The Little Hatchet Man:
It did not take long for police to find out Gaskins was also an escaped convict and he was returned to prison. This time he received an additional nine months in jail for aiding an escape and for knifing a fellow prisoner. Later he was convicted of driving a stolen car across state lines and received three years in a federal prison in Atlanta, Georgia. While there, he got to know mafia boss, Frank Costello, who named him "the little hatchet man" and offered him future employment.
Gaskins Is Released From Prison:
Gaskins was released from prison in August 1961. He returned to Florence, SC and got a job working in the tobacco sheds but was unable to stay out of trouble. Soon he was back to burglarizing homes. This time he made more of an effort to avoid arrest by taking a job with a traveling minister. He worked as his driver and general assistant. This allowed him the opportunity to break into homes in different towns where the group preached, making his crimes harder to trace.
Arrested for Statutory Rape:
In 1962, Gaskin married a third time but this did not stop his criminal behavior. He was arrested for statutory rape of a twelve-year-old girl but managed to escape, this time traveling to North Carolina in a stolen Florence County car. There he met another 17-year-old and married for a fourth time. She ended up turning him into the police and Gaskin was convicted of statutory rape. He received six years at the Columbia penitentiary and was paroled in November 1968, vowing never to return.
'Them Aggravated and Bothersome Feelings,':
All through Gaskins life he had what he described as, 'them aggravated and bothersome feelings,' that seemed to push him into criminal activity. He found little relief from the feelings until September 1969, when he picked up a female hitchhiker in North Carolina. Gaskins became angry with the young girl for laughing at him when he propositioned her for sex. He beat her until she was unconscious then raped, sodomized, and tortured her then sunk her weighted body into a swamp where she drowned.
Rape, Torture, Murder:
This act of brutality was what Gaskins later described as 'a vision' into the 'bothersome feelings' that haunted him throughout life. He finally discovered how to satisfy them and from that point on, it was the driving force in his life. He worked on mastering his skill of torture, often keeping his mutilated victims alive for days. He sometimes cannibalized their severed parts while they watched in horror or forced them to participate in the eating.
Although Gaskins preferred female victims it did not stop him from doing the same to males he happened upon. By 1975, he had killed over 80 young boys and girls he found along the North Carolina highways and he now looked forward to his old "bothersome feelings" because it felt so good to him to relieve them through torture and murder. He considered his highway murders as weekend recreation and referred to killing personal acquaintances as "serious murders."
Gaskins 'Serious Murders' Begin:
Victims of his serious murders included his 15-year-old niece, Janice Kirby, and her friend, Patricia Alsobrook. In November 1970, he offered the two girls a ride home from a bar and instead drove them to an abandoned house. There he raped, beat, and drowned the girls in separate locations. His next serious murder was of Martha Dicks, a 20-year-old who was attracted to Gaskins and hung around him at his part-time job at a car repair shop. She was also the first African American that he killed.
In 1973, Gaskins purchased an old hearse, telling people at his favorite bar that he needed the vehicle to haul all the people he killed to his private cemetery. At this time he was living in Prospect, South Carolina with his wife and child. Around town he had a reputation for being explosive, but not truly dangerous. People just thought he was mentally disturbed and most tried to avoid being around him. Some actually liked him and considered him a friend.
A Double Murder - Mother and Child:
One of those people was 23-year-old Doreen Dempsey. Doreen, an unwed mother of a two-year-old baby girl, and pregnant with a second child, decided to leave the area and accepted a ride to the bus station from her old friend Gaskins. Instead, Gaskins took her to a wooded area, raped and killed her, then raped and sodomized her baby. After killing the child he buried the two together. The rape of the child would later be described by Gaskins as the best sex of his life.
In 1975, Gaskins who was now 42 years old and a grandfather had been steadily killing for six years. His ability to get away with it was mainly because he never involved anyone else in his highway murders. This changed in 1975 after Gaskins murdered three people whose van had broken down on the highway. Gaskins needed help getting rid of the trio's van and enlisted the help of ex-con Walter Neely. Neely drove the van to Gaskins' garage and Gaskins repainted it so he could sell it.
Hired to Kill: That same year Gaskins was paid $1,500 to kill Silas Yates, a wealthy farmer from Florence County. Suzanne Kipper, an angry ex-girlfriend, hired Gaskins to do the job. John Powell and John Owens handled all correspondence between Kipper and Gaskins in arranging the murder. Diane Neely who claimed to have car problems lured Yates out of his home on Feb. 12, 1975 Gaskins then kidnapped and murdered Yates as Powel and Owens watched, then the three buried his body.
Blackmailing the Wrong Person: Not long afterwards, Diane Neely and her boyfriend, ex-con Avery Howard, attempted to blackmail Gaskins for $5,000 in hush money. They too were quickly disposed of by Gaskins after they agreed to meet him for the payoff. In the meantime, Gaskins was busy killing and torturing other people he knew, including a 13-year-old, Kim Ghelkins, who sexually rejected him.
A Tour of Graves: Not knowing Gaskins' wrath, two locals, Johnny Knight and Dennis Bellamy robbed Gaskins repair shop and were eventually killed and buried along side the other locals Gaskin's killed. This time he once again called on Walter Neely's help to bury the pair. Gaskins obviously took Neely in as a trusted friend, a fact proven when he pointed out to Neely the graves of the other locals who he had murdered and buried there.
Final Truth by Donald Pee Wee Gaskins
The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers By Michael Newton