I thought I had found a reasonably obscure serial killer to play with.
In my last vignette “…and the Vacuum” published via Wormhole I trampled on the grave of a Chicagoland serial killer. Richard Speck was convicted of murdering 8 nursing students and ultimately he died in prison. His family, understandably, sought to diminish his presence in the media and even after his death his earthly remains commuted to an unknown end. That is, he was cremated, and according to record his ashes were spread somewhere.
I was surfing the horror listings on Netflix the other day and came across this: 100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard Speck.
The reviews pegged it as a found-footage style film in the vein of Blair Witch (and many others).
My first gut reaction was: that the film was a borderline abomination.
My second reaction was: kicking around a serial killer isn’t exactly a new thing. I’m guilty too.
Then I found this: Chicago Massacre: Richard Speck.
From what I can tell, neither film did the story of Speck’s crimes any credit. I’m not sure I can bring myself to watch these movies. Both were panned horribly by critics and the public, and I don’t get to inhale as many movies as I used to.
So I wanted to take a minute and expound on how Speck wound up in my story: I cam across the headstone for one of his victims while I was looking for a likely cemetery. I needed a set piece for “…and the Vacuum”, and since I had chosen Chicago’s south side, I wanted a real, believable honest cemetery. I found St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery on 87th Street & Hamlin Avenue, and in this cemetery is buried Patricia Ann Matusek, killed by Richard Speck in July of 1966. I found Patricia by asking the internet oracles if anyone famous or infamous was buried in St. Mary’s.
As it turns out, yes. Patricia’s story is a sad one: in April of 1966 her boarding home was invaded and purportedly a basic burglary turned into rape and murder.
In September of ’66, a panel of physicians declared Speck was competent for trial. A month prior a Swiss endocrinologist administered a test on Speck to determine if he was genetically ‘abnormal’; specifically they were looking for the XYY karotype. The results of the test showed Speck was a normal XY male and scientific interest in his genetics diminished …for a while. Speck was found guilty.
In ’68, during the appeal process, stories circulated misreporting Speck as an XYY male. Speck suffered from disfiguring facial acne, which – after some basic, and perhaps misguided sleuthing by biochemist Mary Telfer – was erroneously assumed to be indicative of the XYY condition. The New York Times even circulated this conclusion in April of ’68.
Biology textbooks incorrectly citing Speck’s case were in use by ’72, when the same Swiss endocrinologist who performed the first kerotype test later performed it again, and finally published his conclusive results.
Speck’s sentencing was complicated by a problem with the Jury and with conscientious objections to the death penalty (at the time Illinois was still a death penalty sate). Regardless, Speck died of a heart attack in 1991 after complaining of chest pains and being taken from prison to a hospital.
I never did research on Telfer, so I have to say it’s possible the media misused her observations – it’s hard for me to accept that a professional biochemist would actually consider acne as conclusive evidence of an XYY kerotype…but what do I know?
The whole of Speck’s case, to me, just stinks. There is allegedly footage of Speck in prison doing some pretty odd things, and this footage might suggest a little bit of corruption (who’s surprised? raise your hands). The case is full of nonsense, and it seemed like a great place to grow some evil extradimensional worms.
If that’s of any interest, dear reader, you can find Wormhole Electric Trasport 35 here: Amazon Link