Archive for December, 2008

31 December 1898 – Joseph Vacher

Posted in Death penalty, Guillotine with tags , , , , , on December 31 by Old Sparky

Joseph Vacher

Joseph Vacher

A French version of Jack the Ripper was beheaded after he confessed to murdering a feast of victims, among them shepherds and shepherdesses.

Aged just 29, Joseph Vacher, was guillotined for strangling and mutillating, raping or disembowelling, even gorging himself on blood from the necks of his chosen victims in south-west France.

Early signs

Even as a child, he had been given to killing animals and slapping his 14 brothers and sisters around. But his ultimate decent into depravity was borne out of his lack of luck with the ladies.

Before Vacher had even reached the age of 20, unsavoury encounters with a prostitute landed him a sexually transmitted disease, so part of his testicles had to be lopped off.

Following that, he was thwarted in love. So at 25, Vacher first tried to shoot the object of his affection, before turning the gun on himself. When those attempts failed, he began targeting women, girls and lone shepherd boys.

With conservative reports ranging from 11 to 23 victims, Vacher was finally caught after he tried to kill a woman in a field. But her screams luckily brought her husband and son to her rescue. Vacher was overpowered and packed off to the police station where his crimes soon caught up with him.

Rabid results

He put his gruesome killing spree down to the possibility that his blood had been poisoned after a rabid dog bit him as a child. The ensuing herbal medicine he was given to combat the rabies apparently left him short tempered and given to bouts of brutality. People even testified that his personality had changed as a result of that encounter.

Nevertheless, he was finally put to death on New Year’s Eve 1898 in Bourg-en-Bresse, Ain Province.

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30 December 1842 – Noah Beauchamp

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

Noah Beauchamp was the first person to be legally hanged in Parke County, Indiana, after he murdered one of his neighbours.

George Mickleberry’s children had been spreading malicious rumours that Beauchamp’s girls had stolen some wool. So armed with a knife for protection, God-fearing Beauchamp went round to confront his neighbour. But it didn’t go quite to plan.

Reflex action

Mickleberry answered the door and Beauchamp lost it and began irately confronting him and brandishing the knife. Mickleberry apparently put his hand on his neighbour’s shoulder to calm him but Beauchamp was so wired that his reflexes kicked in. He sank the butcher’s knife into Mickleberry’s chest, who died almost instantly.

Beauchamp was executed in 1842, aged 57.

Also on this day

30 December 1873 – Elizabeth Woolcock
30 December 1460 – Edmund, Earl of Rutland

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30 December 1460 – Edmund, Earl of Rutland

Posted in Beheaded, Death penalty with tags , , , on December 30 by Old Sparky

Some say Edmund, Earl of Rutland, was executed by his father’s bitter Lancastrian rival Lord Clifford at Wakefield Bridge during the War of the Roses.

He was beheaded, and as a final humiliation the Lancastrians made sure his Yorkist head, along with his father, Richard Duke of York’s and ally Earl of Salisbury’s, were skewered on spikes above Micklegate Bar in York for all their former subjects to see in 1460.

Little did they know that the Yorkists followed by the House of Tudor would have the last laugh as they beat the Lancastrians to a pulp just less than 30 years later.

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30 December 1873 – Elizabeth Woolcock

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

Elizabeth Lillian Woolcock remains the first and only woman to be hanged at Adelaide Gaol, Australia.

Abandoned by her mother at four, raped and beaten at seven and left to fend for herself at 9 after her father died, Woolcock didn’t have a hope of a normal life. She was eventually accused of poisoning her husband, based on circumstantial evidence and hearsay. Nevertheless she was found guilty and hanged for it.

Not guilty?

Around 110 years later her trial was re-enacted in Australia and Woolcock was found not guilty.

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29 December 2006 – Saddam Hussein

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , on December 29 by Old Sparky

Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein, the infamous former President of Iraq, was hanged in 2006 for crimes against humanity, aged 69.

He stood accused of a wealth of charges, including genocide involving thousands of Kurds.

At 6.10am Iraqi time, according to the ‘New York Times’, as he swung suspended he ‘never bowed his head, until his neck snapped’.

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28 December 1903 – Emily Swann

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , on December 28 by Old Sparky

Emily Swann was hanged at 8am together with her lover for the murder of her husband William.

Her husband was a violent man given to beating Swann. At the end of her tether, Swann showed his latest handiwork to her toy-boy lover John Gallagher (30), who was overheard vowing to get even with him.

Bird of prey

William Swann was found beaten to death. As a glassblower, a respected profession, Swann’s drunken violence was overlooked as a means of provocation. And, instead they pinned the blame on Emily saying she ‘was much more to blame than her husband was’.

Steeled by a glass of brandy, her last words before they put the hood over her were ‘Goodbye. God bless you’. She and her lover died instantaneously. She was 42.

Also on this day

28 December 1937 – Finnish Expats

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28 December 1937 – Finnish Expats

Posted in Death penalty, Firing squad with tags , , , on December 28 by Last Writes

Today is a busy day on the execution front, thanks largely to Stalin.

In a KGB killing fest, skilled foreigners, who’d originally been drafted in to help Stalin strengthen Russia, met their deaths.

After Stalin had taken control of the country by fair means and foul, he’d embarked on his five-year plan – this comprised rigorous farming quotas and enlisting skilled labourers among other things. Where there was a skills shortage he looked elsewhere.

Canada and America happened to have a wealth of Finnish expats who’d settled across the Pond. But they were easily seduced by Communism and the lure of an egalitarian society where they could help make a difference.

And they did for a while until the very leader who had welcomed them into Russia turned on them.

For Stalin was getting paranoid. Party members were starting to vote against him and no wonder. His reforms for the greater good were relentless and they claimed the lives of many.

With waning popularity and the irresitible rise of right-wing Fascism rife throughout the rest of Europe, he began to hunker down.

Foreigners bore the brunt of his genocide. This included 141 Finnish expats.

In 1937, Samuel Ivanovich (Juho) Eskola, August Olavich (Olavi) Hakkarainen and Andrew Osvaldovich Hannula were three of many to face a firing squad. Exactly one year later Evert Stepanovich (Teppo) Helin and Karl (Kalle) Karlovich Huuki met exactly the same fate among others.

Of course, Stalin didn’t stop there. Millions were deemed to be expendable in the Russian purges – sentences ranged from hard labour, to deportation and death.