1927: Robert Greene Elliott conducts six electrocutions in one day

On this date in 1927, Robert Greene Elliott — the “state electrician” who wired the majesty of the law to condemned men and women from Rockview, Pa. to Windsor, Vt. — had the busiest day of his illustrious career.

Once just a regular prison electrician, Elliott graduated himself to the euphemism in 1926 and was soon the go-to angel of electric death throughout the northeast. He pulled the lever a reported 387 times for men and women who sat in the new killing device in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and (just one time) Vermont; when John Dos Passos wrote that “they have built the electricchair and hired the executioner to throw the switch,” well, he could have been talking about Elliott’s $150-per-head bounty.

January 6, 1927 was a full and lucrative day for Elliott.

He started the day off with a triple execution in Boston’s Charleston Prison — the first triple electrocution in Massachusetts history.* Then he took a train to New York — relaxed with family — took in a picture — and then conducted the Empire State’s triple execution in the evening. (All six of his luckless subjects in either state had been sentenced for various robbery-murders.) His $900 in wages between the two occasions would be the equivalent of a $12,000+ payday today.

Friend of the site Robert Walsh has a wonderful post detailing this character’s remarkable career; venture if you dare into the world of a prolific killer of the Prohibition and Depression eras, here.

Elliott also wrote an autobiography, Agent of Death, which is out of print and difficult to come by.

* Elliot would return there a few months later for a more famous trio: Sacco and Vanzetti, along with their accomplice Celestino Madeiros. Some other noteworthy clients of Elliott: alleged Lindbergh baby kidnapper Bruno Richard Hauptmann and illicitly photographed femme fatale Ruth Snyder.

One thought on “1927: Robert Greene Elliott conducts six electrocutions in one day”

  1. Hello,

    Just to say that although indeed the book ” Agent of Death ” by Robert Elliott is extremely scarce, and only one copy appears on sale from time to time- there can be one or two or more years between two copies – funnily enough in January two copies from two different booksellers – one in New York and one in the UK – were sold on eBay.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/First-Edition-1940-Agent-of-Death-The-Memoirs-of-an-Executioner-Robert-Elliott/292383039417

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Agent-of-Death-the-autobiography-of-New-York-executioner-Robert-G-Elliott-1940/162841209267

    Best Regards

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