2010-03-05 / News

The most infamous South Carolinians

By Warner M. Montgomery Warner@TheColumbiaStar.com

Bill Conner (left), a guest at the Torch Club meeting and a candidate for S.C. Lt. Governor, thanks James Fowles for an inspiring talk. Bill Conner (left), a guest at the Torch Club meeting and a candidate for S.C. Lt. Governor, thanks James Fowles for an inspiring talk. “Who is the most infamous South Carolinian?” asked retired lawyer James Fowles.

The members of the Torch Club replied, “Gov. Mark Sanford with his Appalachian hikes?” “Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and his highway hijinks?” “Congressman Joe Wilson and his ‘You lie’ cry?” “Congressman John Jenrette and his Capitol steps affair?” “Jim and Tammie Fay Baker and their collection plate?”

“Perhaps,” replied the bearded bard, “but my favorite is the most evil person who ever lived in South Carolina. Pee Wee Gaskins.” Then to the horror of the academically– inclined audience, Fowles proceeded to outline the inhuman career of the prolific serial killer in Palmetto State history.

Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins is the most infamous South Carolinian according to James Fowles. Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins is the most infamous South Carolinian according to James Fowles. Pee Wee was born Junior Parrott and only learned his real name at age 18 when a juvenile court judge sent him to reform school. By age 11, he had quit school and organized a gang, the Trouble Trio, that robbed homes and raped young boys and girls. At age 13 he attacked a girl with an axe and was sent to reform school where he was gang raped and beaten.

The diminutive Pee Wee escaped, joined a carnival, married a 13–year–old girl, burned barns for insurance money, split a girl’s skull, and went to prison for five years. To prove he was a “Power Man,” he killed a fellow inmate and spent six months in solitary. Another escape, another carnival, another marriage, more stealing, and soon he was back in prison. And so it went.

In 1961, Gaskins was released from prison and back burglarizing homes, raping young girls, marrying again, and back to prison until he was paroled in 1968. Then he began his killing spree – over 80 young boys and girls by 1975. Most of his victims were picked up hitchhiking, slaughtered, cannibalized, and buried in the woods. He even bought a hearse telling his bar friends he needed it to haul all the people he killed.

Finally, his victims were found, and Pee Wee was arrested, convicted in 1976, and given the death sentence only to have it commuted by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. He received another death sentence in 1978 for killing a fellow inmate. This time the Supreme Court had changed its ruling, and Pee Wee was executed in 1991 after confessing to over 100 killings.

Fowles took a deep breath and said, “There are others like Raymond Carney, Rusty Woomer, Larry Gene Bell, Oscar Snyder, and Susan Smith, but time has run out. Maybe next time…”

The Columbia Torch Club meets monthly for tasty food and interesting lectures. Visitors are welcome. For information, call Ed Latimer at 803- 776-4765.

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