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George Ronald York and James Douglas Latham (both died June 22, 1965) were an American spree killer team who are the most recent individuals executed by the U.S. state of Kansas.

Killing spree[edit]

In late 1959, York and Latham met at Fort Hood, Texas, where both were privates in the United States Army. Latham had come to Fort Hood from Fort Carson, Colorado, where he had undergone basic training between May and July 1959. In May 1961 York and Latham went AWOL and decided to travel to York's hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. On May 26, they encountered Edward J. Guidroz in Mix, Louisiana. York and Latham badly beat him and stole his truck. On May 29, they met Althea Ottavio and Patricia Hewitt, visitors from Georgia, in Jacksonville. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, York and Latham strangled both women, stealing their money and dumping their car in a ditch.

On June 6, York and Latham attempted to rob a man in a Cadillac near Aiken, South Carolina, but the shots they fired at him missed and their would-be victim escaped. On June 7, York and Latham murdered John Whittaker in Tullahoma, Tennessee. They took Whittaker's car and abandoned the first truck they had stolen. On June 8 they abandoned Whittaker's car near Troy, Illinois, and hitched a ride from a passerby named Albert Reed. They murdered Reed, dumped his body in a creek, and commandeered Reed's car. Several miles outside of Edwardsville, Illinois York and Latham killed a gas station attendant, Martin Drenovac, and stole money and gas from the gas station. York and Latham continued their cross-country killing spree in Wallace, Kansas, on June 9, where they robbed and killed 62-year-old Otto Ziegler; and near Craig, Colorado, on June 10, they killed 18-year-old motel maid Rachel Moyer.

Arrest and confession[edit]

Later on June 10, 1961, York and Latham were arrested in Tooele County, Utah for violating the federal National Motor Vehicle Theft Act, which prohibited transportation of a stolen vehicle across state lines within the United States. On June 11, York and Latham bragged to investigators that they had killed eight or nine people since they left Fort Hood. Police later learned that nine people were attacked by York and Latham, but two had survived. York and Latham claimed that being placed in a mixed-race unit in the army led to their desire to desert.

Execution loomed over the pair in a number of different states; had they been tried by Florida, Illinois or Tennessee, they would have most likely been electrocuted. Had they been tried by Colorado or Missouri, they would have most likely been gassed. Ultimately, they were tried by Kansas, where hanging was the prescribed method of execution.

Trial and imprisonment[edit]

York and Latham were tried first in Kansas for the killing of Ziegler. They were convicted by a jury and sentenced to death on November 8, 1961.[1] While on death row in Kansas, York and Latham associated with Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, the subjects of Truman Capote's book In Cold Blood. York and Latham's crimes are described in Capote's book, and they are portrayed in the work as flippant, snide, and lacking any degree of remorse.


York and Latham were executed by hanging at Lansing Correctional Facility on June 22, 1965.[2][3] Since their execution, no one has been put to death by the state of Kansas, though a number of prisoners have been sentenced to death. York and Latham were also the last persons executed by hanging in the United States until 1993, when the state of Washington hanged Westley Allan Dodd.[4]



External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_York_and_James_Latham — Please support Wikipedia.
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3 news items

Topeka Capital Journal
Fri, 08 Aug 2014 09:23:03 -0700

Kansas has not executed anyone since 1965 when serial killers George York and James Latham were hanged. Their deaths followed the hangings of Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, convicted in the Clutter family killings, just months earlier. Schmidt's ...
Aurora Sentinel
Thu, 05 Jun 2014 08:32:26 -0700

The effort to seek justice for victims of the Aurora theater shooting is no longer a court trial. It is now a wildly expensive and ineffective bureaucratic contraption seeking to serve itself, rather than some notion of closure and fairness. To ...
K-State Collegian
Wed, 22 Oct 2014 23:12:16 -0700

Kansas reinstated the death penalty in 1994, according to the Death Penalty Information Center website. However, the last executions by the state of Kansas were in 1965 when George York and James Latham were sentenced to death by hanging.

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