7/13/1966 - No father since six, a step-father with a 25-year criminal history, drinking by the age of twelve, a daily drunk by fifteen, a drop-out from the 9th grade by sixteen, twenty-four-year-old Richard Benjamin Speck is a total loser with 41 arrests on his resume by the time he leaves Texas for Chicago (where his sister lives) in 1966 (fleeing a 42nd arrest warrant for stealing 70 cartons of cigarettes from a grocery store). In Chicago, moving up from petty crimes like public drunkenness and vagrancy, Speck will molt into the monster he is ... raping and murdering 32-year-old barmaid Mary Kay Pierce on 4/19, before his crime-of-the-century moment of wanton slaughter comes on this day at a dormitory for student nurses located at 2319 East 100th Street of the Windy City.
Drunk and flying high on speed, after an unsuccessful day and evening trying to get transport work at the National Maritime Union hiring hall (an occupation that doesn't suit him, on his first assignment he will be sent back to shore after suffering an appendicitis attack, on his second he is fired for fighting with one of the ship's officers ... there never is a third sea mission), dressed in a black jacket, t-shirt, pants, socks, and shoes, and armed with a cheap stolen .22 caliber Rohm pistol and switchblade knife, at 11:00 Speck makes his way over to a townhouse he has seen pretty young women entering and leaving, knocks on the door (the two-story townhouse holding the dormitory is only 150 feet away from the hiring hall) ... and sadly, the door opens.
First Box At Left
Claiming he won't hurt anyone and is just going to tie up the women while robbing them of enough money to go to New Orleans, Speck brandishes his pistol and switchblade about, cowing the six women in the house into allowing themselves to lie on the floor and be bound around the hands and feet with strips of bed sheets the killer tears apart (tied with nautical knots he has learned during his brief time as a sailor). Speck's captives are 23-year-old Corazon Amurao from the Philippines, 23-year-old Valentina Pasion and 22-year-old Merlita Gargullo, both also from the Philippines, 20-year-old Pamela Wilkening (only 19 days away from her 21st birthday), 20-year-old Patricia Matusek (a swimming champion), and 24-year-old Nina Schmale (a Sunday School teacher for four years). At 11:30, when 22-year-old Gloria Davy returns to the townhouse after a date (she is president of the Illinois Student Nurses Association), she joins the others upstairs in bondage, as do 21-year-old Suzanne Farris (one of three children born to a Transit Authority worker) and 20-year-old Mary Ann Jordan (one of six children born to a local civil engineer), when they enter the residence shortly after midnight. Nine powerless young women and one piece of human garbage, a formula for an epic tragedy.
Eight of the Nine Nurses
Power, madness, hate, and lust ... Speck unties Wilkening, takes her into another room, stabs her in the left breast, then strangles her to death with a torn bit of bed sheet ... a killing that stimulates the monster, but sadly doesn't satiate him ... and so it is on to victim #2. Following a horrible pattern, one by one, Speck will take the women to another area of the home where he spends about 20 to 25 fatal minutes with each (a scumbag through and through, Speck will blame his victims for their deaths, claiming none of the killings would have happened if Wilkening had not spit in the maniac's face when he started pawing her breasts), then he washes up and repeats the process ... Mary Ann Jordan is stabbed in the neck, breast, and eye, Farris fights back and is stabbed eighteen times before being strangled to death, Schmale is stabbed in the neck and strangled, Pasion is stabbed in the neck, Gargullo is stabbed and strangled, Matusek is kicked in the stomach and strangled to death, and Davy is raped, then taken downstairs naked, raped again in a manner that mutilates her anus with a foreign object and strangled to death. Done, Speck lets himself out the front door and makes his way over to the skid row on Madison Street, where he starts a new drinking binge. He has made a mistake though and allowed a potential victim to survive ... a witness that will send the killer behind bars for life ... Corazon Amurao!
Terrified, but keeping her wits about her, during Speck's evening of slaughter, Amurao manages to squeeze under a bed when the killer is out of the room ... where she listens to the final words of her friends, has the rape of Davy take place on the bed she is beneath, hears eight murders take place and is saved from becoming number nine when Speck loses track of how many victims he'd taken hostage. Remaining motionless and silent beneath the bed until 6:00 in the morning, Amurao steps over bodies (trying to avoid looking at the carnage all around the townhouse), breaks out a screen window, and climbs outside on to a ledge where she begins screaming for help. "Help me! Help Me! Everybody is dead! I am the only one still alive on the sampan! My friends are all dead, all dead, all dead! I'm the only one alive, oh God, the only one! My friends are all dead!" A neighbor, Mrs. Betty Windmiller, and a man out walking his dog, Mr. Robert Hall, are the first to hear the news. Minutes later the police arrive and begin their murder investigation ... an easy "gotcha" considering Speck has left a witness (who will accurately describe the killer to a police sketch artist at the hospital she is taken to), 30 fingerprints about the house, many bloody, and a t-shirt wrapped in Davy's panties. Fingerprints a match to Speck, the police arrest the killer on the 16th of the month, after the drunken monster makes a feeble attempt to commit suicide by slashing his right wrist and left arm and is taken to the emergency room of Cook County Hospital, where he gives his real name as he is checked in.
A Victim Removed
Brought to trial the following year, with a confession in hand, a witness that identifies the killer in court, and a fingerprint expert providing testimony that Speck produced the prints, the jury deciding Speck's case finds him guilty of all eight murders after only 49 minutes of deliberations. Guilty, Speck is sentenced to die on 11/22/1968 in the state's electric chair ... but escapes execution when the United States Supreme Court rules his death penalty is unconstitutional because 250 potential jurors were kept out of the Speck jury pool over being opposed to the death penalty because of religious issues. No death, but no out either ... upon re-sentencing, Speck is given 8 consecutive sentences of between 50 to 150 years ... a maximum sentence of 1,200 years. After a massive heart attack, one day before his 50th birthday, at the age of 49, on December 5, 1991, wearing his "Born To Raise Hell" tattoo, maggot Speck departs forever for Satan's infernal regions of Hell.
Life Behind Bars
As for Amurao, trying to make as much of the rest of her life as normal as is possible, in the years that follow, she will spend time in the nursing departments of Far Eastern Hospital in Manila and Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C., marry businessman Alberto Atienza, have two children, and beyond the $5,000 reward she is given for providing the information that gets Speck arrested, refuses to sell the story of her horrific evening for profit! With a huge assist from her guardian angel, she is currently 72 years young!
One Tough Cookie!