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The Beasts of Men: Serial Killer Pee Wee Gaskins

Updated on December 29, 2020
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Kadee Grace is a ghostwriter/freelancer and author. She has written hundreds of novels and novellas for clients in many genres.

Donald Henry Gaskins aka: Pee Wee Gaskins Never knew his name was Donald until his very first court appearance
Donald Henry Gaskins aka: Pee Wee Gaskins Never knew his name was Donald until his very first court appearance

Gaskins Background

Donald Henry Gaskins

Born on March 13, 1933

Nickname: Pee Wee (due to his very small size)

Location of birth: Florence County, South Carolina

Parent: Eulea Parrott (he was one of s string of illegitimate children)

Abusive Childhood

Pee Wee came from a very abusive childhood. Filled with neglect and physical abuse, he really never knew anything except just that. At the young age of one, he drank a bottle of kerosene. It is reported that he had convulsions until he was around age three. In an interview, he claimed that not only was he picked on at school, but at home too. The older children zoomed in on him and took advantage of the situation. He said that he had to wash the other members families feet at night. He had a younger sibling that would create him many problems and cause him to be beaten. According to Gaskins, the things his sibling accused him of; he never did. Yet, he was always beaten because of this.

I have seen this in my life happen to other children. A younger sibling that would lie to the parents and tell them that the older one was doing things to them, when they were not. They would go as far as scream and cry when no one was even touching them.

Gaskins Didn't Even Know His Real Name

He didn't know his name was Donald until he landed himself in court due to a crime spree that he had been on; with other young boys he knew. They had committed robberies, assaults and even, a gang involving assault. Imagine when the judge said his name and Pee Wee must have been totally confused who he was even talking to!

He was convicted of those crimes and was sent to a reform school. There, he claims that he was assaulted repeatedly by fellow-inmates. He escaped from there, ended up getting married and then in time, he returned to the reform school to complete his sentence.

We are talking about a man that has been in and out of prison most of his life. From one prison to another, he was incarcerated for his crimes throughout his life.

He was released from the reform school in 1951 and he was eighteen years old.

A Young Girl Insulted Him

In 1953 he was working at a tobacco plantation. But it was not long until he was arrested again. This time for attacking a young girl with a hammer. She had insulted him. We will see that very thing bothering him for the rest of his life. Pee Wee could not allow anyone to go against him or insult him.

Stood Up Against the Prison's Toughest Inmate

For that crime, he was sentenced to six-years. There, he was assaulted many times by gangs of fellow inmates. Knowing that it would only continue if he did nothing, he chose to stand up to the most feared inmate of all. That man was Hazel Brazell. He got three more years tacked onto his sentence, but he now had a name for himself! No longer did he have to succumb to any more attacks on him. Now, he could be the one to assault everyone else.

In 1955 he escaped again. He hid in the back of a garbage truck and he fled to Florida. Here he joined a traveling-circus. Somewhere along the line he got into trouble again and found himself back in prison. He was paroled in August of 1961.

Do you believe Gaskins childhood had anything to do with his path that he took?

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Shirley...Gaskins daughter
Shirley...Gaskins daughter | Source

KILLERS : donald henry gaskins - (the meanest man in america)

Gaskins Had His Own Hearse

An odd little fact about Pee Wee is that he owned a hearse and drove it everywhere. He told all the locals that he carried dead bodies and yet, no one really believed him. I wonder if anyone ever dared to peek inside? From everything I have read, the locals were scared to death of the man. Such a little guy, but he learned quick how to come across as a really big and bad guy.

The Hearse that Gaskins drove all over the town.
The Hearse that Gaskins drove all over the town. | Source

Assaulted a Twelve-Year Old Girl

Two years after his parole, he was arrested again. This time it was due to the attack on a young girl. Now he was facing those charges. But before he could be sentenced, he escaped again.

It seems the law was constantly hunting down Gaskins, because they caught him again and sent him to prison for eight-years this time. He did his time and was paroled again in 1968.

It Only Took a Year and He Was Back at It Again

Moving to Sumter, he worked for a roofing company. But, with the taste for crime; he began a killing spree. He found out that he could pick up hitch-hikers. With plenty of wayfaring people out on the highways, he had a field day picking them up, torturing them and killing them. It is unknown how many he did kill, but this sent him on a killing spree that would last a very long time. He would kill them and dump them in swampy places in the area. He drove the coastal highways and this is where be named those killings his, "Coastal kills."

Pee Wee put his kills in two categories: category one was his "coastal kills". And category two was his "personal kills." Those were the ones that he said did him wrong. Coastal kills were for his pleasure. Gaskins claimed that he knew when it was time to kill by the "bothersome feelings" and he had stomach pains, headaches and pains in the groin. When he started his coastal drives, he wasn't even sure what he was doing out there on the road. It didn't take long for him to figure that out.

September of '69

A young and blonde hitchhiker met her doom as she was headed for Charleston. Gaskins claimed he asked for sex and she made the fatal mistake of laughing at him. This, no one did to Pee Wee. He beat her unconscious and pulled off the highway onto a dirt road. There, he tortured her and assaulted in every way. Went on to mutilate her and she was still alive when he weighted her body down into the swamp.

His memory of this kill? "I felt truly the best I ever remembered feeling in my whole life."

Two More by December of '69.

Less than a year later, eleven more died in his hands. "When it was time, I went and killed", he said.

Mistook Two Boys for Girls

Accidental kills were not something that applied to Gaskins, but this time the accident applied to the fact that he thought he had found two girls, when they were long-haired boys. Choosing to not care about the gender, he picked them up. He assaulted them both, cooked them and ate some body parts while they were still alive.

One Coastal Kill He Was Fond Of

Being fond of a particular victim still got them nowhere. Gaskins didn't remember the names of most of his victims. But, he did remember one victim's name. 16 year old, Anne Colberson came into his view while he wasn't on the hunt. In an interview, he said that "since she was so nice to me", he stunned her with a hammer before slicing her throat and dumping her in quicksand.

His Own Niece Meant Nothing

Janice Kirby, fifteen-years old meant nothing either; except some young girl to fantasize about. This went on in his mind for a time. It got the best of him and an opportunity came up. Needing a ride home after a night of drinking, Janice and a friend hopped in. He took them to an abandoned house and tried to assault them. Fighting for their lives, they hit him with a board. But, Gaskins came back at them with a gun and beat them unconscious. He assaulted them both and then drowned them.

Prisoner Gets a Second Life-Sentence

William Pierce was already doing a life sentence for a similar offense. Gaskins claimed that he had killed the thirteen year old daughter of a politician, but this kill was added to Pierce; since he was already doing time.

It is reported that his "coastal kills" were many. He killed one about every six weeks. I have seen reports that said it was more like one per month. That's just the kills for his pleasure. Every time (he said) that he felt uneasy, unsettled or edgy ..he would make a pleasure hit. Those he didn't show any mercy to. He would torture them, keeping them alive as long as he could and then he would mutilate them. He confessed to using several different methods of killing. Said he used stabbing, suffocation, mutilation and even succumbed to cannibalism.

The "personal kills" had it a little easier. He just shot them. Seems a little backwards to me.

Carolina Stories "Pee Wee"

Gaskins Personal Kills

Other "personal kills" were for many reasons. He gave his reasons to kill them was for them mocking him, attempting to blackmail him, they owed him money or something or he had been paid to kill them by someone who wanted them dead.

In 1973 he murdered two neighbors. Doreen Dempsey, who was twenty-three years old and her two-year old daughter. Dempsey was eight months pregnant. This might have been a personal kill. One report was that he was angry because she was involved with an African-American and to him; that was wrong.

Another report I came across, they said that she had been involved with Pee Wee and that the baby she had carried was his. This has not been proven.

He killed his own niece, Janice
He killed his own niece, Janice
Two year old baby that was killed by Gaskins.
Two year old baby that was killed by Gaskins. | Source

Hit Man Gaskins

February, 1975 he was hired to kill a boyfriend of Suzanne Kipper Owens. Silas Barnwell Yates met his fate in Gaskins hands and lost his life. Something went wrong and caused him some problems over that kill and he ended up having to kill four more people because of the problems. Killing four more would allow him to cover up the "hit" kill of Yates.

Gaskins had many others who were involved with him in his various crimes, but if they went against him, there would be a high price to pay. By his confessions, he killed many more people than bodies ever found. Many of them were more than likely those who might have not learned what he was capable of. But, one man decided that he had had enough and he turned witness against Gaskins.

Walter Neeley, an associate of Gaskins confessed to police that he had witnessed Gaskin's killing of (other associates) Dennis Bellamy and Johnny Knight; who was only fifteen-years old. Neeley must have felt that he would be safer confessing to the police than facing Gaskin's wrath. During their relationship, Gaskins had told Neeley about many other killings. Those killings were among many missing person's around the area, for the past five years.

Gaskins was arrested in November of 1975 because of Neeley's betrayal.

The next month, Gaskins led officers to some land that he owned in Prospect. There they discovered eight bodies. This would be the end of Gaskin's freedom, but believe it or not .. it would not end his killings.

He was charged on eight counts on May 24, 1976. He was sentenced to death, but due to changing of laws, it was later commuted to life in prison.

The Arrest of Gaskins
The Arrest of Gaskins | Source
Statement of Gaskins
Statement of Gaskins | Source

The Impossible Kill

From his own cell, which was connected through a wall, Gaskins carried out a murder of fellow-inmate (who was on death row). His name was Rudolph Tyner. While in prison, Gaskins was hired to kill Tyner by Tony Cimo who was the father of Tyner's victim in a robbery/murder case.

Gaskins tried killing Tyner in several different ways and failed each time. Growing tired of the fight, he found a way that would not fail. Through communicating with some unknowns, he rigged up an explosive and managed to make a radio device. He told Tyner that they could communicate to each other through the speaker. Tyner must have been lonely and desperate for friendship and believed Gaskins.

After being poisoned several times in his food and drink, Tyner held the speaker to his ear. On the other side of the wall, the wires coming through a vent ...Gaskins could now set off the explosives that would kill Tyner. Gaskins bragged later that the last thing Tyner heard was "me laughing." He kept his promise to Cimo. This gave him a death sentence of his own. Looks like the state grew tired of Gaskin's kills or they feared for their own lives since Gaskin's could kill even inside the prison. If he could kill an inmate from his own cell...what else could Pee Wee Gaskins do?

Pee Wee Gaskins: Meanest Man in America

Wilton Earle Wrote Gaskins Story

Journalist, Wilton Earle communicated with Gaskins and published a book about Gaskin's life and his confessions. Gaskins confessed to over one-hundred kills. Not all could be proven, but it leaves us to wonder if it might just be true. He also claimed to kill the 13 year old daughter of (then) Senator James Cuttino Jr. of Sumter. This was never proven.

I have not read the book yet, but from videos about it; the book was filled with many horrors of Gaskin and his kills. The book is called "Final Truth".

Gaskins Faces His Own Death in Fear

Seems that Gaskins either feared the chair, or he didn't want anyone else to do him in. Hours before he faced his execution, he tried to kill himself by slicing his writs with a razor that he had swallowed and later coughed up. My first question would be: "How do you even do that...swallow a razor?"

Gaskin's final words were: "I'll let my lawyers talk for me. I'm ready to go."

He was known as the most prolific serial killer in the South Carolina's history.


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    • Kadeegrace profile imageAUTHOR

      Kadee Grace 

      2 years ago from Illinois

      Wow! ptosis....that is crazy! Don't think I could handle that either. That sounds scarier than … well you know what!

      Thank you for reading and for commenting.

    • ptosis profile image


      2 years ago from Arizona

      Holy Crap! I am wondering if maybe I shouldn't listen or read serial killer's real life stories, I'm afraid I'll never get a peaceful night's sleep ever again!

      Two nights ago, on audible app, listened to the first chapter of "Evil Has a Name: The Untold Story of the Golden State Killer Investigation. The first chapter was told by the woman who as a 14 year old was raped, while her mother was on her hands and knees with a pile of plates on her back.

      Hmmm.. Very hard to listen to - seriously. I don't think I can handle listening to the entire book if the rest is like the first chapter.


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