Archive for US crime and punishment

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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24 October 2006 – Danny Rolling

Posted in Death penalty, Lethal injection with tags , , , , , on October 24 by Last Writes

Danny Rolling

Danny Rolling

Today’s a corker of a day – a hymn-singing serial killer plus a self-proclaimed prophet who claimed he had the ear of God.

But first to the serial killer, whose name was Danny Harold Rolling. He got a heart-stopping dose of toxins today in 2006 following a spate of macabre felons in Florida.

Although there was one male, his preferred prey was female students, and there were rich pickings in Gainesville, home to the alumni of the University of Florida and Santa Fe College.

Sunshine State Florida may be, but Rolling tumbled in like a black cloud shrouding proceedings. For his methods were nothing short of evil. A consummate and sadistic slasher, he used his hunting knife to stab or slit his victims, even to decapitate one of them. Some were sexually abused.

In fact he was so grim that his actions prompted many to dub him the worst killer since Ted Bundy.

Head in a book

And the commentators weren’t wrong. With meticulous precision, Rolling would pose his victims ‘for maximum shock effect’, according to Trutv.com’s Fiona Steel, and in one case he even displayed the dead head on a bookshelf, while the headless corpse was sat on the bed next to her detached nipples, in a truly sick twist.

So what had sparked this killer instinct? He was to blame his dad, who was ironically a police officer based in Louisiana. It all kicked off when Rolling was born – indeed his conception had been a mistake. Naturally, the fact that he was an unwanted child meant that his dad beat him.

So Rolling was able to chart his depravity back to abuse when he was young, but ‘I am not a salivating ogre’ he told Associated Press after he’d been banged up.

Unhinged

For thankfully he had eventually been caught but not before he’d slaughtered five victims. And he was brought into custody for a completely different crime…

Of course, the authorities very nearly got it wrong. They hauled in a victim of circumstance; a man by the name of Edward Humphrey who fitted the mental bill perfectly – violent, with just the right splash of unpredictable and emotionally unhinged behaviour.

Shopped

Spookily, in the meantime, Rolling had moved south to Ocala, robbing people as he travelled down and luckily leaving a destructive trail of DNA behind, which was to link him to the murders.

Luckily, there he was hauled in for armed robbery after he desperately tried to do over a supermarket on a busy Saturday afternoon. They had no reason to suspect the bloodthirsty monster at this juncture, but at least he was off the streets so the killing stopped.

As they started dredging up facts to uphold a robbery charge, more sinister happenings were unearthed. Three similarly grotesque murders had occurred in Louisiana and it turns out Rolling had even tried to bump off his dad. The evidence just came tumbling out, headed up by his pubic hair and bodily fluids found at scenes of his crimes.

Split personality

Faced with such damning evidence, Rolling didn’t stand a chance. He played the abuse card and put his actions down to schizophrenia, but none of that cut it in a court of law.

He was sent down to ride out the rest of his short life on death row before the 52-year-old was hooked up to a gurney in 2006, apparently in exactly the same place as his predecessor Ted Bundy. When asked if Rolling had any last words, he rolled out a hymn as the toxins took hold.

This brings us neatly back to God and our next deadly candidate who was bumped off on the same day…

Also on this day…

24 October 2006 – Jeffrey Lundgren

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13 October 1998 – Jeremy Vargas Sagastegui

Posted in Death penalty, Lethal injection with tags , , , , on October 13 by Last Writes

In a dire case of the babysitter from hell, Jeremy Vargas Sagastegui was executed in America for killing three people including a three-year-old boy.

Toddler Kievan Sarbacher was left in the so-called care of Sagastegui, along with his infant sister on the night of 18 November 1995 in Washington. While his mother was out, the helpless little boy was sexually abused, beaten, stabbed and finally drowned.

Terminated

Sagastegui then lay in wait for the mother, Melissa Sarbacher, to return. When she did he shot her, plus her friend Lisa Vera-Acevedo, both 27.

Strangely he left the one-year-old girl untouched.

Old Jezza didn’t even attempt to defend his actions and was duly found guilty on three counts of murder and sentenced to death. He saw this sentence as a means of committing suicide because he’d accepted the death penalty without appeal. And sure enough Sagastegui was put to death by lethal injection, aged 27.

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12 October 1984 – Linwood Briley

Posted in Death penalty, Electric chair with tags , , , , on October 12 by Last Writes

A trio of notorious numbskulls frittered away the lives of others in a series of wrongdoings that was ultimately to cost them their lives too.

But one was to gain true infamy when he led a near-successful prison break, which ‘Time’ magazine termed ‘the largest death-row breakout in history’ back in 1984.

Linwood Earl, along with brothers James (‘JB’) and Anthony Briley rampaged their way through Virginia in a terror fest that earned two of them the death penalty. Didn’t matter whether the victims were black, white, rich or poor, it seemed like it was the thrill of the kill that appeared to motivate the sadistic siblings.

In the early days, such was their subterfuge that they’d persuaded the town where they lived that they were handy boys to have around – odd jobbers who could turn their hands to anything.

Yeah, well they were odd alright. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, their own dad had clocked that they were well dodgy and was so distrustful that he slept with his bedroom door locked. Their methods were ultra-violent – according to the ‘Syracuse Herald’, Linwood used whatever weapons he had at his disposal, including ‘smashing a woman’s skull with a ball’.

So what hope did the rest of Virginia have?

Home alone

Linwood was the first to slump into the pit of depravity. At just 16 and alone in the house, he took a carefree pot shot at an elderly neighbour. Sadly his aim was bang on. And so came the first in a whole spate of killings, which were to make up the Brileys’ brace of bodies.

Amazingly, the sharpshooter very nearly got away with it. Of course, as the victim had been elderly, no foul play had been suspected. However, as Mrs Christian was lying in state, observant relatives saw a bloody mark and asked for another examination to be carried out.

The embedded bullet was revealed, which kicked off a whole load of tests and logistical evidence that pointed to a gun being fired from the Briley residence.

When confronted, the sullen 16-year-old callously came back with the claim that ‘I heard she had heart problems, she would have died soon anyway’.

Being a minor, the eldest Briley was marched off to reform school. But with such a supremely sadistic role model, what hope did his younger bruvs have? Needless to say, JB soon followed suit after he pulled the trigger on a cop.

Get knotted

On release, the brothers began their career in crime in earnest, roping in brother Anthony plus another mate. Together, they carried out a spate of vicious robberies, which left most of their victims murdered; except for one couple.

Having hoovered a house of hard-earned cash and valuables and doused what was left with petrol, the gang torched the gaff and scarpered leaving the incumbent couple for dead.

Thankfully, the sloppy scoundrels hadn’t paid enough attention to the knots binding the couple and they were able to work themselves free and escape with their lives, only to watch their livelihoods literally go up in smoke.

Neighbourhood watch

Yet others were not so lucky. The gang preyed on the vulnerable and became the terrifying scourge of the State, leaving several dead in their menacing wake. This culminated in the death of one of their mates. The boys were cruising like ‘Droogs’ looking for a fight.

A neighbour clocked them and before he could help himself he’d shut and locked his door.
Of course the gang saw all this and that was it. From that point on fate had found their next victim.
Harvey Wilkerson had a young family – a 23-year-old partner who was up the duff as well as a five-year-old son.

When the fateful knock at the door came, what was the guy to do? Wilkerson opened the door, which was a decision he never lived long enough to regret. The louts were all over the young family like a pestilence, raping the heavily pregnant woman before tying them up.

The kills

The gang members then goaded the newest member of their team to claim his first kill. Duncan Meekins did so in the shape of Wilkerson. JB then finished off the child and the girlfriend, plus the unborn baby (but more of him later).

This was the step too far for it just so happened that police were in the area, heard the gunshots and saw the boys legging it. Sadly they hadn’t seen where they’d come from, but a few days later the targets of the team’s shooting practice were revealed and the time had come to reel the gang in.

Down and out

The charges were rattled off with machine gun intensity from robbery to murder and JB went down for killing the last two victims. Meekins, on the other hand, did the indecent thing (depending on how you look at it). He stitched up the brothers in return for a lesser sentence. And given that he’d shot someone in a State that doles out the death penalty, he literally got away with murder.

That was more than can be said for the Brileys. Anthony got life, but his elder brothers both wangled one-way tickets to death row, Linwood’s victim being a DJ.

Even then the condemned pair tried to wheedle their way slimily out their allotted penalties. Along with four other inmates, they cooked up a prison break and nearly succeeded. But the bad apples never fell far from the family tree and the FBI finally caught up with Linwood and JB 19 days later near their uncle’s in Philly.

Chargrilled

Banged up once again, naturally Briley appealed on the basis that he ‘had been discriminated against in sentencing because he [was] black and his victim was white’ according to a report in the ‘New York Times‘. But the third and final attempt never even got an airing. It was dismissed paving the way for the mass murderer’s actions to catch up with him finally.

Well Virginia didn’t hang around as Old Sparky was out in full force in 1984 – as a result, Briley was barbecued on this day, aged 30. His brother was to take his place in the same hot seat just six months later…

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10 September 1801 – Jason Fairbanks

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , , on September 10 by Last Writes

George ‘Dubya’ Bush has been known for being trigger happy when it came to sanctioning executions as governor. But did you know one of his ancestors was strung up?

Jason Fairbanks was hanged for the murder of his sweetheart after she refused to marry him.

Fairbanks was from a family which can be traced back to 1636 Massachusetts, and before that Yorkshire. The house they originally built and have lived in since still belongs to the family to this day, which makes it the oldest timber-frame house currently in North America.

Notable descendants include William Taft, plus George Bush Senior and, naturally, the current president of the United States. But there’s often a black sheep in any family (and let’s not count George Bush for now). Jason fitted that bill.

Backed into a corner

As a result of being charged with murder, he bizarrely claimed that Elizabeth Fales had committed suicide and that he’d vainly attempted to follow in her footsteps.

Strangely his girlfriend’s corpse showed evidence of 11 wounds, including one stab wound to the back.

That was the clincher. How could Fales have stabbed herself in the back?

Fairbanks was sentenced to death and miraculously managed to escape, but he was soon apprehended again and hanged in 1801, aged just 21.

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