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Day I was born all hell broke loose the next day. Hasn't stopped since.

Richard Franklin Speck was an American serial rapist, robber, and later mass murderer.


Speck was born December 6, 1941 in rural Kirkwood, Illinois the seventh of eight children and later moved to Monmouth, Illinois. His parents were Benjamin Franklin Speck and Mary Margaret Carbaugh Speck. While his mother was strictly religious and fundamentally against alcohol and smoking, Speck was very close to his father and would sometimes go fishing with him alone. When Mr. Speck died of a heart attack in 1947 at the age of 53, Richard was devastated. Things became worse when Mrs. Speck married an insurance salesman, Carl Lindbergh, in 1950. Lindbergh was a drinker with a criminal record for drunk driving and fraud and often abused Speck emotionally and verbally. The family kept moving around between poor neighborhoods in Texas. He took to drinking, being an alcoholic by the age of 13, and started spending time with other delinquents. He was often in trouble with the law and learned how to open windows with a switchblade. Every time he was arrested, his mother would help him out.

Speck worked as a laborer for the 7 Up bottling company from 1960 to 1963, spending most of his salary on drugs and prostitutes. In October 1961, he met 15-year-old Shirley Annette Malone at the Texas State Fair, impregnating her three weeks into their relationship. When they married on January 19, 1962, Speck changed his surname back to that of his biological father. When Malone gave birth to their daughter, Robbie Lynn, on July 5, 1962, Speck was serving a 22-day sentence for disturbing the peace after a drunken brawl. He was also in jail for many more petty offenses during the marriage, including theft, check fraud and aggravated assault. He often believed his wife to be cheating on him and would, as punishment, pick up prostitutes, stop in front of their home and fondle the women while Shirley watched from the house before driving away. In January 1966, she decided that she had enough and filed for divorce, claiming he had raped her at least once at knifepoint. During the same month, he was arrested for aggravated assault again, but his mother's lawyer got the sentence reduced to a $10 fine, which he had failed to pay.

The Townhouse Massacre[]

Speck townhouse

2319 E. 100th St., where the massacre occurred.

Speck returned to his old hometown Monmouth in an attempt to recapture some of his childhood. His brother got him a job as a carpenter, but Speck shortly afterward found out that his ex-wife had remarried just a few days after their divorce went through. From that point, things went downhill for him; he burglarized a grocery store, stole 70 cartons of cigarettes, and started selling them from the trunk of an old car he bought. In order to keep him out of jail, his sister Carolyn helped him get to Chicago, where his brother Gene got him a job as a carpenter. After burglarizing and raping the elderly Mrs. Virgil Harris on April 2 and being suspected of the murder of Mary Kay Pierce, a barmaid at a bar he frequented, Speck fled and got a job on a ship on the Great Lakes. Along the way, he was wanted for questioning in the disappearances of three women and the murders of four others.

Bouncing between National Maritime Union naval jobs, he was eventually fired after threatening a superior with a gun. A few days after joining the crew of the Clarence B. Randall, an ore freighter owned by Inland Steel, Speck had to be flown ashore to be treated for appendicitis. He was later in a brief relationship with one of the nurses who treated him. She would later say that he was a perfect gentleman towards her. They parted on good terms after two weeks. On July 8, 1966, Speck went to the NMU hiring hall and applied for a position on a cargo freighter, but lost the job to a more experienced sailor. He apparently saw the nurses' townhouse sometime when he went there to apply for jobs since it was a few blocks from the hiring hall. On July 12, he was assigned to a Sinclair Oil tanker in Indiana, but when he drove there, he discovered that the job had been given to someone else and had to go back to Chicago. The next day, most of which he spent drinking at local taverns, Speck took 53-year old Ella Mae Hopper to his room at the Shipyard Inn, raped her and stole a black .22-caliber Röhm revolver from her. Later that same day, attacked the nurses' townhouse, which he had seen when at the NMU hiring hall. Eight nurses were killed, while a ninth managed to escape.

Two days after the attack, having accidentally left a survivor, Speck felt the walls closing in on him and, after getting drunk on beer and cheap wine, smashed a bottle and used it to cut open his arm in an attempt to kill himself. He was saved and treated at a hospital where Dr. LeRoy Smith, who treated him, noticed a tattoo he had, "Born to Raise Hell", which had been mentioned in the media. Speck confessed to the murders to him, but since he was under the influence of sedatives, it wasn't valid in a court of law. After being taken to court on overwhelming evidence, such as fingerprints and the testimony of Cora Amurao, the survivor of the massacre, he was sentenced to death. The sentence was reduced to eight life terms, which in turn were reduced to 300 years in prison. While in county jail, he took up painting. At the Stateville Correctional Facility, he kept using bootleg alcohol and drugs and spent his time doing solitary activities like stamp collecting, listening to music and even kept a pair of sparrows. He was also given a job as a janitor and painted his cell and the walls. He applied for parole repeatedly but failed each time. On December 5, 1991 (one day before his fiftieth birthday), he died of a heart attack. He was cremated and his ashes spread at an undisclosed location. In 1996, a recording of Speck behind bars made in 1988 surfaced. He is seen performing oral sex on fellow inmates, doing drugs, wearing panties and having hormone-induced breasts. He also describes the murders in graphic detail and comments on the massacre, "It just wasn't their night."

Modus Operandi[]

Speck entered the nurses' townhouse through the front door, holding them at gunpoint with Ella Mae Hooper's revolver. He also brought a pocket knife and a hunting knife. Once inside, he told the nurses to give him their money, claiming he was going to New Orleans. After they had complied, he tied them up with torn strips of sheets and placed them in separate rooms. He then systematically raped and tortured them one by one by beating them. He then killed them by strangling them with a ligature or stabbing them with a knife. However, Valentina Paison was killed after her throat was slashed. Between the killings, he would wash up, presumably to make it appear to the individual captives as though no one had been hurt.


Speck was diagnosed as suffering from Madonna-whore complex, stemming from his life with his strict yet loving mother, to whom he compared all women in his adult life. Because of this, he loathed women he perceived as "easy", including his wife. The fact that he believed himself to have been born to make headlines would also imply that he was a narcissist.

Known Victims[]

Speck's victims

Speck's fatal victims.


  • 1950-1966: Numerous prior crimes, including aggravated assault
  • 1966:
    • January, Monmouth, Illnois: Unnamed man (assaulted; non-fatally stabbed with a knife)
    • April 2, Monmouth, Illinois: Virgil Harris, 65 (burglarized, tied up, raped and robbed)
    • July 13-14, Chicago, Illinois:
      • Ella Mae Hooper, 53 (abducted, raped and robbed only; also stole her gun)
      • Nine victims, eight of them killed, in the 2319 E. 100th St. townhouse massacre, all nurses:
        • Mary Ann Jordan, 20 (stabbed three times)
        • Suzanne Farris, 21 (strangled with a stocking and stabbed 18 times)
        • Patricia Matusek, 20 (punched in the stomach and strangled)
        • Nina Schmale, 24 (stabbed in the neck and suffocated)
        • Pamela Wilkening, 20 (stabbed once in the heart)
        • Merlita Galguilo, 23 (stabbed and strangled)
        • Valentina Paison, 23 (her throat was slashed)
        • Gloria Jean Davy, 22 (strangled)
        • Corazon "Cora" Amurao, 23 (attempted; she escaped)


  • Unspecified date and location: Shirley Annette Malone (his wife; allegedly raped on at least one occasion)
  • 1966:
    • April 13, Monmouth, Illinois: Mary Kay Pierce, 32 (struck in the abdomen, rupturing her liver)
    • July 2, unspecified locations in Indiana: Three unnamed girls (disappeared; all were never found)


Speck Mindhunter

Jack Erdie as Speck in Mindhunter

  • Speck was incorrectly reported to have XYY syndrome after his arrest (he actually had the common male configuration, XY). The allegation that Speck was an XYY male was used to support the now-discredited idea that XYY males are prone to violent conduct and likelier to commit murder than other males.
  • Jack Erdie, who played a sex offender suspect in the Season Fourteen episode "Hamelin", had previously played Speck in the series Mindhunter, which is based on a book by John Douglas.

On Criminal Minds[]

  • Season Three
    • "Birthright" - While not directly mentioned or referenced in this episode, Speck appears to have been an inspiration for Robert Wilkinson - Both were murderous serial rapists who were born in rural communities, had histories of drinking, were divorced from their wives who left to protect themselves, were profiled as having Madonna-whore complexes, and worked in blue-collar occupations. They targeted young Caucasian women, killed them with bladed weapons (though Speck used other means), and were drunk around the time a surviving victim escaped their captivity.
  • Season Eleven
    • "Tribute" - Similarly, copycat killer Michael Lee Peterson attempted to copy Speck's M.O. upon arriving in Chicago from New York City. However, due to his devolution at the time and the fact that he was being hunted by the BAU and police who were on his trail, Peterson was unable to replicate the M.O. exactly: he targeted college students at a sorority dormitory instead of nurses at a townhouse, staged his attack in the northern and more affluent side of Chicago instead of the southern side, shot his victims instead of stabbing or strangling them, apparently had no intention of raping or torturing his victims, and attacked three victims instead of eight (likely because it was the most reasonable number of potential victims he could achieve). In the same episode, it was mentioned that Speck shared the same prison as Peterson's father and that he spotted and probably even interacted with Speck as a result.
  • Novels
    • Killer Profile - Speck was notably mentioned in which copycat killer Daniel Dryden went to the townhouse in which Speck's killings of the nurses took place with the intention of copying his M.O. on some of the current residents, even dressing up just like Speck had and bringing the same equipment. However, the authorities had figured out where his next attack would be and was waiting for him outside. Dryden fled and, having entered a kind of "close enough" phase, drove to a nearby community hospital and fired at three nurses, one of which died of her injuries, both as a vague reference to Speck's murders and as a diversion for the police. He then returned to the townhouse, planning to finish his Speck imitation, but was arrested by Rossi.