Sunday, February 17, 2013

Remembering Richard Speck

Last night I was watching a television special on Stateville Correctional Center, located near Joliet, IL ... not too far from where I grew up. In my teens, I remember chuckling at the signs on the local highway near Stateville: "Do not pick up hitchhikers."

One of the more infamous prisoners at Stateville was Richard Speck. People living in the Chicago area in the 1960's should instantly remember this man, responsible for the rape, torture and murder of eight student nurses one fateful night in Chicago in the summer of 1966. Speck was a creepy looking guy, certainly the kind of guy who could breed fear in the public.

Speck left plenty of fingerprint evidence at the crime scene, and a massive manhunt was underway within days after the murders. That summer I was staying a few weeks at my grandmother's house in Kenosha, WI. I can still remember hearing reports that Speck was reported to be headed toward Wisconsin. My grandma lived in a placid area just off Lake Michigan, with no other houses in the immediate area. I can still remember being scared that Richard Speck might find us and kill us!

Speck was caught, convicted, and sentenced to death -- a penalty that later was changed to 400 to 1,200 years in prison. If only there was enough time! Speck died in prison in 1991, but the Speck story did not stop there.

In 1996, a prison video shot in 1988 surfaced, showing Speck with female hormone-enhanced breasts, wearing women's underwear, snorting what appeared to be cocaine and then performing oral sex on another prisoner. In the video he boasted "If they only knew how much fun I was having, they'd turn me loose."

Prison video begins at 2:12

However, it appears that Speck never really did have the last laugh. In order to survive in prison, he had to basically become a prison bitch for the rest of his life -- something that his previous life tells us would certainly not be what he would choose. He escaped the death penalty, but experienced a living hell in prison -- not a bad outcome for the hideous crimes he committed July 13 and 14, 1966.


Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

I remember this happening -- it was really spooky.

9:23 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Thanks for a real upbeat post there, Lightning!

10:34 PM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@ Rob -- Well, the story did feature breasts, so I am disappointed that you didn't like it better. : o )

10:38 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Moobs don't count! In fact, they're pretty damn disgusting.

10:39 PM  
Blogger The Poker Meister said...

This is f'ed up! However, nothing touches my heart more than seeing a person reap what they have sewn...

7:29 AM  
Blogger Rakewell said...

I disagree. It IS a bad outcome. We have it enshrined in the bill of rights--part of the fundamental contract we make with each other as a society--that we do not inflict cruel or unusual punishment. Turning a blind eye to involuntary/coerced prison sex (assuming that's what this was), or frankly condoning it, as you do here, is conceptually no different from imposing such as a sentence, which we have agreed not to do.

I'm not soft on crime. I'm absolutely OK with a life sentence for him. And it need not be a cushy experience. But let's retain the moral high ground, and insist that our prisons neither inflict nor tolerate cruel treatment of those we send there, no matter what crimes they committed. Nobody--not even the worst criminals--deserves to be raped or tortured.

10:14 AM  
Blogger The Poker Meister said...

In order to make that statement, you have to really think deeply about the point of prison. Is the point of a prison for rehabilitation? In this day & age, perhaps with the exclusion of certain Nordic countries, every prison in the world does not intend to rehab its prisoners.

However, I think I come from the eye-for-an-eye mentality and therefore have no problem with rapists (along with pedophiles), who are perhaps lower than murders, getting what they give.

10:27 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

I think the whole Speck transformation is a little more complicated. A prison psychiatrist believes that he did it to himself in order to punish himself for his crimes.

@ Rakewell -- "Turning a blind eye to involuntary/coerced prison sex (assuming that's what this was), or frankly condoning it, as you do here, is conceptually no different from imposing such as a sentence"

I do not agree with you that there is no conceptual difference.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Cranky said...

Light - is this the beginning of a series about infamous criminals from the 60's and 70's? You could do the Boston Strangler next followed by Charles Manson. Ah, uplifting tales from my youth!


8:46 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

Actually, I have this weird synergy with infamous murders related to Illinois. My friends thought I was strange when I wanted to watch the goings on at John Gacy's house when the police were finding bodies. I knew one of the people who died from the Tylenol murders. And I wrote a post on Sept 7, 2009 that had links for two serial killers I knew -- one who was a friend while I was growing up and the other a guy I went to college with who dated a friend of mine.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Nicky Taylor said...

He did it because he enjoyed sex with men. Men liked him because there were no females and femmes were popular. Ive seen it the other way around in female prison where they became butch and extremely wanted and desired..he was enjoying himself and was more of a somebody than he would have been on the outside. Breasts in a male prison are high commodity..he wasnt punishing himself, he was a sociopath that simply didnt care.

11:20 PM  

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