The Student Nurse Murders (7-14-1966)

As usual, the Jeffery Manor neighborhood was quiet on this Thursday morning.  Then, a little after dawn, a woman began screaming from the balcony at 2319 East 100th Street.  “All my friends are dead!” she shrieked.  “Oh God! I’m the only one alive!”

It was true.

2319 E. 100th St.

2319 E. 100th St.

The woman was Corazon Amurao, a 23-year-old Filipino nursing student.  She shared the dorm apartment on 100th Street with other students.  Now eight of them had been murdered.

Amurao told police her story.  At about 11:30 the night before, she had answered a knock at the door, and been confronted by a young man.  He smelled of alcohol.  Pointing a pistol at Amurao, he said he needed money to get to New Orleans.

The man forced his way in.  He ordered the six nurses present to lie on the floor face down.  He gagged them and tied their hands behind their backs.  Within the next hour three more nurses arrived, and he repeated his action.

The intruder led one of the nine women into the next room.  After fifteen or twenty minutes–Amurao couldn’t say how long it was–he returned.  He led another woman away.  One by one, throughout the night, Amurao’s friends disappeared.

No one resisted.  The intruder said he only wanted money, that he wouldn’t harm anyone.  Meanwhile, Amurao slid under one of the beds and hid.  For whatever reason, the intruder missed her.

Corazon Amurao

Corazon Amurao

Finally, after an eternity, Amurao crawled out.  The sun was up, the intruder gone.  She worked her way free from her bonds, pushed open the door to the adjoining room–and stumbled over the bodies.

Chicago was horrified by the brutality of the crime.  Was the city faced with a new Jack the Ripper?  But the survivor provided a good description of the killer.  The most telling item was a tattoo on his left forearm.  It read: “Born To Raise Hell.”

Within days police arrested Richard Speck.  He was a 24-year-old drifter with a long record of trouble.  While trying to get a merchant seaman card at a nearby hiring hall, he’d noticed the nurses’ dormitory.

The eight victims had been strangled or stabbed.  One of them had been raped.  Speck was brought to trial and convicted of murder, based on Amurao’s testimony.  He was sentenced to die in the electric chair.

Speck claimed he’d been high the night of the murders, and didn’t remember anything.  He eventually admitted his crimes.  Because of a later Supreme Court ruling, he escaped the death penalty.  Richard Speck died while serving a life sentence  in 1991.


8 Responses to “The Student Nurse Murders (7-14-1966)”

  1. 1 Garry July 16, 2014 at 11:34 am

    John, you left out the infamous videotape made of Speck in prison where he showed off his new breasts, courtesy of some illegal female hormones he somehow got while in there.
    Plus I don’t believe he died in the prison. Didn’t he have a heart attack & was taken to Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet, where he died?

    • 2 J.R. Schmidt July 16, 2014 at 11:46 am

      You’re correct about Speck’s place of death–I’ll revise. As for the video, I’ve seen it. You’ll notice that I didn’t run any picture of Speck. Aside from giving the facts of this awful event, the less said about the perp, the better.

  2. 3 Patrice April 4, 2015 at 9:25 am

    My family still lives in the neighborhood. Its still a chilling story, and I pass by that home all the time. I wonder if its haunted.

  3. 4 julie December 11, 2015 at 12:05 am

    This was an incredibly sad and horrific crime. I just watched this on the ID channel and it brought me to tears. I have so many questions. What made these women not tackle him, or try to run? I know hindsight is 20/20. So tragic.

  4. 5 cosmicsilver May 21, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    I am watching this on the ID channel as we speak. I am also from Chicago and have driven past the area time and time again–not even knowing about this horrific event. How awful.

  5. 6 Judit Székely January 18, 2019 at 12:26 am

    I just read this story now, what happened 52 years ago. I do not understand why these young, strong women could not fight with him? It was 9 women and only himself. ????? Strange!

    • 7 J.R. Schmidt January 18, 2019 at 8:06 am

      There are a number of books about the murders. The usual answer is that the nurses had been trained to stay calm in crises. By staying calm and passive, they would keep Speck calm, and he would go away more quickly. Obviously, they were wrong. But then, hindsight is always 20-20.

  1. 1 This Day in History: July 14th- "Born to Raise Hell" Trackback on July 14, 2015 at 2:01 am

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