Richard Speck’s whole life seems to have set him up for murder.
Speck was born in 1941 the seventh of eight children, and his life was marred by crime and disorder. After his father died, his mother remarried a peg-legged drunk who was emotionally abusive and introduced his young step-son to alcohol. Speck was an alcoholic by 15 and was arrested dozens of times for petty crimes.
At 19, he tattooed “Born to Raise Hell” on his forearm, an incredibly foreboding choice that would ultimately become infamous. In 1963, his illegal activities escalated to forgery and burglary, but after he served 16 months in prison, he was paroled. Just one week later, he attacked a woman with a knife, and although he was sentenced to another 16 months in jail, he was released six months later due to an error.
He continued with a string of burglaries and stabbing incidents until July 13, 1966.
That day, he started a drunken reign of terror in Chicago that began with the rape of Ella Mae Hooper.
Hooper and Speck frequented the same bars. Speck took her to his room and sexually assaulted her one night. Then he stole her handgun before doing some more drinking. Dressed all in black and as he left, he pocketed the handgun and a switchblade.
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