Archive for the Hanged Category

Famous last words

Posted in Death penalty, Electric chair, Firing squad, Hanged, Lethal injection on September 22 by Last Writes

Ever wondered what goes through someone’s mind as they prepare to meet their maker? We did, so here’s a compilation…

Funny one-liners

“Hey, fellas! How about this for a headline for tomorrow’s paper? ‘French Fries’!”
Those were the last words of one James French, as he addressed journalists there to witness his grizzly end.
Already in prison for life, James French purposely frittered away his life on 10 August 1966  by killing his cell-mate. The 30-year-old  was sentenced to the electric chair and met his frazzled end in Oklahoma.

“Well, gentlemen, you are about to see a baked Appel.”
So said George Appel as he flash-fried on the electric chair on 9 August 1928 for killing a policeman.

“Why, yes, a bulletproof vest.”
The natural last request came from mobster Domonic Willard as he faced a firing squad. A few decades later, James W. Rodgers was to ask again.

“I’d rather be fishing”
Ain’t that the truth according to Jimmy L. Glass as he was angled towards a decidedly uncomfy seat in Louisiana’s electric chair on 12 June 1987. The 25-year-old was fried for murdering a middle-aged couple. His accomplice followed four days later.

“Pardonnez-moi, monsieur. Je ne l’ai pas fait expres”
Translation: Pardon me, sir. I did not do it on purpose.
Stepping on the toes of her executioner should have been the least of Marie Antoinette’s worries on 16 October 1793. The 37-year-old had a date with Madame la Guillotine on this day as a one of the key victims of the French Revolution.

Nearly botched the jobs

“Take a step forward lads – it’ll be easier that way.”
That was the handy hint issued by Robert Erskine Childers as he faced his firing squad on 24 November 1922.  A Irish nationlist, he was executed during the Civil War, apparently while his appeal was still being  processed.

“You guys doin’ that right?”
That was the question on Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams lips on 13 December 2005 , as his executioners fumbled around with the lethal injection equipment. https://eotd.wordpress.com/2008/12/13/13-december-2005-stanley-tookie-williams-iii/

Plaintive pleas

“Please don’t let me fall.”
Ah the irony of the words uttered on 7 July 1865 as Mary Surratt headed up to the heady heights of the scaffold erected for her hanging.
Co-conspirator in the plan to assassinate President Lincoln, Mary Surratt’s other claim to infamy was as the first woman executed by the United States’ federal government.

“Is it safe?”
Rugeley Poisoner William Palmer seemed preoccupied with the stability of the gallows trap. But it was a moot point seeing as the 31-year-old was preparing for his public hanging on 14 June 1865. The former doctor hit the scaffold on this day for lacing his friend John Cook’s diet with strychnine, as well as killing others and cashing in on their deaths.

Bit late for that…

“Yes, no last words”
Elijah Page didn’t think that one through on 11 July 2007. The 26-year-old uttered those words during the first execution in South Dakota in 60 years. He was lethally injected for forcing a friend to drink acid, before beating him to death over a period of three hours.

Descent into hell

“I’ll be in Hell before you start breakfast! Let her rip!”
And let rip they did, because the rope around Tom ‘Black Jack’ Ketchum’s neck was too long. The 37-year-old train robber literally lost his head when it came clean off as he hanged on 26 April 1901.

“Hurry up. I’d like to be in hell in time for dinner.”
Edward H. Ruloff, a convicted serial killer rushed proceedings along  on 18 May 1871 after he was sentenced to death for killing his wife, daughter, sister-in-law and niece.
Not only was he infamous as the last person to have a public hanging in the State of New York but also because he was purported to have the largest brain in a Cornell professor’s collection.

“If anyone has a message for the Devil, give it to me – I’ll deliver it!”
Lavinia Fisher announced her offer as she faced being hanged for murder on February 18, 1820.
One half of a husband and wife hotelier team who would poison and stab residents, the Fishers were sentenced to death on 18 February 1820. At that time South Carolina women couldn’t be executed, so following her husband’s death, newly widowed Fisher rocked up for her own hanging garbed in a wedding dress. She’d hope to take advantage of the residing priest by bagging herself a would-be husband on the way to the scaffold. However as hopes of matrimony faded fast, she uttered her defiant words .

Today’s post is dedicated to the founder of this site and his lovely bride to be. All the best for your wedding day Old Sparky.

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University Challenge

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , on March 26 by Last Writes

OK, in hommage to the Oxford-Cambridge boat race, which sets sail shortly, here’s a quick story.

Not all the students of these esteemed ancient universities had blotless copy books. Indeed the relationship between students and the locals has always been fractious.

Oxford brags

Take Oxford. The uni was founded in 1167. But locals didn’t take too warmly on the influx of slacking students, who loftily blagged their way into the best places.

So just a few decades later, in 1209, the townfolk turned on them following the death of a local woman. And many students were forced to scarper.

Until then, students had enjoyed legal protection as they could only be tried by the Church under Canon Law.

Oxford appealed to King John, who backed them and decreed that students could be executed under civil law and the locals jumped at the opportunity.

On 6 December 1209, two students were strung up and hanged for the murder.

Amid the animosity, the university’s endeavours were halted and many of the students fearfully fled to the safety of Cambridge. And from there, the city’s own university was spawned. Indeed, in 2009 Cambridge celebrated its 800th anniversary.

A few years later students were begrudgingly welcomed back to Oxford, not least because the local merchants missed the much-needed income.

Of course, other notables to be executed include:

Thomas CranmerOxford
The Oxford martyrs: Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, (left) plus Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley.

Cambridge
Oliver Cromwell who’s head was laid to rest eventually in Cambridge in 1960.

And who can forget former Cambridge student Laurence Saunders who was roasted for his anti-Catholic outbursts.

26 March

Of course we’ve cheated. The execution detailed above took place on 6 December 1209. If you’re interest in those who actually popped their clogs today, then check out this unsavoury trio who died in 1796

29 January 1913 – George Mackay

Posted in Hanged with tags , , , on January 29 by Old Sparky

The 13th year of the 20th century was definitely an unlucky one for George Mackay. He was sent to the gallows on this day for murder.

Mackay was hanged in Lewes prison for killing Arthur Walls. He was 29 when he was executed.

Also on this day

29 January 1913 – Edward Hopwood

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29 January 1913 – Edward Hopwood

Posted in Hanged with tags , , , on January 29 by Old Sparky

Just up the road in London, the same fate was awaiting fellow murderer Edward Hopwood.

The 45-year-old was hanged in Pentonville Prison for killing his girlfriend, Florence Silles.

28 January 1953 – Derek Bentley

Posted in Hanged with tags , , , , , , , on January 28 by Old Sparky

Derek Bentley

Scapegoat Derek Bentley infamously took the flack for a minor’s actions on this day in 1953.

Derek William Bentley was hanged at the age of 19 for a murder committed by a mate. He was in the midst of breaking into a warehouse in Croydon with ringleader 16-year-old Christopher Craig, when the police were called to the scene.

Bentley had already been apprehended when Craig fired the lethal shot that killed PC Sidney Miles. But Craig was just 16, so he couldn’t take the rap for the crime. So the prosecution turned to the only other suspect available.

Let him have it

Despite only having a mental age of 11, Bentley was 19 and legally old enough to be fitted up with the crime. Fellow police officers asserted that he goaded Craig by saying ‘Let him have it’, upon which the prosecution hanged their entire accusation.

However, Bentley’s defence asserted that he was appealing to Craig to let the policeman have his gun and Derek’s sister Iris always maintained he didn’t even say the fateful sentence. But his defence failed to sway the jurors and Bentley was found guilty of murder. He was sentenced to be hanged at Wandsworth Prison.

Not guilty

Bentley was granted a posthumous pardon following a 45-year campaign by his parents – which Iris took on after their deaths – to prove his innocence, in which scientific evidence emerged suggesting that the police had lied under oath. But, of course, that didn’t change the fact that it was too late – Bentley had already paid the ultimate price.

Christopher Eccleston puts in a stellar performance as Bentley in the 1991 film Let Him Have It and this is well worth checking out but you will need to be careful. I bought it in Woolworths for £2.99 and it came as a twin pack with Al’s Lads which, despite having Marc Warren in, is crap.

Also on this day

28 January 1829 – William Burke

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28 January 1829 – William Burke

Posted in Hanged with tags , , , on January 28 by Old Sparky

William Burke

Forget body snatching when you can bump people off and get rich by it thought the infamous Williams Burke and Hare.

Using Burke’s lodging house, the deadly Edinburgh duo along with Burke’s girlfriend Helen McDougal, would target unsuspecting guests, plying them whisky until they literally lost consciousness, before suffocating them.

They then offloaded the pristine corpses on to grateful GPs all in the name of medical research.

But the success of their cunning plan went to their heads and they got sloppy. Instead of siphoning off strangers or faceless vagrants in West Port, they targeted two prostitutes who were well known to the area, along with a street performer who had a distinctive deformed foot. They were eventually shopped by their own tenants, who’d started to get suspicious of the scheming trio.

Scot free…

Of course their true feelings for each other emerged as they began turning on each other. Burke blamed Hare, and Hare blamed Burke and McDougal.

Hare won! He got pardoned for his part in the spree, in return for fitting the other two up with the crime. While McDougal was freed due to insufficient evidence, Burke was not so lucky. He got saddled with the guilt and was hanged.

In a sharp twist of fate, some allege Burke was skinned and his bits were used to bind a small book, which is on show at Edinburgh’s Royal College of Surgeons, while others say he was posthumously dissected…for medical research.

But, in case you were wondering, Hare and McDougal didn’t get off lightly either. McDougal is said to have emigrated to Australia to flee her infamy. But it followed her to the Antipodeas too, where she was hounded until she died in 1868.

Some say Hare was apparently flung into a lime pit and died a blind beggar on the harsh streets of London. Others say he wound up in Carlisle.

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27 January 1928 – Edward Rowlands and Daniel Driscoll

Posted in Hanged with tags , , , on January 27 by Old Sparky

Edward Rowlands and Danny Driscoll where hanged for abetting a murder, after two sets of bookies went head to head in Cardiff.

Turf war

Rowlands and Driscoll carried the can for the murder of a rival Welsh bookmaker Dai Lewis. They were found guilty of aiding Rowland’s brother John to kill. John, in turn, was banged up in Broadmoor, deemed unable to take reponsibility for his actions.

Unsuspecting

But it transpired recently that Driscoll may yet get a posthumous pardon. Apparently, new evidence has emerged, which suggests that both men didn’t realise John Rowlands was out to kill. So they were incapable of aiding or abetting a crime for which they had no prior knowledge. However, the transcripts of the original trial have gone AWOL, so the sentence still stands to this day.

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