Donald 'Pee Wee' Gaskins:
Donald "Pee Wee" Gaskins was the most prolific serial killer in South Carolina history. Once his brutality was unleashed, he knew no boundaries, torturing, killing, cannibalizing victims, both male and female. In his taped memoirs for the book, Final Truth by author Wilton Earl, Gaskins said, 'I have walked the same path as God, by taking lives and making others afraid, I became God's equal. Through killing others, I became my own master. Through my own power I come to my own redemption..'
Try the Serial Killer Trivia Quiz
Donald Gaskins Childhood Years:
Donald Gaskins was born on March 13, 1933 in Florence County, South Carolina. His mother, who was not married when she became pregnant with Donald, lived on and off with several men during his childhood. Many of the men treated the young boy with disdain, sometimes beating him for just being around. His mother did little to protect him from her lovers and the boy was left alone to raise himself. When his mother did marry, his stepfather beat him and his four half-siblings regularly.
Gaskins was given the nicknames 'Junior Parrott' and 'Pee Wee' at a young age because of his small body frame. When he began attending school the violence he experienced at home followed him into the classrooms. He fought daily with the other boys and girls and was constantly punished by the teachers. At age eleven, he quit school, worked on cars at a local garage, and helped around the family farm. Emotionally Gaskins was battling an intense hatred toward people, women topping the list.
The Trouble Trio:
At the garage where Gaskins worked part-time, he met two boys, Danny and Marsh, both close to his age and out of school. The three teamed up and named themselves the "The Trouble Trio." The trio began burglarizing homes and picking up prostitutes in nearby cities. Locally they sometimes raped young boys, then threatened them so they would not tell the police.
Early Criminal Behavior:
The trio stopped their sexual rampage after being caught for gang-raping Marsh's younger sister. As punishment, their parents bound and beat the boys until they bled. After the beatings, Marsh and Danny left the area and Gaskins continued breaking into homes alone. In 1946, at the age of 13, a girl he knew interrupted him burglarizing a home. She attacked him with an ax, which he managed to get away from her, striking her in the head and arm with it before running away from the scene.
Reform School Bound:
The girl survived the attack and Gaskins was arrested, tried and found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon and intent to kill. He was sent to the South Carolina Industrial School for Boys until he turned 18 years old. It was during the court proceedings that Gaskins heard his real name spoken for the first time in his life.
Reform School Education:
Reform school was particularly rough on the small and young Gaskins. Almost immediately he was attacked and gang-raped by 20 of his new peers. He spent the rest of his time either accepting protection from the dorm "Boss-Boy" in exchange for sex or trying unsuccessfully to escape from the reformatory. He was repeatedly beaten for his escape attempts and sexually exploited among the gang favored by the "Boss-Boy."
Escape and Marriage:
Gaskins' desperate attempts to escape resulted in physical fights with guards, and he was sent off for observation at a state mental hospital. Doctors found him sane enough to return to the reform school and after a few nights, he escaped again and managed to get on with a traveling carnival. While there, he married a 13-year-old girl, and made the decision to turn himself in to the police and finish his sentence at the reform school. He was released in March 1951 on his 18th birthday.
After reform school, Gaskin got a job on a tobacco plantation but could not resist the temptation for more. He and a partner got involved with insurance fraud by collaborating with tobacco farmers to burn their barns for a fee. People around the area began talking about the barn fires and suspected Gaskins' involvement.
Assault With a Deadly Weapon & Attempted Murder:
Gaskins' employer's daughter and friend confronted Gaskin about his reputation as the barnburner and he flipped. With a hammer in hand, he split the girl's skull. He was sent to prison after receiving a five-year sentence for assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder.
New Lessons - A Real Prison: Prison life was not much different from his time spent in reform school. Gaskins was immediately assigned to sexually service one of the prison gang leaders in exchange for protection. He realized the only way he would survive prison was to become known as a "Power Man." Power Men were those who had a reputation as being so brutal and dangerous that others stayed away.
Graduating To Power Man: Gaskins' small size would prevent him from intimidating the others into respecting him. Only his actions could accomplish this task. He set his sights on one of the meanest inmates in the prison, Hazel Brazell. Gaskins managed to manipulate himself into relationship of trust with Brazell then ultimately cut his throat. He was found guilty of manslaughter, spent six months in solitary confinement, and was titled a Power Man among prisoners. He could now look forward to an easier time in prison.
Escape and Marriage Part 2: In 1955, his wife filed for divorce. Gaskins flipped out and escaped from prison, stole a car and drove to Florida. He joined another carnival and in the interim married for a second time. The marriage ended after two weeks. Gaskins then became involved with a carnival woman, Bettie Gates, and the two drove to Cookeville, Tennessee to bail Gates' brother out of jail.
Gaskins went to the jail with bail money and cigarettes in hand. When he returned to the hotel, Gates and his car were gone. Gates never returned but the police did and Gaskins discovered that he had been duped. Gates "brother" was actually her husband who had escaped from prison with the aid of a razor blade tucked inside a carton of cigarettes.
Final Truth by Donald Pee Wee Gaskins
The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers By Michael Newton