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George Ronald York and James Douglas Latham (both died June 22, 1965) were an American serial killer team who are the most recent individuals executed by the U.S. state of Kansasmarker.

Killing spree

In early 1959, York and Latham met at Fort Hoodmarker, Texasmarker, where both were privates in the United States Army. In May 1959 they went AWOL and travelled to York's hometown of Jacksonville, Floridamarker. On May 29, they met Althea Ottavio and Patricia Hewitt, visitors from Georgiamarker. York and Latham strangled both women, stealing their money and their car.

On June 7, York and Latham murdered John Whittaker in Tullahoma, Tennesseemarker. They took Whittaker's car and abandoned the first car they had stolen. On June 8 in Edwardsville, Illinoismarker, they murdered Albert Reed. Several miles outside of Edwardville, York and Latham killed a gas station attendant, Martin Drenovac, and stole money and gas from the gas station.

York and Latham continued their cross-country killing spree. They killed two men in St. Louis, Missourimarker. In Wallace, Kansasmarker on June 9, they robbed and killed 62-year-old Otto Ziegler, and in Craig, Coloradomarker on June 10, they killed 18-year-old motel maid Rachel Moyer.

Arrest and confession

Later on June 10, York and Latham were arrested in Tooele County, Utahmarker for violating the federal National Motor Vehicle Theft Act, which prohibited transportation of a stolen vehicle across state lines within the United States. On June 12, York and Latham bragged to investigators that they had killed eight or nine people since they left Fort Hood. Police later learned that nine people were attacked by York and Latham, but two had survived. York and Latham claimed that being placed in a mixed-race unit in the army led to their desire to desert.

Trial and imprisonment

York and Latham were tried first in Kansas for the killing of Ziegler. They were convicted by a jury and sentenced to death on December 19, 1962. While on death row in Kansas, York and Latham associated with Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, the subjects of Truman Capote's book In Cold Blood. York and Latham's crimes are described in Capote's book, and they are portrayed in the work as flippant, snide, and lacking any degree of remorse. At the time of the crimes, York was 18 years old and Latham was 19.

Executions

York and Latham were executed by hanging at Lansing Prisonmarker on June 22, 1965. Since their execution, no one has been put to death by the state of Kansas, though a number of prisoners have been sentenced to death. York and Latham were also the last persons executed by hanging in the United States until 1993, when Washingtonmarker hanged Westley Allan Dodd.

Notes

  1. Timothy Egan, "For First Time Since '65, A State Uses Its Gallows", New York Times, 6 January 1993.


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