Who Is Richard Speck? New Details About The 'Mindhunter' Serial Killer Who Murdered 8 Nursing Students In One Day

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who is richard speck

Who is Richard Speck? When Netflix's new hit drama Mindhunter premiered true crime fans around the world rejoiced, and fans of police dramas got a taste of the stories behind the creation of the FBI's famous system for profiling serial killers. 

Obviously when you're dealing with a TV show, you can't always stick 100% to the facts. After all, there's a reason life is life and movies and TV are just movie and TV, right? 


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However, if you watched the show you probably got just enough truthful information about our country's most famous serial killers that you are champing at the bit for more, more, and more. 

One of the most infamous killers featured on the show was Richard Speck, known for his brutal mass murder of a house full of student nurses. 

The show told you just a very small part of his story but the truth behind Speck's life is much darker, and much more compelling.


With that in mind, please dig into these 9 important facts about Richard Speck. 

1. He came from a huge, abusive family.

Richard Benjamin Speck was born on December 6, 1941, in Kirkwood, Illinois.

His family was absolutely sprawling and super-religious. He was actually the 7th of 8th children which while more common in the '40s is still a lot of kids.  

His dad died when he was just six years old and his mom moved the family to Dallas, Texas after she took a second husband. 

Unfortunately for all of the Speck children, their stepfather was a violent alcoholic who beat them all regularly. 

Speck took to acting out by skipping school and drinking by himself. Soon this behavior escalated to petty crimes.


These are all the classic warning signs of trouble ahead for a young person if there's no intervention. 

2. His marriage failed because of his criminal tendencies.

In November 1962 in spite of whatever issues Speck may have been battling, he married Shirley Malone. They couple had a daughter who was born not long after the two tied the knot.

However, their marriage didn't last very long. In 1963, Speck was arrested for check fraud and theft. He was released in January 1965.

He managed to stay out of jail for four entire weeks but then he was arrested again for aggravated assault. This time he got 16 months but he would only go to serve 6 months with release for good behavior. 


3. His crimes escalated after his divorce. 

After his arrest for aggravated assault, Speck got the words "Born to Raise Hell" tattooed on his arm,.

Like his wife needed another sign that maybe the marriage was gonna work out, Shirley saw this tattoo and immediately filed for a divorce which was finalized in 1966.

After Shirley left him, Speck was arrested again for assault. He high-tailed it to Chicago where his sister Martha lived for a few months before heading back to Illinois to take refuge with some family friends he knew from his childhood, stealing and assaulting people as he made his way. 

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4. He was gifted at escaping the police.

Speck's criminal life was only just beginning, —and it was going to get a whole lot worse before he was apprehended.

On April 2, 1966, Speck raped Virgil Harris, a 65-year-old woman.  He made sure to rob her, too. (Did we mention this took place inside of her own home? Because it did.)

On April 13 of the same year, Speck attacked Mary Kay Pierce, a woman who worked at a local bar, and brutally beat her until she died.

He managed to talk his way out of being held in police custody and once he was out of the station he fled and got away with it. That said, police found objects at his apartment that tied him to the case. He was good at getting away, but not great at covering up his tracks. 


5. His work on ships made his criminal behavior even easier for him.

Although he had no background working on the water, Speck managed to pick up a job on a series of ships. This made his crimes even easier to commit and hide but the authorities in the places where he was suspected of committing crimes weren't giving up. 

Indiana authorities wanted to interview Speck regarding the murder of three girls who had vanished on July 2, 1966. Their bodies were never found.

Michigan authorities also wanted to question him about his whereabouts during the murder of four other women, aged between 7 and 60. His ship had been docked near where they all vanished. 

Speck evaded them all, but it wouldn't last. 


6. His most infamous attack is still considered one of the most shocking mass murders in the country's history.

On Saturday, July 13, 1966,  Speck showed up unannounced at the front door of a house that served as a shared home for a group of eight young student nurses from South Chicago Community Hospital.

23-year-old Corazon Amurao opened the front door to Speck's knock and she never even got a word out. Speck forced his way in with his gun drawn and pointed at her.

Once inside, Speck rounded the nurses up, took the contents of their purses, and made sure they were all tied up

For the next several hours he brutally beat, raped, and tortured the women who were in the house. The women who returned home late were also attacked, tortured, and killed by Speck. 


8 women in total were  bound, robbed, beaten, strangled and stabbed during Speck's ultimate mass murder.  

But covering his tracks was still not his strong suit. In the panic of all the murder, Speck neglected to kill one person: Corazon Amurao, who had opened the front door. 

She hid under a bed during the hours of awful torture and slaughter. It was her eyewitness account that helped police identify Speck. 

7. He tried to kill himself after the mass murders. 

Speck evaded capture after committing his most heinous crime for a couple of days. 

Eventually, he tried to take his own life by slitting his wrists but he panicked at the sight of his own blood and sought medical attention.


When the hospital staff saw his tattoo they remembered Corazon's account on the news and contacted the police who detained him. 

8. It took a jury less than an hour to convict him. 

After his one-week trial, the jury spent under an hour deliberating before they found Speck guilty on all charges. 

The judge sentenced him to death but in 1972 his sentence was commuted to 50 to 100 years in prison. 

After serving just 19 years of his sentence, Speck died of a heart attack on December 5, 1991.

9. Even after death he was doing shocking things.

Five years after Speck's death, a video surfaced which showed Speck taking drugs and having sex with another inmate at some point during the 1980s. 


Speck underwent hormone therapy while in prison and in this video it is clear that he has developed breasts and has started to prefer to wear women's underwear.

In the video, Speck also talks with the other inmate about his murder of the nurses. The footage caused quite a shock when it was first revealed. 

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the love and dating advice show, Becca After Dark, on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.