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.
November 17
1973—Nixon Proclaims His Innocence
While in Orlando, Florida, U.S. President Richard Nixon tells four-hundred Associated Press managing editors, "I am not a crook." The false statement comes to symbolize Nixon's presidency when facts are uncovered that prove he is, indeed, a crook.
November 16
1938—Lysergic Acid Diethylamide Created
In Basel, Switzerland, at the Sandoz Laboratories, chemist Albert Hofmann creates the psychedelic compound Lysergic acid diethylamide, aka LSD, from a grain fungus.
1945—German Scientists Secretly Brought to U.S.
In a secret program codenamed Operation Paperclip, the United States Army admits 88 German scientists and engineers into the U.S. to help with the development of rocket technology. President Harry Truman ordered that Paperclip exclude members of the Nazi party, but in practice many Nazis who had been officially classified as dangerous were also brought to the U.S. after their backgrounds were whitewashed by Army officials.
November 15
1920—League of Nations Holds First Session
The first assembly of the League of Nations, the multi-governmental organization formed as a result of the Treaty of Versailles, is held in Geneva, Switzerland. The League begins to fall apart less than fifteen years later when Germany withdraws. By the onset of World War II it is clear that the League has failed completely.
1959—Clutter Murders Take Place
Four members of the Herbert Clutter Family are murdered at their farm outside Holcomb, Kansas by Richard "Dick" Hickock and Perry Smith. The events would be used by author Truman Capote for his 1966 non-fiction novel In Cold Blood, which is considered a pioneering work of true crime writing. The book is later adapted into a film starring Robert Blake.
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