Pride Month: Martha “Clyde” Dicks

In honor of Pride Month I’m featuring a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer missing person every day for the month of June. Today’s case is Martha Ann Dicks, aka Clyde, who disappeared from Sumter, South Carolina on March 29, 1972.

Said to be a lesbian who sometimes dated men, I wonder if Martha wasn’t actually transgender. She had a man’s name for her nickname and she liked to wear men’s clothes.

Martha/Clyde is thought to have been a victim of the serial killer Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins. She was 19 and possibly pregnant at the time of her disappearance.

Flashback Friday: Martha Ann Dicks

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Martha Ann Dicks, a 19-year-old who disappeared from Sumter, South Carolina on March 29, 1972. I’ve only got one photo of her and it’s of very poor quality. Martha’s sister said she was a lesbian, but she dated men sometimes; perhaps she was bisexual. I wonder if she was transgender; she liked to wear men’s clothing and used the name “Clyde.” She may have been pregnant at the time of her disappearance.

Serial killer Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins knew Martha and confessed to her murder sometime before his execution in 1991. Several of his ten confirmed victims were people known to him, which is unusual; serial killers usually murder strangers. The murder is also unusual in that it was an interracial crime; most murders, including serial murders, are intra-racial — that is, both killer and victim are of the same race. Pee Wee Gaskins was white and Martha Dicks was black.

In any case, Martha “Clyde” Dicks was never found. If she were alive today she would be 63. Her baby, if she actually was pregnant, would be about 44.

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.