Richard Speck – 1966

By | November 12, 2016

“Born to raise hell”


Evidence from the Speck murder trial is wheeled into the Peoria County courtroom


Richard Franklin Speck was born in Kirkwood, Illinois, on 6 December 1941. His father died when he was young and the boy did not like his new stepfather. He took to alcohol to numb his pains. When he was 19 Speck had a tattoo bearing the legend “Born to raise hell”. He said, “I couldn’t think of nothing to have on my arm, so I asked the tattooer if he had any ideas. He suggested all kinds of things, slogans and stuff and one of them was “Born to raise hell”. That sounded kinda good, so I let him put that. Didn’t mean anything special to me.” In 1962 lie married 15-year-old Shirley Annette Malone and they had one child.

Four years later, at llpin on 13 July 1966, he broke into a dormitory of the South Chicago Community Hospital which housed young student nurses. He took nine hostage with a knife (and by some accounts a gun, too): Gloria Davy, Patricia Matusek, Nina Schmale, Pamela Wakening, Suzanne Farris, Mary Ann Jordan, Merlita Gargullo, Valentina Pasion and Corazon Amurao. He tied all the women up with the bed sheets, telling them that he would not harm them. Corazon Amurao said that they should fight back but some believed he would rape them and that was preferable to more serious harm. One by one he took them from the room and strangled or stabbed them to death. Patricia Matusek was strangled; Nina Schmale was slashed on the neck and strangled; Pamela Wakening was stabbed in the heart; Suzanne Farris was mutilated, stabbed nine times and strangled; Mary Ann Jordan was stabbed in the heart, neck and left eye; Merlita Gargullo was stabbed in the neck and Valentina Pasion was stabbed four times and strangled.

Miss Amurao took the opportunity when Speck was out of the room to hide under a bed. Gloria Davy was the last to die — he raped her first for about 25 minutes and asked her “Would you mind putting your legs around my back?” before sodomizing her and killing her, leaving her naked body on a settee. In the early hours Miss Amurao left her hiding place and saw the carnage. She ran to the balcony screaming, “They’re all dead! All my friends are dead!”


South Chicago Community Hospital Dormitory, 2319 East 100th Street, Chicago, Illinois, USA


Thursday 14 July 1966


A fingerprint left at the scene was found to match Speck’s. However, it was not until he was taken to hospital after a suicide attempt that he was finally recognized (by his tattoo) and arrested. He went on trial on 3 April 1967 at Peoria, Illinois. On 15 April,after a 49-minute deliberation, the jury found Speck guilty and recommended the death penalty.

On 5 June Judge Herbert J. Paschen sentenced Speck to die in the electric chair. On 28 June 1971 the death sentence was overturned. On 21 November 1972 Speck was sentenced to 400-1,200 years in prison. Speck died of a heart attack at 6.05am on 5 December 1991, one day before his 50th birthday, at Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet.


Interviewed in prison, Speck had a message for Americans: “Just tell ’em to keep up their hatred for me. I know it keeps up their morale. And I don’t know what I’d do without it.” In 1996 a two-hour video shot eight years earlier at Stateville Prison showed prisoners taking drugs openly and

Speck having oral sex with another prisoner. It also showed him sniffing cocaine, wearing silk knickers and showing off breasts grown by taking smuggled-in female hormone tablets. Speck said to camera, “If they only knew how much fun I was having, they’d turn me loose.”

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