California · Executions · Famous Last Words · Female Killers

The execution of “Bloody Babs”

June 3, 1955
San Quentin, California
Barbara “Bloody Babs” Graham is executed in the gas chamber for the murder of an elderly woman

Graham, just shy of her 32nd birthday when executed, had fallen into a life of prostitution, gambling, and drugs. She met and married Henry Graham, a career criminal and drug addict, and was introduced to another criminal, Emmett Perkins, whom she started having an affair with.

Graham, Perkins, and two other criminals — Jack Santo and Baxter Shorter — formed a plot to rob an elderly woman rumored to have a large amount of jewels and money hidden. They entered her home and demanded her money which she claimed she didn’t have. They searched the house for the rumored money but left empty-handed, missing a purse containing $15,000 of jewels and other valuables in a closet near the murder scene. According to Santo, when Shorter stated he was going to call medical assistance for the woman, the victim “stopped breathing before we left.”

Three of those present at the murder were sentenced to death. The fourth, Baxter Shorter, disappeared under mysterious circumstances and is believed to have been killed by the others to silence him.

Graham’s last words were “Good people are always so sure they’re right.”

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