|Born||15 April 1915|
|Died||6 January 1939(aged 23)|
|Known for||Falsely accused of rape and murder|
Joe Arridy (April 15, 1915 – January 6, 1939) was a mentally disabled American man executed for rape and murder and posthumously granted a pardon. Arridy was sentenced to death for the murder and rape of a Pueblo, Colorado schoolgirl. He confessed to murdering the girl and assaulting her sister. Due to the sensational nature of the crime precautions were taken to keep him from being hanged by vigilante justice. His sentence was executed after multiple stays on January 6, 1939. Arridy was the first Colorado prisoner posthumously pardoned in January 2011 by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, a former district attorney, after research had shown that Arridy was likely not in Pueblo when the crime happened and had been coerced into confessing.
Early life 
Arridy was born in Pueblo, Colorado to Henry and Mary Arridy, a family of Syrian immigrants, who emigrated from Syria to Pueblo. Arridy was admitted at the State Home and Training School for the mentally challenged in Grand Junction, where he spent most of his life. He was often mistreated and beaten by his peers. He left the institution and moved to the railyard in August 1936.
Arrest and conviction 
On August 26, 1936, Arridy was arrested in Cheyenne, Wyoming, after being caught wandering around the railyards. The arrest threw Arridy in a large ongoing investigation into the murder and rape of a Pueblo schoolgirl. Arridy caught the attention of the sheriff in charge, George Carroll, when Arridy revealed that he had come through Pueblo by way of a train while on the run from Grand Junction, Colorado. Prior to notification by the sheriff in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Pueblo had already arrested Frank Aguliar as the prime suspect when Sheriff George Carroll contacted the sheriff in Pueblo and claimed that Arridy told him several times he had "been with a man named Frank" at the crime scene. Joe gave several versions of the murder in multiple confessions, the first was that a club was used in the murder. This later changed when the authorities found an axe at the scene and he later testified in interviews that he used an axe. When the case was finally brought to trial his lawyer didn't try to fight the allegations and instead sought reprieve through a plea of insanity. Arridy was convicted even though there was a lack of hard evidence which included the sisters testimony that Frank Aguilar had been present and not Arridy and the determination he was an "imbecile" with an IQ score in the 40's by three state psychiatrists who agreed that Arridy was “incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong, and therefore, would be unable to perform any action with a criminal intent.”.
Arridy was known for spending his time on death row playing with a toy train given to him by prison Warden Roy Best who called Arridy "the happiest prisoner on deathrow". He was liked by both the prisoners and guards. He received nine stays of execution while the man that was arrested before him, Frank Aguilar was executed nearly two years before him. For his last meal he requested ice cream. When questioned about his impending execution he showed "blank bewilderment" and that he didn't realize the meaning of the gas chamber telling the warden "no, no Joe won't die." Joe was reported to have smiled while being taken to the gas chamber and was only momentarily nervous until the warden grabbed his hand and reassured him.
See also 
- "Begging Joe's pardon". 5280. October 2008. Retrieved 8 January 2011.
- Warden, Rob. "Arridy". Retrieved 9 January 2011.
- "Disabled man executed in 1939 pardoned in Colorado". Miami Herald. Associated Press. Friday. Retrieved 8 January 2011.
- "Prison Bars Thwart Mob". LA Times. August 30, 1936. Retrieved 8 January 2011.
- "Fear lynching in slaying of girl". Ellensburg Daily Record. August 22, 1936. Retrieved 8 January 2011.
- "Sorry, Joe". Colorado Springs Independent. June 7, 2007. Retrieved 8 January 2011.
- "Youth confesses attacking girls". Reading Eagle. August 27, 1936. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
- Strescino, Peter (January 7, 2011). "Governor pardons Joe Arridy". Pueblo Chieftain. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
- "Colorado governor pardons man executed for murder in 1939". Associated Press. Jan. 07, 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2011.
- ""Happiest Man" in death cell dies in chair". St. Petersburg Times. Jan 7, 1939. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
- "Condemned Prisoner to give train to another slayer". Reading Eagle. jan 5, 1939. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
- Andersen, Dianna. "Joe Arridy". Canon City Public Library. Retrieved 9 January 2011.