Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Midwest murder

That George Ryan stunt necessarily reminded me of Illinois' illustrious past as a cradle of murderers. Some of what follows is pretty bad, and you might want to skip it.

Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were hyperprivileged boys who were bored. They wanted to perform the perfect crime, so they killed Loeb's cousin. They were caught. Loeb died in prison, and Leopold lived long enough to be released after 33 years in prison. He survived another 13 years, until 1971.

Adolph Louis Luetgert didn't like his old lady, so he killed her. But what should he do with the body? Easy, he had a sausage factory....

William Heirens might actually be innocent. Allegedly he killed three women, and wrote "For Heavens sake, catch me before I kill more. I cannot control myself" at the scene of one murder.

Richard Speck killed eight student nurses in one night's rampage in Chicago. He died of natural causes in prison, but not before being caught on videotape doing drugs, wearing women's underwear, fooling around with his boyfriend and claiming that if the authorities knew how much fun he was having in prison, they would kick him out.

John Wayne Gacy is the second runner up, with a toll in the 30 or so. All were young men. Typically they were talked into putting on handcuffs, then they were tortured, sodomized, killed, and either dumped in a river or buried under his house. He carried on an active correspondence with boys until finally after over a decade's delay, he was executed.

Al Capone had a gang to do most of his wet work. The biggest single event was the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, but Capone and his men figured in many more killings than that over his career as a "second hand furniture dealer".

But the champion was Herman Webster Mudgett. He had a long career as a criminal, but he was most famous for an elaborate house he built in Chicago in time for the 1893 Columbian Exhibition. There he wooed many women only to kill and rob them. He was finally caught and hanged in 1896.

But don't go thinking that IL has all the killers. Just to the north in Wisconsin, what they might lack in numbers they make up for in notoriety. What's more, they're thrifty - the IL killers just wasted their victims, but the Wisconsiners would eat them too.

For instance, there's Ed Gein, who inspired the movie "Psycho". Being timid, he wasn't one to get fresh with women. Apparently he didn't like it when they were fresh either - he dug up their graves and...well, you can look here. But eventually he got impatient and grabbed live ones, for which he was busted and sent away for life in a mental hospital.

But the champ was the more modern Jeffrey Dahmer. This creep defies description. One wonders what might have happened if he had met John Wayne Gacy.

Yes, the above is nasty. If you thought it was bad, imagine being the family of one of the victims. The point of it all is to note the kind of human offal we have had to deal with on death row or elsewhere. And which were used by George Ryan for no apparent honest reason other than to deflect attention from his own problems.

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