1998: Gerald Eugene Stano, misogynist psychopath

(Thanks to the tireless Lilo of Lost In Lima Ohio and Perverted Primates for the guest post.)

On this date in 1998, the story of a boy named Paul ended in Florida’s electric chair.

Paul was born in 1951, in Schenectady, New York. He was the fifth child born to his mother, and would be the third she put up for adoption. At thirteen months old, Paul was malnourished and neglected both physically and emotionally to the point that county officials found him unfit to be adopted. But out of the slightest bit of luck, the small child caught the attention of Eugene and Norma Stano, who fought for six months to adopt the severely delayed child. And it was out of that luck that Paul became Gerald Eugene Stano.

Gerald Eugene Stano’s problems didn’t end with his new life with his adoptive parents; instead, he continued to develop a series of problems that would follow him, shaping his outlook on the world forever, and likely providing him with the excuses he needed to justify his actions later in life.

Gerald still wet the bed at ten, was the target for bullies and regularly laughed at by girls. Late in his life he would claim that women used to pull his hair, and even threw beer bottles at him, all without any provocation. He lagged behind in school, failing to graduate high school until he was 21 years old, and except for music class never achieved a grade higher than a C or D.

Yes, Gerald had a sad and difficult life, one that most people would find it easy to sympathize with. Despite his claims of being an outcast, Gerald flaunted his high opinion of himself, often going as far as to refer to himself as a “real Italian stallion”.

It seems that few really paid attention to Stano — not until March 25, 1980, when a woman by the name of Donna Hensley stumbled away from him, and walked into a police station.

Hensley would tell police that she was a prostitute, and had been approached by a man requesting her services. Once at her motel room, the two began to argue and the man ended up slicing her with a knife before insulting her and fleeing. Hensley was adamant that the man be found and charged.

An officer investigating the incident went looking for the prospective suspect, but ended the search with only a license plate for a car that matched the description. Following up with the plate number, the officer found the vehicle was registered to Gerald Eugene Stano, a 28-year-old man with a long arrest record but no convictions. Hensley gave a positive identification from Stano’s mug shot, and thus began investigation into a series of grisly murders.

On February 17, 1980 two college students had stumbled onto the decomposing remains of a young woman, and police had begun investigating the gruesome murder. The victim, 20-year-old Mary Carol Maher, was found in a remote area lying on her back, her arms at her side. Police believed she had been there for weeks, and upon moving the body discovered that she’d been repeatedly stabbed in the back, legs and chest.

During questioning for the assault on the prostitute, Stano, who fit the profile of the person sought for Maher’s slaying, was asked about the murder victim. Despite having confessed to the assault, Stano would only provide enough information to confirm that he’d previously seen Maher. But with more questioning, Stano broke and began replaying the scene out with the detective, even accompany the detective to the murder scene, and confirming the position of the body.

After returning to the police station, another detective suggested questioning Stano on a missing persons case, that of Toni Van Haddocks, a 26-year-old prostitute who had not been seen for some time. Stano denied any involvement in that case.

On April 15, 1980 a human skull was found in a garden by a Daytona resident, and a search of the area lead to clothing and more bones. Police would determine that these were the remains of Haddocks. Stano was again questioned and despite his first denials, later confessed to the murder, and would soon begin confessing to many more.

In the end, Stano admitted the gruesome murders of over 40 women, and was sentenced to death. After many failed appeals, his execution took place on March 23, 1998.

The death penalty has always been a very touchy subject. Many of its opponents believe that nothing justifies the taking of another person’s life, even if done by the state as a means of punishment. I agree that every life has value, but am personally compelled to ask whose life had more value — the victims that Stano murdered, or Stano himself?

My answer would favor the victims, and therefore I am resolved to believe that giving him any punishment less than what he received — death — would be an injustice to those who were killed by his hands.

On this day..

21 thoughts on “1998: Gerald Eugene Stano, misogynist psychopath

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  2. The death penalty is simply ensuring that the punishment fits the crime. In addition, and as far as I’m aware, there isn’t a single recorded case of an executed person reoffending. 1964 was a black year here in the UK….it was when Parliament decided to stop hanging people for murder.

  3. The death penalty is obviously is not a deterrent. It’s not so much “punishment” as ensuring that a particular criminal doesn’t ever have the opportunity to repeat his offense(s).

  4. “I agree that every life has value, but am personally compelled to ask whose life had more value — the victims that Stano murdered, or Stano himself?”
    That is a totally illogical statement, because Stano’s execution did not bring his victims back to life. Worth noting that US is one of the few Western countries to have the death penalty yet has a higher murder than most Western countries without the death penalty.

    • We also have millions of illegal aliens who commit murders HERE-what are you doing about that? The Death Penalty is an expression of the seriousness of what murderers have done. The state carries out the penalty so that PRIVATE VIOLENCE by family members doesn’t take place. Have you ever considered what it must be like to work as a guard around these “people” ever day?

      • You don’t have millions of illegal aliens committing murder. You Americans are a violent people. Look at all the violence the USA commits against the rest of the world, while your own sick nation is becoming a failed state. There’s a reason why you lead the world in Covid-19 fatalities. It’s self inflicted. You can blame other countries for every thing but the rest of the world knows

        • Thank God for the death penalty in this case. Like others, Gerald Eugene Stano got exactly what he deserved. No, it didn’t bring back victims and only a moron would expect it to. However, it rid the world of this person, any future crimes committed by this person (should liberal idiots set him free again) and it helped families of the victims with frieving & closure. As a retired LEO I totally & respectfully disagree with you 100%. Without deterrent crime rates increase regardless of what country you are in. History & factual statistics prove this to be true.

  5. I am not a troll and really have no firm opinion on the legal death penalty. I trashed a great life over drugs and ended up doing 5 years. Believe me, I can’t think of anything worse than life without parole. Folks may point at Richard Speck, but, come on. That is an anomaly and besides, it is still a hellish existence. Write it off as mindless bravado from a sick mind. If you have lost a loved one to a murder and the perp got life with out parole, take heart. That really is a living hell. You truly have my sympathy

    • Sometimes in some ways, life without parole can be worse than the death penalty. Even if you have friends and family who still love you and care about you and visit you, it can be still very difficult. I can’t imagine what it is like. I have Classic Autism and these past 3 years have been absolutely Hell for me with this COVID 19 pandemic isolation and quarantine. For 1 1/2 years, I virtually didn’t go anywhere except for 1 hour walks at my local county park once a week. The rest of the time I stayed at home. I finally did eat with one of my college instructor friends at a restaurant after 1 1/2 years but most of the time I just stayed home. My local community college didn’t even reopen until this past May and I still haven’t been back to my local library after 2 1/2 years. I live on the West Coast and in my state, the COVID 19 restrictions were more stricter then anywhere else in the country. 3 years passed by just like that. I’m in my mid 40s, I’ve known people who passed away in their 50s. I don’t want my life to consist of this. So I can’t even imagine what life in prison is like. You may have made some choices that weren’t good, but I feel somewhat sorry for you. And it seems like that the justice system is unfair sometimes and a joke – I have heard of people imprisoned for many more years for minor offenses thah people who committed much worse crimes because they got a lousy court appointed defense attorney. Like John Spenkelink said, “those without the capital, get the punishment”.

  6. I was in a business class with Gerald Eugene Stano at
    wissahickon high school, springhouse pa in 1970-71. He would wear a suit and tie to class which was odd for that era of hippies wearing moccasins and blue geans.

    It’s too bad that the school couselors did not pick up on this odd behavior which might have eliminated his criminal life.

    • I’m just curious, Stella….are you implying that anyone who dresses a little bit differently than others is suspect for being a criminal or a future criminal?? That’s kind of a strange conclusion to make. I’m sure there were other guys in the early 1970s wearing a suit and a tie to class, not just Stano. Maybe at your high school he was the only one who did, but I’m sure there were others in other high schools across the nation and I doubt that all of them became serial killers or murderers (or other types of criminals). I’ve seen guys from that time period in the late 1960s and earlier, on YouTube videos of shows like Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and some high school kids wear exactly what you are saying Stano was wearing. I do not think that everyone wore hippie-ish clothing like moccasins and jeans. Some people, but I’m sure not all, just like with the latest fads nowadays, whatever they may be. I don’t really keep up with the most current fads among teens as I am now in my mid 40s and that is not my age group.

      I have Classic Autism and ADHD and I am actually emotionally and socially like a 4 1/2 to 5 year old through no fault of my own. A lot of Autistic people, even those who graduate from a university are emotionally and socially like 7 to 11 year olds. Adaptive age and emotional and social age is not the same was academic ability. Totally separate things. From my experience knowing other people with Autism, most of them wear clothes that aren’t necessarily the most hip or modern or popular necessarily. So sometimes they wear what some people think might be unusual clothing, shoes, etc. The chances of someone with Autism becoming a VICTIM of a criminal is much more likely than becoming a perpetrator of a crime, according to statistics. I actually was wearing slacks / pants and shirts, what maybe a 22 year old college kid would be wearing for a long time, over many years. I have a friend one year older than me, who is a mom, in eastern North Carolina who has a popular Facebook blog. She also has 4 children. The youngest son is 8 years old and has Autism and ADHD just like I do. He is also a Geography whiz like me. He wore longalls (a dressy type of overalls, usually worn with peter pan collar shirts) with kneesocks and T strap shoes (kind of like Mary Janes, but not quite, though similar) until he was 5 1/2 years old. It is popular for little boys to wear longalls / T strap shoes in the Deep South especially Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. But not common in the West Coast where I’m from, at all. In Fall 2019, with his mom’s blessings, I decided to be a lookalike of him. I had this mom from eBay make me a longall and I found these vintage Start Rite T strap shoes in my size on eBay a few years back and so that’s what I wore for Halloween. Recently though I’ve been wearing it at other times other than Halloween, because I wanted to be more cheerful and I consider those “happy clothes”. I’m depressed a bit because of this COVID 19 pandemic isolation nightmare. For a long time, the only place I could go to was my county park. I didn’t even see anyone, except my brother and his family, from Match 2020 till July 2021. Thank God these COVID 19 restrictions are starting to change and get uplifted. From what I’ve read, probably 80% of this country is “mentally ill” in some way – whether that be depression or schizophrenia, or obsessive compulsive disorder, or whatever. I guess you would think I was going to become a criminal because I like wearing longalls and T strap shoes. You sound like you never changed from high school, that popularity is the thing you are after. I would never ever think about hurting anyone, much less killing someone. Before COVID 19, I was an assistant volunteer / co-host at one of my local libraries at Preschooler Storytime for 3 to 5 year olds along with my children’s librarian for 16 years. I have positively impacted tens of thousands of children’s lives and parents mentioned how me and my librarian friend positively impacted Preschooler Storytime. I was bullied in middle school, the first 2 years of high school a bit and in college, but a lot of Autistic people are.

      What you should be saying is something should be done about BULLYING. According to Wikipedia and research papers, over 75% to 80% of school shootings were because of bullying. I didn’t say this, Wikipedia and research studies said that. Yet all the liberal legislators want to say is we should ban guns, ban guns, ban guns, all that rhetoric. No one ever talks about stopping the bullying, which has gone on and on and on and on. Maybe if we tried to solve the root of the problem, maybe there would not be all these problems now. Why hasn’t anyone done anything about the root of the problem? All bullies should be stopped and dealt with by school administrators, and should be disciplined accordingly. Not everyone is like me – I’m a sweet and kind human being that looks past being bullied, and I’m sure 100% of my former bullies – and all my friends – would describe me a sweet kid. But some people do have boiling points and you can’t always push everyone around. I find it appalling that no one does anything about bullying. I suggest to parents that the school administration doesn’t care about your child getting bullied physically and mentally, and they don’t do anything, then take them to a private school or homeschool them. If enough parents do that, the public school system will be in poor financial straits. They are working to educate children, not to promote themselves financially, and should be doing so….I will end by saying blessings….

      – Codi D.

    • That’s how you judge people, by what clothes they wear? So because they wear what you perceive as odd clothes to you, then they will become a serial killer? I’m sure there were many other people in the 1960s and 1970s who wore suits and ties to high school, and college professors who wore nice suits or shirts with ties back then. Not everyone had a hippyish look to them and wore moccasins and jeans. Is everyone who dresses different, suspect in your eyes? I have Classic Autism and like wearing longalls and overalls (and T strap shoes). I’m in my 40s and I’m not going to apologize for being emotionally and socially like a 5 year old because I can’t help myself with my Autism. I have been nothing but a kind human being and I was a co-host at my library’s Preschooler Storytime for 3 to 5 year olds with my librarian friend (who is now in her 60s). I’ve positively impacted the lives of tens of thousands of young children. Just because one dresses differently doesn’t mean one is going to become some criminal. For crying out loud.

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  8. Apparently, reading isn’t your best talent… so I’ll point out the important piece and hopefully with a little luck, the little bulb in your head will go off:

    ” Gerald flaunted his high opinion of himself, often going as far as to refer to himself as a “real Italian stallion”.” <— notice that HE referred to HIMSELF? I didn’t call him that… I merely mentioned that he was so full of himself, that he called himself that.

    As for my being hateful, well- I’m not a tree hugging, shrink-wrapped, hippie that believes everyone is a gentle flower deserving of countless second chances, and big bear hugs. If your humble opinion is that my not fitting into that nutcase catagory means I’m an hateful person… so be it. You can cling to your anti DP stand, and I’ll continue to support the DP. I won’t judge you for it, regardless of the stupidity of your position…. or the fact that with my form of justice- we ensure no more repeat victims by the hands of men condemned to die, while with yours- its more of a “wait and count them up later on” thing.
    But please… when we’re relocating your born again killers and sending them off with chocolates and hugs- is there any way to ensure they end up in YOUR neighborhood, rather than mine?

  9. Your argument in favor of capital punishment is an angry, reprisal of an old, atavistic custom, viz. Lex Talion: “an eye for an eye”.

    Justice is not the same things as vengeance and the aim of the law is not the satiation of the victims’ understandable desire for retribution.

    But I have another objection to your opinion piece. You seem to exploit the tragedy of Eugene Stano’s benighted existence as an opportunity to express, covertly but unmistakably, your contempt for Italian males by invoking the stereotype of the misogynistic, violent “Italian Stallion”. In this connection I think it is relevant to point out that Mr. Stano was born Paul Zeininger. Apparently, you think this kind of disparagement is fitting recompense for the Stanos’ act of empathy (obviously, not entirely altruistic) in adopting a malnourished orphan who showed poor prospects from the day of his birth.

    In short–and this is admittedly pure ad hominem–you seem like a hateful person with a tendency to derive argument from anger. That puts the cart before the horse but probably you don’t care.

    • The expression “an eye for an eye” is from the Torah. It refers not to vengeance but to the principle that “the punishment must fit the crime”.

      • When your goal in punishment is the joy of seeing someone suffer and die in a ghastly way like in the electric chair, that is no longer justice, that is vengeance because you want to see that person suffer. And I have seen cases where the victim’s family doesn’t want the person executed, but the state executes the criminal anyway. In those cases, who is the state executing for? Certainly not the victims or victim’s family if they are against the death penalty. If you say they are executing for the state or people, who is “the STATE”, and who are the people? Are they the teachers you see in the local public high school? Are they the bakers who make cookies at the supermarket? The librarians and Storytime assistants / co-host, like me. The preschool teachers? The toddlers and preschoolers that live in that state? Your grandmother? The state transportation work crew that repairs highways and attaches overhead highway signs to the freeway?? Don’t you see what I mean? The criminal didn’t directly hurt anyone in society unrelated to the victims. I have worked as an assistant volunteer / co-host at my library with preschoolers for 16 years, until COVID happened. Do you think everyone wants to have blood on their hands? I don’t, that’s for sure and I know preschoolers and they are very forgiving and would not support the death penalty. The state is indirectly turning other people in society who are against the death penalty into unwilling killers. And I wish to have no part in that. And I’m a Republican. And there are other conservative Republicans that are against the death penalty.

    • I agree with you. The Stanos felt sorry for this little boy that was mistreated and out of the goodness of their heart, adopted him. But the question is, did Gerald Stano have ZERO chances of becoming a good person from the start??…Maybe because he was abused horribly like that as a baby and then being bullied in school, that may have already have made him to have the inclination to become a criminal. There are plenty of people I have met who say that some babies are born bad from birth. I honestly do not believe that as I am a Catholic Christian, but I suppose it is possible. But if we knew already in advance knew that a child was going to grow up and become a criminal or a murderer, then I would say it may better to do growth attenuation and stop their growth, so they can stay forever stuck as young children and incapable of committing crimes. I would think everyone would benefit – what parent wants to see their baby or child they loved and that they rocked to sleep and raised end up in jail facing 4 gray walls for 40 years or end up in the electric chair? And what child in their right mind would want to grow up to end up in prison forever or end up executed? That is a real tragedy in itself. And if the person stayed a child, there would also be no future victims either. But if I say that, the progressive liberals will just call me a eugenicist when I actually I am the one who cares about the child. Sometimes you just can’t win. I mean I have been told by some pro death penalty people that I don’t care about children (which is totally a bunch of crock) because I am against the death penalty, but then someone who mistakenly thought I was pro death penalty said that I must be okay with mentally ill people being executed (this was a case where a lawyer was making a last ditch attempt to spare his client from being executed and said the prisoner was insane because he wore funny clothes to court. I said just because you think it’s odd clothes, doesn’t mean necessarily that he is insane. I have Classic Autism and I love the idea of wearing longalls and children’s T strap shoes. That doesn’t make me insane per se). But when I mentioned that, this person said “so you believe in executing mentally ill people, right?”. I never have said that and like I said, I’m 150% against the death penalty. Seems to me this is just “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”. It’s like when mutual friends who are married ask you to take sides when they are having fights or starting to break up and get divorced. No matter what, someone will be angry with you. And if you take neither friend’s side, then BOTH will be angry with you. No wonder I act like a 4 year old. Although my Autism is the biggest reason. I tried to be a good person and never hurt anyone….

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