Richard Speck

From Academic Kids

Richard Benjamin Speck (December 6, 1941 - December 5, 1991) was a mass murderer who systematically killed eight student nurses from South Chicago Community Hospital on July 14, 1966.

Speck was born December 6, 1941, in Kirkwood, Illinois. He was the seventh of eight children and raised in a religious family. His father died when he was six, and he was frequently beaten by his drunken step father.

Speck was a poor student and an incorrigible juvenile delinquent, beginning his life of crime at a young age.

He was briefly married, a union marked by abuse and even spousal rape. Speck spent much of the marriage in and out of prison, although he allegedly fathered a child. In January 1966, six months before the nurse murders, his wife Shirley filed for divorce.

Prior to the nurse murders, Speck is known to have been arrested for burglary and stabbing, although he got away with raping Virgil Harris (65), and beating Mary Kay Pierce to death; in both cases, he avoided in-depth interrogation.

On July 14, 1966, Speck broke into a South Chicago townhouse and took as hostages nurses Gloria Davy, Patricia Matusek, Nina Schmale, Pamela Wilkening, Suzanne Farris, Mary Ann Jordan, Merlita Gargullo and Valentina Pasion. He held them hostage for hours, beating and raping them, before finally shooting them to death.

He attempted suicide on July 19 and was hospitalized, where he was identified by Cora (Corazon) Amurau, another student nurse who had luckily escaped by hiding silently under a bed while her housemates were being killed. Speck, who was quite fond of various types of pills, did not notice Amurau and left the house in a drug-induced haze.

Saying he had no recollection of the murders, he was declared sane but a sociopath after being examined. Jury trial began April 3, 1967 at Peoria County, three hours south of Chicago, with a gag order on the press. Amurau also testified at the trial.

The trial was concluded on April 15, 1967, and the jury found Speck guilty of the murders. He was sentenced to death, although he avoided that when the Supreme Court outlawed capital punishment the following year. Speck was re-sentenced to 50 to 100 years in prison.

He died on December 5, 1991 from a heart attack. On autopsy, he was found to have an enlarged heart and occluded arteries. His body was not claimed and he was cremated.

Speck once again became notorious after pictures and videos of him in prison were made public. In the videos, Speck was shown using drugs and having sex with a fellow male inmate. He also appears to have altered his body to grow female-like breasts with hormone treatment. In the video, the inmate he later had sex with asked him how he felt about the nurses he killed. Shrugging, he said, "It just wasn't their night." This video was used to argue for the death penalty.

External links

  • Crime Library (
  • Crime Magazine (


  • Breo, Dennis L.; Martin, William J.; (1993). Crime of the Century: Richard Speck and the Murder of Eight Nurses. Bantam Books, Incorporated. ISBN 0553560255
  • Altman, Jack; Ziporyn, Marvin, M.D.; (1967). Born to Raise Hell: The Untold Story of Richard Speck. The Man, The Crime, The Trial. Grove Press.

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