When told that he was to be
executed for the murder of John Gunnish, Frederick Heisler responded
"Its not murder... God have mercy on YOUR soul." He subsequently
murmured to accompanying priests prior to the execution, "Don’t let
them do it."
Electricity from the chair began
coursing through his body at 12:12 A.M. on October 29, 1954. A black
curtain was mistakenly dropped around the cage after the first electric
surge, despite Frederick Heisler being yet alive. The curtain was raised
and a second charge delivered; he was subsequently pronounced dead at
Heisler was convicted of the murder of a hitch-hiking
Army deserter named John Gunnish in the early weeks of October 1951. He
was captured due to matchbook advertising an establishment in Sturgeon
Bay, Wisconsin, that was left at the scene.
Further investigation revealed that Heisler had
been employed at this business. When apprehended, Heisler was using
Gunnish’s name, and was carrying his Social Security card.
Heisler claimed that his shooting of Gunnish was
in self-defense, but the angles of bullet wounds were identified by the
prosecution as having been inflicted while Gunnish was lying down.