Archive for Electric chair

14 December 1982 – John Eldon Smith

Posted in Death penalty, Electric chair with tags , , on December 14 by Old Sparky

John Eldon Smith died by the electric chair in Georgia for the murder of Ronald and Juanita Akins.

He was the first person to be executed in Georgia since the penalty was reinstated in 1976. He was roughly 53 years old.

Also on this day

14 December 1983 – Robert W. Williams

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14 December 1983 – Robert W. Williams

Posted in Death penalty, Electric chair with tags , , , on December 14 by Old Sparky

Robert W. Williams was given the electric chair for murdering Willy Kelly.

Williams was put to death in 1983 aged roughly 32 – the first person to be executed in Louisiana since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

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7 December 1938 – Anne Marie Hahn

Posted in Death penalty, Electric chair with tags , , , , on December 7 by Old Sparky

Anne Marie Hahn

Anne Marie Hahn

Anne Marie Hahn AKA Arsenic Anna was fried on this day in 1938. She was done for poisoning George Obendorfer in Cincinnati as part of an avaricious killing spree in her merciless pursuit of money.

Of course the gold-digging German immigrant’s first love was arson and in the early days she’d set fire to places in her bid to amass money from insurance claims. But things grew suspicious, so the 32-year-old opted for arsenic as her weapon of choice.

She would poison elderly men whom she cared for in the community in return for their life insurance policies. Among her other victims was Albert Palmer, 72. She borrowed $1,000, from him, but following his death the IOU mysteriously disappeared.

Jacob Wagner left $17,000 to his beloved niece Hahn after he died on 3 June 1937. Then 67-year-old George Gsellman died in July 1937 leaving her a tidy $15,000.

This all looked decidedly dodgy and it took a jury just two hours to send her down for her crimes. She was strapped to the electric chair in Ohio having written a remorse-filled letter confessing to her crimes. She signed off ‘…my only regret is that I have not the power to undo the trouble and heartache that I have caused’.

Also on this day

7 December 1982 – Charles Brooks
7 December 1903 – James Duffy

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4 December 1995 – Jerry White

Posted in Death penalty, Electric chair with tags , , , on December 4 by Old Sparky

Jerry White was sent to the electric chair for murder, aged 47.

As the switch was flicked one witness is said to have heard White actually breathe, whether it was in or out is unknown.

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15 November 1996 – Ellis Wayne Felker

Posted in Death penalty, Electric chair with tags , , , on November 15 by Old Sparky

Ellis Wayne Felker

Ellis Wayne Felker

Ellis Wayne Felker was sentenced to death in Georgia for killing a student.

But there is doubt as to whether he was guilty. Indeed Felker professed innocence to the day he died. He was alleged to have murdered 19-year-old Evelyn Joy Ludlam in 1981. Evidence collected at the time included scrapings taken from under the victim’s nails, which could be compared to Felker’s hair.

Media giants

According to a report in the ‘Independent on Sunday’, three American media firms including CBS News offered to pay for DNA testing to find out if Felker was guilty once and for all. Sadly the results were inconclusive, because the evidence had deteriorated.

But this alone would shed doubt over the sentence and he could have been freed on the strength of the lack of evidence linking him to the crime. Nevertheless he was strapped to the electric chair in 1996. To this day there remains a signed confession from another suspect.

Also on this day

15 November 2005 – Robert Dale Rowell
15 November 2005 – Shannon Charles Thomas

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11 October 1957 – Rhonda Bell Martin

Posted in Death penalty, Electric chair with tags , , , , on October 11 by Old Sparky

Rat poison was Rhonda Bell Martin’s weapon of choice as she bumped off her family one by one in the ‘50s.

The serial killer admitted killing her mum, two husbands and three of her children. And while she didn’t say why, it’s thought that she was after the life insurance payouts.

Martin was a waitress in Montgomery, Alabama, and it was only after she tried to kill her fifth husband that her crimes came out into the open.

She tried to top her spouse who was actually her former son-in-law by poisoning him. But she failed and he turned into a paraplegic. But the suspicious nature of his illness alerted the authorities.

Her confession ensured that she earned the death penalty and Martin was sent to the electric chair in 1957, aged 49.

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4 October1996 – Larry Gene Bell

Posted in Death penalty, Electric chair with tags , , , on October 4 by Old Sparky

Larry Gene Bell

Larry Gene Bell

Today is given over to one particularly unsavoury character, who was convinced he was Jesus Christ up to the day he died.

His name is Larry Gene Bell and the American was sent to his death for murdering the sister of a former beauty queen hailing from South Carolina, among others.

28 days later

His evil activities spanned a mere 28 days and in that time, he did enough to earn the lurid title of serial killer in many people’s eyes. He would kidnap his intended prey, then rape them and ultimately kill them by suffocating them.

He was caught not a moment too soon, especially as he’d already managed to bag three victims, plus he had the assault of another victim, Dale Sauls, under his belt.

Bell’s angels

Bell was found guilty in 1987 of murdering his youngest victim Debra May Helmick, who was just nine and 17-year-old Shari Smith, who was the sister of Miss South Carolina, Dawn Smith Jordan.

In a cruel twist he even forced Smith to write her own will, which he promptly posted to her family before haranguing them with torturous phone calls about their beloved girl.

Poignantly, the girl wrote with a sense of foreboding as if she knew she was going to die:
‘I know y’all love me and will miss me very much but if you stick together like we always did – y’all can do it!’

She went on to ask that the casket be closed, ominously, in case something happened to her. And it did. Five days after she had first disappeared, Bell gave the family a bell and told them where the body was.

Bodies of evidence

Sure enough, they located the body and, according to Rita Y Shuler in her book ‘Murder in the Midlands’, she’d already begun to decompose due to extreme temperatures and the fact that she’d been dead a few days – probably killed the day after she’d first been abducted. Debra May Helmick was to follow.

So how was he caught?

Lucky numbers

Ironically it was Smith’s last will and testament that held the key to the perpetrator’s identity. According to ‘Palmeto Predators’ by Mark R Jones, the writing paper was put through an Esta machine, which threw up the imprint of some numbers. These numbers were matched to a phone number, which led the police straight to an address where Bell had been house-sitting.

The murderer was hauled in for questioning and the sheriff commented that ‘it was like a whitewash came over his face’. That was just 28 days after he’d started committing the crimes.

From then on it was a rollercoaster to trial just five months later. His initial trial was halted because there had been seriously bad publicity surrounding the gruesome activities, naturally. It was felt that this local publicity would have thwarted any hopes of a fair trial.

Two new trials kicked off elsewhere in January 1986 – one for Smith and one for Helmick and the jury in the former trial took a mere 12 minutes to send him down.

Hell’s for Bell

Naturally, the killer, who’d already proven how elusive he could be, began his spate of appeals, pleading the Sixth Amendment – ie he asserted that he’d been denied effective legal counsel – as well as being incompetent to stand trial, among other things. But his bid to diss his legal representation was rejected, as were all the other claims.

With all hopes of reprieve dashed, this left him with one decision: how to die.

Given the unenviable choice of lethal injection and the chair, 46-year-old Bell opted to be fried and ended his days in the fiery clutches of South Carolina’s Old Sparky.

Also on this day

4 October 1843 – Alan Mair

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