James Latham and George York

James Latham and George York

James Douglas Latham and George Ronald York, from Jackonsville, Florida, were 19 and 18 respectively when they escaped the US Army disciplinary barracks at Fort Hood, Texas. They had been serving terms for theft and being AWOL, but that was nothing compared to the 18-day orgy of murder they embarked upon following their break-out.

When arrested, both had revolvers. The handle of one had eight notches in it – one for every victim. However, one victim, Edward Guidroz, had survived his bludgeoning, and lived to tell all.

The soldiers’ spree of shootings, beatings, sexual assault and robbery stretched from Florida to Colorado in May to June, 1961, but it was the Kansas authorities who obtained custody of the youths for trial. They were found guilty of the robbery-shooting of Otto Ziegler, 62. He had stopped at a Kansas roadside to help the pair who were having trouble with a stolen car.

Latham and York’s other murder victims were friends Patricia Ann Hewitt and Althea Ottavio, both robbed and killed in Georgia after an $885 win at the dog track; John Whittaker, 71, shot and robbed of his car in Tennessee; motorist Albert Reed, 58, of Illinois, who was also shot and robbed; service station manager Martin Drenovac, bludgeoned to death in Illinois, and hotel maid Rachel Moyer, 18, who was shot and sexually abused in Colorado.

The two youths admitted their crimes when questioned, laughing and joking as they recounted their trail of death. They blamed their troubles in the army on the fact that they had been in a mixed-race unit.

But the smiles were wiped off their faces when they went to the gallows at Lansing Prison, Kansas.

Their executions on Tuesday, June 22nd, 1965, were the last in Kansas. Furthermore, they were the only killers executed by hanging in the US for almost the next three decades.

Allan Dodd would be the next to be sent to the gallows. In 1993 he was executed for the killing of three boys. He was hanged on Tuesday, January 5th, 1993, at Washington State Penitentiary, Walla Walla.

As Latham and York were transported to Death Row, they were quoted as saying: “We killed together, so we die together.”