On June 17, 1939, Eugen Weidmann—a slick, handsome 31-year-old German—became the last person to be publicly executed via guillotine in France. His journey toward being a trivia-question answer started with a kidnapping gone awry, and spiraled into a deadly crime spree that spanned half of 1937.
Today, the crimes of Hannah Ocuish would be readily explained, if not outright forgiven. Her childhood incorporated all the clichés and every demographic of the youthful offender: poverty, neglect, ignorance, discrimination. Taken together, they ensured that Hannah would be a naughty little girl indeed.
Perhaps if young Thomas Granger had been more discreet, more circumspect, his name would have long since vanished in the mists of history. But in Puritan times, his unusual crime so offended his community that it warranted the harshest of punishments.
Last week’s post on Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be executed in the UK, got us thinking about other executions that drew crowds to the prison walls. Most times, as in the Ellis case, the assembled are protesting the death penalty. Other times, the atmosphere is weirdly festive.
Ruth Ellis had a difficult life leading up to the night she shot her on-and-off boyfriend, David Blakely, in 1955. Variously described as a “model” and “nightclub hostess,” she was literally apprehended holding a smoking gun, and refused to alter her bleached-blonde locks to make a good impression during her trial.
Capital punishment is legal in 32 states in the US, and the primary method of execution in each of them is lethal injection. But that hasn't always been the case.
When most people think of beheadings they probably think of events far away in time and place, such as Marie Antoinette's 1793 guillotine execution during the French revolution.