Flashback Friday — this time I didn’t drop the ball

I totally washed out last weekend as far as weekly blog features are concerned. I promise to do better. In the meantime, this week’s Flashback Friday is of Martha Ann Dicks, a nineteen-year-old who went missing in the spring of 1972, over forty years ago. I don’t know much about her and don’t even have a good photograph, Martha had some unusual traits: she went by the male name “Clyde” and habitually wore men’s clothing.

Martha was almost certainly a victim of serial killer Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins. Murder and Mayhem in the Holy City, a book about crimes in the history of Charleston, South Carolina, has a chapter on Gaskins and this is what it says about Martha’s murder:

A few months later, Gaskins committed another “serious murder.” The victim was Martha Dicks, a harmless braggart he affectionately called “Clyde.” Though Pee Wee was occasionally annoyed by Dicks, he let her hang around his garage, telling jokes and flirting with him. Dicks started telling people that she and Pee Wee were intimate and that she was pregnant with his child. That joke was enough for a death sentence. Gaskins killed her with chemicals he’d pilfered from a photographer after hearing him caution folks, “Don’t ever handle this stuff up here. It would kill you if you did.” Gaskins poured a strong dose of the liquid into a drink of Coca-Cola. “She turned it up to her head and the next thing I knowed, the bottle hit the floor.” He shoved the body in the backseat of his car, then discarded it in a ditch.”

We’re probably not going to learn any more because Gaskins was executed in 1991 — ironically, not for his serial murder spree, but for killing another prison inmate while serving LWOP.

Martha’s body has never been found and I doubt it will be at this late date.

12 thoughts on “Flashback Friday — this time I didn’t drop the ball

  1. Jose December 20, 2013 / 6:41 am

    In the ditch remains of a African-American woman in her teens was found, but has never identified as Dicks or anyone else because her dental records, chest and skull x-ray where lost/destroyed. I think the remains recovered are lost as well.

    • Meaghan December 20, 2013 / 4:28 pm

      Like Donna Manson.

      • Jose December 20, 2013 / 7:16 pm

        As well as Debra Jean Kent and Georgeann Hawkins.

        Bundy led Debra’s family into a small town in Utah where he claimed to have thrown her off his car; a human kneecap was located, yet has never been identified as her and may be lost.

        Bundy claimed Georgeann was located in Lake Sammanish, some extra bones where found, but never identified as her cause the stupid coroners office cremated them. I guess we will never know the fate of Georgeann, Damn.

  2. Princess Shantae December 20, 2013 / 6:42 am

    Murderpedia says Pee Wee didn’t mind Martha teasing him about being pregnant with his baby, but he did mind it when she started telling other ppl.
    Anyway, I think Pee Wee was on the right track when he called himself the meanest man in America.
    Wonder what exactly the chemical was he gave Martha, and if drinking it realy would cause you to die instantly. Very few poision actually do kill on the spot.
    Side note: “Turned it up to her head” sounds so funny, like she poured the coke over her head or something. I know what he meant but still.

    • Meaghan December 20, 2013 / 4:28 pm

      Chances are she didn’t die instantly, and he just didn’t want to talk about her death throes.

      Have you ever read Plato’s “Death of Socrates”? Socrates was sentenced to death by hemlock poisoning. The thing is, Plato describes Socrates basically drinking the hemlock, then calmly lying down and dying, just like going to sleep. That does not in any way match what we know about hemlock poisoning; most people suffer horribly before dying, thrash around, etc. There’s two theories as to why “Death of Socrates” is written that way: (A) Plato did not want to describe his mentor’s most undignified death, and made up a more palatable story or (B) What they called “hemlock” in ancient Greece is not the same plant we call hemlock today.

    • Meaghan December 20, 2013 / 4:30 pm

      Whoops, my bad. Plato’s essay is called called “Trial of Socrates” and contains an account of his execution. “Death of Socrates” is a painting of the same.

      EDIT: Argh, I still can’t get it right. But here’s an essay about Socrates’s death and what might have really happened, if you care. http://www3.nd.edu/~plato/bloch.htm

  3. Princess Shantae December 20, 2013 / 6:39 pm

    Had a high school English teacher who loved Socrates and she talked about his death. She said he described the paralysis that crept up him from his feet to his lungs. By the time it got to his lungs he wouldn’t be able to do as much thrashing around but still.

    • Meaghan December 21, 2013 / 6:14 am

      No, I didn’t know about the book. It sounds very interesting. I bet my local library has it.

  4. Princess Shantae December 21, 2013 / 6:44 am

    My mom had that one! She was also anti death penalty, or at least she was on the fence about it, till she read that one. It realy upset her and she doesn’t upset easily.
    This guy just plain loved to kill ppl. Letting him sit in jail for life or however long just let him think and remember and enjoy what he’d done longer. And obviously he was dangerous even on death row. Take him and ppl like him right out of the equation and be done with it.

  5. A S December 21, 2013 / 7:36 am

    If you were an SC kid in the 80s or early 90s, Gaskins was your bogeyman. “Don’t go alone, or Pee Wee Gaskins will get you.” Etc.

  6. Justin December 21, 2013 / 9:42 am

    I think his execution was notable because he was one of the very few white men executed for killing a black man in South Carolina. The state REALLY wanted to put him down.

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