As the old saying goes, “you do the crime, you do the time,” but for some criminals who committed horrific and violent crimes, just serving time isn’t enough. Many men and women have been put to death over the years for their crimes. They are given a last meal of their choosing – and as you scroll down, you’ll read about one inmate who was less than satisfied with his final meal. Their last words are often remembered as a message of love to their families and sometimes a last attempt of claiming their innocence or regret over their actions. Other times, their last words are truly odd, to say the least. Today, let’s talk about some of the most bizarre last words said by inmates just before they were executed.
10. Robert Charles Towery
Last words: “I love my family. Potato, potato, potato.”
In 1991, Robert Towery robbed a man, injected him with battery acid, and then strangled him with a plastic zip tie. They knew each other, as the victim was a philanthropist who had hired Towery as his mechanic several times and also loaned him money on numerous occasions.
Towery appeared to feel some remorse just before his execution as he apologized to the victim’s family, as well as his own family members who were there to witness his final few minutes. He was quoted saying, “So many times in my life I went left when I should have gone right and I went right when I should have gone left. It was mistake after mistake after mistake.” He then wept when he looked over at his sister, nephew, and friend before closing his eyes.
Before he died, he said, “potato, potato, potato,” which was a special secret message to his nephew. It’s in reference to the sound that a Harley-Davidson motorcycle’s engine makes when it’s idling – it was Towery’s way of letting his nephew know that everything was okay. The 47-year-old was executed by lethal injection on March 8, 2012 in Arizona.
9. Jimmy Glass
Last words: “I’d rather be fishing.”
Jimmy Glass was already serving time in jail when he and a fellow inmate named Jimmy Wingo escaped the Webster Parish jail in Louisiana in December 1982. While they were on the run, they robbed and murdered a couple in their home on Christmas morning. Glass was apprehended 12 days later. Although he claimed that the other escapee forced him at gunpoint to kill the couple, he was still sentenced to death.
Glass was executed by electrocution in Louisiana on June 12, 1987 at 25 years of age. His last words revealed that he’d rather be fishing. That does sound a lot better than being in an electric chair, come to think of it. The other escapee and murderer, Wingo, was executed four days later.
While his crimes were horrible, Glass was better known for his petition to the U.S. Supreme Court case Glass v. Louisiana, where he attempted to convince the court that executions by electrocution were in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as it was “cruel and unusual punishment.” The Supreme Court disagreed.
8. Grover Cleveland Redding
Last words: “I have something to say, but not at this time.”
This one brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “speak now, or forever hold your peace.” While not much is known about Grover Cleveland Redding, he was said to have been mentally unstable, as he believed that he was the prince of Abyssinia and his job was to bring his people back to the homeland. Okay, then…
He then began an anti-government riot which resulted in two of his followers getting shot to death. He was sentenced to death. According to a website on prisoners who were executed in 1921, Redding was hanged on June 24, 1921 in Illinois. What he wanted to say will forever remain unknown…
7. James Jackson
Last words: “…I’m ready to roll. Time to get this party started.”
Prior to his party reference, James Jackson said “Warden, murder me” and then referred to Harris County – where he was convicted – as Sodom and Gomorrah (biblical cities that God destroyed because of their sins).
Jackson was convicted of killing his wife and two step-daughters in 1997 by strangling each of them when they entered their apartment. He then left a note for the police that read, “I love Sharon, Sonny, Ericka. I could not take care of my family. I don’t have a job. I gave them back to God. He and they will understand. James.” He claimed that the note was a prayer instead of a death note. He then told investigators that his wife was planning to divorce him.
The 47-year-old was executed by lethal injection on February 7, 2007 in Harris County, Texas.
6. Jeffrey Matthews
Last words: “I think that governor’s phone is broke. He hadn’t called yet.”
Jeffrey Matthews was convicted of murdering his 77-year-old great-uncle in 1994. He was one of two men who entered his uncle’s home and ended up stealing $500 in cash, along with a pistol and his uncle’s truck. His execution had previously been postponed three times – twice so that Matthews’ defense attorneys could look into his claim of innocence, and once when his lawyers objected the plans for a substitute drug to be administered during the execution.
But after three delays, the 38-year-old was executed on January 11, 2011 at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. Just before he was executed, he was obviously hoping for a fourth delay, as he looked over at his family members, smiled, and said his last words about the governor’s phone being broken.
5. George Appel
Last words: “Well, gentlemen, you are about to see a baked Appel”
While those are clever and even comical last words, George Appel’s crime is nothing to laugh at. Since the crime happened in the 1920s, there isn’t much information about what actually happened. In fact, if it wasn’t for Appel’s humorous last words, he probably would have been completely forgotten about over the years.
What very little information is known is that he was charged for the first degree murder of a police officer in New York City. According to a website on prisoners who were executed in the early 1900s, the only information given on Appel is that he was 41-years-old when he was executed on August 9, 1928 by the electric chair. It also listed his job as being a “gangster.”
While we don’t know much about this murderer, his famous last words have lived on for 90 years.
4. Carl Panzram
Last words: “Hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could hang a dozen men while you’re screwing around!”
Carl Panzram was one of the most vicious and remorseless criminals to have ever walked the Earth, as he was a convicted serial killer, rapist, arsonist, and burglar in the 1920s. In fact, in his own words, he wrote, “In my lifetime I have murdered 21 human beings, I have committed thousands of burglaries, robberies, larcenies, arsons and, last but not least, I have committed sodomy on more than 1,000 male human beings. For all these things I am not in the least bit sorry.”
Despite having such an extensive criminal record, he was given a pretty light sentence of just 25 years in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas. During his sentence, he threatened to “kill the first man that bothers me,” and that’s exactly what he did when he committed yet another murder – this time in the jail. That’s when he was sentenced to death. He obviously wanted to die, as he did not file an appeal and threatened to kill anyone who tried appealing on his behalf.
The 39-year-old was hanged on September 5, 1930. Prior to his hanging, when the noose was put around his neck, he spat in the executioner’s face and said, “I wish all mankind had one neck so I could choke it!” After that statement, that’s when he said his final words about hurrying up and that he could hang a dozen men while he waited.
3. Aileen Wuornos
Last words: “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.”
Those are definitely strange last words that would be hard to forget, but for Aileen Wuornos, the fact that she was a female serial killer made her even more infamous. Between December 1989 and September 1990, the bodies of several men were discovered along Florida’s highways. Items that had belonged to two of the victims were pawned and after a fingerprint had been recovered from the pawn shop card, police arrested Wuornos.
She claimed that she had shot the seven men in self defense after they attempted to rape her while she was working as a prostitute. Nevertheless, she was convicted and sentenced to death. These murders weren’t the first time she was in trouble with the law, as she was convicted of armed robbery in 1982.
On October 9, 2002, 46-year-old Wuornos was executed by lethal injection in Florida.
2. Thomas J. Grasso
Last words: “I did not get my SpaghettiOs, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.”
Thomas J. Grasso’s last meal included two dozen steamed clams, two dozen steamed mussels, double cheeseburger from Burger King, six barbecued spare ribs, half of a pumpkin pie with whipped cream, diced strawberries, two strawberry milkshakes, and a 16-ounce can of spaghetti and meatballs. He was apparently quite upset that he got spaghetti instead of SpaghettiOs, and was still complaining about it in his final statement before being put to death.
Thomas J. Grasso was convicted of two murders committed in 1990 and 1991. His first victim was an elderly woman who he robbed and then strangled with her Christmas lights. Six months later, he killed an elderly man and stole his Social Security check. The 32-year-old was executed by lethal injection at Oklahoma State Penitentiary on March 20, 1995.
1. James French
Last words: “How about this for a headline for tomorrow’s paper? French fries.”
This is another clever play on words by a not-so-clever criminal. In 1958, while hitchhiking across Texas, James French kidnapped and killed a motorist who had picked him up to give him a lift. He was convicted, and was serving a life sentence when he committed another horrific crime. In 1961, he decided to strangle his cellmate to death. Apparently, French wanted to die but was too afraid to commit suicide, so he killed his cellmate in order to receive the death penalty.
He got what he wished for, and on August 10, 1966, the 30-year-old was executed in Oklahoma via the electric chair. His last words suggesting that the headline “French fries” be written in the following day’s newspaper was indeed quite fitting, and we can’t help but wonder if they actually used his suggestion…