It can be so easy to put our humane emotions aside when it comes to death row inmates. After all, they deserve it, right? Even after all the horror and anguish some of these people have brought into the world, it can be difficult to sit on the other side of that glass and not remember that they are also human. Without fully understanding why, our combined fascination with the macabre details of some of these cases fuels their popularity and solidifies their names in our history forever. Below are 3 of the most interesting death row cases in American History.
- George Stinney Jr., just 14 years old, is to date, the youngest person ever executed by the electric chair. In 1944, police were called to a scene in Columbia, South Carolina where the bodies of two young girls, aged 8 and 11, were found beaten to death in a ditch. While picking wild flowers, they were attacked with what was later identified as a lead pipe. Not long after, the police received a call from a distraught woman claiming that it was her grandson who had committed the horrific act. George Stinney Jr. confessed, relinquished the murder weapon, and proceeded to apologize, stating, “I didn’t want to kill them girls”. Stinney spent 81 days in jail before his death. Being so young, he was too short for the chair, so a bible was placed beneath him. Before dying, the mask covering his face slipped off to reveal the pain and anguish of his last moments. In 2014, George Stinney Jr. was exonerated as it was concluded that his confession had been coerced.
- In the late 1920s, William Kogut had been convicted and sentenced to death in the murder trial of Mayme Guthrie. While the details of the crime are quite horrific in themselves, it is Kogut’s death row rebellion that grabs the attention of many. Kogut did not approve of letting the state and prison decide the time and circumstances of his death. So he used every day objects available to him in his cell to do the deed himself. He obtained multiple packs of gaming cards, (the red ink in the cards at the time contained nitrocellulose, a chemical that, when wet, can be explosive), ripped them to shreds, and shoved them in a pipe. He used the end of a broom handle to plug 1 entrance of the pipe, all
while pouring water into the other end. After the playing cards were fully soaked, he laid the pipe across a heater that was placed next to his bed. William then placed the pipe to his head and waited. After heating the water inside enough, the pipe exploded with a force comparable to a shotgun.
- Ted Bundy is arguably one of the most famous serial killers to date. Even after acquiring a sort of “fan club” during his trial, the celebration that ensued outside the prison immediately after his death painted a more appropriate picture. Hundreds of people gathered outside to celebrate his death. Some even chanting things such as, “Burn, Bundy, Burn!” and banging pots and pans together in hurrah. The callous murderer’s last words were, “I’d like to give my love to my family and friends”. After his execution, a signal was giving to the eagerly awaiting crowd outside who burst into an excited uproar.