This week in 1952

“Thanks for a million things. Thanks for a million things. I’ve got a son, six foot three inches, one hundred and seventy pounds. He’s married, got two kids. He’s in the service overseas right now. . . . So I’ve left something good—one decent thing out of a dirty life . . .”

— Lloyd Edison Sampsell (aka “the Yacht Bandit”), convicted of robbery and murder, gas chamber, California.
Executed April 25, 1952

Sampsell and an accomplice plundered Pacific Coast banks before stealing away in his yacht. He pilfered a total of $200,000 in his career but died with only $5.27 to his name. Sampsell, age fifty-two, was convicted of killing Arthur W. Smith in a San Diego finance company robbery.

Before the gas took its effect, he turned to the nearly one hundred witnesses gathered and winked.


This week in 1864

“You may break my neck, but you won’t break the seal of

— Thomas R. Dawson, convicted of desertion and rape, hanging,  Virginia.
Executed April 25, 1864

An Englishman who had served in the Crimean War, Dawson was already the recipient of both the Victoria Cross and the Cross of Honor. He had been serving in Company H, Twentieth Massachusetts Infantry, when he was convicted. “He was an excellent soldier,” according to the infantry record, “intelligent and obedient.” On the gallows, a misjudgment of rope length caused Dawson to hit the ground standing when he fell through the trapdoor.

Panicking, the executioner grabbed the end of the rope “and jerked the prisoner upwards until death slowly came.”


This week in 2007

“When the Browns are in the Super Bowl in the next five years, you’ll know I’m up there doing my magic. . . . I know I flipped some worlds upside down. For me, it’s fine, but the state needs to learn this ain’t the answer. This is no deterrent to crime. Some are falsely convicted, railroaded. The state needs to wake up. Maybe they will follow the Europeans. God is the only one who knows.”

— James Filiaggi, convicted of murder, lethal injection, Ohio.
Executed April 24, 2007

In a wide-ranging final statement, Filiaggi touched on subjects including his love for his daughters, football’s Cleveland Browns, and capital punishment. Filiaggi faced lethal injection for the murder of his ex-wife, Lisa, after a long history of domestic violence and intimidation.


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