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Richard Speck: The Spree Killer

Richard Speck, the Spree Killer

What started out as a robbery ended in something considerably worse…
Richard Speck, who was drunk at the time, walked into the townhouse at 2319 East 100th Street in Chicago, Illinois, and murdered eight nursing students on July 14, 1966.
After entering the residence, Speck roused the women from their slumber and ushered them into a bedroom, demanding whatever cash they had and promising not to murder them. But when two women from a nearby boarding house walked into number 2319 as Speck was abusing Pamela Wilkening, chaos ensued.
What happened next was a bloodbath, though it’s unclear what Speck would have done if neighbors Suzanne Farris and Mary Ann Jordan hadn’t shown up. Speck returned for the other victims he had been keeping in a different room, taking them out one by one, rapping and murdering them until there was no one left.
That’s what he thought, at least. Whether he was unaware of the number of ladies in the house, to begin with, or if the unexpected entrance of the nearby nursing students threw him off, Cora Amurao managed to hide beneath a bed until Speck eventually left. She was the only one who had survived.
With the help of her eyewitness story and fingerprints at the scene that matched Speck’s, Amurao was able to bring Richard Speck to justice. Speck was found guilty and sentenced to death after only 49 minutes of deliberation.


Pic: Wikipedia

But how did this young man, who said he couldn’t recall the night he tortured and murdered eight young ladies, end up as a murderer? Speck was born on December 6, 1941, and grew up in a typical family. Speck’s life began to alter once his loving father and elder brother died within five years of each other.
His mother, who had been a teetotaler throughout the temperance movement, fell in love with a traveling insurance salesman who had an eye on his drink. Carl Lindberg, Speck’s new stepfather, was an abusive drunk who had been convicted of fraud and drunk driving. Speck, who was 12 years old at the time of his brother Robert’s death, began drinking within a year after his brother’s death. He was virtually always inebriated by the age of 15.
Speck dropped out of school when he was 16 years old, having previously been arrested several times for trespassing and disturbing the peace. In his early twenties, Speck became increasingly violent, wounding two individuals with a knife within a year of the other. Speck’s wife, who was five years his junior, had left him at this point. Speck moved in with his sister, then back to his hometown in Illinois, because he had nowhere else to go.

Upon his return to Monmouth

Speck became even more violent, robbing two women and murdering one in April 1966. But then Speck looked to straighten up: in June, he applied for a job as an apprentice seaman with the United States Coast Guard.
Then Speck was passed over for a more senior seaman’s assignment. He went on a daylong binge after being ejected from his sister’s residence, which ended in violence once more. Ella Mae Hooper, 53, was kidnapped, raped, and her firearm was stolen. However, such act was insufficient to calm Speck’s rage.
Later that night, after dinner, Speck took the stolen pistol and a switchblade and drove a mile and a half to a townhouse occupied by nursing students.
That night, at 11:00 p.m., he arrived. Speck had been drinking and abusing drugs all day. The seven women in the townhouse were quickly thrown into a horror they could never have imagined. Five ladies were forced into one room, while three others took refuge in a cabinet.
One of the women pleaded with Speck for what he wanted, thinking they would be able to save themselves. His response was to travel to New Orleans. Each of the women gave the intruder whatever money they had in order to purchase a plane ticket to New Orleans. It appeared as if they had saved their own lives… until Gloria Jean Davy, the eighth nurse returns home from her date. Speck panicked and tied each of the eight ladies before dragging Pamela Wilkening from the room.

One By One

As Speckled each woman out of the bedroom one by one, torturing and killing them, a horrible night began. Meanwhile, Corazon Amurao crouched beneath a bed, out of sight but not out of earshot. Speck’s atrocities were concluded around 3 a.m. Amurao hid for another two hours before escaping and seeking assistance.
Speck’s undoing would be Amurao’s ability to remain concealed. When a drifter saw Speck’s sketch in the newspaper on July 16, he alerted the cops. Speck attempted suicide before he could be imprisoned. A doctor at the hospital recognized Speck from Amurao’s sketch, and the mass murderer was apprehended on the scene.
Many ideas have been presented to explain Speck’s violent behavior, ranging from traumatic brain traumas to obsessive-compulsive illness to XYY syndrome, which was supposed to make males more aggressive than their more usual XY counterparts at the time. Regardless, Speck was found guilty quite quickly. A 1971 Supreme Court judge overturned his death sentence, but his 1972 resentencing resulted in a 1,200-year term. Speck died of a heart attack in prison on December 5, 1991.
After death, a speck…
He had blown up to 220 pounds at the time of his death, and his postmortem revealed that he had an enlarged heart and clogged arteries. He was burned since no one claimed his body. His cremated remains were scattered at an undisclosed site.

But, tragically, Speck reappeared in 1996.

In May of that year, television journalist Bill Kurtis went behind the walls of Stateville prison and returned with a hidden camera showing a weird Richard Speck wearing blue underwear and having sex with another inmate, clearly due to hormone therapy. The film, which included sex and drug orgies, was broadcast on American Justice and landed the Illinois Department of Corrections in the middle of a big scandal. The footage was shot in the middle of the 1980s, and viewers were just as appalled by what had happened to Speck as they were by his heinous actions.
He continued to wreak havoc even after he died.
The Nurse Murders and the Richard Speck Case, Season 1 of American Horror Story
One of the first season’s plots is about a couple of nurses who are murdered in the Murder House. Though the show’s nurses (played by guest stars Rosa Salazar and Celia Finkelstein) aren’t based on real people, Ryan Murphy has indicated that the Richard Speck massacre in 1966 inspired their murders. One night, Speck, a Texas seaman, broke into a Chicago hostel full of nurses and brutally tortured, raped, and murdered eight of them. In comparison to what happened, the show’s chronology seems light.

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