Wednesday, July 13, 2016

50 Years Ago Today

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the day that Richard Speck murdered eight female student nurses in their Chicago South Side townhouse.

It was a brutal and senseless crime, the likes of which Chicago had never seen before.  One fortunate nurse, Corazon Amurao, escaped murder by hiding under a bed, from which vantage point she watched her friends robbed, beaten, raped, strangled and stabbed ... eight total murders in all.  The series of events took hours as Speck waited for each girl to return home and then added them to his list of victims.


It sent terror throughout the city, knowing that this man with the "Born To Raise Hell" tattoo was still loose somewhere in our city.

As an irrational and naive preteen, I remember being scared to death that Speck might show up in our neighborhood seeking shelter ... or more victims.  There was no escaping it ... it was literally everywhere you looked ... covered virtually non-stop by every television station and plastered all over every local newspaper.  (Apparently at some point after the murders Speck attempted what amounted to a botched suicide attempt, which ultimately brought him into Cook County Hospital where, while lying on a gurney, nurses noticed his now infamous tattoo, covered with blood, and called local police.)

Then Chicago Tribune Reporter (and noted syndicated columnist, current Forgotten Hits Reader and sometime contributor) Bob Greene later became the only person to ever interview Speck while he was incarcerated.  (He died in jail nineteen years later of a heart attack, one day shy of his 50th birthday.)

At first Speck denied the murders ... then said he had an accomplice ... before ultimately admitting that he had committed the crimes, saying at one point that "they'd probably all still be alive today if one of them hadn't spit in my face."  Not a likely scenario, given Speck's previous arrest record.  (He was also suspected of several other unsolved murders in Indiana and Michigan.) offers a pretty comprehensive overview of Speck's "career" on the dark side ...

And this link provides more information on Bob Greene's landmark interview ...

Much will be said today about Speck's heinous crime ... you'll probably also see interviews with survivor Corazon Amurao, now in her early 70's ... but eight women lost their lives that night ... eight young women who were dedicating  their careers to helping others ... so please, let's take a moment today to remember them, too ... lives and dreams cut short by this mad man.  Please take a moment to honor the victims today as well.

Gloria Jean Davy, 22

Mary Ann Jordan,, 20

Patricia Matusek, 20

Nina Jo Schmale, 24

Pamela Wilkening, 20

Suzanne Farris, 21

Merlita Gargullo, 22

Valentina Pasion. 23

The Chicago Tribune has put together a nice memorial piece in honor of this very sad anniversary ...