Arthur Gooch (criminal)

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Arthur Gooch (died June 19, 1936[1]) was an American criminal, who is notable for being the only person ever be executed under the federal Lindbergh kidnapping law.

Gooch was the only person sentenced to death and executed by the United States Federal Government[2] for a kidnapping in which the victim(s) were unharmed. Gooch participated in kidnapping two policemen in Texas and released them in Oklahoma.[3] In contrast Victor Feguer, the last federal inmate executed before 2001 (1963 in Iowa) was charged for kidnapping, but his victim died. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declined to commute the sentence.[4]

Although the electric chair was the only method of execution in Oklahoma at this time, Gooch was executed by hanging. Like Gooch, another federal inmate James Alderman, executed in Florida on August 17, 1929, was also hanged, despite the fact that Florida State law authorized electrocution as a sole method.[5]

The sentence was carried out by Oklahoma's state electrician, Richard Earnest Owen. According to the witnesses Gooch's hanging was botched and his death lasted 15 minutes. Many blamed Owen for this failure, because this was the only hanging he ever performed.[6]

His last words: It's kind of funny—dying. I think I know what it will be like. I'll be standing there, and all of a sudden everything will be black, then there'll be a light again. There's got to be a light again—there's got to be..[7]

Gooch was 26 years old at time of his execution.[1]

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