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Who Is Pee Wee Gaskins? New Details About The Serial Killer With The Temper Twice His Size

tkWho Is Pee Wee Gaskins? New Details About The Serial Killer With The Temper Twice His Size

He was known for his short stature and his very short fuse.

Who is Peewee Gaskins? When you think of famous American serial killers, several come to mind. You might immediately think of Ted Bundy, or the Green River Killer, or maybe even Jeffrey Dahmer. While the details of these crimes have made these men something akin to infamous, there are other American serial killers who did things just as heinous but who, for one reason or another, aren't as well-known as their counterparts. 

Just because you have never heard of Donald Henry Gaskins, better known as Pee Wee, that doesn't make the crimes he committed any less horrible. His name might sound funny, but Pee Wee himself wasn't anything to laugh at. People who decided to make him the butt of their jokes invariably found themselves being beaten to death by the man who was known for his short stature and his very short fuse.


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It is hard to know just how much of Pee Wee's story is true. While there is undeniable proof that several of his horrific crimes are true, he was also a known liar who would say whatever was necessary to impress or frighten anyone who cared to listen. Keeping that in mind, here are 10 of the essential facts you ought to know about Pee Wee Gaskins if you consider yourself to be a real devoted true crime aficionado. 

1. Pee Wee's childhood 

Like other serial killers, Pee Wee's childhood was farm from ideal. In fact, it was downright abusive. Pee Wee was born to Eulea Parrott. He was her youngest and like the rest of his brothers and sisters he was born "illegitimate", though Eulea gave him the last name of the man she suspected might be his father. 

He spent most of his time totally unsupervised. At the age of 3, he swallowed enough kerosene he suffered horrible convulsions. This was in addition to the night terrors he suffered, which earned him many beatings from his mother and her series of live-in boyfriends. 

2. The origin of his nickname 

Until he was a teenager Pee Wee had no idea that his birth name was Donald Henry Gaskins. That's because for the majority of his life he had been called Pee Wee due to his short stature as a child. As an adult he wouldn't get much taller, measuring in at 5'4".

Pee Wee first learned his real name when it was read aloud at court during his first trial following his first arrest. 

3. Childhood crimes and reform school 

Pee Wee never finished school, dropping out just as high school began. He spent the majority of his time with other dropouts. This eventually led to the dropouts forming a gang of sorts, committing a series of robberies and gang-raping the sister of a member of his own group. 

An eye witness to this attack - who Gaskins tried to silence with a hatchet, to no avail - was able to identify all of the men who committed this crime, and Gaskins, still a juvenile, was sent off to reform school, but his reign of terror was just beginning. 

4. History of sexual abuse 

Gaskins stayed inside the reform school until he was 18. While he was a prisoner, he was repeatedly raped by other prisoners. At one point, he fled the reform school, escaped, and married a young woman he met on the outside. Eventually however, tired of evading the law, Pee Wee returned to the reform school and was released in 1951.

The sexual abuse he experienced in reform school would deeply impact Gaskins, for obvious reasons. It would also happen to him time and time again during his stints in prison. 

5. Pee Wee's first murder and the aftermath 

In 1953, Pee Wee was arrested for the attempted murder of a woman in Georgia. Pee Wee attacked her with a hammer and when asked why, he claimed it was because the woman had "insulted him", a pretty big overreaction to put it mildly. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison, where he was again repeatedly raped until he murdered a prominent inmate in the prison and became top dog. 

This murder added just three years to sentence but it turned Pee Wee into a rapist himself. No longer the victim, he violated other inmates. He escaped from prison in 1955 but eventually was captured and served out the duration of sentence before being released again in 1961.


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6. Pee Wee's rape conviction 

Out of prison, Pee Wee needed a way to make money so he turned to the only thing he knew: theft. However, it was another crime that sent Pee Wee back to prison. He raped a 12-year-old girl and was sentenced to 6 years in prison. He fled before his final sentencing but was eventually caught and locked up again, only being released in 1968. 

This escalation and change in his crimes marked a major change in Pee Wee's life. From here on out his crimes only become more intense and more reprehensible. 

7. Pee Wee's "coastal kills"

When Pee Wee was released from jail in 1968, he began to indulge in what he called "coastal kills". This is where he would pick up men and women hitchhiking and torture, rape, and kill them. Though the police were never able to verify the veracity of Pee Wee's claims about these crimes, if they are true then he destroyed more than 80 anonymous lives. 

8. Pee Wee's "serious murders" 

Pee Wee began to commit what he called "serious murders" in 1970, a natural, if horrific, escalation of his crimes. While visiting family in South Carolina, Pee Wee assaulted and then beat to death his own niece, 15-year-old Janice Kirby and her best friend 17-year-old Patricia Ann Alsbrook.  This was the first time he had murdered someone close to him with whom he had any sort of personal relationship. 

Pee Wee began to develop a reputation as man you couldn't cross without fear of losing your own life. In a particularly grim turn, he killed his neighbor Doreen Dempsey when she was months pregnant, along with her 2 year-old daughter. 

Eventually, Pee Wee has actually hired to kill someone. Suzanne Kipper Owens hired Pee Wee to murder her boyfriend. Pee Wee wasn't exactly a criminal mastermind and in his attempt to ensure no one knew he had killed the man in question, he wound up killing four more people. 

9. Walter Neeley's confession

It wasn't Pee Wee's own sloppiness or murderous thirst that caught him out in the end — it was the company he kept, something that was a problem for him from day one. In an agreement he made with the police, Walter Neeley, a friend and fellow criminal, told the police about two different murders he had witnessed Pee Wee commit. He also led police to property Pee Wee owned where the police found the bodies of eight men and women who had been reported as missing. That was the end of his spree, and Pee Wee was arrested for the last time. 

10. Sentencing, execution, and "The Final Truth" 

Pee Wee was found guilty of 8 total charges of murder and was sentenced to death. He would eventually die in the electric chair but not before one last crime, though this one was of a less literal nature. While he was on death row, Pee Wee decided that it was his chance to tell his story the way he saw it. Pee Wee dictated the story of his life to journalist Wilton Earle who composed a memoir entitled "The Final Truth". Ironically, most of the things Pee Wee claimed to have done in this book were later proven to be total lies. 


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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY with her two cats, Batman and Margo and usually  pint of ice cream, but never the same pint. You can find her writing here, there, and also on Twitter. 

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