.

Leon Frank Czolgosz was thrust into the arms of Old Sparky after he bumped off President McKinley in the 1890s.

Two shots found their mark, but neither was fatal in itself. Instead McKinley had one bullet removed and the gangrene set in. It was complications like this that led to the death of what was proving to be a strong leader.

Such was his steer that the president was able to bring America out of a troubled economic spell and even had time to turn his hand to foreign affairs – annexing the Philippines and Hawaii among others and preventing Spain from riding roughshod over Cuba by setting up a protectorate.

Sounds impressive huh? Of course, that renders Czolgosz’s actions nonsensical, until you find out that his motive was anarchy.

But where he differed from most anarchists was that he achieved it via violence. He was a prime example of disaffected youth. Having been bullied at school, he turned into a loner. Czolgosz was one of seven children born to Polish parents and he and his brothers were laid off work prompting his actions to be fuelled by resentment.

He fell in with the anarchists, but even they acknowledged he was a trigger-happy extremist.

Czolgosz was captured after the killing and sent to trial. Bizarrely, he refused to engage in dialogue with his own lawyers making any defence impossible. So, according to a report in Wikipedia, the whole episode took just eight and a half hours.

The sentence was death and the method, the chair.

As Czolgosz took his seat, his last words reflected how unrepentant he was, stating simply that McKinley ‘was the enemy of the good people – the good working people’.

But little did he know that it was same good people who may well have torn his corpse limb from limb through sheer animosity. That’s why his brother was apparently denied his request to bury Czolgosz.

Instead, once executed, his fried body was dumped in a coffin along with sulphuric acid to speed up decomposition. It worked a treat – he was mush within 12 hours apparently.

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29 October 1927 – Baldomero Rodrigues

Posted in Death penalty, Garrotte with tags , , on October 29 by Last Writes
Baldomero Rodrigues

Baldomero Rodrigues

If you cheat death during execution, it’s common that you’d be set free. But that wasn’t the case today in 1927.

Cuban Baldomero Rodrigues earned a fatal spell in the clutches of a garrotte after he was found guilty of murder, according to the 1947project.

This contraption was designed by the Spanish to strangle offenders. Or so they thought…

On this occasion, they took his seemingly lifeless body and laid it out on a slab only for Rodrigues to come back to life. He was wrestled back into the vice-like grip of the garrotte and they finished the job off good and proper, leaving him there for a full-on 20 minutes to ensure the job was done.

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