Death Row Cook Book

By Christopher Zoukis

The popularity of horror stories, like those of Stephen King, and horror movies such as Friday the 13th, and the SAW progression of sequels, along with the multitude of forensic shows on television, demonstrate the appeal of such bizarre topics.  Nancy Grace has built an entire career on exploiting morbid crimes.  And don’t forget murder mysteries, which are perennial bestsellers.  And, of course, all the traffic jams on California’s highways as all the cars slow down so that their passengers can stare wide-eyed at the carnage wrought by the most recent traffic accident. 

There are whole websites on the internet dedicated to Serial Killers and mass murderers.  Indeed, MSN’s homepage recently depicted the latest photos of Charles Manson. 

People are literally beguiled by the grim and gruesome.

Which brings up the following question:  why would people be captivated by the last meals of men and women condemned to execution?  Because the choice of one’s last meal provides a chilling peek into the evil resident in the human mind.   What does a monster want to eat for his last meal in this life?  Does his choice of food carry psychological implications?  If he chooses Dr. Pepper and burritos – and I like Dr. Pepper and burritos too – does that mean I might be like him?  The very thought horrifies me.  At the same time, it titillates me.  Image courtesy s102.photobucket.com

For his last meal, Ted Bundy dined on steak, eggs, hashbrowns and coffee.  Michael Pennington had vegetarian pizza, salad and strawberry ice cream.  Serial killer John Wayne Gacy chose fried foods:  fried chicken, fried shrimp and French fries.  For dessert he ate strawberries.  Velma Barfield, whose favorite method of murder was arsenic, dined on Cheez Doodles, washing it down with Coca-Cola.  Whereas the woman who murdered seven men, Aileen Wuornos, didn’t request anything.  At the last moment, she had a hamburger.  That’s all that was available.  Timothy McVeigh only wanted ice cream. 

The two strangest requests for last meals came from Victor Feguer and Adolf Eichman.  Feguer had kidnapped a doctor and killed him.  His last meal consisted of a single olive, which he swallowed whole – with the pit.  He hoped the pit would grow and sprout from his dead body.  And Eichman, the infamous Nazi architect of murder, demonstrating a wry sense of humor, asked for a bottle of Israeli wine.

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