Unspeakable Times

Corazon Amurao Was The Sole Survivor Of A Massacre, And Put The Killer Behind Bars  

Jodi Smith
9.5k views 11 items

In the annals of Chicago crime, perhaps no event matches the sheer brutality and terror of the case of Richard Speck. In the summer of 1966, Speck murdered eight nurses in one townhouse over the course of a single night. But those eight murders could easily have been nine. During the chaos of the one-by-one executions, one nurse found a hiding spot and waited out the remainder of the attack. The survivor's name was Corazon Amurao.

After answering Speck's knock on the door of the shared residence, Amurao was bound with strips of fabric, as were her fellow housemates. But she managed to find an opportune moment to hide under a bed - and remained there while Speck finished off the rest of her roommates. After the massacre was finally over, she emerged from hiding and made her escape. She went on to positively identify Speck during his murder trial, at which he was ultimately convicted and sentenced to death.

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She Hid Under A Bed For Hours, Her Hands And Feet Bound, As Speck Killed Her Housemates

Speck entered the townhouse around 11 pm. With residents in multiple bedrooms to account for, he herded them all into a single location. When the rest of the housemates arrived home that night, he held them at gunpoint. Sometime around midnight, he bound all nine women with strips of fabric, took them - one at a time - into another room, and killed them. 

It was during this one-by-one process that Amurao took the opportunity to roll under a bed and hide. For the remainder of the six-hour ordeal, she stayed silent and undetected under the bed as her fellow nurses were taken and slain. According to Amurao's account, the others didn't mutter a sound as they were taken from the holding room, but she heard them sob and scream when they were alone with Speck in the adjacent room. Amurao could only listen to their muffled terror as she remained out of sight.

Speck Was Drunk And Lost Count Of How Many Women There Were

Speck was intoxicated on the night of his infamous mass murder. Known as an alcoholic, he had patronized several bars in Chicago before entering the townhouse that nine nurses called home. Luckily for Amurao, the same inebriation that may have helped spur Speck's intrusion also saved her life.

He later confessed that his state made him lose count of how many of the women he had killed, allowing Amurao to remain undiscovered in her hiding spot under a bed. After Speck left the building, Amurao remained in place until 6 am before attempting to get help.

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Photo: Bettmann/Bettmann/Getty Images
She Waited Until 6 AM Before Crawling Out From Under The Bed

Speck ended his spree about 4-5 hours after it began, then left the house. Amurao remained under the bed until around 6 am - just to make sure the attacker was really gone from the house for good. During those hours, she managed to gradually loosen the fabric that bound her hands and feet together.

After emerging from her hiding spot, she walked through the townhouse dorms and saw seven of the eight fallen nurses on her way to get help.

Amurao Climbed Onto The Ledge Of A Second-Story Window And Screamed For Help

After remaining hidden for the duration of Speck's attack - and allowing for a sufficient amount of time to pass after his exit - Amurao finally escaped from her hiding spot to get help. She testified at Speck's trial that she made her way to a window and began screaming for assistance:

Q: How long did you scream, in a sitting position, with the window open?

A. I screamed there for about five minutes and nothing.

Q. What did you do then?

A. Then I jump off to the ledge.

Q. You climbed down to the ledge on 100th Street?

A. Yes.

Q. What did you do on the ledge?

A. Then I screamed for help. I screamed for about 20 minutes.

She had been screaming for help for 20 minutes when a man walking his dog happened by. Soon after, the Chicago Police Department arrived and the investigation of the murders began.