The Rich Owens Saga

Oklahoma City
Feb. 27, 1948


Ray Parr’s
story about Rich Owens, the longtime executioner at McAlester State Penitentiary, has been knocking around my home office for ages, passed along by a former co-worker many years ago. Writing for the Daily Oklahoman, Parr painted a long, vivid portrait of the man who killed 75 human beings: 65 by electrocution, one by the gallows, two with a knife, six with a gun and one with a shovel. And there could have been more: “I never count peckerwoods,” he said.

By 1948, Owens was bedridden and dying of cancer. Parr paid a final visit to the old executioner to see how he was facing his own death. The headline (incomplete in my copy) says:

“Afraid of Death?
Now Rich Owens
Has the Answer.”

Part II

Part III

lmharnisch.com

lmharnisch.blogspot.com

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1948, Crime and Courts. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Rich Owens Saga

  1. Eric says:

    Interesting article. Disturbing in a way, but interesting as well.

  2. bob bledsoe says:

    I stumbled on your post. I have an old photocopy of Ray’s story that I’ve toted around for 30 or 40 years. Ray was one of my mentors and later worked for me when I was asst. city editor at the Oklahoman. He tried to get me fired once when I forced him to convert to using a “Goddamned newfangled” electric typewriter instead of his old manual. His story about Rich Owens was one of the best newspaper stories I ever read.

    • lmharnisch says:

      Bob, the Rich Owens saga is a terrific story. When I was at the Arizona Daily Star back in the 1980s, we had a couple of guys from the Oklahoman and one of them gave me a copy.

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