Famous Last Words: Criminals

A select collection of the dying words spoken by famous criminals

Electric Chair
Photo © Keith Goldstein/Getty Images

Whether realized at the time they are said or only in hindsight, nearly everyone will express a word, phrase or sentence that proves the last thing he or she ever says while alive. Sometimes profound, sometimes everyday, here you will find a select collection of the last words spoken by famous (and infamous) criminals, crooks, cons and gangsters.

George Appel, Executed via electrocution in 1928
Well folks, you'll soon see a baked apple.

Theodore "Ted" Bundy, Executed via electrocution in 1989
I'd like you to give my love to my family and friends.

Robert Erskine Childers, Executed via firing squad in 1922
Take a step or two forward, lads. It will be easier that way.

Before his execution, Childers also shook the hand of each member of his firing squad.

Robert Charles Comer, Executed via lethal injection in 2007
Yes, Go Raiders!

Uttered in response to the question of whether he had any last words, Comer apparently decided to root for his favorite NFL team. In addition, an Associated Press article published at the time states that, about death, Comer said: "I don't know what everybody's so scared about. Death is not that damn bad."

Christopher Scott Emmett, Executed via lethal injection in 2008
Tell my family and friends I love them. Tell the governor he just lost my vote. Y'all hurry this along. I'm dying to get out of here.

James French, Executed via electrocution in 1966
How's this for your [newspaper] headline?

"French fries."

John Wayne Gacy, Executed via lethal injection in 1994
Kiss my a**.

Johnny Frank Garrett, Executed via lethal injection in 1992
I'd like to thank my family for loving me and taking care of me. And the rest of the world can kiss my a**.

In 2004, 12 years after Garrett's execution, and 23 years after the crime was committed, significant evidence surfaced linking this crime to another perpetrator.

Gary Gilmore, Executed via firing squad in 1977
Let's do it!

Jimmy Glass, Executed via electrocution in 1987
I'd rather be fishing.

Robert Alton Harris, Executed via gas in 1992
You can be a king or a street sweeper, but everyone dances with the Grim Reaper.

Ned Kelly, Executed via hanging in 1880
Such is life.

Timothy McVeigh, Executed via lethal injection in 2001
I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.

Declining to say anything personally, and unrepentant of his crime to the end, the perpetrator of the April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing chose to have printed copies of the 1875 poem "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley distributed to the media and onlookers, which ends with these lines.

Benito Mussolini, Executed via firing squad in 1945
No! No!

Accounts differ about Mussolini's last words. According to the United Press International article written by James Roper and published April 29, 1945 -- one day after the execution -- the fascist Italian dictator shouted "No! No!" to his firing squad. But according to a 2004 biography by Peter Neville (page 195), Mussolini demanded: "Shoot me in the chest."

John Spenkelink, Executed via electrocution in 1979
Capital punishment means those without capital get the punishment.

An eyewitness account of Spenkelink's execution published the week after his execution in Time states that the condemned man wore a gag and, therefore, could not have said anything intelligible before his death. According to this same magazine article, while awaiting his execution, Spenkelink typically inscribed, "Capital punishment means those without capital get the punishment" on the envelopes bearing the letters he wrote, so the attribution of this line as his last words is likely apocryphal. The article does imply, however, that his final words, spoken to a priest after receiving Holy Communion, were: "Man is what he chooses to be. He chooses that for himself."

Continue Reading