William Bailey had 22 brothers and sisters, and the whole family used to fend off starvation by stealing from vegetable gardens. In 1979, at the age of 32, he was doing his latest of several prison terms for robbery. Things seemed to be looking up when he was assigned to a prison work release programme. But he soon learned that the Delaware authorities had classified him as a “habitual criminal,” meaning that he should be kept in prison for the rest of his life.

Bailey escaped while out on work release and made his way to Cheswold, Delaware, where one of his sisters now lived, obtaining a .32 pistol along the way. He then hatched a scheme to flee beyond the borders of Delaware but found that he needed money to do so.

He went to a nearby off licence and robbed it at gunpoint, then to a farmhouse occupied by an elderly couple named Gilbert and Clara Lambertson, aged 79 and 72. The attraction for Bailey was the pickup truck in their driveway. He forced his way into the house and demanded the keys to the truck. Then he shot the old couple dead.

Eventually caught and tried, he was sentenced to death in 1980 and was hanged on Thursday, January 25th, 1996 – to date the last man executed by hanging in the USA.