Colorado · Executions · Famous Last Words

FLW: had a swell time

Famous Last Words
Leonard Belongia
Canon City, Colorado
June 21, 1935

“All set, Warden, I’m ready to go. Lead me to it. I’ve had a swell time here and I’m not anxious to get rid of these swell fellows. The warden has treated me wonderfully.”

Belongia had killed a rancher, Albert Oesterick, for whom he worked as a ranch hand. He was angry at Oesterick, feeling he was underpaid. Belongia shot the Oesterick as he slept, injured his wife, and beat the couple’s 13-year-old son with a rifle.

Belongia, found to have the mental capacity of a 10-year-old, went to his death smiling. He believed his execution would end his life of crime and reunite him with his two close friends who had been executed earlier. He requested his execution be moved forward so he could serve his sentence with his friends, but this request was denied as the judge had no authority to move the date. Belongia also requested his body be donated to the University of Denver, feeling the brain of a criminal may hold some amount of medical or educational value. This request, too, was denied as the university did not have the funds to pay the $10 to have his body shipped to them.

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