Monday, December 1, 2008

Serial Killer Bedtime Stories: Gerald Stano

Tonight's bedtime story is about Gerald Stano, a serial killer with an attitude.

Born in Daytona Beach in 1951, Gerald tallied a body count of 41 as a result of his deep resentment towards a world of "bitches." A former short order cook, this misogynist killer truly enjoyed the act of killing. He did it with glee and impunity. His decade-long crime spree began in 1969 and spanned across three states -- Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. His victims of choice were generally prostitutes, runaways and hitchhiking teen agers.

Unlike most other serial killers, he never raped his victims -- instead he submitted them to slow, painful deaths. As one of the investigating officers pointed out, "He thinks about three things: stereo systems, cars, and killing women." Stano was arrested 1978 and charged with the December, 1973, murder of Cathy Lee Scharf, a 17-year-old hitchhiker from Port Orange, Florida.

Stano confessed picking up the teen ager while she was hitchhiking on U.S. 1 in Port Orange and choking her repeatedly over several hours. After finally killing the girl, he dumped her body in a drainage ditch, cleaned up and went roller skating. Hunters found her decomposed body at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge near Titusville on January 19, 1974.

In 1983 Stano was convicted and sentenced to Old Sparky, Florida's temperamental, three-legged electric chair. He also was condemned for the murders of Susan Bickrest, 24, and Cathy Muldoon, 23, in Volusia County. He got life sentences for six other slayings. After 25 years of appeals, Gerald was executed at 7:00 AM, March 23, 1998. For his last meal, Stano ordered a Delmonico steak, baked potato with sour cream and bacon bits, some French bread with butter and a tossed salad topped with blue cheese dressing. He finished the meal with half gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream and two liters of Dr. Pepper.

Stano was the first death row inmate to die in Florida's 75-year-old, oak chair since the March 25, 1997 flaming execution of Pedro Medina. After a foot-long flame leaped from the head of Medina -- the second malfunction by the chair within seven years -- State authorities imposed a one-year moratorium on electrocutions. Investigators eventually determined the malfunction was caused by the executioners' failure to properly apply electrically conducting sponges in the chair's headpiece. With a heavily backed-up execution schedule and coming elections, the state's Senate voted unanimously to reinstate electrocution and scheduled four within an eight-day period.

The first on the block was Stano. The unrepentant killer made no final statement and stared straight ahead as he was strapped in. Following his death -- which, unlike in previous executions, no smoke or flames came shooting out of his head -- his attorneys distributed a written statement in which he thanked his friends and supporters: "Know that I love you all and cherish your love. Thanks for staying with me when people ridiculed you... I am innocent."

Sweet dreams, and may you forever remain Crazy 4 Crazies.

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