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1960s / Richard Speck Murders 1966
On July 13, 1966, one of the most horrific crimes in American history occurred: Eight women aged between 21 and 23 were tortured and killed in a Chicago dormitory by Richard Speck. They were all student nurses who were a month away from graduation. The 24-year-old Speck (pictured here at his trial) was a lifelong felon whose lengthy criminal record included violent sexual assaults. On the night of the murders, Speck systematically killed his victims by strangulation or stabbing over a period of several hours. He also raped the eighth victim. Speck may have lost track of how many women were in the dorm room. A potential ninth victim, Cora Amurao, wriggled out of her bindings and hid under a bed while Speck's killing spree went on in another room. Amurao later identified Speck in court. Speck was found guilty and sentenced to die in the Illinois electric chair. The death sentence was later commuted on constitutional grounds. Instead Speck was given a 1,200-year sentence at Statesville Prison. For years Speck denied having any memories of the killings. However, in a 1978 interview he confessed to remembering everything. In a 1988 prison videotape, Speck was seen partying with fellow prisoners who were high on illegal drugs. The video recorded Speck mocking his victims. Portions of the video were broadcast nationally in 1996, increasing the support for capital punishment. By that time Speck was dead; he had died of a heart attack in prison on December 5, 1991, a day before his 50th birthday. No family member came forward to claim his body.