True Life Crime Profile: Richard Speck
On July 14, 1966, Richard Speck knocked on the door of a townhouse in South Chicago. When student nurse, Corazon Piezo Amurao, answered the door, Richard Speck pulled a gun and pushed her inside the house. Two of her roommates and fellow student nurses, Merlita Gargullo, 22, and Valentina Pasion, 23 came to see what was going on and they too had the gun pointed at them.
Richard Speck ordered the three young women to go into a bedroom at the back of the house. When they went into the bedroom, Richard Speck turned on the light and found that three more nurses were sleeping in the bedroom. Nina Jo Schmale, 21, Pamela Wilkening,24, and Patricia Ann Matusek, 20, woke up when the light was turned on. Richard Speck then ordered the women to collect their purses and give him the money inside.
It was while this was happening that another student nurse that lived in the building, Gloria Jean Davy, came home from a date and surprised Richard Speck by suddenly walking into the room. Richard Speck ordered her down on the ground with the other young women. Richard Speck then took a sheet from one of the beds, tore it into strips and used those strips to tie up the girl's arms and legs.
Not long after, Suzanne Farris, 21, and Mary Ann Jordan, 20, came home. When they saw what was happening they ran from the bedroom and down the hallway. However, Richard Speck caught up to them and pushed them into another room where he stabbed and strangled them.
After killing them, Richard Speck went back to the bedroom where the other girls were waiting, grabbed Valentina Pasion and took her to the room where he had just killed the other two. Once there, Richard Speck, stabbed the young woman in the neck and strangled her to death. Richard Speck then returned to the bedroom again, carried Merlita Gargullo off and killed her in a similar manner. On another trip back to the bedroom, Richard Speck grabbed Patricia Matusek and forced her into the bathroom. When in the bathroom, Richard Speck punched her so hard in the stomach that her liver was ruptured.
During Richard Speck's back and forth trips from the bedroom, Corazon Piezo Amurao, managed to squeeze herself under a bed to hide. When Richard Speck, once again, returned to the bedroom he had apparently forgotten how many women had been in the house and concentrated on Gloria Davy, who he thought to be the last of the nurses. Richard Speck stripped her of her clothing, raped her and then strangled her to death. He then took the money the nurses had given him and left the house.
Corazon remained under the bed for hours before she quietly came out, climbed out of a window and onto the ledge of her building. Once she was on the ledge she was heard to yell out, "Help me! Help me! Everyone is dead ? Oh God ? he?s killed them all". Eventually, a person on the ground flagged down a police vehicle driven by Officer Daniel R. Kelly. Officer Kelly drew his gun, told Corazon to stay where she was, and entered the house.
From the moment Officer Kelly walked into the house he knew he was on the scene of a major incident. On a couch near the front door, there was the dead body of a naked woman. When he reached the top of the stairs, he saw a pair of feet sticking out from a doorway. The body he found there was half naked, with slash marks on her neck and breasts. Not to far from that body, Officer Kelly discovered a bedroom that contained the bodies of three women who had been tied up and had their throats cut open. Finally, he came across another bedroom with another three bodies of women who had been killed in a similar manner. When Officer Kelly reached the window, he found Corazon screaming and cry. He grabbed her and brought her back in through the window.
Within a short amount of time, Corazon was being interviewed by homicide detectives. She did her best to give a description of the attacker. One thing she clearly remembered was that he had a tattoo that said "Born To Raise Hell". A sketch was drawn up from her descriptions and it didn't take long for somebody that worked at the Maritime Union Hall to identify the person in the sketch as Richard Speck. He knew Richard Speck because he had been working as a merchant seaman.
The police looked into Richard Speck's background and found that he was wanted for questioning for a number of other murders that had taken place in recent times. They tracked down the hotel room he had been staying in but he was no longer there, having fled the area. A manhunt began and there was so much publicity attached to it that Richard Speck attempted suicide by slashing his wrists with a broken bottle. Apparently, he had second thoughts and an ambulance was called that took Richard Speck to Cook County Hospital.
While he was at the hospital, Richard Speck was being looked after by a first year resident called Leroy Smith. Smith was attending to Richard Speck's wounds when he thought he recognized the patient. He check Richard Speck's arm and found the "Born To Raise Hell" tattoo. Smith ran to alert a police officer and within moments, Richard Speck was arrested.
Richard Speck's trial began on April 3, 1967. Corazon Piezo Amurao testified at the trial and when asked to identify the killer she got up from the witness box, stood directly in front of Richard Speck and pointed her finger at him. On April 15, 1967, Richard Speck was found guilty and on June 5, 1967 he was sentenced to die in the electric chair.
However, on June 28, 1971,the Supreme Court, reversed the death penalty sentence (but upheld his conviction), because it was found that people that opposed the death penalty had been excluded from being on the jury at this trial. While Richard Speck was waiting to be resentenced the Supreme Court made a ruling on June 29, 1972, that judged capital punishment to be cruel and unusual punishment. After these events all that could be done was sent Richard Speck to prison for life. On November 21, 1972, Richard Speck was given eight consecutive life sentences which meant he was sent to prison for 400 to 1,200 years.
Richard Speck died in prison on December 5, 1991 from a heart attack. Nobody claimed his body and he was cremated.
Richard Speck came back to public attention in 1996 when a tv reporter got hold of a video tape that had been made of Richard Speck while he was serving his time. The video showed Richard Speck with enlarged, female-like, breasts that he had apparently grown from hormone treatments he was having smuggled in, snorting cocaine and having sex with a prisoner. On the video he says, "If they only knew how much fun I was having, they'd turn me loose!". When the person filming asked him about the nurses he killed, Richard Speck joked, "It just wasn't their night".