March 11, 1920
Will Lockett is executed for the murder of a 10-year-old girl
Lockett had spent years traveling between states, apparently taking advantage of his nomadic lifestyle to commit crimes. Days before his execution he confessed to the rapes and murders of 3 women in Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky between 1912 and 1919. He also confessed to numerous additional failed attempts at rape and/or murder. Police seemed initially interested in bringing a close to these crimes, but with very little information to go on and Lockett’s execution, the investigation quickly dissolved.
He was convicted of the murder of 10-year-old Geneva Hardman who had been “mistreated” (an old-fashioned euphemism for molestation or rape) and killed. Her mutilated body was discovered in a cornfield. Lockett was tried and convicted on February 9, 1920; the entire process took just 40 minutes. Immediately following the verdict, a lynch mob formed intent on hanging Lockett. A guard of nearly 100 militiamen protected the prisoner and entered into a small battle with the lynch mob which left 6 dead and 19 wounded and allowed Lockett to be legally executed on March 11.