John A. Bennett
|John Arthur Bennett|
April 10, 1935|
|Died||April 13, 1961
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, U.S.
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1953–1955|
John Arthur Bennett (April 10, 1935 – April 13, 1961) was a United States Army soldier who was convicted and executed for the rape and attempted murder of an 11-year-old Austrian girl. As of 2014[update], he is the last person to have been executed by the U.S. military.
Bennett was born in Virginia to a family of African American sharecroppers. He was epileptic, but managed to enlist in the U.S. Army when he was 18. Days before Christmas 1954, a heavily intoxicated Bennett left his base to find a brothel, but chanced upon an 11-year-old Austrian girl. He raped the little girl, mutilated her genitals with a knife, (when he was unable to sodomize her due to lack of an erection), and then attempted to drown her in a nearby stream. He was convicted by a court-martial, of First Degree Child Rape, Attempted First Degree Sodomy, Aggravated Child Rape by Instrument, and Attempted First Degree Murder, one month later and sentenced to death, four times. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Bennett's death warrant. Days before Bennett's scheduled execution four years later, the girl and her parents wrote to President John F. Kennedy, asking that Bennett's life be spared. Kennedy took no action on the appeals, letting his predecessor's death warrant stand. Bennett was hanged at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1961.
- Serrano, Richard A. (July 12, 1994). "Last Soldier to Die at Leavenworth Hanged in an April Storm". Los Angeles Times. p. 14. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
- Reid, Tim (April 30, 2005). "Private was hanged in 1961 for raping girl". London: The Times. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
Days before Christmas 1954, and very drunk, Bennett crossed a field searching for a brothel outside his army base. Instead he came to a group of private homes before finding an 11-year-old local girl, who was returning home from Christmas shopping.