July 13, 1966: Richard Speck Murders 8 Student Nurses


As a true crime aficionado, I know the name Richard Speck and know a very vague amount of information surrounding his crimes, but I did not know the entire extent of what he did.

Richard Speck, on the night of July 13th, 1966, raped one and tortured and murdered 8 student murders from South Chicago Community Hospital. He was convicted and sentenced to death, but the sentence was overturned due to jury selection issues.

After 25 years in prison, he died of a heart attack in 1991.


Richard Speck was born in Kirkwood, Illinois. He was the 7th of 8 children to Benjamin Franklin Speck and Mary Margaret Carbaugh Speck. (Perhaps anecdotal evidence, but it seems super common for murderers to have like, a ton of siblings). After his birth, they moved to Monmouth, Illinois. Speck's oldest brother, Robert, died when he was 23 in a car accident, 5 years after their father died of a heart attack at the age of 53.

After the death of her husband but before the death of her son, Speck's super religious mother fell in love with Carl August Rudolph Lindberg, a traveling insurance agent from Texas. She was devoutly religious and did not drink alcohol, but Lindberg loved drinking and had a 25-year history of crimes such as forgery and drunk driving. He was the polar opposite of her, and her late husband. Despite this, she married Lindberg in 1950. Speck lived with his younger sister Carolyn and their older, married sister, Sara for a few months so he could finish 2nd grade, before relocating and moving in with his mom and Lindberg.

They lived in 10 different homes in poor neighborhoods around Dallas over the next 12 years. Speck hated his drunk and absent stepfather, who abused him psychologically. He was a poor student and struggled through school, often refusing to speak because he was terrified of people staring at him. In 9th grade, he failed every subject and dropped out.

He started drinking at age 12 and by 15, was drunk on a daily basis. He was arrested for trespassing at 13, and his arrest record continued climbing with his age. He held some jobs, and in 1961, impregnated his 15-year-old girlfriend after 3 weeks of meeting, and then married her. When his daughter was born, he was serving a 22-day jail sentence for disturbing the peace child drunk.

In 1963, he was caught for forger and robbing a grocery store and received some prison time. 1 week after he was paroled, he was found wielding a giant carving knife when attacking a woman in the parking lot of her building. He was convicted of aggravated assault, but was released after only 6 months, partially because of an error and partially because the sentence was already super short.

He got out of prison and worked as a driver for a meat company where he had 6 accidents before he was fired. After his wife divorced him in 1966, he stabbed a man at a bar, but the charge was reduced to disturbing the peace and he was fined $10. Then, after failing to pay the $10, he was jailed for 3 days. He bought a car, robbed a grocery store, and took off for Chicago.

He moved back to Monmouth after only a few days in Chicago. He got a job, but became filled with rage when he found out his wife remarried 2 days after the divorce. He began drinking and threatening people a lot, and then got into heavier crimes, like breaking into a home and raping the 65-year-old resident.

He moved back to Chicago to stay with his sister, Martha, and her family. His brother-in-law got him a job with the merchant marines, but got fired for getting drunk. He began to outstay his welcome at his sister's home, and he was kicked out. His brother-in-law drove him back to try to get a job on a ship. He finally received an assignment, but when he arrived, he realized his spot had already been taken. He was angry. He spent the rest of the day drinking before holding a 53-year-old woman at knife point, raping her, and stealing her gun. He headed over to the street that housed the town homes of the South Chicago Community Hospital student nurses.


At 11:00 PM on July 13, 1966, Speck broke into a townhouse in Chicago's Jeffery Manor neighborhood, a dorm for student nurses. He was able to enter and, using only a knife, was able to kill 8 student nurses: Gloria Davy, Patricia Matusek, Nina Jo Schmale, Pamela Wilkening, Suzanne Farris, Mary Ann Jordan, Merlita Gargullo, and Valentina Pasion.

He held the women in a room for hours, and would lead them out one by one, stabbing or strangling each of them to death individually. He raped and strangled his last victim, Gloria Davy. One woman, Corazon Amurao, survived the attack by crawling and hiding under a bed while he was out of the room. He either lost count, or knew only 8 women lived there, not knowing a 9th woman was staying the night. She stayed hidden under the bed for nearly 7 hours.

Corazon said that none of the girls screamed while being lead away, but could hear their cries as they were being murdered.

A few of the women were not initially there when Speck arrived. Suzanne and Mary Anne both came home during the carnage, and were stabbed upon entry into the home. The last woman to arrive home was Gloria Jean Davy, who was dropped off by her boyfriend late at night. She was the last to die, and the only one that Speck raped before strangling her to death.

At past 6 AM, once Corazon knew that he was gone, she bolted from the hiding place that saved her life and screamed out the window that all of her friends had been murdered.

Speck was identified by a drifter 2 days after the murders from a sketch in the evening paper. The drifter made a call to the police, however, they did not respond to the call. Speck attempted suicide, and when he was taken to the hospital, a tattoo of his was noticed by a surgical resident who called the police.


Gloria Davy had 4 sisters and 1 brother. She was active in high school activities, including Future Farmers of America Sweetheart and was head of the cheerleading squad, while also maintaining a column for the local newspaper. She became the president of the Student Nurses Association of Illinois. She was known for always helping others and being a leader among the other students. She was in Alpha Xi Delta and worked as a nurses aid. She was going to graduate in August to become a nurse. (2)

Patricia Matusek had 1 sister and her family called her "Pat". She was known as gentle and friendly. She loved children and wanted to turn that passion into a nursing career. She was engaged and had planned to get married after graduation. Her father attended every single one of Speck's parole hearings. (3)

Nina Jo Schmale wanted to be a psychiatric nurse and was admitted to the program almost immediately. She was very funny and filled with energy. She did volunteer work at an old folks home where she was known for her patience, gentleness and cheer. She loved her family, and she had been in a relationship with her boyfriend for 7 years. (4)

Pamela Wilkening wanted to be a nurse for a long time, a member of the Nurses club in high school, as well as the Pep club and swimming team. She was excited for her 21st birthday and graduation both coming up in August. (5)

Suzanne Farris had one brother and one sister and was very religious, attending mass most mornings before heading out for her nurse duties. She was engaged to her best friend, Mary Jordan, who was also killed in the spree's, brother, and they were planning to marry the following summer. She had a great personality and was excited to graduate as a nurse in August. (6)

Mary Ann Jordan had 4 brothers and a sister. She was spending the night helping her best friend Suzanne with her wedding plans to her brother. She was a vibrant woman who just wanted to help everyone. She was a member of the Future Nurses of America and would have graduated alongside her friends in August. (7)

Merlita Gargullo was an exchange student from the Philippine Islands who came to train at South Chicago hospital to become a nurse. She had already graduated from the Arellano University school of Nursing. Her body was returned to her native land to be buried. (8)

Valentina Pasion was also an exchange student from the Philippines who came to South Chicago to train to be a nurse. She was close friends with her fellow exchange student and was passionate about helping people. Her body was also returned to the Philippines for burial. (9)


Of course, he had to go through a psychological evaluation to ensure he was competent to stand trial. He was determined to be depressed, anxious, with feelings of guilt and shame and love for family. He had OCD and perhaps a complex towards women that wouldn't allow him to be happy with just 1. He felt that women were saintly until he felt betrayed by them, for whatever reason.

He claimed he had no recollection of the murders, but did confess to the crime. However, since he was sedated at the time of the confession, it could not be used at trial. He eventually did make a clear-headed confession where he recounted the grisly murders in detail, claiming he was high that night but could have done it sober.

At trial, he was positively identified by Corazon, and his fingerprints matched those found at the crime scene. The jury needed only 49 minutes to deliberate before finding him guilty. He was sentenced to death.

In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Speck's conviction, but reversed his death sentence because over 250 jurors were excluded, unconstitutionally, from his jury because of their beliefs against capital punishment. In 1972, he was sentenced to 400 to 1,200 years in prison, and was denied parole at 7 different hearings, often within minutes of the hearings beginning.

In prison, he was described as a loner who listened to music and collected stamps. Despite this, he was not a quiet, sad, model prisoner. He was often found with drugs or alcohol. His aforementioned confession was given while in prison in 1978. He said he thought he would get out and open his own grocery store chain. Aim high, Richard.

He claimed he had no feelings during the night of the killing, but has changed. He said he is "sorry as hell" for the girls, their families, and himself, and if he could do it again, he would just rob the house like he apparently initially planned.

In a super weird prison anecdote, Speck found an injured sparrow that had flow into the prison and he nursed it back to health. He would perch it on his shoulder and treated it like his pet. However, a guard told him pets weren't allowed. When he was told this, he threw the bird into a spinning fan and killed it. When the guard said he thought he liked the bird, he said "I did, but if I can't have it, no one can."

Speck's non-model prisoner activities were caught on camera in several videos of him performing oral sex on other inmates, sharing cocaine with another, parading around in women's underwear and even using hormone treatments to grow breasts. "If they only knew how much fun I was having, they'd turn me loose," he said. Despite being apologetic in previous confessions, he claimed in this video that he killed the women because it just wasn't their night, that he didn't feel sorry, and then described strangling someone to death in detail.

Speck died in prison of a heart attack on December 5, 1991, the night before he would turn 50. He has no headstone, as his sister (probably rightfully) assumed it would be desecrated, so his ashes were scattered in an undisclosed location.

Richard Speck robbed 8 intelligent, passionate women of lives that they planned to use to help the lives of others. There is a scene in Criminal Minds where some hot-shot is proud that they know the names of a bunch of serial killers, and when one of the agents begins listing off some other, less popular names, the person says they don't know who the are. The agent says "those are the victims", reminding us that remembering the names of the killer is doing a massive disservice to the beautiful people who's lives he took.

Richard Speck is a name that is automatically noticable to many, but so should the names of the 8 lives he took. Gloria, Pat, Nina, Pamela, Suzanne, Mary Ann, Merlita and Valentina are the names we should remember: the wonderful women who dedicated their lives to others... not the man who took theirs.


1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Speck

2. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/5860192/gloria-jean-davy

3. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/5860189/patricia-ann-matusek

4. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/5860191/nina-jo-schmale

5. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/5860193/pamela-lee-wilkening

6. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/5860303/suzanne-bridgit-farris

7. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/5860300/mary-ann-jordan

8. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/5860194/merlita-ornado-gargullo

9. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/178402071/valentina-p-pasion

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