1939: Joe Arridy, on Woodpecker Hill

Update: Embargoed as of this post’s publication, Joe Arridy’s growing ranks of supporters had submitted to Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter an application for a posthumous pardon. On January 7, 2011, Gov. Ritter granted that pardon — a fitting conclusion to a cinematically heart-rending story.

“Granting a posthumous pardon is an extraordinary remedy. But the tragic conviction of Mr. Arridy and his subsequent execution on Jan. 6, 1939, merit such relief based on the great likelihood that Mr. Arridy was, in fact, innocent of the crime for which he was executed, and his severe mental disability at the time of his trial and execution. Pardoning Mr. Arridy cannot undo this tragic event in Colorado history. It is in the interests of justice and simple decency, however, to restore his good name.”

-Gov. Bill Ritter

On this date in 1939, Joe Arridy “walked to his death with the faith of a child” (Los Angeles times, Jan. 7, 1939) up “Woodpecker Hill” — where the victims of Canon City, Colorado’s gas chamber (since retired) were buried.

Shortly before execution, Joe Arridy gives away the toy train he received from warden Roy Best to a fellow prisoner.

A young Syrian-American with the mental age of a six-year-old riding the rails during the Depression, Arridy was picked up for a teenage girl’s rape-murder in a literal lynch-mob environment: he was nearly pulled from his cell for summary punishment.

Instead, the good citizens let justice run its course to the same conclusion.

The damnable thing — well, the other damnable thing — is that we have about as much reason to believe Joe Arridy committed the crime as we do you or I.

He was linked to the murder by nothing but an evolving series of unreliable confessions fed by the sheriff to his suggestible prisoner (and, later, a single “matched” hair with a suspicious chain of custody; matching hair without DNA is still an unreliable forensic technique today). The real murderer was even in custody, and was executed for the same crime while Joe Arridy’s appeals ran their futile course.

“Believe me when I say that if he is gassed, it will take a long time for the state of Colorado to live down the disgrace,” Arridy’s appellate lawyer pleaded to a deaf court.

Robert Perske’s Deadly Innocence, about Joe Arridy.

Executed Today is honored to welcome Robert Perske, a pioneering pastor to the intellectually and developmentally disabled whose book Deadly Innocence helped pull the Arridy case out of obscurity.

This post is an edited version of Perske’s affidavit to the governor’s office in support of the pardon.

On March 28, 1992, Sociologist Richard Voorhees sent me a poem from an out-of-print book that described a warden weeping as he watched a man in a death row cell playing with a toy train before being walked to a gas chamber (“The Clinic” (.doc) by Margeurite Young in Moderate Fables, 1944).

“The man you kill tonight is six years old,
He has no idea why he dies,”
Yet he must die in the room the state has walled
Transparent to its glassy eyes.

I sent a copy of the poem to Watt Espy, Director of the Capital Punishment Archives, in Headland, AL. Espy researched and responded with information that tied the poem to the life and trials of Joe Arridy who at age 23 was executed on January 6, 1939.

During the next two years after receiving the poem, I traveled up and down the Eastern Slope of the Rocky Mountains from Cheyenne to Pueblo, and to Grand Junction on the Western Slope. News stories were discovered from the reading of old microfilm rolls in The Pueblo Chieftain, The Denver Post, The Rocky Mountain News (Denver), The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction) and Wyoming Tribune (Cheyenne). Archivists and historians were interviewed at The Regional History Division of Western Colorado (Grand Junction), Wyoming State Archives (Cheyenne), District Archives of the Pueblo Public Library, Local History Center of the Cañon City Public Library, and the Colorado State Archives (Denver).

Joe Arridy’s Earliest Years

Joe Arridy was born to non-English speaking Syrian immigrants in Pueblo, Colorado on April 29, 1915. He attended the first grade in Bessemer Elementary School. At the beginning of his second year, the principal called on the Arridy family and told them that their son could not learn and asked them to keep him at home. The parents reported that for the next four years, Joe stayed around the house. He was a passive but happy child. According to his parents he was the happiest when he was alone playing all by himself. His favorite pastime was making mud pies.

Intelligence Testing and Institutionalization

At age 10, Joe was committed to the Colorado State Home and Training School for Mental Defectives, in Grand Junction. He was administered the Binet-Simon Test. The results showed that he was unable to repeat four digits (4-3-7-9). When shown the color red, he said it was black and that green was blue. He usually spoke in incompete two or three word sentences. As the questions became harder to answer, he remained silent. The examiner listed him as “an imbecile with an IQ of 46.” Later his institutional records showed no critical incident reports. For the most part he was a shy and quiet loner.

Nine months later, Joe’s father missed his son. He asked for his son to be returned home. The request was granted. Upon his return, he tended to take lonely walks all over town. These walks continued for three years.

At age 14, the walks came to an end when a probation officer caught a gang of boys performing sexual acts on him. The officer wrote an angry letter to the court, labeling Joe as “one of the worst mental defective cases that I have ever seen.” The court ordered his immediate return to the institution in Grand Junction.

During the next seven years at the institution, his records show that he was incapable of working on the farm crews or sitting in classrooms. Therefore, he was given a “day activity,” working side by side with a kindly kitchen worker, “Mrs. Bowers.” The worker reported that Joe was only capable of “Tasks of not too long duration, can wash dishes, do mopping of floors, can do small chores and errands. He depends on others for leadership and suggestions.”

Railroad Boxcar Riding

At age 22, he and a few other inmates watched men riding on top of railroad boxcars that passed the institution. So together they wandered off the institution grounds and also jumped on boxcars. They took the 24-hour ride through the mountains to Pueblo. Later they took the trip back. Joe was last seen in Grand Junction on the evening of August 13, 1936. He was believed to have jumped onto a boxcar either that night or on the next morning.

After that, Arridy disappeared from sight until he walked up to the kitchen car of a railroad work gang on August 20, in the East Railroad Yards of Cheyenne, Wyoming, dirty and hungry.

Rape and Murder in Pueblo

On Saturday evening, August 15, 1936, slightly before or after midnight, Dorothy Drain, 15, and Barbara Drain, 12, were bludgeoned about their heads while sleeping together in the same bed, at 1536 Stone Avenue in Pueblo. Dorothy was raped and beaten to death. Barbara was near death, but survived. Later, she identified Frank Aguilar as the attacker at his trial. She was not present at Joe Arridy’s trial. She did not even identify Joe Arridy as a co-attacker.

Sheriff Gets a Confession from Arridy Even Though the Real Killer is Already in Custody

On August 26, 1936, Joe Arridy was arrested by two railroad detectives and turned over to Sheriff George Carroll. Carroll, like all law officers in all of the towns up and down Colorado’s Eastern Slope, was actively picking up suspects and interrogating them regarding the attacks on the Drain girls in Pueblo.

After an hour and a half of questioning, Carroll called a reporter and told him that he had just received a complete confession for the Pueblo crime from Arridy. He recited to at least one reporter a long series of wordy, complete sentences that Arridy purportedly uttered. According to Carroll, Arridy was the lone killer and he committed the crime with a club.

At first, when Pueblo Police Chief J. Arthur Grady received news of the confession, he was shocked. The real killer, Frank Aguilar, a former WPA worker who had been supervised by the Drain girls’ father, had already been arrested for the crime.

Aguilar had been arrested during the funeral of Dorothy Drain. The Pueblo police had even recovered the weapon used in the crime. It was the head of a hatchet with nicks that matched the wounds on the girls. The Pueblo police kept all this evidence in silence because Aguilar vehemently denied committing the crime.

Following that, Sheriff Carroll changed his story. After conducting another interrogation, he then reported to the press that a hatchet—not a club—was used in the crime. He also claimed that Arridy did not do the crime alone. According to Carroll, Arridy said he did it “with Frank.”

Sheriff Carroll was a famous but loquacious individual who was known to talk long and loud about being in the posse that finally caught up with and finished off the notorious Barker gang.

Now with his regular announcements to the press he remained at his long-worded best. Carroll had been so totally verbal in his interrogations of Arridy, nothing was written down on paper. Nor was any confession signed. Consequently the confessions and changes in them were dictated daily to reporters.

Later, in the trial of Arridy, Sheriff Carroll became the star of the case. He spoke in his heroic, over-wordy style. According to the press, he did not speak from a single note. He simply testified from memory.

Frank Aguilar is Quickly Convicted

Aguilar’s trial came quickly, starting on December 15, exactly four months after the crime. It ended seven days later. His executed came quickly, too: on August 15, 1937, just two days short of the anniversary of Dorothy Drain’s murder.

Aguilar Identified as Lone Murderer in an Identical Crime in the Same Neighborhood

After the death sentence, Aguilar was brought face to face with Mrs. R. O. McMurtree, 58, who identified Aguilar as the lone attacker in a similar crime that happened two weeks earlier and just three blocks away from the Drain crime. She and her aunt, Sally Crumply, 72, were sleeping in the same bed when Aguilar attacked. He beat them on the heads as he had done in the Drain home. Like Dorothy Drain, Sally Crumply was bludgeoned to death.

Sheriff Carroll Assumes Leadership in all Aspects of the Arridy Investigation

After announcing Arridy’s first confessions to reporters and Chief Grady, two Pueblo detectives sped through the night to Cheyenne. The next morning, they joined in an added interrogation with Carroll leading it. Then they drove back to Pueblo.

Later that day, Carroll drove Arridy to Pueblo. He was present at the Pueblo Police Station when Arridy and Augilar may have been brought together. He took leadership when Arridy was taken to the Drain home and the crime was reenacted. He was present at the prison in Cañon City when Aguilar gave a signed confession that marginally included Arridy’s initials in a lower left column. That confession was printed in its entirety in the Pueblo Chieftain but was withdrawn and was never heard in a court.

Sheriff Carroll Became Chief Presenter of Evidence Against Arridy

During the prosecutor’s evidentiary presentations, Sheriff Carroll took the stand five different times. The transcript shows how Carroll was allowed to launch forth as a riveting story teller. He testified that Arridy was in complete control of his thoughts, and speaking in clear sentences that described the colors on the walls in the bedroom and the colors of nightgowns that the girls wore, and even the colors of the dresses the girls would be wearing when they went to the Sunday church services.

The Joe Arridy that Carroll described was a far cry from the Arridy who often spoke in unfinished sentences and did not know who Franklin Delano Roosevelt was. Nor did he know what a hatchet was or that his own father was present in the courtroom.

The Defense Loses in a Sanity Hearing, and Eschews an Evidentiary Defense

The defense argued at a pre-trial sanity hearing that Arridy was “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity”. The question before the court: “Does Joe Arridy have the capacity to tell good from evil and right from wrong?” If not, he should be found to be insane and not guilty. Three psychiatrists testified that Arridy did not know right from wrong, but they hedged by saying that he was not insane. According to them, one needed to be normal first before ever being insane, and they claimed that Arridy had never been normal.

The jury deadlocked at six to six, but an hour later, voted that Arridy would have to go on trial for murder.

As strange as it may seem today, the defense attorney had conducted no investigation in the case. At the beginning of the trial he announced that he would not present an evidentiary defense and would only cross-examine witnesses for the prosecution.

He then requested that the judge set aside the earlier sanity trial verdict and that he be given permission to argue a sanity case one more time. He furthermore requested permission to make his opening argument only after the prosecution had completed with its evidentiary case. The judge agreed to all of these conditions.

The same three psychiatrists (joined by a fourth) gave the same testimony once again.

But Sheriff Carroll voiced his views unchallenged. After touting his 30 years of experience and claiming that he interrogated Arridy for “six or seven hours,” the prosecutor asked him, “Based on your experience [is] Joe Arridy capable of distinquishing right and wrong?” Carroll responded, “I think there is no doubt, whatever, but what he is”.

A verdict of “guilty” was rendered on April 17, 1937, and Arridy was sentenced to death.

On August 13, 1937, Frank Aguilar was executed, and on the same day, Sheriff Carroll and two railroad detectives received a $1000 reward for making the arrest of Joe Arridy in Cheyenne.

For a year and a half, a pro bono “Citizen Lawyer” Gail Ireland fought valiantly to save the life of Joe Arridy. During that period, Ireland managed to win at least six stays.

On January 6, 1939 at 6:15 p.m., the Colorado Supreme Court voted 4-3 to deny the last petition. Governor Teller Ammons called the warden at 6:30 p.m. and ordered that the execution be carried out.

The chaplain administered the Roman Catholic Church’s “Last Rites for a Child.” It called for the Chaplain to recite each phrase of “The Lord’s Prayer,” one at a time with Arridy repeating it, all the way to the “Amen.”

Joe Arridy’s rusty motorcycle plate served as his grave marker for 71 years, until it was replaced with a headstone reading Here Lies an Innocent Man

This volume by Perske addresses the criminal justice system’s (mis)handling of the developmentally disabled. He’s written a number of other books, fiction and nonfiction, humanizing this.

Robert Perske also graciously agreed to address a few additional questions that we had for him.

ET: How did you come to this case?

RP: It’s almost a magical thing to me. Back in 1991, I got a poem from a valued colleague of mine who is a professor, a sociologist. He was digging through some old books in Greenwich Village, and he found a poem about a warden weeping before the pellets were dropped and all of that, and how the warden cried, and how he complained about how this man playing with a toy train would die.

And I got ahold of it and went down to my buddy Watt Espy [of the Espy file -ed.], and he found it. He really dug for me, what a guy, and he found it and I headed for Pueblo and dug and dug and dug from 1991 to 1995.

What motivated me was that after coming out of World War II, I went to school and became a chaplain at an institution for mentally disabled people in Kansas. I worked my ass off to be a good pastor to them, and so when I found this much, I really started digging.

Did they lead him into the confession?

Oh, yes. He was arrested in the railyard by Sheriff George Carroll. And Carroll was a swashbuckler. He was a hero, and he was a mouthy sonofagun, and he pretty well set up the case.

As soon as he got the so-called confession, he [Carroll] didn’t call the police chief first — he called the press. He said he had the guy who did it.

But they already had the guy in Pueblo, Frank Aguilar.

Was there outright misconduct by the investigators here? Did they realize, or should they have, that they might be railroading someone?

Here’s the deal. People with so-called mental retardation were seen as nobodies in those days. They didn’t have community services, so they all went like Joe, to the institution.

In the year I was born, 1927, Oliver Wendell Holmes issued his ruling that all such people could be sterilized.

Carroll knew he had somebody like that in Joe. There was a lynch mob starting to form in Pueblo, because this head of the WPA was a good solid citizen, and when his daughters were hit, and one killed and raped, there was a lot of hiding of people.

I’ve known a lot of Joes. And he’s lovable, and he’s trusting, and he’s naive, and he’s concrete-thinking, so half of the things he says, he doesn’t really understand. But on the other hand, very dependable, and very lovable. Nobody in Pueblo saw that, but [Warden Roy] Best picked it up, and then the inmates in prison picked it up too.

In their hearts of hearts, yeah, they knew. But they figured he wasn’t worth anything. He was retarded, mentally defective was the word they used. They knew they had the real killer, but they go back and get Joe to amend the confession and now he was there “with Frank”.

If you’ve got a serious mental limitation and you’re facing a capital charge in the criminal justice system today, what’s going to happen to you?

In the year 2002, Atkins v. Virginia, they banned the death penalty in those cases. And they played around with the IQ number, but in some states they’re going farther than that because you have all kinds of other disabilities. I’d say by and large, except for Texas, people are looking at these people — not more kindly, but not looking at them as people who should be executed.

If we would have had that for Joe, he would not have been executed.

Can you give us a lay definition of developmental disability?

The most prominent one I’ve seen when I worked in the institution, and yet today when I work the streets and agencies and group homes and that sort of thing, is the inability to abstract from concrete things. For example, I’ve had guys say to me, I’d say, “why did you waive the right?” and they say, “you’ve got to waive it the right, you can’t waive it the wrong.”

Barry Fairchild, down in Arkansas — Barry thought that the reading of the rights was some kind of opening prayer.

These people survive on the basis of having abstract thinkers as their friends and protectors, so consequently guys like Richard LaPointe had cops as their friends, because they leaned on authority figures. And of course the police department are committed to secure the safety of the neighborhood, but then if there’s a terrible murder and somebody starts to blame them, they’re going to cooperate with that.

I’ve got one where, on a tape recorder, they’re saying, “if you tell us, we’ll all go home”. So that’s concrete thinking that my guys usually have.

Richard Lapointe is still in prison, not on death row. He has hydrocephalus, it’s called Dandy-Walker syndrome, so he’s a guy with all kinds of disabilities. He’s not athletic at all and gets dizzy when he stands up or stops suddenly, and yet they got him to confess to a highly athletic murder of a woman with multiple violent stab wounds and moving the body.

On this day..

9 thoughts on “1939: Joe Arridy, on Woodpecker Hill

  1. Not much has changed in America since Arridy,s MURDER by the forces of so called Justice. Where the lies of Jail house snitches are produced as evidence. DNA evidence is ignored after post conviction. Corrupt prosecutors when shown to be patently corrupt are left alone to prosecute more unfortunate victims. Inconvenient facts are hidden from the defence, witnesses who can provide an alibi for the accused are blatantly ignored or threatened. . Junk science is proclaimed as cutting edge science and inconvenient evidence is lost or accidentally destroyed for the benefit of the prosecution. Judges are aware that their contentious decisions and sentences in court will be brought up by a rival in the next election which will possibly make him look for another job. So the cycle continues with harsher sentences, children charged as adults, the mentally challenged treated as normal and the obvious faults whitewashed over

    • David, you are correct. In a way, things have not really changed that much. Autistic people like me were put into developmental centers / state hospitals by the state or their parents were convinced to do so by the state. I was born in the mid 1970s and had I been born 20 years before that, I probably would have been institutionalized in the state hospital. So nowadays, thank goodness those places are gone and closed down, but the ultimate goal of society as far as Autistic people go has always been “as long as you are out of our way”… The unemployment rate for Classic Autism and even much more higher functioning Asperger Syndrome is amazingly 80-85%, from many different studies. 35% of Autistic people go to university (comparatively speaking, 32% of neurotypical normal people go to college) and graduate (I have a BA degree in Geography), but even with a college degree, the unemployment rate is still 80%-85%. Most people I know with Autistic Spectrum Disorder are unemployed. I guess I can’t blame anyone for not hiring me, having an emotional / social age of a 4 to 5 year old, and having an attention span of 25 minutes and not being able to work without being distracted or drive a car for more than 25 minutes, certainly does not help….I have ADHD too. You could probably go into any first grade class or kindergarten and most 5 or 6 year olds would have way better attention spans than me. I lack in social skills some nonautistic 4 year olds even have, and we’re talking about young children who are not much bigger than babies or preschoolers, little boys in the Deep South who still wear dressy overalls like longalls and T strap Mary Jane type buckle shoes.

      In the end, though, most people I know with Autism or even Asperger Syndrome end up staying at home with their parents eternally because we’re either unemployable and no one will hire us, or we are afraid of going out in public and being harassed or treated like garbage. People are even more understanding of those with Down Syndrome more. By the way, the unemployment rate for Down Syndrome is 21%, still high, but 64 points unaccounted for in the difference between Autism and Down Syndrome. The average life expectancy for DS is 63 years old. For Autism it is only 54 years old. Back to what I was saying, most people with Autism Spectrum Disorder hardly even go out. So now instead of being shut in and warehoused in a state hospital or developmental center, we are now warehoused at our parents’ homes?? How is that much in the way of improvement? A few people with Autism Spectrum Disorder even end up homeless on the street. You never see that with Down Syndrome.

      In a way, I suppose I’m lucky in the aspect that I am outgoing. And until COVID 19 pandemic happened, I worked with preschoolers unpaid every week for 16 years, as an assistant volunteer / co-host. At Preschooler Storytime at my local library. Every Thursday or Friday (we had Storytime on Fridays originally, then it was moved to Thursday) I worked with the 3 to 5 year olds alongside my now retiring 63 year old children’s librarian friend. We read books to the kids, led them singing and dancing many different children’s songs and thousands of oldies songs from the 1950s to the 1980s. It did help that I was very knowledgeable about oldies music. I also taught the preschoolers Geography awareness by using baseball caps from different cities and towns and airports that had the city seal or logo or the airport logo. We even had sock hops in the library auditorium for holidays (Easter, Halloween, Christmas) and I played music for 1 1/2 hours usually, which is longer than Dick Clark did American Bandstand in terms of time constraints. I definitely positively impacted thousands of preschoolers’ lives and maybe even tens of thousands of young children’s lives, but what do I have to show for it? Yes, I got involved with the community and helped others, but where am I? Still living with my parents! And the COVID 19 situation means I can’t do anything anymore (the rules in my state are pretty strict, on the West Coast) except go to my county park to walk. I’m losing my mind.

      One more thing, most prosecutors don’t really care if someone is guilty or innocent, it’s all just numbers to them. Their job is to prove that someone is guilty, just like the defense attorney’s job is to prove the accused is innocent, no matter how preposterous things might seem. Innocent people do go to prison, and sometimes DAs adamantly believe the person they prosecuted is guilty – until DNA evidence clears them up and finds the actual real criminal or killer. Look up Kirk Bloodsworth, he was exonerated after 9 years in prison, 2 of them on death row right below Maryland’s gas chamber. They did eventually find the real killer of the 9 year old girl Bloodsworth was accused of killing, through a DNA match. His last name was Ruffner. Ironically the real killer knew Bloodsworth because he was in the same prison as him (he was in prison for an unrelated rape). He even spotted weights (weightlifted) with Bloodsworth. My point is, to a prosecutor, convictions are all just numbers. Their ultimate goal is to see someone guilty even if they aren’t. It’s like the cop that has a quota to fill as far as writing tickets. If you’ve been writing too few tickets, you probably stopped by at the donut shop a little too often??

      And Sheriff Carroll was a real SOB who railroaded poor little Joe Arridy. He should have accused a real 5 year old of some crime they didn’t commit.

      – Codi Preston D.

  2. I am 42 years old and I have higher functioning Classic Autism (which is a developmental disability). I have a BA degree in Geography; however, my emotional / social age is like a 4-5 year old at the very best. Remember that intelligence is not the same as emotional / social age and that often Autistic people can be very smart, but they can also be far behind emotionally and socially. I still watch Care Bears, Maurice Sendak’s Little Bear, Pink Panther cartoons, and I was watching Teletubbies in college and my mom remembers me really being a Barney fan at the age of 17 in high school. Which is not usually an age most parents fondly remember their children liking Barney the dinosaur.

    That being said, in some ways, I’m like Joe Arridy too. I have this innocence and naiveness and yes, I have been taken advantage of, and yes, I have been bullied around by plenty of people. I’m also 100% certain that even the bullies, if I died tomorrow, would say that I was a very sweet and kind child who never retaliated or fought back. Sometimes I’ve been too nice to people and have actually gotten in trouble when people took my intentions for something else different. After reading the case of Joe Arridy, it’s very clear that he was totally innocent of anything, and an adult who had an IQ of a 6 year old was murdered here, in short. I really hate to say this, but I really hope that Sheriff Carroll and Governor Teller Ammons are burning in Hell right now, because they knew PERFECTLY WELL that Arridy was NOT guilty of murder, but they proceeded to have him executed anyway. To me, that is more despicable than, say, Charles Manson or Ted Bundy. I am trying hard not to be judgmental, but to slowly kill people is disgusting. I usually generally don’t hold grudges, I’m very forgiving actually, like some 4 year olds, but what they did is a little too much. I’m not even sure if I believe that a loving God could create a Hell for people, but if there is one, those two belong in there. If you are going to kill someone, get it over with quickly; don’t slowly torture the person to death. I also despise bullies who slowly drive their victims insane through their bullying and make them commit suicide. It would be more humane to just shoot them. I have also read that people in Canon City, Colorado, have seen a glow of light on top of Joe Arridy’s grave, because he was like a child, certainly mentally and certainly emotionally and socially. Perhaps there will be one on my grave too when I am deceased. I have been an assistant volunteer / co-host of Preschooler Storytime for 3-5 year olds at my local library for the past 15 YEARS. I do different children’s songs with the kids, and different oldies songs from the 1950s to the 1980s – one of my savant skills is that I am very knowledgeable in the field of oldies music – and we have probably done hundreds, quite possibly thousands of different oldies songs over the past 15 years. I actually want to get buried in some cemetery, somewhere, with a bunch of preschoolers / young children, because that’s where I think I will be safe. Maybe I can run around with the kids around the cemetery as a spirit and have joyful glee.

    I feel really bad for Joe Arridy and I feel bad for his mom Mary and his siblings and aunt that they had to see this happen to their innocent child or nephew or brother. If this isn’t a good enough reason to get rid of the death penalty, I don’t know what is a good reason. I have never been for the death penalty to begin with, as soon as I learned what the death penalty was, which was when I was chronologically 8 years old. I have had many friends who have been toddlers and preschoolers over the years and firmly believe that none of them would be in favor of the death penalty. We teach our children how to hold grudges and how to not forgive, and to be pro-death penalty. Usually kids don’t hold grudges till they are 8 or 9 years old. I remember someone commenting about Casey Anthony and her murdered daughter Caylee that “I know it sounds sick, but I fully know very well that if 2 year old Caylee was alive, she would hug her mother and totally forgive her of what she did to her”. Damn right. If the death penalty is something to be so proud of, then we should be airing it on the TV. If it is something we should be proud of, our children should see it. Put it on PBS right after Sesame Street or some other children’s TV show, and let everyone see a live execution. At least one of the reasons we don’t do that is because we are afraid that our children will protest and say “why are we doing this? Why do we need to execute people”. And we are afraid of being judged by our own children. It’s very clear that this is true. I refuse to “grow up” if it means that I need to hold revenge feelings or that I need to be for the death penalty. In any case, it doesn’t matter anyway because I can’t grow up, that I am stuck like a 4-5 year old emotionally and socially. I think that I have more rights to act like a 4-5 year old than, say, one of those adult babies who have a diaper fetish. It’s great that they can go and (as they say) “actively set aside their maturity and act like a child”. The majority of these people can act like an adult when they need to and work in their job. That’s great that they can do that, because I can’t even act like an adult even when I want to. Working with me is like a nightmare because I am disruptive and I have a very poor, poor attention span (I can’t concentrate more than 20-30 minutes, and that includes driving….I have a driver’s license, but virtually I don’t drive because of my attention span), and poor social skills. It would be more reasonable, if child labor was legal, to hire a (nonautistic) 7 year old to be a secretary, than someone like me, because they would have a better attention span than me. At any rate, if “adult babies” can wear diapers and onesies and baby clothes, I don’t see why on Earth that I can’t wear overalls or wear “longalls”. I have 1000 times more reasons because I actually do act like a 4 year old – and can’t help myself. For those of you who don’t know what a longall is, they are very common only in the Deep South like Alabama and South Carolina. Different than overalls; there are no suspenders or hooks unlike Oshkosh B’Gosh for instance. Rather, it is an outfit that looks similar to a jumper that buttons on the shoulder. It usually is made of gingham, but sometimes seersucker, corduroy, or (also common) cotton / polyester. Often times, the longall (short longalls are called jon jons) has smocking on the front, and the bib is much higher than a standard overall, as it goes around the child’s neck. Often worn with peter pan collar shirts, kneesocks, and saddle shoes, although there are quite a lot of little boys who wear them with T-strap Mary Jane shoes (or English sandals – the double buckle T-strap shoes). It is definitely more upscale and more fancy than overalls. But I see no problem in dressing like this if I want to, since I am indeed emotionally and socially 4 1/2 years old, and I suspect in some ways mentally, I may be a little like that as well. Of course, with my Autism, that isn’t unusual. A lot of people with Autism aren’t understood because people can’t reconcile how they could be so brilliant on one hand, and yet be so far behind in other ways. That applies to me too. I’m very brilliant at locational Geography and oldies music, but in some other areas, like emotional and social age, and even things like tieing shoelaces (I still have no idea how to tie shoelaces and wear loafers; although if I wore longalls, I probably would wear T-strap Mary Jane shoes), blowing my nose, or skipping, I cannot do. And I don’t pick up on social cues either. If you aren’t interested in what I am saying, I can’t tell that by looking at your facial expressions. A normal nonautistic 3 year old would even decipher that. Most people who know me well and have been spent a reasonable amount of time would say I am like a 4-5 year old emotionally and socially, and so does my psychiatrist (I see him because of the Autism and the medication I take).

    But, to summarize, they knew perfectly well that Joe Arridy wasn’t guilty of this, and they had him executed anyway. I realize that all the prisoners realized this too – even the ones that were guilty of murder – and the warden knew this as well, and they well knew that a 6 year old “adult-child” was going to die. I wonder if Warden Best, since he was against this and cried when he got executed, could have defied the orders of the court or the governor on the grounds that the prisoner was indeed not guilty as it was very clearly obvious. And even if he was guilty (which he was not), his IQ should have been a reason to bar his execution in itself, as his IQ was 46 which is equal to a 6 year old. Nowadays, in the USA, you can’t even be executed if you have an IQ less than 70. Because at that point you are intellectually disabled. Although intellectually disabled meanings vary. Also, my IQ is probably higher than 100, but the thing is maturity wise, I’m less than a 5 year old. I was called the R-word by literally everyone in the residence dorm apartments at my university. I have a friend who is 54 years old who is mildly intellectually disabled and is perhaps like a 10 year old, yet she can hold down a job at FedEx Kinko’s and the high school, and my parents have met her (I knew since I was in high school as she helped out in the special ed department of my high school and still does), and she may be like a 10 year old maturity wise, but my parents think she is more mature than me – a lot more. My dad said 3 times over the past 3 months that my 6 year old nephew is actually more mature than me. And even people with higher functioning Asperger Syndrome seem to think that if I am less than a 6 year old. One of my math teachers from community college who has known me for 24 years thinks I’m like a 3 year old or even 2 year old. I still have this egocentricity, not that I am selfish, but self centered, as in things go back to me. Egocentricity is not necessarily selfish because a 5 year old who blames himself for his parents’ divorce is egocentric because he thinks he is responsible for everything, but that is far from being selfish, and I know children who are 4 that even give to charities. But egocentric in my case in that even when I had Finite Math with this instructor years ago, I would stand up and block everyone’s view of the blackboard, writing down all his notes. I didn’t realize there were people behind me wanting to see the blackboard. Or that there were 6 people in front of me wanting to ask a question, standing in line, before me.

    Also, not surprisingly, most of my friends are young children or adults over age 60. Most people in their 20s and 30s don’t accept my Autism and they just make fun of me and bully me. And even among my friends who are young children, I feel that their parents “infantilize” me, I suppose that is okay in my case, but if I get invited to a child friend’s house, it’s like a 5 year old inviting another 5 year old friend. I should be the parent’s friend because they are closer in age to me, but instead, it seems that the child is my primary friend and the parent is a secondary friend – only a friend because of my primary friend – only because they are the mom or dad of my friend.

    Take care,
    Codi Preston D. from California (really wanting to move to South Carolina)

  3. Pity is Sheriff Carroll got away with murder. I wonder if there are any descendants of this murderer and I wonder what their thoughts are about him. They probably think he was a good man who is now being wronged.

    Shame too that he is still not alive, he could be shoved into a gas chamber and murdered just like he murdered this poor innocent child

    • If Joe Arridy has ‘here lies an innocent man’ on his grave, then Sheriff Carroll should have ‘here lies a guilty man’ on his.

      • Let’s not forget that not only Sheriff Carroll was guilty of this, but also Governor Teller Ammons. He too knew that an innocent child – adult was going to be executed in the gas chamber and didn’t do anything to commute his sentence in the very least, although he should have had the courts overturn his conviction as he (Joe Ariddy) wasn’t guilty in the frickin’ first place. I can’t imagine what was going through poor Joe Arridy’s head when he was being gassed in the chamber. Or maybe he thought he was going to a better place. Maybe he did, if you are Christian (I am), he went to Heaven. I’m not sure if I can say the same things about those 2 cowards and liars that were okay with him being executed for some crime he didn’t even commit. I totally do not like people who take advantage of others who are developmentally disabled. I have higher functioning Classic Autism and I act like a 4-5 year old emotionally and socially, and I’ve been bullied all my life, it seems. I have a friend who has a 5 year old son with the same level of Autism that I have, in North Carolina. I worry about him actually because based on my experiences and what I have seen other people with Autism go through, I can almost guarantee that in high school and college (if he goes to college), he will get bullied and get called the R name all the time, or even kicked around. People are more understanding and tolerant of criminals (even felons) than of developmentally disabled people, including Down Syndrome, and Autism. Although people are kinder to those with Down Syndrome because you can tell that someone has Down Syndrome, versus with Autism, because Autism is an “invisible disability”. At age 42, I still get bullied, especially on the internet, often by the “liberal” socialists in Oregon, especially in the Portland and Astoria area. I don’t know why they are always from that area. For being “liberals”, they sure aren’t understanding of disabilities at all. They aren’t very tolerant of eccentricities or people having Autism. I want to move to South Carolina. I live in the West Coast, thankfully not in Oregon though. Take care – Codi Preston D.

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