Death Row is the end of the line for serious criminal offenders. Some of the most well-known serial killers, murderers, and other criminals have found themselves here through the years, where they’re often forgotten and left behind for the next big story. Of course, it doesn’t end with a death sentence. Many of these convicted criminals tell a story until the very end, including a never-ending fight for freedom that they may or may not deserve. Although it’s been told that people are the most honest when facing death, some prisoners leave a more interesting mark with their ‘famous last words’.
In the early 1900’s, Carl Panzram was arrested and sentenced to just 25 years in prison for confessing to dozens of murders and other crimes. His sentence was apparently shortened because he was mentally unstable, but that all changed when he killed a staff member in the prison laundry room. His dying words?
“Hurry it up you Hoosier bastard!”
Death Row is the most notorious waiting room in the world. It’s where inmates spend countless days, months, and even years waiting for their sentences to be carried out. They have plenty of time to think, as well as plenty of time to come up with the best line for their big finale. Yet, so few of them have much at all to say. In the 1960’s, the death penalty was suspended in the U.S. but that wasn’t soon enough for some. Right before that suspension, James French was sentenced to death in Oklahoma for killing his cellmate. The electric chair was the tool used for this execution, and French decided to make light of things for himself and those around him. He is quoted as saying:
“How’s this for a headline? ‘French Fries.’”
The death penalty goes back much further than modern prisons, of course. Marie Antoinette, along with many other members of the royal family, was executed by guillotine after the French Revolution. Everyone was expecting her to be fearful and apologetic, but she stood strong until the very end. In fact, her famous last words were recorded as an apology to her executioner for stepping on his foot. Not very revolutionary, but definitely befitting of a lady.
Many of the more notorious serial killers throughout history haven’t been as humorous as others, but they have been notable if for no other reason than the person uttering the words. John Wayne Gacy, better known as the creepy clown killer, managed a simple “Kiss my ass” before his execution. Ted Bundy requested love for his family and friends. H.H. Holmes, one of America’s first serial killers, is reported to have offered advice to his executioner in 1896:
“Take your time. Don’t bungle it.”
Whether they’re serial killers or lesser known convicts, death row inmates don’t have much left to be remembered by. Their crimes were vicious enough to get them sentenced to death, so it seems fitting that their last words offer some light in a dark place. Everyone hears the stories of how serial killers commit their crimes, how trials end up in a death sentence, and how convicts get executed on a regular basis. The interesting parts are often found in the details, such as with these lesser-known famous last words.