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Sunday, December 17, 2017

William Heirens, American serial killer died he was, 83

William George Heirens  was a convicted American serial killer who confessed to three murders in 1946 died , at the age of 83.. Heirens was called the Lipstick Killer after a notorious message scrawled in lipstick at a crime scene. At the time of his death, Heirens was reputedly Chicago's longest-serving prisoner, having spent 65 years in prison.[2]

(November 15, 1928 – March 5, 2012)

He spent the later years of his sentence at the Dixon Correctional Center in Dixon, Illinois, (Inmate No. C-06103). Though he remained imprisoned until his death, Heirens had recanted his confession and claimed to be a victim of coercive interrogation and police brutality.[3]
Charles Einstein wrote a novel called The Bloody Spur about Heirens. The novel was later adapted into the film While the City Sleeps by Fritz Lang.
On March 5, 2012, Heirens died at the age of 83 at the UIC Medical Center from complications arising from diabetes.[4]

Heirens grew up in Lincolnwood, a suburb of Chicago. He was the son of George and Margaret Heirens. George Heirens was the son of immigrants from Luxembourg and Margaret was a homemaker. His family was poor and his parents argued incessantly, leading Heirens to wander the streets to avoid listening to them. He took to crime and later claimed that he mostly stole for fun and to release tension. He never sold anything he had stolen.[5]
At 13 years of age, Heirens was arrested for carrying a loaded gun. A subsequent search of the Heirens' home discovered a number of stolen weapons hidden in an unused storage shed on the roof of a nearby building along with furs, suits, cameras, radios and jewelry he had stolen. Heirens admitted to 11 burglaries and was sent to the Gibault School for wayward boys for several months.[5]
Not long after his release, Heirens was again arrested for theft/larceny. This time, he was sentenced to three years at the St. Bede Academy, operated by Benedictine Monks. During his time at the school, Heirens stood out as an exceptional student excelling in all subject areas including but not limited to: mathematics, biological sciences, and social sciences. His test scores were so high he was urged to apply for the University of Chicago's special learning program. He was accepted into the program just before his release and asked to begin classes in the 1945 fall term, allowing him to bypass high school. He was 16 years old.[5]
Heirens returned home to live and commuted to the university, but this was impractical, and he eventually boarded at the university's Gates Hall. His parents were unable to afford either the tuition or boarding, so Heirens worked several evenings a week as an usher and at the university as a docent to pay his way. However, he also resumed his serial burglary, even as he studied at the University of Chicago.[5]
University of Chicago graduate Riva Berkovitz (PhD 1948) reports that Heirens was quite popular in the ballroom dancing class that they had together:
"I remember the most popular boy in my class, who was handsome, smart and a good dancer. We all wanted to dance with him - the foxtrot, tango or a waltz. It didn't really matter."[6]

Soon after Heirens was arrested, his parents and younger brother changed their surname to "Hill". His parents divorcedafter his conviction.[39]
Heirens was first housed at Stateville Prison in Joliet, Illinois. He learned several trades, including electronics and television and radio repair, and at one point he had his own repair shop. Before a college education was available to prison inmates, Heirens, on February 6, 1972, became the first prisoner in Illinois history to earn a four-year college degree, receiving a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, later earning 250 course credits by funding the cost of correspondence courses with 20 different universities from his savings. Passing courses as varied as languages, analytical geometry, data processing and tailoring, he was forbidden by authorities to take courses in physics, chemistry or celestial navigation.[40] He managed the garment factory at Stateville for five years, overseeing 350 inmates, and after transfer to Vienna he set up their entire educational program. He aided other prisoners' educational progress by helping them earn their General Educational Development (GED) diplomas and becoming a "jailhouse lawyer" of sorts, helping them with their appeals.[49]
Heirens was given an institutional parole for the Degnan murder in 1965, and in 1966 he was discharged on that case and began serving his second life sentence. Although not freed, parole policies of the day meant that he was considered rehabilitated by prison authorities and that the Degnan case could no longer legally be put forward as a reason to deny parole. Based on the regulations of 1946, Heirens should have been discharged from the Brown murder in 1975 and from all remaining charges in 1983. However, in 1973 the focus moved from rehabilitation to punishment and deterrence, which blocked moves to release Heirens. In 1983, the Seventh District U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that it was unconstitutional to refuse parole on deterrence grounds to inmates convicted before 1973. Magistrate Gerald Cohn ordered Illinois to release Heirens immediately. The brother and sister of Suzanne Degnan went public, pleading with authorities to fight the ruling. Attorney General Neil Hartigan stated "Only God and Heirens know how many other women he murdered. Now a bleeding-heart do-gooder decides that Heirens is rehabilitated and should go free ... I'm going to make sure that kill-crazed animal stays where he is," a sentiment supported by the media. The Illinois Senate passed a resolution that as the "confessed murderer of Suzanne Degnan, a 6-year-old girl whom he strangled in 1946 ... that it is the opinion of the chamber that the release of William Heirens at this time would be detrimental to the best interests of the people of the state." With the support of prominent politicians, the 1983 court ruling was later reversed.[40]
In 1975, he was transferred to the minimum security Vienna Correctional Center in Vienna, Illinois, and then in 1998 upon his request[50] to the Dixon Correctional Center minimum security prison in Dixon, Illinois. He resided in the hospital ward. He suffered from diabetes, which had swollen his legs and limited his eyesight, making him have to use a wheelchair.[51] He continued with his efforts to win clemency.[52]

In 2002, Lawrence C. Marshall, et al., filed a petition on Heirens's behalf seeking clemency.[53][54] The appeal was eventually denied.
Former Los Angeles police officer Steve Hodel, who had spent 25 years on the force, met Heirens in 2003 when he was investigating the murders. He was convinced that Heirens was innocent of the crimes. "I felt compelled to write an appeal to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board stating my professional belief that Heirens is innocent."[55]
Heirens's most recent parole hearing was held on July 26, 2007. The Illinois Prisoner Review Board decision in a 14–0 vote against parole, was reflected by Board member Thomas Johnson, who stated that "God will forgive you, but the state won't".[51][56] However, the parole board also decided to revisit the issue once per year from then on.[43]

After being taken to the University of Illinois Medical Center on February 26, 2012, due to complications from diabetes, Heirens died on March 5, 2012, at the age of 83.[57]

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