Arthur Gooch (criminal)

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Arthur Gooch (died June 19, 1936[1]) was an American criminal, who is notable for being one of two people ever executed under the federal Lindbergh kidnapping law, and the only one in whose crime nobody was killed.

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 Kennedy 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, 1927, 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, Rich Owens. According to the witnesses Gooch's hanging was botched and his death lasted 15 minutes. Many blamed Owens for this failure, as this was the only hanging he ever performed and the first hanging in Oklahoma since 1911.[6]

His last words were reported to have been, "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]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-03-29. Retrieved 2008-04-18. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Federal Executions 1927-2003
  3. ^ [1] at
  4. ^ "Business, Pleasure & Politics". Time Magazine. 1936-06-29. Retrieved 2008-08-09. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2003-04-13. Retrieved 2012-02-23. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ The Executioner's Song Archived April 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^