Donald Gaskins / The Serial Killer Everyone Called Pee-Wee


Donald Gaskins was born in South Carolina and he was the last child in a string of illegitimate children.

His childhood was characterized by a great deal of neglect and abuse. When Gaskins was just one year old, he drank a bottle of kerosene, which caused him to have convulsions until he was about three years old or so. He was small for his age and immediately was nicknamed Pee Wee. He also suffered from night terrors. Young Donald received regular beatings from his mother’s ‘many boyfriends’ and she herself paid so little attention to him that if he were in need of anything, or up to anything, she would be the last to know.

While in his preteen years, he and a few of his fellow classmates, all of who were drop outs, gang-raped the sister of one of the hooligans and committed a string of robberies. They were arrested after a witness, who had survived a hatchet assault, was able to identify them to the police. Gaskins was sent to reform school.


While in reform school, Donald Gaskins was regularly raped by his fellow inmates. After escaping from the school, getting married and voluntarily returning to complete his sentence, he was released at the age of 18 in 1951.

Donald briefly worked on a tobacco plantation but was arrested again just two years later, in 1953, and charged with attempted murder after using a hammer to attack a teenage girl whom he claimed had been insulting him. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment at the Central Correctional Institution. As in reform school, Donald was  raped again in prison. This time however, Donald fought back and cut the throat of his attacker.  He received an extra three years in prison, but from that point on he was no longer a victim, but a force to be reckoned with if pissed off or pushed too far.

In 1953, Donald Gaskins had had enough of being caged up and escaped from prison. He made his way to Florida and took up with a traveling carnival. He was re-arrested not long after and was remanded back into custody. Donald Gaskins was paroled in August 1961.


donald-henry-gaskinsFollowing his release from prison, Gaskins reverted right back to his life of crime. Two years after his parole, he was arrested for the rape of a twelve-year-old girl, but he absconded while awaiting sentence. He was rearrested and sentenced to eight years of imprisonment. He was paroled again in November of 1968.

Upon his release, Donald Gaskins moved to the town of Sumter, South Carolina and began work with Fort Roofing company. His first ‘freelance’ murder victim was a hitchhiker in 1969, whom he tortured and murdered. He disposed of her body then by sinking it in a swamp.

In his memoirs, Donald Gaskins wrote: “All I could think about is how I could do anything I wanted to her. This hitchhiker was to be the first of many he picked up and murdered while driving around the coastal highways of the American South. He classified these victims as “coastal kills.” These people, he killed purely for pleasure. He tortured and mutilated his victims, while attempting to keep them alive for as long as possible. Donald later confessed to killing “eighty to ninety” such ‘pleasure kill’ victims.


In 1970, Gaskins committed the first of his so-called “serious murders.” These were people that he knew and killed for personal reasons. His first serious murder victims were his own niece, Janice Kirby, aged 15, and her 17 year old friend Patricia Ann Alsbrook. He beat them both to death after attempting to sexually assault them.

Other serious murder victims were killed for a variety of reasons. He murdered because someone had mocked him, attempted to blackmail him, owed him money,  stolen from him, or because Gaskins had been paid to kill his victim. Unlike his “coastal kills”, that he would torment and torture before finally letting them die, these victims Gaskins simply executed, usually by shooting them, before burying them around the coastal areas.

In 1973, he committed one of his more gruesome murders when he raped and murdered two of his neighbors: Doreen Dempsey, aged 23 and 8 months pregnant, and her one-year-old daughter. Nobody suspected that Donald Gaskins was a sadistic serial killer, but there were some who knew that he was prepared to commit murder for a reasonable reward. In February 1975, a woman hired Donald to kill her boyfriend. In order to cover up that murder, he ended up killing four more times.


gaskins1Donald Gaskins was arrested in November of 1975, when a criminal associate named Walter Neeley confessed to police that he had witnessed Gaskins killing Dennis Bellamy, aged 28, and Johnny Knight, aged 15. Neeley also confessed that Donald had confided in him to having killed several people who had been listed as missing persons. And likewise indicated to him where they were buried. On December 4th, Donald ‘Pee Wee’ Gaskins led police to land he owned in Prospect, where police discovered the bodies of eight of his victims.

Gaskins was tried on eight charges of murder in 1976. He was found guilty and sentenced to death, which was later commuted to life in prison.

On September 2, 1982, Gaskins committed another murder, for which he earned the title of the “Meanest Man in America”. While incarcerated in the high security block at the South Carolina Correctional Institution, Gaskins killed a death row inmate named Rudolph Tyner.  To accomplish this, Pee Wee rigged a device, similar to a portable radio, in Tyner’s death row cell. Gaskin told Tyner this would allow them to communicate between cells. When Tyner followed Gaskins’ instructions, to hold a speaker to his ear at an agreed upon time, Donald detonated the explosives he had placed in the radio. The explosion killed Tyner immediately.

Donald Gaskins later said, “The last thing Tyner heard was me laughing.”

Donald Pee Wee Gaskins was tried for Tyner’s murder and, once again, sentenced to death.


Hours before he was escorted to the electric chair, Gaskins tried to commit suicide by slitting his wrists. He failed.

His last words were “I’ll let my lawyers talk for me. I’m ready to go.”

Donald Gaskins was executed on September 6, 1991, at 1:10 a.m.

418d84b9ycl-_sx334_bo1204203200_While on death row, Donald Gaskins told his life story to a journalist named Wilton Earle. He claimed to have committed between 100 and 110 murders, including that of Margaret “Peg” Cuttino, the 13-year-old daughter of then South Carolina, State Senator James Cuttino Jr.

In his autobiography, Final Truth, Donald Gaskins wrote that he had “a special mind” that gave him “permission to kill.

The book is available here if you would like to read more.





credit – Wikipedia