JOLIET, Ill. -- Convicted mass murderer Richard Speck, whose slaughter of eight student nurses in a Chicago townhouse stunned the nation a quarter century ago, was cremated Friday on what would have been his 50th birthday.
Speck died Thursday of a massive heart attack at Silver Cross Hospital. Will County Coroner Duane Krieger said Speck was cremated Friday afternoon and that his ashes will remain in county custody.
'We'll put them in the vault, unless a family member has any interest in them,' Krieger said.
Authorities said Thursday family members refused to claim the body.
Speck, drunk on beer and whiskey and armed with a handgun and knife, broke into the townhouse July 14, 1966, as six women inside slept. He gathered them in one room and bound each of them with torn bedsheets. Two more women unwittingly entered the house, and he bound and placed them in a room with the others.
One by one, Speck led the women to another room in the boarding house where each was systematically murdered. Some of the women were sexually assaulted before they were stabbed or strangled.
Corazon Amurao, 22, a Philippine exchange student, survived -- only because she hid beneath a bed as the carnage occurred. When Speck left the house, she screamed for help.
Two days later, Amurao's description of a 'Born to Raise Hell' tattoo on the killer's arm led to Speck's arrest when he was taken to Cook County Hospital for treatment of a self-inflicted knife wound.
He was convicted of the murders April 15, 1967.
William Martin, who prosecuted Speck, said the Kirkwood, Ill.-born drifter ushered in a new era of violence.
'It marked the first time that we became aware as a people that, in a sense, that kind of random violence could come out of the night and eight victims who did not know Richard Speck -- and he did not know -- could tragically meet and that they could be killed,' Martin said.
'Since that has happened we have become very aware of the phenomenon that there are persons out there who are capable of this kind of monstrous deed.'
Speck never revealed why he embarked on that bloody rampage, but 12 years after the July 14, 1966, murders he told the Chicago Sun-Times he was sorry.
'I'm sorry as hell -- for those girls, and for their families, and for me. If I had to do it over again, it would be a simple house burglary.
'... Parents ought to be careful about their kids,' he said, 'because any kid can end up to be like me. I don't know why it happened to me. But any kid can end up just like me.'