Crime files: Richard Speck, the mass murderer of East Dallas

It was 50 years ago this month that a sensational mass murder took place in Chicago, making headlines around the world.

The killer, who stabbed and strangled eight nursing students the night of July 13, 1966, was reared in our neighborhood.

Richard Speck grew up in Old East Dallas and attended J.L. Long Middle School. He dropped out of Crozier Tech High School in ninth grade.

He had worked for the Dallas Parks Department and 7-Up. Old newspaper stories say he lived on Reiger and on Terry Avenue prior to the vicious crime.

After being arrested a staggering 41 times in Dallas, Speck moved to Illinois four months before he committed the murders.

Speck’s Dallas rap sheet included forging a check at Minyard’s, 6015 Lindsley. He stole 57 cartons of cigarettes and 14 six packs of beer burglarizing McKee Food Store off Live Oak. He was out on parole for those crimes in January 1965 when he attacked 28-year-old Sarah Wadsworth with a 17-inch knife behind her home at El Dubo Apartments, 5315 Junius.

A Dallas County judge sentenced Speck to 490 days (almost 17 months) in jail; he served five months of that sentence when his parole was revoked, and he was sent back to the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the earlier robbery and burglary. But upon his release July 2, 1965, Dallas County failed to call him back to finish serving the 12 months or so left on his sentence for the assault.

If they had, he might’ve been behind bars in July 1966.

As it happened, Speck’s sister Carolyn Wilson drove him to the Greyhound station in downtown Dallas and put him on a bus to Illinois, where he had family, in March 1966. Dallas police were looking for him after they’d caught bootleggers selling 70 stolen cartons of cigarettes out of the trunk of Speck’s car at A&M Grocery and Market, 5641 Culver.

If she hadn’t done that, this might be a different story.


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