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 Kansas.
1959, York and Latham met at Fort Hood, Texas, where both
were privates in the United States Army. In May 1959 they went
AWOL and travelled to York's hometown of
Florida. On May 29, they met Althea Ottavio and
Patricia Hewitt, visitors from Georgia.
York and Latham strangled both women,
stealing their money and their car.
On June 7,
York and Latham murdered John Whittaker in Tullahoma,
They took Whittaker's car and abandoned the
first car they had stolen. On June 8 in Edwardsville,
Illinois, they murdered Albert Reed.
outside of Edwardville, York and Latham killed a gas station
attendant, Martin Drenovac, and stole money and gas from the gas
York and Latham continued their cross-country killing spree.
killed two men in St. Louis, Missouri. In Wallace, Kansas on June 9, they robbed and killed 62-year-old Otto
Ziegler, and in Craig,
Colorado on June 10,
they killed 18-year-old motel maid Rachel Moyer.
Arrest and confession
June 10, York and Latham were arrested in Tooele County,
Utah 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
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.
Latham were executed by hanging at Lansing
Prison 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 Washington hanged Westley Allan
- Timothy Egan, "For First Time Since '65, A State Uses Its
Gallows", New York Times, 6 January 1993.
- Truman Capote (1966). In Cold
Blood (New York: Vintage Books)
- Truman Capote, "In Cold Blood: The Corner (Part IV)",
New Yorker, 16 October 1965, p.
- "Two Hanged in Kansas After Slaying 7 Persons", New York Times, 23 June 1965, p. 21
- 2 Soldiers tell of murdering 7, The New York Times, 12 June 1961, p.
- 2 GI's who boasted killing 7 to hang for killing
one man, Eugene
Register-Guard 8 November 1961, p. 2
- Murder trail left by youths, police claim,
The Age, 13 June 1961, p. 8