Reason First: Southside Strangler-Timothy W. Spencer
Did Spencer deserve the electric chair?
DNA evidence is a two-way street. On the one hand, it can demonstrate that someone in lockdown should be freed. On the other hand, it can damn someone to the electric chair. Both instances are acts of justice. In Timothy W. Spencer’s case, it was both.
First the vicious rapist and murderer became the first killer to be convicted by the state of Virginia based on DNA evidence. A psychologically ill man took the blame for Spencer’s evil.
David Vasquez, in his mentally infirm state, pled guilty to second-degree murder and burglary. His sentence? 35 years. He spent five of those years behind bars until DNA testing liberated him.
Dubbed “The Southside Strangler,” Spencer pursued his lethal obsession from 1984 to 1987. He strangled, raped and/or murdered at least five women. In all of this, Throughout it all, the state did bit recognize the expertise of a psychologist. However, a psychiatrist did evaluate Spencer, and profilers searched his background, questioning family members, friends, and anyone else associated with the brute, but found nothing to aid their case.
Profilers also searched Spencer’s background. Family members, friends, anyone associated with the brute all answered questions related to him. Nothing too substantial come of this either.
Was Spencer just a beast in the streets, a man who had to take women by force, because he was incapable of establishing healthy relationships with women? In one case he awakened a female victim wielding a knife and wearing a ski mask. He offered her sips of Southern Comfort. In his twisted mind, he may have thought this proper for taking a woman out on a date. But instead of wining and dining her, he raped and tortured for over three hours. This is the all alleged psychopathy of Spencer. He felt that his actions were justified no matter how vicious they were.
In the book, Stalking Justice, Paul Mones outlines various aspects of the rapes and attempted murders. In Spencer’s last horrific act, He duct taped the mouth of Diane Cho. She found a way to flee from her attacker and in time, Spencer had the cold steel bracelets of justice around his wrists. This time, the murders from 1984 and 1987 connected with him in custody. His apparent goals of rape and murder of women and girls was thwarted by the authorities.
Psychological analysis is a critical element in tracking down and capturing other serial killers. Had behavioral health experts properly analyzed Spencer, they may have learned more about how and why monsters like him prey upon innocent women and girls.
Looking at the records of his trial, it would seem as though Spencer knew exactly what he was doing each time he killed. He knew he was wreaking havoc on Richmond, Virginia. He may have seemed bo different from any other man, but he was clearly a slave to a malicious nature that overcame his rational faculties again, and again.
Girls and women became like trophies for Spencer. He craved power. Overpowering his victims through rape and murder served his needs perfectly. Were it not for the scientific achievement of DNA analysis, he might never have been stopped.
Despite his defense attorney’s best efforts to keep him out of the electric chair, prosecutors were able to show there was only a 1/750,000,00 chance evidence collected at the scene originated with another perpetrator.
Capital punishment seems appropriate for Spencer. Some would argue he only deserved life imprisonment, but the evidence was conclusive. This was a case in which the system got it right. There was no chance they would be making a mistake the day Spencer was sent to ride the lightning.