Beyond the Edge:
by D. J. Herda
Throughout his youth, Speck was a poor student and an incorrigible juvenile delinquent, beginning his life of crime at a young age. He was married briefly in a union marked by abuse and spousal rape, and he spent much of his married life in and out of prison, although he allegedly found time to father a child.
In January 1966, only months before he visited a student nurses’ home in Chicago, he was arrested for burglary and stabbing, although he got away with raping 65-year-old Virgil Harris and beating Mary Kay Pierce to death; in both cases, he somehow managed to avoid in-depth interrogation.
But he could not avoid what was to happen on July 14, 1966, when Speck broke into a South Chicago townhouse and took as hostages nursing students Gloria Davy, Patricia Matusek, Nina Schmale, Pamela Wilkening, Suzanne Farris, Mary Ann Jordan, Merlita Gargullo, and Valentina Pasion. Speck, who had originally planned to commit a routine burglary, was high on both alcohol and drugs, and his quickly evolving plans grew to become anything but routine.
Enraged when one of the girls being held hostage spit in his face, he began methodically beating, raping, and stabbing his victims to death. A leading psychiatrist who interviewed Speck remarked that he had experienced the Madonna-whore complex: Gloria Davy reminded Speck of the wife who had divorced him six months before the killing spree.
After eluding the largest manhunt in the Second City’s history, Speck was arrested on suspicion of murder and held in Cook County Jail. After a failed suicide attempt, police took him to Cook County Hospital at 12:30 AM on July 17. There, he was first recognized by a 26-year-old resident physician who had seen Speck's "Born To Raise Hell" tattoo in a newspaper article following the murders. He was confirmed the killer by Cora (Corazon) Amurao, a Filipino student nurse who had managed to escape Speck’s wrath by hiding beneath a bed while the murderer systematically tortured and executed the others one by one.
Speck, who was fond of various types of pills, did not notice Amurao and left the house in a drug-induced haze. He said later that he had no recollection of the murders, and he was declared sane but sociopathic after being examined. He died in prison after serving only 19 years of a life sentence.
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