Willie Francis was sentenced to die by electrocution by the state of Louisiana in 1945 when he was sixteen for murdering Andrew Thomas, a Cajun drugstore owner who had once employed Francis. Willie Francis is well known for being the first recipient of a failed execution by electrocution in the United States.
The murder of Andrew Thomas remained unsolved for about nine months until Francis was detained in Texas in August 1945 because of his proximity to an unrelated crime. Police claimed that during the detainment, the wallet belonging to Andrew Thomas was found in his pocket.
Francis initially tried to name others that were connected with the murder but police shrugged these claims off. Under interrogation, a short while later, Francis admitted to murdering Thomas, writing, “It was a secret about me and him.” The statement is still unclear, but according to author Gilbert King, who wrote the book, “The Execution of Willie Francis," suggests that he suffered sexual abuse by the pharmacist. Francis later gave police information about where he’d disposed of the holster used to carry the murder weapon.
Despite having written two separate confessions, Francis pleaded not guilty. The court appointed defense attorneys did not object to anything, called zero witnesses and gave no defense. The validity of the confessions given by Willie Francis were not questioned by the defense. Two days after the trial began, Willie Francis was convicted of murder and was sentenced to die by twelve jurors and the judge.
On May 3, 1946 Willie Francis was set to be executed. The electric chair failed to do the job and witnesses reported hearing the teenager screaming from behind the leather hood, “Take it off! Take it off! Let me breathe!" as the surge of electricity was being applied, clearly not lethal enough to kill him.
Another report claims that Francis called out "I’m not dying!" It turned out that the electric chair, known as “Gruesome Gertie" had been set up improperly by an intoxicated prison guard and inmate from the Louisiana State Penitentiary. The sheriff, E.L Resweber was quoted as saying, “This boy really got a shock when they turned that machine on.”
After the failed execution, Bertrand DeBlanc, a young lawyer and best friends with the victim, took on Francis’ case. He appealed to the Supreme Court citing the many violations of his Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The violations involved double jeopardy and cruel and unusual punishment.
The preliminary vote was in Francis’ favor. A clerk of the court accidentally informed the legal team of Francis that he won his appeal, but in reality, he had not. The opinion asked just how many attempted executions it would take before it would be considered cruel and unusual punishment.
Justice Felix Frankfurter cast the deciding vote to re execute Willie Francis. He secretly asked his old college roommate to secretly petition the Governor of Louisiana for a commutation, and that failed.
Willie Francis was finally executed at 12:05 pm on May 9, 1947.
In February and March 1997, three young girls were attacked in Kobe, Japan. On 15 March 10-year-old Ayaka Yamashita was bludgeoned to death with a steel pipe in the same area. On 27 May 1997, some time before pupils were due to arrive at Tainohata Elementary School, the caretaker found the head of 11-year-old Jun Hase, who had been missing for three days, in front of the school gate. He had been decapitated with a handsaw and in his mouth was a note in red ink reading, “This is the beginning of the game… You police guys stop me if you can… I desperately want to see people die, it is a thrill for me to commit murder. A bloody judgement is needed for my years of great bitterness.” It was signed ‘The School Killer’. Later in the same day the rest of the boy was found under a house in the woods near the school. The killer also wrote a symbol similar to one used in San Francisco by the Zodiac. Near most of the crime scenes were mutilated bodies of cats.
On 6 June the newspaper Kobe Shimbum received a 1,400-word letter, purporting to be from the killer. It read in part “I am putting my life at stake for the sake of this game. If I’m caught, I’ll probably be hanged… police should be angrier and more tenacious in pursuing me… It’s only when I kill that I am liberated from the constant hatred that I suffer and that I am able to attain peace. It is only when I give pain to people that I can ease my own pain.” The Letter was signed “Sakakibara Seito” with a PS, “From now on, if you… spoil my mood I will kill three vegetables a week… If you think I can only kill children you are greatly mistaken.” On 28 June 1997 a 14-year-old boy was arrested for the murders assaults. He had begun mutilating animals when he was 12 (he would line up frogs and cycle over them) and started carrying knives when in junior school. He had kept a diary detailing his exploits and in his bedroom police found thousands of pornographic videos. Japanese law at the time meant that no one under the age of 16 could be charged as an adult so he was sent to a reformatory for treatment. In 2003 he was pronounced cured and paroled on 10 March 2004, aged 21. His supervised parole ended on 31 December 2004 and he is now free, with a new identity.
Children’s stick insect, Tropidoderus childrenii, is a species of stick insect found in Australia. Children’s stick insect being about 110 millimetres (4.3 in) long can be quite gracious but when they reproduce they can reach plague proportions and can wipe out eucalyptus forests.