Posts tagged prison
Posts tagged prison
William Heirens, the notorious “Lipstick Killer” who confessed to three murders on the North Side in the 1940s, has died after over 65 years in prison. The 83 years old was pronounced dead at 8:45 p.m. Monday at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center. He was the longest-serving inmate in Illinois history.
Heirens was a 17-year-old college student when he confessed to killing two women in their homes and strangling 6-year-old Suzanne Degnan, whose body was dismembered and disposed of in the city’s sewers. The slayings caused a media sensation in 1940s Chicago.
Heirens said he confessed to avoid an almost certain sentence of death in the electric chair. He recanted his admissions of guilt and, ever since, maintained he was innocent.
Last Meals on Death Row
If you were on death row what would be your last meal?
The state of Texas used to keep a list of its inmates’ last meals on its website. One of their convicts who participated in preparing last meals compiled them into a cookbook entitled “Meals to Die For.” A similar book is entitled “Last Suppers: Famous Final Meals From Death Row.” There’s even a website containing lists of prisoners’ last meals and other related information. However, despite all the interest there are detractors as well. Texas eventually eliminated the last meal list from its website due to complaints that it was in poor (do NOT pardon the pun), taste.
The tradition of providing a condemned person a final meal goes back to the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans who all practiced this custom. Ages ago in Europe the provision of a last meal had superstitious underpinnings. It was believed that if a condemned person received a last meal, he tacitly accepted his fate and forgave those responsible for his demise, (i.e., the executioner, the judge, the witnesses to the crime, etc.). Thus, his acquiescence and absolution would prevent his spirit from vengefully haunting those who had played a role in his prosecution.
Today, most governments provide a last meal to those who are sentenced to death. In the United States, the actual parameters of the last meal vary from state to state. Naturally there are limitations on the requests. You will not find any convicts chowing down on foie gras and Russian caviar before meeting their maker. Texas limits the meals to food that can be made within the prison. Florida imposes a twenty dollar price limit. Some states will allow take out from pizza parlors or other popular restaurants. Maryland conversely, does not offer its inmates a special last meal. Alcohol is universally forbidden and a final smoke depends on whether the prison is smoke-free or not.
So what are some famous last meals? Ted Bundy, the notorious serial killer and necrophiliac, dined on steak, eggs, hash browns and coffee. Don’t see anything crazy there. And before you anti-red meat crusaders attempt to link carnivorousness with his lechery consider the last meal of Oklahoma inmate Michael Pennington: a vegetarian pizza, salad, and dessert. John Wayne Gacy, another depraved serial murderer chose fried chicken, fried shrimp, French fries and strawberries. Velma Barfield, the famous female arsenic killer asked for a bag of Cheez Doodles and a Coke. Aileen Wuornos, another infamous female killer who took the lives of seven men, declined a last meal. Timothy McVeigh (the Oklahoma City bomber) received ice cream. Victor Feguer, who kidnapped a doctor and killed him, asked for a single olive. Adolf Eichman, the notorious Nazi, in what could only be considered sadistic and twisted, requested an Israeli wine. California murderer Robert Alton Harris desired Kentucky Fried Chicken and Domino’s pizza. Joan of Arc asked for Holy Communion.
“All I want to do is go back to the prison, wait for the chair and get the hell off this planet, that is full of evil.”
One sick boy…
American serial killer William Heirens wrote this message on the wall of his victim’s bedroom in lipstick after stabbing the woman to death in 1945. It earned him the nickname “The Lipstick Killer.” 7 months before, he had killed another woman, also stabbed to death in her apartment. In January 7, 1946, Heirens kidnapped, strangled and then dismembered Suzanne Degnan, who was 6 years old.
Heirens was 17 and sentenced to a life in prison in 1946. He’s now 82 and still in prison.