What happened during this week (July 14-20) in crime history – Billy the Kid was shot to death by Pat Garrett (July 14, 1881); Richard Speck murdered 8 student nurses in Chicago (July14, 1966); Old west gunslinger Johnny Ringo was found dead (July 14, 1882); John Christie, one of England’s most notorious killers was executed (July 15, 1953); Fashion designer Gianni Versace was murdered (July 15, 1997); Jeffery MacDonald’s murder trial began (July 16, 1979); Casey Anthony was released from jail (July 17, 2011); James Huberty opens fire at a San Diego area McDonald’s killing 21 people (July 18, 1984); Boxer Mike Tyson raped a Miss Black America contestant (July 19, 1991); Actress Rebecca Shaeffer was murdered by a stalker (July 19, 1989); Serial killing couple Alton and Debra Coleman were arrested in Evanston, Illinois (July 20, 1984); King Abdullah of Jordan was assassinated (July 20, 1951); Kames Holmes shoots and kills 12 people at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater (July 20, 2012).
Highlighted crime of the week -
On July 14, 1966, eight student nurses were brutally murdered by Richard Speck at their residence in Chicago, Illinois. Speck threatened the women with both a gun and a knife, tying each of them up while robbing their townhouse. Over the next several hours, Speck stabbed and strangled each of the young women throughout various rooms of the place. One young woman, Corazon Amurao, managed to escape with her life by hiding under a bed; Speck had lost count of his victims.
Richard Speck was an alcoholic and a petty criminal with a long criminal record. He had "Born to Raise Hell" tattooed on his forearm and periodically worked on cargo boats traveling the Great Lakes. On the night of July 13, after drinking heavily at several Chicago bars, Speck broke into the townhouse for student nurses of the South Chicago Community Hospital. Speck then used his gun to force three nurses into a bedroom, where he found three more women. Using nautical knots, he then tied the women's hands and feet with strips torn from bed sheets. By midnight, three more nurses had come home only to be tied up as well. Speck assured the women that he was only going to rob them and they wouldn’t be harmed.
After stealing from the women, he took them into separate rooms, killing them one by one. The remaining women heard only muffled screams from their roommates. Amurao, who was hiding under her bed, waited until early the next morning before leaving her hiding place. She then crawled out onto a second-story ledge and screamed for help. Police responding to the cries obtained a detailed description of Speck from Amurao; the sketch was placed on the front page of every local newspaper the next morning. Speck, who was hiding out at a budget motel, reied to commit suicide on July 16, but failed. He was arrested the next day at the Cook County Hospital. With Amurao's identification and his fingerprints left at the scene, Speck was convicted and sentenced to death. However, in 1972, when the Supreme Court invalidated the death penalty under which he was sentenced, Speck was re-sentenced to 400 years in prison. He died in prison on December 5, 1991 from a heart attack.
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagaizine.com and is the author of numerous books that include the award winning, Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 (2012, Schiffer Publishing). The book was the WINNER of the 2012 International Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards for True Crime. Visit the author's website for more information www.michaelthomasbarry.com
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