Archive for July 12th, 2015

1936: Earl Gardner

3 comments July 12th, 2015 Meaghan

(Thanks to Meaghan Good of the Charley Project for the guest post. -ed.)

On this date in 1936, Earl Gardner, a “pint-sized” Apache Indian from the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona, hanged for the murders of his wife, Nancy, and baby son, Edward. Gardner had, for no apparent reason, axed them both to death the previous December.

This wasn’t his first time, either; in the 1920s he’d served seven years in prison for stabbing another man to death.

He tried to plead guilty to Nancy and Edward’s murders, but the judge refused to let him in spite of Gardner’s preference that the government should “take a good rope and get it over with.” Better to “die like an Apache” than die a little every day in prison, he said. With his heart never in his own defense, it’s no surprise he was convicted; appeals filed by his attorney proceeded against Gardner’s wishes, and without success.

R. Michael Wilson records in Legal Executions After Statehood in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Utah: A Comprehensive Registry:

Finding a gallows was difficult as the state of Arizona was using the gas chamber exclusively for executions, so U.S. Marshal Ben J. McKinney improvised a gallows using an old rock crusher from the Coolidge Dam project. The crusher had been abandoned within a deep gorge on the Indian reservation. A rope was strung from a crossbeam and a hole cut in the floor for the trapdoor. After there were rumors of an Indian uprising McKinney deputized a force of men and armed them to prevent any interference, and they guarded the gallows for days before the execution date.

As he stood on the contraption’s trapdoor before forty-two witnesses, Gardner was asked if he had anything to say. “Well, I’ll be glad to get it over with,” was all he could come up with. It took longer to get it over with than anyone could have anticipated. A witness recalled:

Earl went to the gallows without apparent concern and died a ghastly death. I was crouched in a corner of the crusher on a pile of gravel and damn near went through the trap after him. Earl’s shoulder struck the side of the trap and broke his fall. He hung at the end of the rope gasping … until Maricopa County Sheriff Lon Jordan, a giant of a man, stepped down through the trap and put his weight on Earl’s shoulder to tighten the noose and shut off his breathing.

When the trap sprung at 5:06 a.m., the noose slipped around to the front of Gardner’s throat, causing him to fall off-center and hit the side of the opening. His head snapped backwards but his neck didn’t break and he thrashed around for over half an hour. It wasn’t until 5:39 that his heart ceased to beat.

Earl Gardner’s death was the last legal hanging in Arizona.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Arizona,Botched Executions,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,Guest Writers,Hanged,History,Murder,Other Voices,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,U.S. Federal,USA,Volunteers

Tags: , , , ,

Themed Set: Meaghan Good (II)

Add comment July 12th, 2015 Headsman

Three years ago, we paused a moment to highlight the already-intrepid contributions made these pages by Meaghan Good.

Meaghan contacted me out of the blue back in June 2010 — so, roughly the neolithic in Internet time — to suggest some execution stories that her voluminous reading had made her aware of.

From her debut in July of 2010 until now, Meaghan has favored this site with more than 160 posts, plus enough additional ones pending future publication to make a clear double century. There are numerous guest authors who have a post here or there and to whom I am immensely grateful … still, only Meaghan has made herself a part of the impossible ongoing enterprise that is Executed Today. Her relentless historical crime research has even made news.

Nobody visits these pages to read about bloggers’ tribulations but it’s hard to overstate just what an gigantic difference it has made to the site and to myself personally to have a perspicacious writer carrying nearly 10% of the daily posting burden over such a protracted period of time. Meaghan has seen this joint through fat years and lean ones, and no exaggeration: absent Ms. Good, Executed Today would not now be nearing an eighth anniversary of every-single-day posting.

That Meaghan has been a godsend for these pages while also continuing her own excellent and heavily researched site, the Charley Project, speaks to a fathomless humane tenacity. Even while moonlighting on our execution beat, Meaghan’s site has made an important contribution to missing-persons investigations in the U.S. — more than 9,000 are profiled there. It’s an incredible project for one human to take on and maintain, as a glance at her log of recent updates to the Charley Project at any given moment will confirm.

Thank you, Meaghan, for five excellent years.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: Themed Sets


Calendar

Archives

Categories

Execution Playing Cards

Exclusively available on this site: our one-of-a-kind custom playing card deck.

Every card features a historical execution from England, France, Germany, or Russia!