Rainey Bethea
American criminal
Rainey Bethea
Rainey Bethea was the last person to be publicly executed in the United States. Bethea, who was a black man, confessed to the rape and murder of a 70-year-old white woman named Lischia Edwards, and after being convicted of her rape, he was publicly hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky. Mistakes in performing the hanging and the surrounding media circus contributed to the end of public executions in the United States.
Biography
Rainey Bethea's personal information overview.
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News
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Sunday marks the 75th anniversary of the nation's last public hanging - WAFB.com
Google News - over 5 years
In 1936, Rainey Bethea climbed into a second-story window of 70-year-old Lischia Edwards's house, raping and strangling her. For committing rape, he was hung on August 14, 1936 in front of a crowd of 20000 people. Florence Thompson was sheriff at the
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1936 Owensboro hanging last of its kind in U.S. - Evansville Courier & Press
Google News - over 5 years
Thousands of people attended the hanging of Rainey Bethea in Owensboro on this date in 1936, and I'm sure Henderson County was well represented. Bethea, a young black man, had been convicted of raping, strangling and robbing wealthy 70-year-old Elza
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20-tysięczny piknik na publicznej egzekucji - Gazeta.pl
Google News - over 5 years
AP Rainey Bethea urodził się około 1909 roku. Niewiele wiadomo o jego dzieciństwie i młodości. Gdy miał 10 lat osierociła go matka. Gdy miał 17 lat zmarł mu ojciec. Więcej wiadomości o nim przetrwało od momentu, gdy w 1933 roku przyjechał Owensboro w
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75th anniversary recalls 'ghoulish' scene of last public hanging in U.S. - Winston-Salem Journal
Google News - over 5 years
14, 1936, file photo, attendants adjust a hood over Rainey Bethea's head just before his public hanging in Owensboro, Ky. Credit: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS By: JournalNow Staff The Associated Press Bob Howe points to an overgrown, muddy patch of land in a
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BC-AP Newsfeatures Digest - Victoria Advocate
Google News - over 5 years
The grave is unmarked, like other places associated with Rainey Bethea's hanging on Aug. 14, 1936. As the 75th anniversary of America's last public execution approaches, it is something some would like history to remember differently
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Video of a Lethal Injection Reopens Questions on the Privacy of Executions - New York Times
Google News - over 5 years
The nation's last public hanging was the execution of Rainey Bethea in 1936 in Owensboro, Ky. A crowd estimated at 20000 people gathered to watch. The camera recorded his last words — “I'm sorry for everyone I've hurt” — and his eyes blinking as the
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VIDEO: France's Last Public Beheading - HyperVocal
Google News - almost 6 years
... swiftly rolls the body into a containment unit. If you can, watch this piece of history: FYI: The last public execution in the United States took place on August 14, 1936 in Kentucky. Rainey Bethea was hanged in Owensboro, Ky., for rape and murder
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Sounds of the Georgia Death Chamber Will Be Heard on Public Radio
NYTimes - almost 16 years
''This is a recording of the execution of Ivon Ray Stanley, EF103603. July the 12th, 1984.'' So begins the official audio record of one of 23 electrocutions that were carried out in Georgia from 1983 to 1998, all of which were tape-recorded by prison staff, and excerpts of which will be broadcast for the first time nationally today on public radio.
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Rainey Bethea
    TWENTIES
  • 1936
    Age 26
    On June 25, 1936, officers returned Bethea to Owensboro for the trial which took place that same day.
    More Details Hide Details Bethea was unhelpful to his state-appointed attorneys, lead defense attorney and early anti-death penalty advocate William W. "Bill" Kirtley, William L. Wilson, Carroll Byron, and C. W. Wells Jr. He said that a Clyde Maddox would provide an alibi, but Maddox claimed he did not even know Bethea. In the end, they subpoenaed four witnesses: Maddox, Ladd Moorman, Willie Johnson (whom Bethea had implicated as an accomplice in his second confession), and Allen McDaniel. Only the first three were served because the sheriff's office could not find a person named Allen McDaniel. On the night before the trial, Bethea announced to his lawyers that he wanted to plead guilty, and he did so the next day at the start of the trial. The prosecutor, who was asking for the death penalty, still presented the state's case to the jury since the jury would decide the sentence. The first twelve of 111 people called for jury duty were selected.
    On June 12, 1936, Bethea made a third confession and told the captain of the guards where he had hidden the jewelry.
    More Details Hide Details Owensboro police searched a barn in Owensboro and found the jewelry, where Bethea said he had left it. Under Kentucky law, the grand jury could not convene until June 22, and the prosecutor decided to charge Bethea solely with rape. The reason was, under the statutes then in force, if a punishment of death was given for murder and robbery, it was to be carried out by electrocution at the state penitentiary in Eddyville; however, rape could be punished by public hanging in the county seat where the crime occurred. To avoid a potential legal dilemma as to whether Bethea would be hanged or electrocuted, the prosecutor elected to charge Bethea only with the crime of rape. Bethea was never charged with the remaining crimes of theft, robbery, burglary, or murder. After one hour and forty minutes, the grand jury returned an indictment, charging Bethea with rape.
    During the early morning of June 7, 1936, Bethea gained access to the home of Lischia Edwards at 322 East Fifth Street by climbing onto the roof of an outbuilding next door.
    More Details Hide Details From there, he jumped onto the roof of the servant's quarters of Emmett Wells' house, and then walked down a wooden walkway. He climbed over the kitchen roof to Edwards' bedroom window. After removing a screen from her window, he entered the room, waking her. Bethea then choked Edwards and violently raped her. After she was unconscious, he searched for valuables and stole several of her rings. In the process, he removed his own black celluloid prison ring, but failed to retrieve it. He left the bedroom and hid the stolen jewels in a barn not far from the house. The crime was discovered late that morning after the Smith family, who lived downstairs, noticed they had not heard Edwards stirring in her room. They feared she might have been ill and knocked on the door of her room, attempting to rouse her. They found the door locked with a skeleton key still inside the lock from the inside, which prevented another key from being placed in the lock from the outside. They contacted a neighbor, Robert Richardson, hoping he could help, and he managed to knock the key free, but another skeleton key would not unlock the door. Smith then obtained a ladder and climbed into the room through the transom over the door, discovering Edwards was dead.
    He was unable to pay the $100 fine and remained incarcerated in the Daviess County Jail until April 18, 1936.
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  • 1935
    Age 25
    He was paroled on December 1, 1935.
    More Details Hide Details On returning to Owensboro, he continued to work as a laborer and was paid about $7.00 per week. Less than a month later, he was arrested again, this time for house breaking. On January 6, 1936, this charge was amended to drunk and disorderly.
    He arrived there on June 1, 1935.
    More Details Hide Details His physical showed him to be tall and to weigh.
    His first brush with the law was in 1935, when he was charged with breach of the peace, for which he was fined $20, then in April of the same year, he was caught stealing two purses from the Vogue Beauty Shop.
    More Details Hide Details Since the value of the purses exceeded $25, he was convicted of a felony, grand larceny, and sentenced to a year in the Kentucky State Penitentiary at Eddyville.
  • 1933
    Age 23
    Little is known of his time before he arrived in Owensboro in 1933.
    More Details Hide Details He worked for the Rutherford family and lived in their basement for about a year. He then moved to a cabin behind the house of Emmett Wells. He worked as a laborer and rented a room from Mrs. Charles Brown. He also attended a Baptist church.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1919
    Age 9
    Born in Roanoke, Virginia, Bethea was an African-American orphaned after the death of his mother in 1919 and his father in 1926.
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  • 1909
    Born
    Born in 1909.
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