This week in 1965

“I think it’s a hell of a thing that a life has to be taken in this manner. I think capital punishment is legally and morally wrong.”

— Perry Edward Smith, convicted of murder, hanging, Kansas.
Executed April 14, 1965

The product of a broken home, Smith spent most of his life in and out of detention homes and prisons. In November 1959, he and Richard Hickcock broke into the home of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas. Their purpose was to rob the family, whom they had heard possessed a safe containing ten thousand dollars. The pair found no such safe and murdered of all four members of the family.

In his book “In Cold Blood,” Truman Capote records Perry’s last words as the above plus “Maybe I had something to contribute—It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize.”


This week in 1965

“I don’t have any hard feelings. You’re sending me to a better place.”

— Richard Eugene Hickock, convicted of murder, hanging, Kansas.
Executed April 14, 1965

Hickock met Perry Smith in prison, where the two concocted a plan to rob the Clutter family of ten thousand dollars that they supposedly kept in a safe at home. After finding no money, the convicts murdered all four family members. Smith and Hickock’s lives, trial, and crimes were the subject of Truman Capote’s book “In Cold Blood.”

Capote recorded Hickock’s final words slightly differently from newspaper accounts: “I just want to say I hold no hard feelings. You people are sending me to a better world than this ever was.” Then, Capote wrote, Hickock greeted the witnesses to his execution with a smile, saying, “Nice to see you.”


This week in 1899

“As she clung there, looking up into my face with such a pleading, pitiful face, I thought that surely I had no
heart at all, for such pleading would have melted a heart of stone…I took a plank and struck her on the head and face several times; then pushed her under the water with the plank and held it on her a few seconds.
Then she sank.”

— Hiram Hall, convicted of murder, hanging, Tennessee.
Executed April 13, 1899

Before confessing, in gruesome detail, to the murder of his wife, Hiram Hall coolly made his way to the gallows with a cigar hanging from his mouth. He claimed that his mother put him up to the deed because she didn’t like his wife. Hall also claimed that his mother had encouraged him to kill his father, but Hall never followed through on that. Hall’s mother abandoned him after his arrest, leaving his attempts to contact her unanswered. However, his father defended him and attended his execution.


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