November 9, 1921
Frank Ligregni is hanged for the murder of his wife
On December 21, 1920, Ligregni visited his wife Genevieve at the boarding school where she taught, after she invited him to spend the Christmas holiday with her. He attempted to persuade her to leave her job in Bartlett, Illinois and return to live with him. Genevieve refused, the two quarreled, and Frank shot his wife three times in the heart. He later stated he had intended to kill himself after, “but his courage failed.” He claimed, “My only fault was that I loved my wife too well.”
When arrested, Ligregni confessed to the murder and explained the circumstances. However, during his trial Ligregni offered other motives in a bid for a temporary insanity plea, accusing Genevieve of infidelity and threatening his life. His pleas for sympathy went ignored and Ligregni was sentenced to death.
During an appeal, Ligregni was brought to the courthouse. As he was being returned to his cell, Ligregni produced a piece of iron pipe he had concealed in his pants and bludgeoned the deputy escorting him. Ligregni ran through the stenographers’ office and pushed his way to a second story window to make his escape or die trying. Court reporter Gail McDermott impeded his attempt by grabbing onto his coat as he scrambled through the window.
On November 9, Ligregni was executed. The judge presiding scheduled the hanging for the afternoon to ensure Ligregni was fully awake at the time of his death. (His execution was the first in Cook County to not be performed in the morning.) Ligregni made no final statement but wrote a 24-page letter to be sent his mother.
Chicago Daily Tribune. July 10, 1921
- Hearn, Daniel Allen. Legal Executions in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri: A Comprehensive Registry, 1866-1965. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc. 2016
- “Ligregni Pays Death Penalty.” Quad-City Times [Davenport, Iowa]. November 10, 1921
- “Ligregni, Slayer of Wife, Dodges Noose For a Time.” Chicago Daily Tribune [Chicago, Illinois], October 21, 1921
- “Wife Slayer’s Dash From Jail Foiled By Girl.” Chicago Daily Tribune [Chicago, Illinois]. July 10, 1921
- “Kneeling in Court, Slayer Begs Life.” The Los Angeles Times [Los Angeles, California]. May 28, 1921
- “Fannie Hurst Type of Marriage Causes Murder.” The Post-Crescent [Appleton, Wisconsin]. December 22, 1920