American history is filled with interesting and twisted tales of some of the world’s most evil criminals. Famous murderers, rapists, and other types of devious criminals have roots in the USA. These criminals spent their life’s final moments on death row waiting for their last meal and the long walk to their execution. What were the most famous executions in American history? What crimes were committed to earn a spot on death row? In what ways were these American criminals executed? This list answers those questions and more.
Execution in America has evolved over the decades. Firing squads and hangings used to be popular methods of execution, whereas lethal injection and the electric chair are the most commonly used methods today. The electric chair was once such a controversial method of execution in the United States that many lawyers argued that it was cruel and unusual punishment, and by the rule of the Eighth Amendment, should be outlawed. There were even a few cases where the electric chair was faulty and needed multiple tries to execute a convict.
The criminals on this list have very different crimes and marks on the world, but their way out of the world was very similar. These men and women were all executed through the American legal system.
As one of the most notorious serial killers in American history, Ted Bundy horrified people by kidnapping, raping, and murdering at least 30 victims.
His crimes were committed between 1974 and 1978. He was executed on January 24, 1989.
- Age: Dec. at 42 (1946-1989)
- Birthplace: Burlington, Vermont, United States of America
Robert Alton Harris killed two teenage boys in 1978 in order to steal their car and to rob a bank. He stole $2,000 from the bank but was arrested soon after. One of the arresting officers was the father of one of the murdered boys.
He was executed on April 21, 1992, after misquoting Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey.
- Age: Dec. at 39 (1953-1992)
- Birthplace: Fort Bragg, North Carolina
John Louis Evans
John Louis Evans was just out of prison when he and his buddy went on a crime spree that consisted of over 30 armed robberies, nine kidnappings, and two extortion schemes. In 1977, he killed a pawn shop owner and was caught soon after.
His execution was particularly gruesome, as Alabama used a faulty electric chair, which took multiple tries to finally kill him.
- Age: Dec. at 33 (1950-1983)
When Jason Fairbanks was rejected by Elizabeth Fales, he stabbed her 11 times and claimed she had committed suicide. However, one of her stab wounds was in the back, so Fairbanks was convicted and sentenced to death.
Shortly before his execution, he escaped from prison and tried to make it to Canada, but was soon caught and hanged.
- Age: Dec. at 20 (1780-1801)
- Birthplace: Dedham, Massachusetts