Richard Speck

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On December 6th, 1941 the world welcomed Richard Benjamin Speck, who would become a well-known mass murderer. Speck, having a rather rough childhood, had an extensive criminal background before committing the unspeakable murders that made him famous. After being found guilty, Speck spent his remaining days in Chicago’s Stateville Penitentiary. One can look at Richard’s personal history, crime and criminal history to try and pin him to one criminological theory, when in reality, none will really fit him to a “T”. He was a psychopath who was in great need of psychological help, among other things. In Kirkwood, Illinois, Benjamin and Mary Speck became the proud parents to a baby boy, named Richard Benjamin Speck. Richard was the seventh of eight children, which was a financial hardship for his mother and father. Richard’s mother, a deeply religious woman, ran her household in the same mannerism as her dedication to religion. She prohibited any use of alcohol and tobacco. In one instance, she greatly chastised Benjamin at a church picnic for having a single beer. To provide for his family, Benjamin would pick up extra hours whenever he could at any of the plethora of jobs he held. Richard’s father had an amazing work ethic, being a farmhand, a logger, a packer and laying roof tiles. Whenever he had a spare moment, Richard’s father would take him on fishing outings where they would spend time together uninterrupted by anything or anyone. Their close relationship was brought to a halt when his father passed away of a heart attack at age 53. This devastated six year old Richard. His life as he knew it would be forever changed. A few years after the death of her husband, Mary Speck fell in love with Carl Lindberg, a traveling insurance salesman. Carl was the complete opposite of Benjamin Speck, being an alcoholic with a criminal record that expanded over 25 years which included arrests for drunk driving and forgery. After marrying, Richard’s name was changed to Richard Franklin Lindberg before Mary and Carl Lindberg moved to Santo, Texas, leaving Richard, and his younger sister Carolyn with their older sister in Monmouth, Illinois to finish their year of school. During the last year of schooling in Monmouth, Richard’s classmates noticed drastic changes in his behavior. He began whining, eating crayons and displaying regressive behaviors in order to receive more attention from his teachers due to the lack of attention from his mother. After living in Santo for one year with his reformed family and completing third grade, Speck and his younger sister were uprooted and forced to move to Dallas, where the family would cycle through poor houses and neighborhoods. Thus began the downward spiral of Richard’s life. Richard’s new life in Texas with his mother, sister and stepfather was less than satisfactory due to the frequent physical and mental abuse of his often drunk stepfather. Richard struggled with schooling from the fourth grade on, having to repeat the eighth grade because he refused to give a speech in front of his classmates due to his lifelong fear of people staring at him. In the fall 1957, Richard entered high school but failed every subject. He did not return for the following semester and dropped out of high school just before he turned 16. His poor academics could be blamed on his acquired taste for alcohol, which had started at the age of 12. By the time he was 15 and in the ninth grade, Richard was getting drunk almost every day, following in the footsteps of his alcoholic, criminal stepfather. At the age of 19 Richard met Shirley Annette Malone at the Texas State fair. After three weeks of exclusive dating, Shirley became pregnant with his first and only child. Three months later, on January 19th, 1962 the two were married. After the marriage, Richard stopped going by his alias of Richard Franklin Lindberg and began using the name Richard Franklin Speck. On July 5th, 1962 Richard became the father to a...
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