November 6, 1931
Fort Madison, Iowa
Joseph Altringer (23), alias Joseph Ollinger, is executed for the murder of 12-year-old Earl Fuller Jr.
Fuller disappeared while playing with friends in October of 1930. His body found the following day in a shallow area of a local river, near an encampment frequented by homeless people. The boy had been strangled with a wire and his clothes torn from his body which the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported indicated “he had been mistreated [a euphemism for sexual assault] before being put to death.” In addition to the strangulation and sexual assault, Fuller’s body was mutilated, though newspapers refrained from specifics.
Police initially suspected the homeless group living in the area but released them when no evidence could be tied between Fuller and the group. The search widened to some 200 people including Altringer, who confessed after some of Fuller’s friends pointed him out as being the last person seen with Fuller before his disappearance.
Altringer did little to aid in his defense at trial, was somewhere between flippant and obstinate when the judge asked if he needed a lawyer, smiled during the reading of his guilty verdict, and asked for his execution date to be moved forward because he did not want to spend a year in jail first. He was executed in front of 75 witnesses, his last words being simply “Well, so long folks.”
Hearn, Daniel Allen. Legal Executions in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2016
Stefferud, A. D. “Iowa Man Goes Jauntily to Noose as State Avenges Slaying of Boy; Jokes About Death at Scaffold.” The Daily Argus-Leader [Sioux Falls, South Dakota]. November 6, 1931
“Dubuque Murderer Now In Death Row At Fort Madison.” The Sunday Gazette and Republican [Cedar Rapids, Iowa]. November 9, 1930
“Charged with Slaying Child.” Mason City Globe-Gazette. October 13, 1930
“Hunt Slayer Dubuque Boy.” Iowa City Press-Citizen. October 6, 1930