Richard Speck

By Ellie Blatchford and Sam Maxwell

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Early years

Richard Speck was born into a family with 8 brothers and a abusive step father that was a drunk and beat him and his brothers. Speck's childhood was marked by juvenile delinquency and alcohol abuse, which soon led to petty crime. Speck's reversion to type landed him a jail sentence for theft and check fraud, in 1963. Having been paroled in January 1965, he lasted only four weeks outside, before being arrested again for aggravated assault, and he was jailed for a further 16 months, of which he served 6 months. During this period he had the words "Born to Raise Hell" tattooed on his arm.
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Major Crimes

For a short time he 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 deflect police questioning and escape once again, but police discovered some of Harris' personal effects in his vacant hotel room that conclusively tied him to her attack. These attacks, however, paled into insignificance on Saturday, July 13, 1966, when Speck arrived on the doorstep of a townhouse in South Chicago, which served as a communal home for a group of eight young student nurses from nearby South Chicago Community Hospital.



A total of eight woman, between ages 19 and 24, were robbed, raped, beaten, strangled and stabbed during Speck's frenzy. The body count was so high that he failed to notice that Amurao, who had opened the door for him on his arrival, had managed to hide herself under one of the beds. When he left, hours later, taking the money he had stolen, she cowered in her hiding place, terrified, for hours, before finally summoning the courage to seek help. She climbed out on a window ledge and screamed for help, at which point concerned neighbors summoned the police.

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The arrest

They took the survivor into custody where she identified speck because of his "born to raise hell" tattoo.


He served 19 years of his sentence and died of a heart attack