Richard Speck: Mass murderer and enemy of women
Richard Speck has never been kind to the female gender. From his teenage years spent drunk and in and out of jail, to his years moving across Illinois and causing issues in a variety of cities, Speck has been terrorizing the state for years.
But his worst crime, committed in Chicago in 1966, left eight nursing students dead, and Speck on death row. What led Speck to go after nursing students in the city? Was this Speck’s only murder charge? Like most serial killers, Speck’s big crime he’s known for was far from his first criminal charge.
Spending his adolescence drunk
Following his abusive step-father’s example, Speck was an alcoholic by the age of 15. Dropping out of high school shortly before his 16th birthday, Speck already had his first arrest for trespassing. Throughout his youth, Speck racked up a variety of misdemeanor charges on his record.
Somehow, Speck did find love in the form of Shirley Malone, who he married on January 19th, 1962. But there wasn’t magic in their relationship. When their first daughter was born, Speck was in jail serving a 22 day sentence for disturbing the peace.
A year later, Speck was sentenced to three years in jail for forgery and burglary, but only served 16 months. Less than a week later though, Speck was back in court after attacking a woman with a switchblade. Thanks to a clerical error, Speck only served six months in prison for that charge.
A move for more trouble
Speck managed to rack up 41 arrests in Dallas, Texas, so when a warrant was put out for his 42nd, he and his sister fled to Chicago in April of 1966. Rather than stay with his sister, Speck moved back to his childhood home of Monmouth, Il. But he didn’t stay quiet while there.
When police went to go investigate Speck about the disappearance and murder of a woman who worked at his favorite bar, he escaped town. But in his hotel room, police found items from various robberies across town that occurred over the past few weeks. Police still kept Speck as a top suspect in the murder of the barmaiden.
The Windy City bringing winds of death
Running back to Chicago, Speck initially moved into his sister’s apartment. His brother in law thought Speck would be a good fit for military work, so he went with Speck to get him signed up for the Coast Guard. His time was short lived though, after needing his appendix removed.
Speck did attempt to go back to work, but after a drunken brawl with a commanding officer, Speck was sent ashore. For a few weeks, Speck lived ashore on the East Side, and ended up travelling to Michigan to visit a nurse who took care of him after his surgery. She gave him some money to help Speck find work, and he used it to travel home to Chicago.
A few days later, Speck’s brother-in-law brought him to the National Maritime Union hiring hall in Chicago. Speck spent nearly two weeks waiting for a berth, and failed to get a spot. Even being sent to a non-existing berth, his lack of work was making Speck angry and angrier.
July 13th, the winds of fate change
After spending another day being rejected, Speck left the NMU building and spent the day barhopping. He met up with another woman at the bar, and took her back to his hotel room to rape her and steal her pistol. Armed with a switchblade, pistol, and rage, Speck headed over to the townhouse across the street from the NMU building
Home to several student nurses and Philipino exchange nurses at South Chicago Community Hospital, this particular townhouse was a dorm for student nurses. At the time of the attack, nine women were in the home. Speck broke into the townhouse, trapping the nine women inside.
As each one was permitted to leave, Speck would suffocate, stab, or shoot the woman to death. His final victim, Speck raped and suffocated to death. One woman managed to hide under a bed when Speck was out of the room, and stayed hidden until Speck left the building, leaving her the lone survivor.
Caught and locked up
Speck’s fingerprints were left all over the scene, and police had his fingerprints on file after his registration for the Coast Guard. A few days later, police received reports of a suicide attempt at Starr Hotel. When Speck was brought into the hospital, doctors recognized his tattoo mentioned in police reports, and called police.
Speck was arrested in the hospital, and initially, a psych eval was performed to see if he was mentally fit to stand trial. He was declared mentally stable, and was tried on eight counts of murder. He was found guilty and given the death penalty. When capital punishment was reversed, Speck’s punishment was changed to 1200 years in prison.
Later on, Speck became involved in a controversy in 1996 about prison conditions in Chicago, with explicit videos of Speck being shown in regard to the way prisoners act in prison. But he never saw those arguments, as Speck died of a heart attack just shy of his 50th birthday in 1991.
Speck spent his life being abusive and controlling towards women, whether strangers or in his life. Yet the women in his life were the ones who constantly took care of him no matter what. It’s still unsure what Speck had against women, but there’s no denying he had issues with women.
If you’re a massive true crime stan, do sign up for our newsletter. We promise only to send you the most relevant news, contests, quizzes, and polls.