January 27th, 2012 Meaghan
(Thanks to Meaghan Good of the Charley Project for the guest post. -ed.)
On this day in 1961, a Polish/Ukrainian immigrant with the unpronounceable name of Wasyl Gnypiuk was hanged for murder in Lincoln, England.
The 34-year-old Gnypiuk was living in a toolshed in Worksop when he murdered his 62-year-old landlady, Louise Surgey, on July 17, 1960. He had spent some time in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, and suffered terrible nightmares as the result of his ordeal. The night of the murder, he broke into Surgey’s house while she was sleeping, drank some of her liquor, and passed out.
Gnypiuk — so he later claimed — had a dream where he was fighting Nazis. When he woke up, Surgey lay dead at his feet: he had strangled her in his sleep.
The authorities treated his claims with understandable skepticism. He didn’t help his case by trying to hide the body and stealing some money that had been lying around the house. He had a two-day trial in November and was duly convicted and sentenced to death. Gnypiuk was the last person to be hanged in Lincolnshire before the UK abolished the death penalty in 1965.
The truth about what happened will never be known for sure, but Gnypiuk is still regularly listed among cases of homicidal sleepwalking.
Also on this date
- 1565: Benedetto Accolti, would-be papal assassin
- 1550: The leaders of the Prayer Book Rebellion
- 1940: Isaak Babel
- 1781: Mutinous ringleaders of the New Jersey line
- 1142: Yue Fei, paragon of loyalty
Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,England,Execution,Guest Writers,Hanged,History,Milestones,Murder,Other Voices,Racial and Ethnic Minorities