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The final words of 5 executed killers

Aileen Wuornos smiling in an orange prison jumpsuit at the officer's station
Image: Aileen Wuornos | Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

In their last moments, prisoners condemned to death are given the opportunity to say their final words.

These final sentences can give an insight into the mindset of some of the world's most depraved killers. Whilst some refuse to speak or are apologetic, others can be resentful and show a lack of remorse.

1. Aileen Wuornos

Nicknamed ‘The Damsel of Death', Aileen Wuornos is one of the world’s most notorious killers and is labelled as America’s first female serial killer. Wuornos worked along Florida’s highways as a sex worker and killed seven of her male clients between 1989 and 1990.

Despite claiming that she acted in self-defence, Wuornos was found guilty of the murders and sentenced to death. Before her execution by lethal injection on 9th October 2002, her last words were, ‘Yes, I would like to say I’m sailing with the rock, and I’ll be back, like Independence Day with Jesus, June 6th like the movie. The big mothership, I’ll be back, I’ll be back.’

Wuornos’s final words have, for decades, left people questioning whether she was of sound enough mind to be executed.

2. Mary Blandy

In a crime that shocked the English middle classes in the 18th century, Mary Blandy became one of Oxford’s most infamous murderers.

As the years went by, Blandy’s father, Francis, worried that his daughter may never get married and flaunted the family’s wealth in an effort to attract a potential husband. Blandy eventually caught the eye of Scottish aristocrat and army officer Captain Henry Cranstoun.

However, Cranstoun was not all he seemed and already had a wife in Scotland. Infuriated by this revelation, Francis banned the officer from seeing his daughter.

Cranstoun refused to listen to Francis’s demands and sent Blandy a white powder to mix in her father’s food. He said it was a love potion that would convince Francis to let them marry. Unbeknownst to Blandly, the powder was arsenic, which killed her father.

Blandy was imprisoned at Oxford Castle before she was found guilty of her father’s murder and sentenced to death in March 1752. On 6th April, she was executed by hanging. Before the trapdoor opened, Blandy made a final unsuccessful attempt to save her life by saying, ‘For the sake of decency, gentlemen, don’t hang me high.’

3. William Bonin

Between May 1979 and June 1980, William Bonin brutally murdered 14 boys and young men in southern California and is suspected in the killing of 15 others. Bonin was given the moniker ‘The Freeway Killer’ as he discarded his victims’ bodies along the highways.

The killer was sentenced to death in the early 1980s, where he remained on San Quentin’s death row until he was executed by lethal injection on 23rd February 1996.

His last words seemed to be some advice for any would-be murders. He stated, ‘I would suggest that when a person has a thought of doing anything serious against the law, that before they did that, they should go to a quiet place and think about it seriously.’

4. Christina Riggs

In November 1997, Christina Riggs killed her two young children, Justin and Shelby, at their home in Sherwood, Arkansas. She injected them with potassium chloride and then smothered them. After her children had died, Riggs wrote a note and unsuccessfully attempted to take her own life.

On 2nd May 2000, three years after being sentenced to death, Riggs was executed by lethal injection and became the first woman executed in the state of Arkansas since 1845.

In her last words, the killer expressed remorse over the killings by saying, ‘There is no way words can express how sorry I am for taking the lives of my babies. Now I can be with my babies, as I always intended.’

5. Peter Manuel

Given the moniker of ‘The Beast of Birkenshaw’, American-born Peter Manuel is known as Scotland’s first serial killer who struck fear into men and women, young and old, around Glasgow and Lanarkshire. Over two years, between 1956 and 1958, Manuel killed seven people and is believed to have killed two more.

Manuel’s killing spree came to an end in 1958 when he was sentenced to death at the High Court in Glasgow. On 11th July 1958, Manuel was executed by hanging at Glasgow’s Barlinnie prison.

His last words were, ‘Turn up the radio. I’ll go quietly.'