Childhood & Early Life
Richard Speck was born on December 6, 1941 in Kirkwood, Illinois, Chicago. His father Benjamin Franklin Speck worked as a packer while his mother Mary Margaret Carbaugh Speck was a housewife. The family moved to Monmouth, Illinois shortly after his birth.
He had seven siblings; four older sisters, two elder brothers and a younger sister, Carolyn.
Benjamin Speck died of a heart attack at age 53 in 1947, when Ricard was just a 6-year-old. Three years later, his mother remarried. His stepfather was Carl August Rudolph Lindberg a traveling insurance salesman from Texas.
Lindberg was a raging alcoholic and often beat Speck when drunk. Speckhad a minor childhood accident when he fell from a tree.
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Speck was an average student and committed a string of juvenile crimes from an early age.
he was first arrested at the age of 13, in 1955, for trespassing. He dropped out of school when he was 16 and started doing odd jobs around 1960. He had become a compulsive drinker by then.
His second arrest was in 1963, when he was caught forging a co-worker's paycheck and was convicted for forgery and sentenced to three years in prison. However, he received parole after having done 16 months of jail time.
He returned to prison almost immediately this time for aggravated assault, having attacked a woman in a parking lot of her apartment building with a knife barely one week after his release.
In 1966, Speck bought a second-hand car and used it to rob a grocery store. To escape his 42nd arrest after this incident, he caught a bus to Illinois, aided by his sister Carolyn.
He returned to his hometown Monmouth a while later. He committed his first murder in April 1966, when he killed a 32-year-old barmaid working at a local tavern in Monmouth, with a blow to the stomach.
On April 30, 1966, Speck started working as a crewman of the ‘Clarence B. Randall’ a freight ship, to which he was recommended by his brother-in-law, Gene Thornton. However, he developed severe appendicitis soon thereafter and had to be evacuated on May 3 for an emergency operation.
On July 8, 1966, Speck registered for a seaman’s card at the National Maritime Union and had an opportunity to get a berth on a ship but lost to another seaman with better experience. Four days later, he received another assignment from the NMU to join aboard an oil tanker at East Chicago, Indiana, but the place was again full when he reached the ship.
Frustrated at being deprived of assignments twice, he returned to the NMU, Chicago on July 13, 1966, and spent rest of the day drinking at a local tavern. He later accosted a 53-year-old woman also drinking at the tavern, and took her to his room and raped her.
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Later that night, he took a handgun, a switchblade, dressed in black, and walked to the nurses’ boarding house. At 11 p.m. he appeared at the dormitory doors with a knife and killed Patricia Matusek, Pamela Wilkening, Nina Jo Schmale, Suzanne Farris, Nina Jo Schmale, Merlita Gargullo, Nina Jo Schmale, Valentina Pasion, and Gloria Davy.
He confined the eight captives in a room for several hours, and killed them one-by-one, by either stabbing or strangling them. His last victim was Gloria Davy, whom he raped before strangling.
The lone survivor of the incident was Cora Amurao, who escaped because she hid under a bed while Speck was out of the room and remained there until early morning.
On July 16, 1966, he was initially identified by Claude Lunsford and later by Dr. LeRoy Smith, a surgical resident physician at the Cook County Hospital where Speck was taken after an attempted suicide.
Speck was charged of eight murders and his trial began on April 3, 1967. He claimed that he had no recollection of the murders. However, Cora Amurao testified as the main witness and recounted the events of the evening, identifying Speck clearly. The trial went on for12 days and on April 15, 1967, the jury declared Speck guilty of all eight murders. Speck received a death sentence on November 22, 1968.
The sentence was changed to 50 from 100 years in prison after the death penalty was abolished.
Speck met 15-year old Shirley Malone during a Texas State Fair in October 1961, who became pregnant after dating him.
The couple married on January 19, 1962 and had a daughter, Bobby Lynn, born on July 5, 1962. The marriage was short-lived, as he spent much of the marriage in and out of prison. His wife filed for divorce in 1966.
Speck died of a heart attack on December 5, 1991 after spending 25 years in prison.