Walter Neely Breaks:
The investigation into the disappearance of Kim Ghelkins was turning up enough leads that pointed the finger at Gaskins. After a search of Gaskins apartment uncovered clothing worn by Ghelkins, Gaskins was indited for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. While awaiting trial in prison, Walter Neely broke down under police pressure and showed authorties Gaskins personal cemetary.
Sentenced to Die:
The bodies of Sellars, Judy, Howard, Diane Neely, Johnny Knight, Dennis Bellamy, Doreen Dempsey and her child were found in the graves. On April 27, 1976, Gaskins and Walter Neely were charged with eight counts of murder. Gaskins' attempts to appear as an innocent victim failed and on May 24, 1976, a jury found him guilty of murdering Dennis Bellamy, his sentence - death. He later confessed to the additional seven murders to avoid additional death sentences.
A Bad Reputation:
In November 1976, his sentence was commuted to life with seven consecutive life terms, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstituional. In prison, he enjoyed the grandiose treatment he received from other inmates because of his infamous reputation. The death penalty was made legal again in South Carolina in 1978. This meant little to Gaskins until he was caught, tried and found guilty for the murder of prisoner, Rudolph Tyner, for money. Again, he received a death sentence.
In an attempt to stay out of the electric chair, Gaskins began confessing to other murders, which if true, would make him the worst killer in the history of South Carolina. One crime he admitted to was that of 13-year-old Peggy Cuttino, daughter of a prominent family. Prosecutors had already prosecuted William Pierce for the crime and sentenced him to life in prison. Prosecutors claimed Gaskins' confession to the girl's murder was simply for publicity and his confession was rejected.
The Final Months:
During the last months of his life, Gaskins spent time working with author Wilton Earl on his book, Final Truth which was published in 1993. In the book, Gaskins spent a lot of his time talking about his murders and his feeling of something "bothersome" inside of him throughout his life. The closer his execution became the more philosophical he got while dictating his memoirs into a tape recorder.
On the day of his execution, Gaskins slashed his wrists in an effort to postpone his execution. This time he would fail to trick death from his door and with stitched arms, he was placed into the electric chair and was pronounced dead by electrocution, at 1:05 a.m. on Sept. 6, 1991.
Truth or Lies?:
It will never be known for sure if Gaskins' memoirs in the book, Final Truth, were based on truth or if it was just his desire to be known as one of the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history. He claimed to have killed over 100 people although he never showed authorities where the bodies were located.
Some say Gaskins was never beaten as a child, but was given tremendous love and attention when growing up. How many people he was actually responsible for killing is also an area of debate since proof of several of his confessed murders was never found. The one fact that cannot be disputed is that Gaskins was a psychopath from a very early age and had no regard for any human life but his own.
Final Truth by Donald Pee Wee Gaskins
The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers By Michael Newton