Category: Serial Killing
Location: South Carolina, United States
Date: 1953 - 1982
Crime: Donald 'Pee Wee' Gaskins was known as the Meanest Man in America and was put to death by the electric chair after being convicted of murdering nine young boys and girls. Police have him linked to more than 80 killings, and in his memoirs, Gaskins admits to having killed 181 people.
Biography: Donald Henry Gaskins was born, March 31, 1933 in Florence County, South Carolina and spent much of his youth in reform school. He was never a good student and at a very young age began his criminal career with a series of petty thefts. His violent streak was on display at a young age as well for during one burglary, he struck a woman on the head with a hatchet and left her to die. She survived and Gaskins was sent to serve out a custodial sentence at reform school. Upon his release, he began committing insurance fraud and was soon arrested for attacking a teenage girl with a ball peen hammer. He was sent off to prison for six years. In prison, Gaskins' slight build earned him the nickname 'Pee Wee' and also contributed to his being physically and sexually abused. In 1953, at the State Penitentiary, Gaskins killed for the first time, claiming that he needed to earn a fearsome reputation to keep himself from being abused. An additional three years was added to his sentence and served without further incident. In 1969, Gaskins began torturing and killing hitchhikers for pure pleasure. Then in 1970, he began a series of self-described 'Serious Murders'. These were people that he knew and killed for personal reasons, such as having once mocked him, owing him money or because he had been paid to kill them. He was finally arrested in November 1975, when an associate went to the police and claimed that he had witnessed Gaskins having murdered two young men. Sentenced to life in prison, Gaskins killed one final time. He rigged an explosive device up inside of a portable radio and blew the head off of a fellow death row inmate. This gruesome murder earned him the nickname of 'The Meanest Man in America' and led to his death sentence. During his time on death row, he told his life story to a journalist and confessed to more than 100 additional murders, however, police were unable to link him to all of them.