The Naked City Jul 1 2009
NO REASON Y
Forty-three years ago this month Richard Speck shocked America.
 
This July 1, 1967 cover of The Saturday Evening Post shows mass murderer Richard Speck, who, a little less than a year earlier on July 13, 1966, broke into a Chicago townhouse where he raped and killed eight student nurses in a single horrific night. The crime stunned America, and questions about how any man could be so monstrous soon focused on Speck’s brain. At the time of this cover, some genetic researchers thought he was an abnormal 47,XYY karyotype, which was thought to cause hyper-aggression. But Speck was ruled competent to stand trial, was convicted of the murders and sentenced to death, then to life in prison when the U.S. Supreme Court cited irregularities in jury selection during his trial.
 
Thirty years later, in 1996, Richard Speck burst into public consciousness again when an investigation into Illinois prison conditions uncovered a 1988 video of Stateville Prison inmates—most notably Speck—consuming drugs and alcohol with no fear of being caught. Speck also was shown in a pair of silk panties, performed oral sex on another prisoner, and had grown what appeared to be breasts, reportedly from consuming contraband hormones. Stateville had become a giant, orgiastic party. At one point Speck said, “If they only knew how much fun I was having, they’d turn me loose.”
 
By now doctors had proven Speck didn't possess an extra Y chromosome, so most experts focused on his childhood as a cause of his murderous rampage. His youth had been marked by abandonment, abuse, and at least three serious blows to the head. When he finally died of a heart attack—in 1991, five years before the infamous Stateville videotape surfaced—an autopsy revealed that his brain was abnormal after all. His hippocampus and amygdala—the latter of which helps regulate rage and emotional reactions—had fused. Speck was cremated and his ashes were scattered by two county employees, a fieldhand, and a newspaper columnist. The quartet agreed to keep the location secret forever, so that Speck and his crimes might one day be forgotten. Only time will determine whether that's possible.
 
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 23
1945—Flag Raised on Iwo Jima
Four days after landing on the Japanese-held island of Iwo Jima, American soldiers of the 28th Regiment, 5th Marine Division take Mount Suribachi and raise an American flag. A photograph of the moment shot by Joe Rosenthal becomes one of the most famous images of WWII, and wins him the Pulitzer Prize later that year.
February 22
1987—Andy Warhol Dies
American pop artist Andy Warhol, whose creations have sold for as much as 100 million dollars, dies of cardiac arrhythmia following gallbladder surgery in New York City. Warhol, who already suffered lingering physical problems from a 1968 shooting, requested in his will for all but a tiny fraction of his considerable estate to go toward the creation of a foundation dedicated to the advancement of the visual arts.
February 21
1947—Edwin Land Unveils His New Camera
In New York City, scientist and inventor Edwin Land demonstrates the first instant camera, the Polaroid Land Camera, at a meeting of the Optical Society of America. The camera, which contains a special film that self-develops prints in a minute, goes on sale the next year to the public and is an immediate sensation.
1965—Malcolm X Is Assassinated
American minister and human rights activist Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam, who shotgun him in the chest and then shoot him sixteen additional times with handguns. Though three men are eventually convicted of the killing, two have always maintained their innocence, and all have since been paroled.
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