September 18

This Day in History

Crime

Sep 18, 1959:

A serial killer is executed

Serial killer Harvey Glatman is executed in a California gas chamber for murdering three young women in Los Angeles. Resisting all appeals to save his life, Glatman even wrote to the appeals board to say, "I only want to die."

Glatman had been a smart kid. As a Boy Scout, he developed an obsession with rope. When his parents noticed that he was strangling himself on occasion, they took him to a doctor who told them that it was just a phase and that he would grow out of it. As a teenager, he threatened a girl with a toy gun in Colorado. Skipping bail, he made his way to New York, where he later spent two years and eight months in Sing Sing prison on robbery charges.

Following his release, Glatman moved to Los Angeles and opened up a television repair shop. He took up photography as a hobby, in addition to playing with ropes. On August 1, 1957, he combined these two interests in a sinister way. On the pretense of a freelance modeling assignment, Glatman lured 19-year-old Judy Ann Dull to his apartment, where he raped her and then took photos of her, bound and gagged. He then drove her out to the desert east of Los Angeles and strangled her to death with his favorite rope. By the time Dull's body was found, there were no clues linking the crime to Glatman.

Back in Los Angeles, Glatman posted the pictures of Dull on his walls and became further obsessed with rape and murder. His next victim was Shirley Ann Bridgeford, whom he also strangled to death in the desert. In July 1958, Glatman struck again, following the same twisted procedure. But in October, his luck ran out.

Lorraine Vigil, who answered one of Glatman's modeling ads, was driving with him to his studio when she noticed that he was heading out of the city. She began to struggle with Glatman, who pulled out a pistol and tried to tie her hands. After being shot through the hip, Vigil was able to wrestle the gun away from him. In the ensuing struggle, they both tumbled out of the car--just as a police officer drove past.

Glatman was arrested and confessed to the three murders, seeming to delight in recounting his sadistic crimes. His trial lasted a mere three days before he was sent off to San Quentin to die.

Fact Check We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!

What Happened on Your Birthday?

Pick a Date

Shop HISTORY

  • America The Story of Us

    America The Story of Us

    From the rigors of linking the continent by wagon trails to the transcontinental railway, the engineering of steel-structured buildings, through to landing on the moon, this epic 12-part series is a grand cinematic vision of how the USA was built.

    $14.99

    Buy Now