Richard Speck

by: Ellie Blatchford and Sam Maxwell

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Richard Speck captured the nation's attention during the summer of 1966 after murdering eight female students who lived together on Chicago's South Side. Before then, he had been responsible for other acts of violence against his family and others but had a knack for escaping the police. After his killing spree in 1966, a manhunt ensued and he was captured two days later. He spent the rest of his life in prison until he died of a heart attack in 1991 at age 49.

Before major crimes

Richard was one of eight children. When he was six, his mother was remarried and she moved the family to Texas. He and his brothers suffered considerable abuse from there step father. Specks childhood was filled with juvenile delinquency and alcohol abuse. He was married and had a daughter but after getting arrested several times his wife filed for divorce.
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Major crimes

For a short time speck was a carpenter, but soon he was in trouble again: 65-year-old Virgil Harris was viciously raped and robbed in her own home on April 2, 1966, and on April 13 a barmaid in his local tavern, Mary Kay Pierce, was brutally beaten to death. he managed to avoid police questioning and escape.

He found work on a ship. soon bodies seemed to appear wherever he went. Indiana authorities wanted to interview Speck regarding the murder of three girls who had vanished on July 2, 1966, and whose bodies were never found. Michigan authorities also wanted to question him about his whereabouts during the murder of four other females, aged between 7 and 60, as his ship had been in the vicinity at the time. Speck, however, seemed to have a knack for making a quick escape and keeping police forces guessing.

But those murders soon were not as important because on Saturday, July 13, 1966, speck went to a townhouse in South Chicago which served as a communal home for a group of eight young student nurses from nearby South Chicago nurses. After forcing his way in at gunpoint Speck rounded the nurses up and ordered them to empty their purses, before tying them all up. He proceeded to brutalize them in the most horrific way over the following few hours. Those who had been fortunate enough to be out at the time of his arrival found themselves also subjected to brutal attacks when they returned home later that evening. A total of eight woman, between ages 19 and 24, were robbed, raped, beaten, strangled and stabbed during Speck's frenzy.

Because there was such a frenzy speck didnt noticed one of the girls escape upstairs and hide under one of the beds. After the attacks she fled for help where she was taken into custody. she identified a tattoo on his arm which said "born to raise hell".


He tried to commit suicide but changed his min last minute and ended up calling for help. when he was brought to the hospitial where he was identified from the tattoo on his arm.

The trial lasted just 12 days and, on April 15, 1967, the jury found Speck guilty of all eight murders, after less than an hour's deliberation. The judge sentenced Speck to death. In 1972, Speck's death sentence was commuted to 50 to 100 years in prison, when the U.S. Supreme Court abolished capital punishment. Having served 19 years of that sentence, he died of a heart attack on December 5, 1991.

In 1996, five years after Speck's death, a TV journalist made public a prison video, which showed Speck taking drugs and engaging in sex with another inmate during the 1980s, while he was an inmate at Statesville Correctional Institute; Speck appears to have breasts in the video, apparently as a result of hormone treatment received while in prison, and is wearing women's underwear. In the video, Speck also casually admits to the killing of the nurses, describing the strangulations in some detail, and bragging about the strength required to kill someone in this manner. The video's release caused a major scandal within the Illinois Department of Corrections, and was widely cited as justification for the reintroduction of death penalty. In 1991, while still in prison, Speck died of a heart attack.