Since 1915, the official list of executions in Oklahoma shows one hanging
The execution of Arthur Gooch on June 19, 1936, stands out on the state Corrections Departments list of executions that dates to 1915.
That is partially because it is the only hanging on the list.
Also, Gooch’s crime stands out — kidnapping.
Gooch was executed for violating the Lindbergh kidnapping law. The law was enacted after the 1932 kidnapping of the 20-month-old son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh. The body of the Lindbergh child was found about two months later.
Gooch and another man were among some inmates who escaped from a jail in Oklahoma. These two stayed together, according to an Associated Press story in The Oklahoman on the day of the execution.
“At Paris, Texas, they seized two officers who accosted them at a filling station,” the story said. “One of the officers was shoved through a showcase during the scuffle.
“Fleeing in the police car, with the officers as hostages, they drove into Oklahoma, where they released their victims.”
Later, in a gunbattle with police, the other escapee was killed and Gooch was arrested.
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Gooch was hanged on gallows erected in a courtyard at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester in front of 350 witnesses.
The following day, an Associated Press story in The Oklahoman reported, “Dressed in a black suit, Gooch was led from the death cell to the death mechanism 100 yards away. After mounting the 13 gallows steps, he stood with a smile playing on his lips.
“When the noose was adjusted, (executioner Richard) Owen pulled the lever and Gooch’s body plummeted downward seven and one-half feet, his feet dangling an inch above the ground. It was not until 15 minutes later that Dr. T.H. McCarley, prison physician, signaled that Gooch was dead.”
Tulsa World reporter Walter Biscup’s story June 20, 1936, titled “Gooch’s Neck Unbroken, Dies by Strangulation,” was more descriptive.
The knot on the rope slipped, the story reported. Gooch dangled for 15 minutes before he died. At one point, “his legs suddenly buckled up and jerked out, giving the impression that he was about to make a standing broad jump,” Biscup wrote.
A story in The Oklahoman in 2003, reported that Owen didn’t care for the hanging he had to perform in 1936. The story added, “Some blamed the way Owen tied the noose or the way he placed it around Arthur Gooch ... for Gooch lingering some 15 minutes.”
Before Tuesday night’s planned double execution, 193 men and women had been executed in Oklahoma since 1915. While Gooch’s was the only execution by hanging, there were 110 executions by lethal injection and 82 by electrocution.