February 21st, 2010 Headsman
On this date in 1951, Charlie Gifford was electrocuted in Florida’s Raiford Prison for murder.
The murder victim was popular young Florida legislator/war hero Charles Schuh, whose promising political career ended abruptly on April 24, 1950, when the 71-year-old Gifford strode into his St. Petersburg offices and shot him dead over some head-scratching private grievance relating to Schuh’s legal practice. (Schuh represented Gifford’s ex-wife in a divorce proceeding.)
The murdered legislator’s son, Charles E. Schuh, grew up into a political career of his own, eventually becoming mayor of St. Petersburg. Charles E. Schuh’s recent passing brought out this fascinating story by a former reporter who witnessed Gifford’s execution.
The electric chair was in the center, but the controls were behind a glass-enclosed area. I was repelled by the sight of “Old Sparky,” the electric chair. I was even more horrified to see that the executioner, a local electrician, wore a black hood reminiscent of the Inquisition. …
Today I am a decade older than Gifford was then, but to a 22-year-old reporter he seemed to be just a frail old man with a shaved head.
Also on this date
- 1862: Nathaniel Gordon, slave trader
- 1946: Cristino Garcia, Spanish Republican and French Resistance hero
- 1934: Augusto Cesar Sandino, national hero
- 1930: Eva Dugan, her head jerked clean off
- 1942: Mykhailo and Olena Teliha, Ukrainian artists
- 1803: Edward Marcus Despard, a patriot without a nation