1996: Billy Bailey, the last American hanged

On this date in 1996, Billy Bailey was hanged for murdering an elderly couple in Delaware.

Bailey was condemned in 1980, which was before Texas debuted the lethal injection trend that would sweep the nation; therefore, he was sentenced to hang. When Delaware switched to injection in 1986, Bailey had the choice between his original hempen-necktie sentence or the newfangled gurney.

Authorities wanted him to get with the times. Warden Robert Snyder, who would also serve as hangman, told the press, “Our gallows is pretty primitive here. We’ve made some improvement, but hopefully this will be the last hanging in Delaware.”

Billy Bailey wasn’t interested.

“I’m not a dog,” he said to one visitor. “I’m not going to let them put me to sleep.”

For all the worry that a state out of practice with its gallows technique would botch the job, Delaware carried it off without embarrassment.

Though Bailey’s pretty certain to be the last man hanged in the Blue Hen State — Delaware has gone and dismantled that primitive gallows — he is no lock to keep his place as the last hanged anywhere in the U.S.

Washington state, which hanged two people in the early 1990’s and did some consulting on the procedure for Delaware officials, still allows the condemned a choice between lethal injection and hanging. Executions there aren’t common — it’s been over eight years as of this writing — but they’re not unheard-of. Between the prospect of a lethal injection botch and the morbid appeal of notching milestone status, it’s only a matter of time before someone else opts to hang.

(New Hampshire, which is even more out of practice with the art, also still retains hanging as a backup option.)

Part of the Daily Double: Throwback Executions.

On this day..

11 thoughts on “1996: Billy Bailey, the last American hanged


    HANGING the rope can be used again and again.
    AS Pat Hingle AUTHORISED in Hang “EM” high 6 at a time.

    Then bury them in the prison grounds as happened in the uk.

    In A Lime pit.

  2. Hang them Six months after conviction having been on a diet of bread and water. YOU can Hang about 6 at a time as Pat Hingle authorises in Hang “EM” HIGH. SAVES time and money. THE ROPE CAN BE USED AGAIN AND AGAIN.

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  6. I worked on this case as a 21 year old college graduate. As I sit here and wait for my State to execute Robert Jackson this early am I think about Billy and the sorrow I felt when he was hanged. Yes, he was a murderer and yes the State paid for his upkeep however, who are we to sentence someone to death. Recently a young woman who killed her own child is keeping her mouth closed after being judged “not guily” by a jury who listened and refused to debate the evidence against her. She now waits to tell her story to the highest bidder and will most likely not work a day in her life. Fair, no; money talks and bs walks, yes.

  7. I have been caught with a small quantity or heroin I concealed inside of the batteries inside of a dildo. (thought they wouldn’t detect it, my bad)
    To my surprise, if the arresting officers take you into a room with no camera’s and think you are attractive. You can be offered what they called “The other alternative”.
    I had to have sex with 3 members of their security team. The only good thing I learned when I was a hooker is how to make a guy come real quick. As I had sex with them one at a time, the ones who I had sex with stood guard outside as I did what I had to do.
    What they do is make it look like you are being strip searched, while you are actually exchanging sex for freedom while in a secure room at the airport. When I finished off with number 3 who didn’t last too long at all, they then said you are free to go. I guess they filled out the paper work saying I was a suspect, and I was searched but nothing was found! I was then permitted to travel on through to my connecting flight to Thailand to meet up with my friend there. When I had to travel back through Singapore to get back home to Des Moines, I seen one of the officers patrolling one of the corridors at the airport and he walked past me and he acted like he didn’t recognise me. It was the scariest moment of my life. I thought they were going to plant something in my luggage and make mego through all of that again. Nothing happened. As soon as I departed Singapore I looked out of the window on the jet as we took off and said goodbye to travel to Asia ever again. I thought they would notice I was a lesbian and they would have executed me for that as well. But I guess they don’t have laws against that. I tried to look more butch than ever when I went through that airport in hopes the airport police there would not recognise me. I don’t know if they did or not. But when I got back to Iowa to my girl friend I told her I’d never touch another man again, even if I was drunk and high both. Since then, I still have nightmares about the experience but they’re occurrence’s are getting further apart as time passes thank god. All I can say is just never go through Singapore if you have to go anywhere. The police really take that death penalty law and use to to take advantage of women, even if you are a harmless lesbian or not.

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