||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2008)|
June 22, 1942 |
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
|Criminal penalty||Sentenced to death|
|Date||September 25, 1982|
|Location(s)||Wilkes-Barre and Jenkins Township, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Weapon(s)||Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifle|
George Emil Banks (born June 22, 1942) is an American spree killer, sentenced to death by electrocution, but later declared by the court to be too psychotic to execute. Banks, a former Camp Hill prison guard, shot 13 people to death on September 25, 1982 in Wilkes-Barre and Jenkins Township, Pennsylvania, including five of his own children. Banks said he killed his children because he felt they would be tormented by the cruelty of racial views against mixed race children. Since his conviction, Banks has tried to kill himself four times and has gone on hunger strikes that required him to be force fed. A psychiatric report filed in the case says Banks believes he is in a spiritual fight with an Antichrist in New York, that Pennsylvania was controlled by the Islamic religion and he has engaged in a "private war with President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky".
On November 29, 1990, the Pennsylvania State Legislature barred further use of the electric chair amidst debate that electrocution was cruel and unusual punishment and approved lethal injection. December 2, 2004, Banks received a stay of execution. May 12, 2010, Banks was declared incompetent to be executed by Luzerne County Judge Joseph Augello following a week long competency hearing held the previous month.
 On September 24, 1982 George Emil Banks went to bed at Schoolhouse Lane in Wilkes Barre Pennsylvania after taking a mixture of prescription drugs and straight gin. After he awoke on September 25, 1982, he picked up a Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and began what would become a 13 person killing spree. He began his killing spree by killing his girlfriend, former girlfriends, their families and children he had fathered with them. The ages of his victims ranged from 12 months to 47 years old. The dead were seven children and six adults.
George murdered his family in his own home first. He then dressed in military fatigues and made his way outside. Across the street, 22 year old Jimmy Olsen and 24 year old Ray Hall, Jr were exiting a home and the area when George Banks opened fire on them. It is said that he yelled that they would not tell anyone about this before he fired. Both men were struck. Mr. Olsen survived but Mr. Hall was killed. Banks drove off. He went to Heather Highlands mobile home park to the mobile home of his former girlfriend Sharon Mazzillo and their son Kissamayu. Banks forced his way in and shot Sharon. He then placed the gun to the sleeping child’s forehead and fired one shot killing the boy. Banks then killed Sharon’s mother and brother who were also in the home. Hiding in the closet was Sharon’s other brother whom Banks did not see. He was the only survivor and was able to identify Banks as the shooter.
Police discovered the victims at Heather Highlands mobile home park and made the connection between the Olsen and Hall shooting and the Heather Highlands shooting. The Schoolhouse Lane victims were then discovered. Police began search for Banks who abandoned his car and car jacked another vehicle. He abandoned that vehicle and drove around until he found a desolate area where he laid down in a grassy area and passed out. Banks awoke and went to his mother’s house, also in Wilkes Barre. His mother is quoted as saying he was crying and smelled like liquor. It is stated that Banks told his mother that she had to take him where he wanted to go or there would be a shootout. When she asked what happened he said “It’s all over. I did it. I killed everyone.” She asked who he killed. He replied “I killed them all, Mom. I killed all the kids and girls. Regina, Sharon, them all.” Banks' mother called his home hoping that Banks was just drunk and rambling. When the police answered the phone Banks grabbed the phone and asked how the children were. The police, hoping to keep Banks on the phone, replied that they were alive. Banks screamed that they were lying and said “I know I killed them!” He hung up the phone, placed three 30-round magazines and numerous other rounds of ammunition into a bag and went to a vacated rental house.
A standoff between Banks and police began. The police brought his mother and tried multiple tactics to get Banks to surrender including having a false news report played over WILK radio that the children were alive and needed blood to survive. The police tried to use this to draw Banks out of the standoff. Finally, Robert Brunson, a former co-worker of Banks, was able to talk him out. It took 4 hours for the standoff to end. As of September 30, 1982 Banks stood accused of 8 counts of murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, stealing a car, robbery and theft.
On June 6, 1983 the trial for Banks began at the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes Barre Pennsylvania. Banks insisted on testifying stating that he is not insane. The case consisted of multiple scene witnesses, Banks family members as well as Mr. Olsen identifying Banks as the person who shot him and left him for dead. Closing arguments took place on June 21, 1983. The jury found Banks guilty of 12 counts of first-degree murder, 1 count of third-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, and one 1 count each of robbery, theft, and endangering the life of another person. On June 22, 1983, Banks' 41st Birthday, the jury recommended the death penalty. Banks went to the maximum-security unit at Huntington until November 1985. He was then sent to the Correctional Institute at Graterford after the US Supreme Court refused to overturn his verdict.
From 1987 to 2000 Banks continued to appeal his case. The US Supreme Court refused to hear the argument regarding mental competency. Then Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge twice signed the death warrant for Banks; however, both times appellate courts have stayed his execution. In 2001, 2006 and 2008 there were hearings about the psychological state of Banks questioning if he could be executed. In 2011 he is still on death row in Pennsylvania although it is said he is now dying of cancer.
- Sharon Mazzillo (24) - Former girlfriend of George Banks who was engaged in a custody dispute over their son, Kissmayu Banks. Gunshot wound to the chest.
- Kissmayu Banks (5) - The son of Sharon Mazzillo and George Banks. Gunshot wound to the face.
- Scott Mazzillo (7) - Nephew of Sharon Mazzillo. Kicked, hit with the rifle butt, killed with a gunshot wound to the face.
- Alice Mazzillo (47) - Sharon Mazzillo's mother. Shot in the face while on the phone with police.
- Regina Clemens (29) - Girlfriend of George Banks. Gunshot wound to the face.
- Montanzima Banks (6) - The daughter of Regina Clemens and George Banks. Gunshot wound to the heart.
- Susan Yuhas (23) - Girlfriend of George Banks, sister of Regina Clemens. Gunshot wound to the head.
- Boende Banks (4) - The son of Susan Yuhas and George Banks. Gunshot wound to the face.
- Mauritania Banks (20 months) - Daughter of Susan Yuhas and George Banks. Gunshot wound to the face.
- Dorothy Lyons (29) - Girlfriend of George Banks. Gunshot wound to the neck.
- Nancy Lyons (11) - Daughter of Dorothy Lyons. Gunshot wound to the head.
- Foraroude Banks (1) - The son of Dorothy Lyons and George Banks. Gunshot wound to the head.
- Raymond F. Hall Jr. (24) - Bystander who had been attending a party across the street. Gunshot wound to the liver and kidney.
- LaMar Banks (11) - (Son of John Banks – George Banks’s Brother)) Hid in a bedroom (93 Metcalf St. Wilkes-Barre, PA.) while he listened to his grandmother; Mary Yelland plead with George Banks after he left his house on Schoolhouse Lane and before continuing his deadly rampage unto Heather Highlands Trailer Park in Jenkins Township, PA.
- LaTonya Banks (7) - (Daughter of John Banks – George Banks’s Brother) Hid in a bedroom (93 Metcalf St. Wilkes-Barre, PA.) while she listened to her grandmother; Mary Yelland plead with George Banks after he left his house on Schoolhouse Lane and before continuing his deadly rampage unto Heather Highlands Trailor Park in Jenkins Township, PA.
- Keith Mazzillo (13) - Hid in a closet while he watched his mother Alice die due to a gunshot wound to the head.
- Angelo Vitale (10) - Hid under the bed where his mother Alice died.
- James Olsen (22) - Survived a gunshot wound to the chest.
- Unidentified Man that Banks car jacked at gun point.
- September 1982: George Banks is relieved of duty as a Camp Hill State Prison guard after a conflict with a supervisor, and is evaluated at a Harrisburg-area hospital for mental-health issues. A later evaluation in Luzerne County, where he lived, characterizes Banks as "filled with hate and anger at the world in general." On Sept. 25, Banks kills 13 people, including five of his children, at two houses in Wilkes-Barre and its suburbs.
- March 1983: A three-day hearing results in Banks' being ruled mentally competent to stand trial.
- June 1983: Trial testimony begins in Pittsburgh. Against his lawyers' advice, Banks testifies, saying police killed as many as nine of the victims. He is found guilty of killing 13 people, wounding a 14th, and other offenses. He receives 12 death sentences and one life sentence.
- November 1985: After Banks' county-level appeals are exhausted, a judge formally imposes the death penalties.
- February 1987: State Supreme Court upholds the verdicts.
- October 1987: U.S. Supreme Court declines to take up the case.
- February 1996: Gov. Tom Ridge signs Banks' death warrant. Banks later receives a stay of execution.
- August 1997: An appeal is argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
- March 1999: Ridge signs another death warrant for Banks, and a federal judge issues another stay.
- October 2001: The Third Circuit reverses the death sentences based on wording of jury instructions.
- May 2002: Prison officials obtain a court order to force-feed Banks, who had gone more than 16 days on inadequate food and water.
- June 2002: U.S. Supreme Court sends the case back to the Third Circuit, which later upholds its previous ruling in Banks' favor. The case is sent back the U.S. Supreme Court.
- June 2004: U.S. Supreme Court rules against Banks.
- October 2004: Gov. Rendell signs Banks' death warrant.
- Dec. 1, 2004: State Supreme Court halts the execution and orders a county judge to determine whether Banks is mentally competent.
- By Michael R. Sisak (Staff Writer). "Judge: Banks incompetent, can't be executed". The Times-Tribune. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
- Various. "Various Articles from 1982 and 1983". Various Articles.
- Lohr, David. "True Story of George Banks". Tru TV. Tru TV. Retrieved 2011-03-26.
- "Death Warrants". Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Retrieved 2011-03-26.
- Press, Associated. "Banks named in 8 more murder indictments". Newspaper Article. The Reading Eagle. Retrieved 2011-03-26.
- Press, Associated. "Pennsylvania man who killed his family is ruled incompetent for execution". PennLive.com. Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-03-26.
- Sisak, Michael R. "Judge: Banks incompetent, can't be executed". Time Tribune. Retrieved 2011-03-26.
- "Executions". Execution Status. Retrieved 2011-03-26.
- Worden, Amy. "Execution of killer is halted The state's high court ordered a competency hearing for the man who killed 13 in 1982.". Philly.Com. Retrieved 2011-03-26.