Death Row Dinners
The last meal of the condemned
Brooklyn-based photographer Henry Hargreaves’ No Seconds series tackles the grim subject of death row dinners – the last meal of a condemned prisoner awaiting execution in the US. “In my photography, I have always been fascinated by the mix of the mundane and the extraordinary,” Hargreaves tells Emirates Man. “While I was reading about efforts to stop the last meal tradition in Texas, it sparked my interest. In the most unnatural moment there is (state sponsored death), what kind of requests for food had been made?”
Hargreaves – a New Zealander – was fascinated by why America, more than any other country in the developed world, was still using such a final form of punishment. “In New Zealand, and in fact anywhere else in the developed world, the death penalty is just not even in the conversation. It is a remnant of an earlier era. This little bit of civility just jumped off the page,” he says. “I felt it could be interesting to represent these visually. Researching it strangely personalised these people for me and for a moment I was able to identify them through the common denominator of food.” Here, Emirates Man, with the help from Hargreaves’ photography project, reveals the last things eaten by some of the most notorious criminals in history.
One of America’s most notorious criminals, Bundy was a serial killer, kidnapper, rapist and necrophile who killed more than 30 women between 1974 and 1978. He finally confessed to 30 of the murders before his death by electrocution in 1989, although police in the US believe the number of murders he committed was probably much higher. Bundy famously married a woman who had sent him fan mail during his trial – the killer had represented himself in court and asked for her hand in marriage when she took the stand as a character witness.
Hanged by the Neck
One of the last people to be put to death in Iowa, Feguer was convicted of kidnapping and killing Dr Edward Bartels with a single gunshot to the head and was executed in 1963. Feguer was a drug addict, and had looked up Bartels in the Yellow Pages and killed the doctor to steal drugs from him. It’s claimed he chose an olive because he believed it might grow into an olive tree from inside him.
Ronnie Lee Gardner
Gardner was guilty of many crimes, including robbery and burglary, before he committed murder in 1985 (he killed a bartender, Melvyn John Otterstrom, during a robbery in Salt Lake City) and he spent 25 years fighting the death penalty in the court of appeal before he was executed in June 2010 by firing squad. Gardner requested to watch the Lord Of The Rings trilogy while eating his last meal.
McVeigh was responsible for the biggest terrorist attack on US soil before the 9/11 attacks, when he killed 168 people and injured more than 600 after detonating a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995. He was a militia movement sympathiser and a veteran of the Gulf War. It’s thought he committed his heinous crime as an act of revenge against the federal government for their handling of the Waco siege, which saw 76 people die, just two years earlier.
Allen “Tiny” Lee Davis
Davis was anything but tiny – he weighed 350lbs. He was found guilty of murdering pregnant Nancy Weiler and her two daughters in Jacksonville in 1982 and was sent to the electric chair. His death was a controversial one – while in the chair, his nose bled and he suffered burns to his head, leg and groin. As a result, he was the last person to be electrocuted in Florida. All subsequent executions have been by lethal injection.
John Wayne Gacy
Known as the Killer Clown (because he dressed as a clown and attended fundraising events in his home town of Norwood Park Township, Chicago), married man Gacy committed at least 33 murders of teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978. He was executed by lethal injection in May 1994. Gacy had worked at three branches of KFC before he was caught.