Death row is an alienating, disturbing and hopeless place. Prisoners often spend decades with nothing but their death ahead of them. The idea of the final meal and words of prisoners sentenced to capital punishment has interested people for centuries. Perhaps it is because we wonder what we would do in their place. We wonder where their clarity and calm comes from. Final words have varied from sarcasm, threats to remorse and religious confessions.
We have compiled 20 of these final words, including the final words of infamous death row prisoners like Ted Bundy and Aileen Wuornos.
John Wayne Gacy
John Wayne Gacy was an American serial killer who was convicted of murdering and sexually assaulting 33 boys and young men in Chicago between 1972 and 1978. He was dubbed the “Killer Clown” when it became known that he would dress as a clown when torturing his victims. This callous monster was put to death by lethal injection on May 10th, 1994, almost a decade and a half after his arrest. According to the prison guard his final words were “Kiss my ass.”
Robert Charles Comer
Robert Charles Comer was convicted of the murder of a fellow campsite holidaymaker, Larry Pritchard and the rape of a second tourist, Jane Jones on the same evening in 1987. He was executed in 2007, clutching a picture of his daughter he remained composed. His last words were “Go Raiders!”, a reference to the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League.
Green was convicted in 1976 for the shooting of Montgomery County Probation Officer and Reserve Deputy Sherriff, John Denson. He killed the lawman in his home, intending to rob his gun collection. He was executed in 1991 by lethal injection. His final words were “Lock and load. Let’s do it, man.”
Theodore “Ted” Bundy was one of the most notorious serial killers in American history. He was a disturbing character with charm and good looks that shocked and fascinated the country when he was arrested for an unknown but numerous amount of murders and rapes of women in the 70s. He was executed by electric chair in 1989, having appealed against his death until the end. His final words were “I’d like you to give my love to my family and friends.”
George ‘Baby’ Harris
George ‘Baby’ Harris was sentenced to death in 1989 for the murder of an acquaintance over missing
fire arms. He spent 11 years on death row before his execution in Missouri on September 13, 2000. His last words were “Somebody needs to kill my trial attorney.”
Ellis was convicted of strangling Bertie Elizabeth Eakens, 74 in the apartment complex he had previously worked at as a maintenance man in 1983. Her body was discovered in the bathtub which linked the murder to two other slaying in the Houston area where female bodies had been discovered in the bath. Ellis was never implicated in the two other murders and maintained his innocence in regards to the strangling of Eakens, although his fingerprints were found at the scene. He was executed in 1992 and his final words were “I just want everyone to know that the prosecutor and Bill Scott are sorry sons of bitches.”
Aged 18, Vincent Gutierrez held Air Force Captain, Jose Cobo at gunpoint to carjack his vehicle. Cobo attempted to escape and was shot dead. He was convicted for the murder in 1997 and was executed ten years later. He rambled in the execution room, his final words included “I’d like to tell everybody that I’m sorry the situation happened” before joking to his brother, “My brother, where’s a stunt double when you need one.”
The disturbing serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, known as the “Milwaukee Cannibal”, raped and killed 17 men and boys in the 1980s. The true horror of his crimes, including cannibalism, necrophilia and the preservation of body parts, shocked the world. He was convicted and sentenced to 16 life sentence in 1992, however he was beaten to death by fellow inmate, Christopher Scarver, in 1994. His last words were “I don’t care if I live or die. Go ahead and kill me.”
Dr H. H. Holmes was a prolific fraudster and one of America’s first serial murders. In 1983 he opened a three-storey hotel, specifically for guests of the World’s Columbian Exposition. He called the building, ‘The Castle’. The bottom floor contained shops, the top his office and the middle, an elaborate maze of death traps in windowless rooms. Over three years, Holmes selected female victims and tortured them in soundproof, escape-proof rooms.
He was arrested in 1885 and confessed to 27 murders. He was hanged in Philadelphia in 1896. His final words to the executioner were “Do not bungle.” The executioner did bungle however, and it took 15 minutes for Holmes to die.
Although George Appel’s history appears to be poorly documented, he was supposedly convicted of the first-degree murder of a police officer in New York in 1928. His last words before being executed by the electric chair were “Well, gentlemen, you are about to see a baked Appel.”
Gilmore was sentenced to death for the merciless shooting of two men in a spree in 1976. He received notoriety in prison for his decision to waive all appeals and actually hasten his death. He was killed by firing squad in 1977 just six months after the crimes. His final meal consisted of steak, potatoes, milk and coffee. Just before he was executed he said, “Let’s do it!” It is rumoured that this sentence inspired an ad agency to create the phrase, “Just Do It” for Nike.
Richard Zeitvogel was originally convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in a rape and burglary in 1974. However, from prison he went on to kill two cellmates. According to reports he killed the second man with the intention of receiving the death penalty so that he would be with fellow inmate (and supposed lover, Frank J. Guinan). He was put to death in 1996 and in his final statement Zeitvogel said, “Keep the faith and rock on.”
Thomas Grasso was arrested for the murder of two women, 87 year-old Hilda Johnson and 81 year-old Leslie Holtz in the early 90s. He successfully halted his appeals and was killed by lethal injection just two years and five months after he was convicted. His moronic final words (in regards to his final meal) were “I did not get my Spaghetti-O’s, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.”
Aileen Wuornos was a notorious female American serial killer. Her life and crimes have been serialised ever since she was convicted for the murder of seven men, all of whom she claimed she killed in self-defence, between the years of 1989 and 1990. She was convicted and sentenced to death for six of the murders and executed by lethal injection in 2002. Her final words were, “I’d just like to say I’m sailing with the rock, and I’ll be back like Independence Day with Jesus, June 6, like the movie, big mothership and all. I’ll be back.”
Clarence Ray Allen
After bring implicated in a robbery by his son’s girlfriend, Clarence Ray Allen arranged a hit on the seventeen-year-old girl. Although the body was never found, Allen was convicted for robbery, conspiracy and murder and sentenced to life without parole in 1977. Whilst in prison he arrogantly placed a hit on eight of the prosecution witnesses from his first trial. Three of which were killed before the hitman was stopped. Clarence Ray Allen was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder (in special circumstances) and placed on death row. He was executed in 2006. His last words were “My last words will be ‘Hoka Hey, it’s a good day to die.’ Thank you very much, I love you all. Good-bye.”
Hoka hey is a Western Sioux Indian term loosely translated to “hurry, hurry”.
James D. French
French was imprisoned for life for the kidnap and murder of a motorise who picked him up whilst hitchhiking in Texas in 1958. Allegedly he was afraid to commit suicide so murdered his cellmate, Eddie Lee Shelton, apparently to compel the state to execute him. He was sentenced to two counts of first-degree murder and executed in 1966. His notorious last words were “How’s this for a headline? ‘French Fries.’”
Robert Alton Harris
Robert Alton Harris and his brother, Daniel Marcus Harris abducted two sixteen year-old boys from a fast food restaurant in 1978. Robert forced the boys to drive to an isolated area where he brutally shot them. The brothers’ then used the car to rob a bank later that day. At trial, Daniel testified against his brother and received six years for kidnapping. Robert was sentenced to death and executed via gas chamber in 1992. His final words were “You can be a king or a street sweeper, but everybody dances with the grim reaper.”
Jeffrey David Matthews
Jeffrey David Matthews and his accomplice, Tracy Dyer, broke into the home of Matthews’ 77-year-old great uncle, Otis Short, intending to rob him. Matthews shot his great uncle at close range. Dyer testified against Matthews in court and received a sentence of life without parole. Matthews was sentenced to death and was executed in 2011. Apparently Matthews had been awaiting a final appeal as among his final words he said, “I’m sitting here enjoying my last moments. Enjoy you lives. I think that governor’s phone is broke. He hadn’t called yet.”
Westley Allan Dodd
Westley Allan Dodd started a campaign of violence against young children, particularly boys, at the age of 13. His crimes grew in severity as did his carelessness about being caught. He abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered brothers, William and Cole Neer, aged ten and eleven, in 1989. Two months later he abducted and murdered four-year-old Lee Iseli. He was arrested soon after and sentenced to death, executed by hanging in in 1993. His last words were, “I was once asked by somebody, I don’t remember who, if there was (sic) any way sex offenders could be stopped. I said, ‘no.’ I was wrong.”
Jonathan Marcus Green
Jonathan Marcus Green was sentenced to death over the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of twelve year-old, Christina Neal. Christina had left her home in the early evening after an argument with her sister and was not seen alive again. Neighbour, Green agreed to a search of his house but retracted when cadaver dogs reacted to smells in the house. After a search warrant was acquired, the remains of Christina Neal were found in a bag in Green’s home. He was executed by lethal injection in 2002. His last words were, “I’m an innocent man. I did not kill anyone. Y’all are killing an innocent man. My left arm is killing me, it hurts bad.”
Demps was serving a double life sentence for murdering two people in a Lake County Florida orange grove in 1971. While incarcerated he murdered fellow inmate Alfred Sturgis at Florida State Prison, and Demps received the death penalty. For Demps’ execution, it took execution technicians 33 minutes to find suitable veins. The executioners had no unusual problems finding one vein, but because Florida protocol requires a second alternate intravenous drip, they continued to work to insert another needle, finally abandoning the effort after their prolonged failures. His final words were “They butchered me back there, I was in a lot of pain. They cut me in the groin; they cut me in the leg. I was bleeding profusely. This is not an execution, it is murder.”
Carl Panzram had already escaped incarceration twice when he began his shocking crime spree in 1920. He was a serial killer and rapist who eventually confessed to 22 murders of young men and boys (although there could have been many more). Even after penning an autobiography detailing his horrific crimes he was still not sentenced to death, but a 25-year sentence. Panzram told the warden, “I’ll kill the first man that bothers me.” He then killed the foreman of the prison laundry. He was then sentenced to death, refusing all appeals (he even threatened to kill human rights groups that attempted to appeal on his behalf). He was hanged in 1930. When they put the noose around his neck, he allegedly spat in his executioner’s face and declared, “I wish all mankind had one neck so I could choke it!” When asked by the executioner if he had any last words he yelled, “Yes, hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could hang a dozen men while your screwing around!
After a $200 cocaine binge, Villegas murdered his girlfriend’s mother, who allegedly disapproved of the relationship. He went on to stab his girlfriend, Erida Perez Salazar and her three-year-old son. He left the house, pawned a television and bought more cocaine, before he was arrested after a high speed chase. He was sentenced to death in 2002 and executed by lethal injection in 2014. Shortly after he was injected he said, “Everything is OK. I love you all, and I love my children. I am at peace. It does kind of burn. Goodbye, Goodbye.”
Jimmy L. Glass
Glass and his accomplice, Jimmy Wingo, were convicted of murdering middle-aged couple, Newton and Erlene Brown in the early hours of Christmas morning, 1982 in a botched robbery. The couple were found shot to death in their bed by their children later that day. Both men were sentenced to death and executed within days of each other in 1987. Glass’ last words were, “I’d rather be fishing.”
James Lewis Jackson
In April 1997, under threat of impending divorce, James Lewis Jackson murdered his two stepdaughters and wife in April 1997 at their home, just two years after they married. Concerned family members discovered the three bodies and a confession note from Jackson five days after the murders. Jackson was sentenced to death and executed by lethal injection in 2007. For his final meal, Jackson received four pieces of fried chicken, fried okra, French fries, blue cheese salad, four hard-boiled eggs with cheese, two regular cokes, one pint of butter pecan ice-cream and two honey buns. His final words were “Warden, murder me. I’m ready to roll. Time to get this party started.”