Richard Speck

American mass murderer


11:00 p.m on July 13, 1966, Speck broke into a townhouse located on 100th Street in Chicago's Jeffrey Manor neighborhood, which was functioning as a dormitory for student nurses. Armed with a knife he then killed Gloria Davy, Patricia Matusek, Nina Jo Schmale, Pamela Wilkening, Suzanne Farris, Mary Ann Jordan, Merlita Gargullo, and Valentina Pasion. Speck, who later claimed he was high on both alcohol and drugs, may have originally planned to commit a routine burglary. Speck held the women in a room for hours, leading them out one by one, stabbing or strangling each to death, then finally raping and strangling his last victim, Gloria Davy. One woman, Cora (Corazon) Amurao, escaped because she managed to hide under a bed while Speck was out of the room. Speck may have lost count, or may have known eight women lived in the townhouse but not known a ninth woman was spending the night. Amurao stayed hidden until almost 6 a.m. Fingerprints found at the scene were matched to Speck.


Two days after the murders, Speck was identified by a drifter named Claude Lunsford. Speck, Lunsford, and another man had been drinking the evening of July 15 on the fire escape of the Starr Hotel at 617 W. Madison. On July 16, Lunsford recognized a sketch of the murderer in the evening paper and phoned the police at 9:30 p.m. after finding Speck in his (Lunsford's) room at the Starr Hotel. The police, however, did not respond to the call although their records showed it had been made. Speck then attempted suicide and the Starr Hotel desk clerk phoned in the emergency around midnight. Speck was taken to cook county hospital at 12:30 a.m. on July 17. At the hospital, Speck was recognized by Dr. LeRoy Smith, a 25-year-old surgical resident physician, who had read about the "Born To Raise Hell" tattoo in a newspaper story. The police were called. Speck was arrested.


Speck's jury trail began April 3, 1967, in Peoria, Illinois three hours southwest of Chicago, with a gag order on the press.In court, Speck was dramatically identified by the sole surviving student nurse, Cora Amurao. When Amurao was asked if she could identify the killer of her fellow students, Amurao rose from her seat in the witness box, walked directly in front of Speck and pointed her finger at him, nearly touching him, and said, "This is the man." Lieutenant Emil Giese testified regarding the fingerprints which were matched. He provided the scientific evidence the prosecution needed for conviction and with Amurao's testimony, placed the evidence against Speck beyond reasonable doubt, which persuaded jurors. On April 15, after 49 minutes of deliberation, the jury found Speck guilty and recommended the death penalty. On June 5, Judge Herbert J. Paschen sentenced Speck to die in the electric chair but granted an immediate stay pending automatic appeal to the Illinois supreme court, which upheld his conviction and death sentence on November 22, 1968.