1570: Hegumen Kornily of the Pskov-Pechery Monastery 1799: Heshen forced to commit suicide

1930: Eva Dugan, her head jerked clean off

February 21st, 2011 Headsman

On this date in 1930, Eva Dugan was badly hanged.

A former Alaskan cabaret performer, Dugan relocated to warmer climes, took a job keeping house for a to New York.

A mysterious teenage accessory, “Jack”, was never found. Eva was picked up and extradited after the missing rancher’s remains turned up in a shallow grave.

The grizzled former frontierswoman — she followed the Klondike gold rush in her youth — took her fate nonchalantly.

“Wal, I’ll die with my boots on, an’ in full health,” she scolded her jurors. “An’ that’s more’n most of you old coots’ll be able to boast on.”

Eva Dugan’s health may have been full — though she bid unsuccessfully for clemency claiming mental illness — but her body was halved.

At 5 a.m. this date, wearing a homemade silk shroud, a composed Dugan mounted the gallows at the state prison in Florence.

Her death was instantaneous, for the rope, when it snapped at the end of the drop, severed her head from her body.

Five witnesses, two women, fainted. Altogether there were five women in the chamber at the time of the execution. It was the first time in the history of Arizona that an execution was witnessed by women.

Thanks in part to this ghastly scene, Arizona in 1934 replaced the gallows with the western states’ hot new killing technology, the gas chamber … leaving Dugan the last female client of that state’s hangman.

(Another woman, Ruth Judd, narrowly missed swiping Dugan’s distinction; Judd’s hanging sentence was commuted for insanity just days short of her scheduled 1933 hanging.)

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Arizona,Botched Executions,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Hanged,History,Milestones,Murder,Pelf,USA,Women

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30 thoughts on “1930: Eva Dugan, her head jerked clean off”

  1. Nan Garman says:

    Your first paragraph seems to be missing a line or two.

  2. kob says:

    I was cleaning out a barn in Massachusetts and came across this image of Eva Dugan (framed, looks like original photos): https://i.imgur.com/lwbmhvR.jpg

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  4. RIP says:

    Just finished watching her story on cable TV – ID. Interesting story and I’m sure a lot was ad-libbed due to the time past. For Tashua Dugan, my prayers and thoughts are with this woman based on what we know today. God will be the final decision maker on her soul. As for the others throwing stones…just remember what Jesus said, in John 8:7, viz. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
    May she rest in peace!

  5. Mick says:

    Afterlife aside there are enough examples on this site alone to make the case that knowing that you are solely responsible for taking human life and quite often several human lives as an executioner does something to you. I have counted at least four or five who themselves have ended up on the gallows or the block and I have only looked at a couple of months.

    Whether or not as a Christian one should do something or not I have some strong reservations simply because there are things in the bible that the punishments are prescribed in the Old Testament and there are those in the Christian faith who say Jesus coming changed all that however that is not what Jesus himself said. I would have to look it up but it was to the effect that he came not to change the law of Moses but to affirm it and if that is true there are a lot of people who consider themselves Christians who are in deep doo doo. Most of the things you could have been put to death for under the law of Moses are excepted as mainstream today and things that were acceptable are now strictly taboo. Must be nice to have a religion where you can pick and choose what parts you are going to believe and follow and what parts you will ignore because they are inconvenient. It’s almost like not having any religion at all.

  6. Marilyn Barnard says:

    To those supporting capitol punishment – first of all, capital punishment leaves no room for those who are wrongly convicted, and it does happen more than we’d like to admit. Secondly, from a Christian perspective, I am concerned about the eternal fate of the person who administers the lethal injection. Isn’t taking another’s life no different than murder in God’s eyes? I don’t really have a problem with someone receiving the death sentence for committing a heinous crime, but I do have concern that the executioner may not have eternal life in heaven, unless he/she asks for God’s forgiveness and is forgiven. This thought has always made me feel really uncomfortable. Any other Christians struggle with this?

    1. Tempe says:

      How is it you dont have a problem with someone being sentenced to death but you worry about the person carrying out the sentence?! Just how do you think the death penalty can be carried out without someone having to kill the criminal? And if you think killing is wrong then you should be against the death penalty yet you say you dont have a problem with it.You are conflicted! Either you are for the death penalty which means someone has to die and someone has to do the killing or you believe all killing under any circumstance is wrong.Which is it? You cant have it both ways.

      1. Angela Marie says:

        Agree 100% either way people, can’t be ok with both just cuz a head accidentally……well the execution of it went a little wrong…..but look at her crime no one mentions his head was beat in…..but gotta say I love history

    2. John says:

      God approves of capital punishment. In the OT a man is put to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath.

  7. Tashua Dugan says:

    So Kevin , what reflect do you think it has on my family?

  8. Kevin says:

    Ed, did you really just say that being related to Eva doesn’t reflect on her family? Really?

  9. kimbers5771 says:

    Why should anyone be against capital punishment? The problem with life imprisonment is that we, as taxpayers have to pay for these monsters and creeps for the rest of their lives. They do not deserve this kind of care. Theyve commited their crimes and why should we pay for their care and feeding etc?

    1. Mick says:

      Looking at this from a purely monetary perspective which your comment would suggest is what you are doing, It is true that the trial and this penalty phase retrial have cost taxpayers a mint. If it comes out once again without a definitive verdict they might as well have flushed that money. I am guessing that we are already in many hundreds of thousands deep already. The thing is that if they come back and give her the death penalty then there are a whole series of automatic appeals which kick in so by the time they are exhausted we are talking millions and all at taxpayer expense. On the other hand if she is given life without parole she still has the option of appeal but at her own expense.
      She doesn’t seem to have a lot of popular support from what I have read on line and even if she were to attract someone like Charley Manson’s want to be bride he/she would need awfully deep pockets to be of any consequence.


  10. Jeff says:

    Eva’s story would make a great film. I do not understand the violent hatred of Jodi Arias. She is a nut that reacted violently after being strung along by a fellow narsasist. An 18 year old female relative was murdered by a middle aged religious fanatic and the killer got life w possible parole after the preacher spoke for him at sentencing. Far more heinous killers have not received the death penalty.

  11. ed says:

    very well said Tashua, has no reflect on your family

  12. Tashua Dugan says:

    For the jack ass saying i would not say i was related. You really need to grow up. That is part of family history. That does not define who we are. please leave you jackass comments to you self

  13. rebekah says:

    you maybe satisfied….but no apology, no remorse….execute her!!!!

  14. Allan says:

    After thirteen plus hours still no verdict. Wait another day. I am not a proponent of capital punishment, even in monstrous cases like Jodi’s. I expect she’ll deservedly be convicted and when she is, I’ll be quite satisfied with the punishment of life in prison without any possibility of parole.

  15. Luke says:

    They just compared this woman to Jodi Arias today on HLN while waiting for the Jodi Arias verdict. LOL

  16. Rebecca says:

    I am also waiting on the Jodi Arias Verdict;
    Justice for Travis

  17. Allan says:

    Waiting on the Jody Arias verdict — hmmmmm…I wonder if Eva’s jury was smarter than Jody’s? Time will tell!

  18. Susan says:

    Let’s hope that Jodi Arias is the NEXT prisoner on Death Row!

  19. Meaghan says:

    And you base that on….what?

  20. DAVE says:


  21. Meaghan says:

    Why not? It’s no reflection on that woman’s husband. We all have a few skeletons rattling in our family closets. And it’s an item of minor historical interest.

  22. Ameriee says:

    I wouldn’t want to admit that this monster was related to me

  23. Grimley says:

    When it comes to execution she got a head start……her head was a cut above the rest?…I’m here all week folks

  24. tashua dugan says:

    If you have anymore info. on Eva Dugan, please send it to dugan272@gmail.com This is my Husband’s Great-Great -Great Grandma

  25. Silvia Laura says:

    In other words a kind of execution was substituted with a more painful one in order not to trouble the delicate sensibilities of people who were there to see someone die anyway.

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