16 Last Meals of Death Row Prisoners Before Their Executions

RealClear Contributor


Capital punishment is legal in 32 states, so naturally (or perhaps unnaturally), the condemned prisoner's last meal is a customary ritual preceding execution.

Most of the following pictures come from photographer Henry Hargreaves' "No Seconds" series. He says the goal of his project was ultimately:

"To have the viewer identify with the prisoner though their meal request. I wanted the viewer to think of them as a person for a moment instead of them being anonymous."

16. Victor Feguer

A single olive, WITH the pit? It seems more practical to have nothing at all.

15. Ronnie Threadgill

Ronnie Threadgill was executed in 2013, but the "last meal" tradition was abolished in Texas in 2011, so he was just given the same meal as everyone else before his execution.

14. Gary Heidnik

Murderer Gary Heindnik ordered 2 slices of cheese pizza and 2 cups of black coffee for his last meal.

13. Bruno Hauptmann

Bruno Hauptmann was executed nearly 80 years ago in 1936, and his final meal of celery, olives, buttered peas, French fries, chicken, cherries, and cake is still very familiar to us today.

12. Velma Barfield

Velma Barfield declined a formal last meal, instead picking a bag of Cheez Doodles and a can of Coca-Cola for a last snack.

11. Allen Lee Davis

Allen Lee Davis chose a seafood feast, including lobster, as his last meal. Smart guy.

10. Timothy McVeigh

Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh went with simple ice cream before he was executed at age 33 in Indiana.

9. Teresa Lewis

Teresa Lewis is one of the few on this list who chose a full meal, which is somewhat unsurprising.

8. Stephen Anderson

Perhaps the most random mix of foods, Stephen Anderson chose multiple grilled cheese sandwiches, radishes, hominy, cottage cheese, peach pie, and ice cream as his final dinner.

7. Karla Faye Tucker

Karla Faye Tucker is often remembered as the first woman sentenced to execution in over 100 years in Texas in 1998. It sparked a worldwide controversy. 

She chose a salad with Ranch dressing, a banana, and a peach for her last dinner.

6. Ronnie Lee Gardner

Before he faced the (literal) firing squad, Gardner decided on steak, lobster, and 'Lord of the Rings' as his final dinner (and movie!) on Earth. 

5. John Wayne Gacy

John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer who dressed as a clown, murdered young men, and buried them in his basement, went out with a culinary bang.

He chose a bucket of KFC, fried shrimp, French fries, and 1 pound of strawberries for his last meal.

4. Aileen Wuornos

Aileen Wuornos, whose case was most well-known thanks to the 2003 film Monster, starring Charlize Theron, only requested 1 cup of coffee for her last meal.

3. Ángel Nieves Díaz

Ángel Nieves Díaz declined a last meal and the standard prison meal, which makes this sparse image all the more poignant.

2. Nicola Sacco & Bartolomeo Vanzetti

Despite worldwide demonstrations in support of their innocence, Italian-born anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti were executed for murder in 1927.

1. Ted Bundy

Yes, THE infamous Ted Bundy, serial killer extraordinaire, went out with the "traditional" last meal. 

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