It's a prison custom to allow death row inmates to choose their last meal before being executed. Food preferences can indicate a lot about an individual, with death row meals being no exception. Some are over-the-top, like the crimes that were committed by the notorious serial killers. Others were surprisingly simple and refined.
Here's a list of notorious death row inmates and serial killers last meals.
Serial Killers Last Meals
1. Marion Albert Pruett
In 1979, Marion Albert Pruett was given $800, the alias (Charles "Sonny" Pearson), and put in the federal witness protection program for testifying about a murder in a federal prison in Atlanta. Pruett then used his new alias to kill five people, including his wife. He said that he committed the murders to fund his cocaine addiction at his trial. He was found guilty and sentenced to death by lethal injection.
Pruett initially considered having a roast duck as his last meal. But opted for Pizza Hut stuffed crust pizza, four Burger King Whoppers, french fries, fried squash, fried eggplant, fried okra, a whole pecan pie, and three two-liter Pepsi bottles.
2. Aileen Wuornos
Aileen Wuornos was a female serial killer who murdered at least seven people between 1989 and 1990. She posed as a hitchhiking prostitute and killed middle-aged men, leaving their bodies along highways in Florida and Georgia. Wuornos was arrested in 1991 and admitted to the killings but claimed that she did it in self-defense after the men assaulted her.
In 1992 she was convicted and sentenced to death. Wuornos later admitted that she killed the men for profit, not as an act of self-defense. She denied a formal last meal and opted for a regular prison meal of burger and snacks from the canteen instead. She then had a cup of coffee to top it off.
3. Robert Alton Harris
Robert Alton Harris was executed at San Quentin State Prison in 1992 for killing two teenage boys in 1978. His execution was the first one in California since 1967.
He requested a last meal of a 21-piece bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, two large Domino's pizzas with no anchovies, a bag of jelly beans, a six-pack of Pepsi, and a pack of Camel cigarettes.
4. Steven Woods
Steven Woods was linked to the murder of Ron Whitehead and Bethena Brosz after investigators found DNA evidence and obtained multiple witness accounts. Woods fled across states until he was finally arrested and taken to court. Witnesses testified that Woods lured the two into isolation on the pretense that he was selling them drugs and killed them since they knew about another murder he committed two months earlier.
Before he was executed by lethal injection in 2002, Woods requested two pounds of bacon, a large four-meat pizza, four fried chicken breasts, chicken fried steak, two hamburgers with bacon on french toast, french fries, garlic bread with marinara sauce, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, root beer, sweet tea, and two pints of ice cream.
5. Thomas Grasso
Double murderer, Thomas Grasso, strangled an 87-year-old woman with her Christmas tree lights on Christmas eve in 1990. He murdered an 81-year-old man and stole his social security check six months later.
Grasso's final meal was two dozen steamed mussels, two dozen steamed clams, a half-dozen of barbecue spare ribs, a double cheeseburger from Burger King, half a pumpkin pie with whipped cream and strawberries, two strawberry milkshakes, and a 16-ounce can of Spaghetti-Os served at room temperature.
6. Ruth Snyder
Ruth Snyder had made at least seven attempts to kill her emotionally and physically abusive husband, Albert. She was successful on March 20, 1927, when she and the man she was having an affair with strangled her husband and stuffed his nose with chloroform-soaked rags. They staged his death as part of a burglary, but she was later caught and sentenced to death.
Before she was put to death on the electric chair, her last meal was chicken parmesan with alfredo pasta, ice cream, 2 milkshakes, and a 12-pack of grape soda.
7. Ted Bundy
One of America's most infamous serial killers, Ted Bundy kidnapped, raped, and murdered many young girls and women during the 1970s. After over a decade of denying his guilt, he finally confessed to 30 homicides. But his true victim count is unknown.
Before his execution by electric chair in 1989, he declined to have one of the special last meals. So, he was served the "traditional" steak dinner, over-easy eggs, hash browns, toast, milk, coffee, juice, butter, and jelly. However, he did not eat any of his last meal.
8. Danny Rolling
Danny Rolling aka, "the Gainsville Ripper," was a serial killer who was sentenced to death for killing 5 students in Florida in the 90s. He later confessed to committing a triple homicide in Lousiana, raping several of his victims, and attempting to murder his father.
Before Rolling was executed by lethal injection in 2006, his last meal was butterfly shrimp, lobster tail, a baked potato, strawberry cheesecake, and sweet tea.
9. Bruno Richard Hauptmann
Hauptmann committed what was deemed as the "Crime of the Century" when he kidnapped and murdered Charles Lindbergh's 20-month-old son and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The killer insisted he was innocent but was convicted of first-degree murder and executed via electric chair in 1936.
Hauptmann requested celery, olives, buttered peas, chicken, french fries, cherries, and a slice of cake as his last meal on death row.
10. William Bonin
'The Freeway Killer' was an American serial killer and sex offender. The twisted man raped, tortured, and murdered at least 21 young boys and men in California from May 1979 to June 1980. Bonin is also speculated of committing at least 15 more murders.
Bonin spent 14 years on death row before his execution by lethal injection in 1996. He had two pepperoni and sausage pizzas, three servings of chocolate ice cream, and three six-packs of Coca-Cola and Pepsi for his last meal.
11. John Wayne Gacy
John Wayne Gacy, also known as the Killer Clown, assaulted and murdered at least 33 boys and young men. He was a regular performer at children's hospitals and charity events and went by "Pogo" or "Patches," the clown. Gacy allegedly committed all of his murders inside his ranch house near Norridge, Illinois.
Gacy's conviction for 33 murders by one individual covered the most homicides in US legal history at the time. Before he was executed by lethal injection, he had a dozen deep-fried shrimp, a bucket of KFC original recipe chicken, fries, and a pound of strawberries as his last meal.
12. Stephen Anderson
Stephen Anderson is a serial killer known to have at least eight victims, including an 81-year-old retired piano teacher named Elizabeth Lyman. He broke into her house, cut her phone line, shot her in the face, and sat down in her kitchen to eat some noodles and fried eggs- his meal was interrupted when the sheriff's deputies arrived on the scene.
Before he was executed, Anderson requested to have two grilled cheese sandwiches, a pint of cottage cheese, a hominy/corn mixture, a slice of peach pie, chocolate chip ice cream, and radishes as his last meal.
13. Timothy McVeigh
Ex-Army soldier and security guard Timothy McVeigh is the American terrorist behind theOklahoma City bombing. The tragic event reduced a third of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building to rubble, damaged over 300 nearby buildings, and killed 168 people.
McVeigh committed the worst act of domestic terrorism in the history of the US. He was sentenced to death for 168 counts of murder and was granted his request to have two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream as his last meal.
14. Ricky Ray Rector
After killing a man in a restaurant, Rector was on the run for three days before he agreed to turn himself in to authorities. However, instead of accepting his arrest, he shot the police officer and then attempted suicide- resulting in a self-inflicted lobotomy.
Despite Rector's mental state, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton made a point to oversee his execution during his 1992 presidential campaign. Rector asked for steak, fried chicken, cherry Kool-aid, and pecan pie as his last meal. He ate everything but the pecan pie, telling the guards that he was "saving it for later."
15. Lawrence Russell Brewer
Lawrence Russell Brewer was arrested for torturing and killing a 49-year-old handicapped black male in Jasper County, Texas. Brewer and his associates drive to an isolated area where they beat the victim, tired him to a logging chain that they hooked up to a pickup truck, and dragged him around until his death.
The white supremacist ordered one of the largest last meals of two chicken-fried steaks with gravy, a triple meat bacon cheeseburger, a cheese omelet, fried okra, a pound of barbecued meat, half a loaf of white bread, three fajitas, a Meat Lovers pizza, three root beers, peanut butter fudge, and ice cream.
Brewer said he wasn't hungry and didn't eat any of his meal when it arrived. Because of his stunt, the state of Texas decided to stop granting last meal requests.
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|Juanita Spinelli||Murder||Turkey meat and a hamburger.|
|Aaron Mitchell||Murder||Fried chicken, bread and butter, and milk.|
|Caryl Chessman||Kidnapping, rape and robbery||A sandwich and a Coke.|
|Stanley Tookie Williams III||Murder||Declined a special meal, but had some oatmeal and milk before his execution.|
Included in the impressive list were 20 tacos, two kinds of ice cream, 20 enchiladas, two double cheeseburgers, fried chicken, pizza, and — perhaps the weirdest of all — a fruitcake.What is the craziest last meal request? ›
James Edward Smith, The Texas killer they put to death in June 1990, wins the prize for one of the oddest last meal requests: a clump of dirt. Because dirt was not on the list of approved foods provided by prison officials, they denied Smith's request and gave him yogurt instead.What serial killer ate an olive? ›
March 15, 1963
For his last meal, Feguer requested a single olive with the pit still in it. He told guards he hoped an olive tree would sprout from his grave "as a sign of peace".
On January 23, 1978, Chase broke into a house and shot Teresa Wallin (three months pregnant at the time) three times. He then had sexual intercourse with her corpse while stabbing her with a butcher's knife. He then removed multiple organs, cut off one of her nipples and drank her blood.Is there a money limit for your last meal? ›
They're on death row, and according to long-standing tradition on death rows almost everywhere, they can ask for virtually anything they want for dinner on the night before their execution -- and, within reason, they're likely to get it. (In California, for example, there's a $50 limit on an inmate's last meal.)Why did Texas stop last meals? ›
Years ago, a Texas inmate even requested dirt for his final meal. Until 2003, the Texas prison system listed final meals of each prisoner as part of its death row website. That stopped at 313 final meals after officials said they received complaints from people who found it offensive.What is the most common last meal? ›
Often, death row inmates choose pies, and I've included a variety in the cookbook. Fried chicken and chicken fried steak, which are popular southern dishes, were also common among last meals. But ice cream and milkshakes topped the list. Almost every person, if they requested dessert, wanted some type of ice cream.Why do death row inmates get one last meal? ›
And as a ritual, the last meal is intended not to comfort the condemned but to soften for society the harsh fact that a human is about to be killed with the law's full sanction, says Jon Sheldon, a Virginia death penalty lawyer.Who cooks a prisoners last meal? ›
Prisoners usually submit their final meal request a couple of days before their execution date. The request is passed along to the prison's chef—often a prisoner himself—who then prepares the meal.
"The Puritans of Massachusetts once held grand feasts for the condemned, believing it emulated the Last Supper of Christ, representing a communal atonement for the community and the prisoner," read a portion of the paper.What is the best last meal? ›
- Lobster Tail, Butterfly Shrimp, Baked Potato, and Strawberry Cheesecake. Apparently convicted murderers can be foodies too. ...
- French Onion Soup. The American queen of French cookery, Julia Child said her final "bon appétit" over a bowl of soupe à l'oignon gratinée at the very ripe old age of 91.
Ronnie Lee Gardner
He was sentenced to death for burglary, robbery, and two counts of murder. For his last meal, Gardner requested steak, a lobster tail, apple pie, vanilla ice cream, and to eat it all while watching the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
|Date apprehended||August 27, 1964 (first arrest) April 24, 1973 (second arrest)|
|Imprisoned at||California Medical Facility|
Joseph Roy Metheny (March 2, 1955 – August 5, 2017) was an American serial killer and rapist from the Baltimore, Maryland area. While he claimed to have killed 13 people, sufficient evidence was only found to convict him of two murders. Research later confirmed 3 more victims, though he had not been charged with them.What serial killer had a twin brother? ›
Larry Hall was born as a twin in Wabash, Indiana on December 11, 1962, to parents Robert Hall, a cemetery worker, and Aera Hall, a homemaker. He spent his first few days in a neonatal intensive care unit due to lack of oxygen after his twin brother Gary "fed on him in the womb" in a monochorionic pregnancy.Who was the scariest female serial killer? ›
- Aileen Wuornos (aka "That chick from Monster), 1956-2002. Crime: Found guilty of killing six men between the years of 1989-1990. ...
- Genene Jones, 1950-Present. ...
- Griselda Blanco, 1943-2012. ...
- Delphine LaLaurie, 1775-1842. ...
- Nannie Doss, 1905-1965. ...
- Andrea Yates, 1964-Present.
Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (1993) Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003)What was the most disturbing serial killer? ›
- Ted Bundy (1946-1989) ...
- Harold Shipman (1946-2004) ...
- Andrei Chikatilo (1936- 1994) ...
- Jeffrey Dahmer (1960- 1994) ...
- Albert Fish (1870-1936) ...
- John Wayne Gacy (1942-1994) ...
- Jack the Ripper (Unidentified Serial Killer ∼1888) ...
- Joachim Kroll (1933-1991)
before his death by l3thal injection. he requested lobster tail, butterfly shrimp, baked potato.
Inmates are given sporks with their meals, and they eat from the provided tray. Before execution, an inmate may request a last meal. To avoid extravagance, the food to prepare the last meal must cost no more than $40 and must be purchased locally.Can a prisoner ask for the death penalty? ›
In capital punishment, a volunteer is a prisoner who wishes to be sentenced to death. Often, volunteers will waive all appeals in an attempt to expedite the sentence. In the United States, execution volunteers constitute approximately 10% of prisoners on death row.Which states don t do last meals? ›
Since then, death row inmates eat their last meal from the prison's daily menu, the same as every inmate. Texas is the only state that does not honor any special requests from death row inmates.Why do executions happen at midnight? ›
By starting at midnight, it gives the full 24 hours to work through potential temporary stays of execution, if any, before the time slot has ended and a new death warrant must be procured. That said, perhaps more importantly, and a reason cited by many a prison official, is simply the matter of staffing.Where is death row legal? ›
The death penalty is still legal in California, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, but there are gubernatorial moratoriums on executions in these three states. Texas leads the nation in the number of executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.How much time difference between last meal and sleep? ›
As a general rule of thumb, nutritionists will tell you to wait about three hours to sleep after eating. For example, if you have dinner at 6 p.m., try to wait to go to sleep until 9 p.m. This allows some digestion to occur and gives time for the contents of your stomach to move into your small intestine.What hour is best for last meal? ›
You should eat dinner approximately four to five hours after eating lunch. If that falls in the 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. window, you hit the last hour of your body's heightened metabolic rate before it starts to slow. Keep in mind that the longer you give your body between your last meal and your bedtime, the better.What was the last meal on death row in Florida? ›
The last prisoner to be executed in Florida, Louis Bernard Gaskin woke up at 4:45 a.m. April 12 and had his last meal at 9:45 a.m. The meal included BBQ pork ribs, pork and turkey neck, Buffalo wings, shrimp fried rice, french fries and water.Does lethal injection hurt? ›
Lethal injection causes severe pain and severe respiratory distress with associated sensations of drowning, asphyxiation, panic, and terror in the overwhelming majority of cases, a new report from NPR found.Why do prisoners wear orange? ›
To make escape more difficult, prison uniforms in the United States often consist of a distinctive orange jumpsuit with short sleeves or set of scrubs with a white T-shirt underneath, as it is difficult for an escaped inmate to avoid recognition and recapture in such distinctive attire.
Death by electrocution was believed to be quick and painless. Today, after 4,300 electrocutions, death by electric chair can no longer be called an unusual punishment.What do inmates call the food they make? ›
A spread is a prison meal made by inmates. Spreads are often made with commissary ingredients, such as instant ramen and corn puffs. Spreads can be simple meals, or elaborate and inventive combinations of ingredients.What is it called when you get food in jail? ›
The federal prison system operates a shop called the inmate commissary, where prisoners can purchase various foods, clothing, and other items.Who was the first to survive death row? ›
|Born||January 12, 1929 Saint Martinville, Louisiana, U.S.|
|Died||May 9, 1947 (aged 18) Louisiana State Penitentiary, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, U.S.|
|Cause of death||Execution by electrocution|
|Known for||First known incident of a failed execution by electrocution in the United States|
When European settlers came to the new world, they brought the practice of capital punishment. The first recorded execution in the new colonies was that of Captain George Kendall in the Jamestown colony of Virginia in 1608. Kendall was executed for being a spy for Spain.What famous serial killer ate his victims? ›
Jeffrey Dahmer, a serial killer living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States, murdered 17 young men and boys between 1978 and 1991. Following his arrest, he told police that he had cut up the thighs, biceps, and internal organs of three of his victims and cooked them in a stovetop skillet before consuming them.What serial killer had meat in his drains? ›
Prior to their dissection, Nilsen removed their internal organs, which he disposed of either beside a fence behind his flat or close to Gladstone Park. The victims killed in 1982 and 1983 at his Muswell Hill residence were retained at his flat, with their flesh and smaller bones flushed down the lavatory.Who refused their last meal? ›
Last meals are one of the most famous death row traditions, but one inmate decided that he was not hungry in the lead up to his execution. Kevin Johnson, 37, who faced the death penalty for murdering a police officer, declined his last meal and offered 'no comment' when given the opportunity to say his last words.Who was the No 1 serial killer? ›
The most prolific modern serial killer is arguably doctor Harold Shipman, with 218 probable murders and possibly as many as 250 (see "Medical professionals", below). However, he was actually convicted of a sample of 15 murders.Who is the scariest serial killer of all time? ›
- Ted Bundy. Ted Bundy was an American serial killer and rapist who was active in the 1970s. ...
- Jeffery Dahmer. ...
- John Wayne Gacy. ...
- Ed Gein. ...
- Andrei Chikatilo.
- Bible John.
- The Alphabet Killer.
- The West Mesa Bone Collector.
- Servant Girl Annihilator.
- The Long Island Killer.
- The Black Doodler.
- The Zodiac Killer.
- Jack the Ripper.
But who was Dennis Nilsen, the man who killed 15 men, and how were his shocking crimes committed? Here's the true story behind the man also known as the 'kindly killer'.What serial killer dug up bodies? ›
On July 26, 1984, Ed Gein, a serial killer infamous for skinning human corpses, dies of complications from cancer in a Wisconsin prison at age 77.Why did Texas stop giving last meals? ›
Until 2003, the Texas prison system listed final meals of each prisoner as part of its death row website. That stopped at 313 final meals after officials said they received complaints from people who found it offensive.Can you request alcohol for your last meal? ›
In some countries, alcohol and cigarettes have been offered as part of a last meal, but those items are usually not allowed in the United States. In fact, some states don't accept special requests for a last meal; the condemned gets what is on the prison menu.Do inmates still get last meals? ›
Inmates are given sporks with their meals, and they eat from the provided tray. Before execution, an inmate may request a last meal. To avoid extravagance, the food to prepare the last meal must cost no more than $40 and must be purchased locally.