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“My final truth is true: theirs is the lie.”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.
You are listening to a half-hour audio journey through the life of Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr. I examine every part of his life, comparing his autobiography to known facts to determine what is true and what is likely false. Below you will find deeper dives into specific areas not covered in-depth or cut from the audio documentary. Near the bottom of the page is a treasure trove of FBI documents I obtained in my research. I hope this serves as a valuable research tool and that you find this as fascinating as I did.
“I make their total to be thirty-one. The fourteen bodies that Walter or me led The Law to, plus the seventeen more that’s buried in Sumter, Florence, and Williamsburg counties.”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.
Despite claiming to have killed well over 100 people, he was only convicted for 9 counts of murder. It is generally accepted that about 15 people have been proven to be victims of Pee Wee Gaskins. Even in his autobiography, he does not come anywhere near the 100+ victim count that he has claimed.
“Why would I want more publicity? Admitting more murders sure wasn’t going to help me none.”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.
How He Killed
“I have walked the same path as God. By taking lives and making others afraid of me, I become God’s equal.”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.
There is a significant difference between how Pee Wee Gaskins killed the people whose bodies were discovered and the people he claimed to kill but have never been proven to exist.
Gaskins also changes the method used to his proven victims in his book, likely to dramatize it and play up his image.
“Through killing others, I become my own Master. Through my own power I come to my own redemption. Once I seen the miracle light, I didn’t never again have to fear or obey the Rules of no Man or no God.”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.
After killing Anne Colberson, one of his unproven murders, he says in his autobiography that he buried her near his niece. However, he had also said that he dumped Colberson’s body in a quicksand pit somewhere in Myrtle Beach, an area not known to ever have quicksand pits.
Gaskins claimed he beat Doreen Dempsey with a hammer and slit her throat before burying her with her infant daughter, whom he claims to have strangled. According to authorities, Gaskins drowned both of them in a pond near where he had been staying.
Gaskins claims to have punched so hard it busted the throat of Silas Barnwell Yates, while scholarly sources say it was a much simpler strangling. Gaskins also says he cut Yates’ throat, while others say he stabbed Yates multiple times.
His “Coastal Killings” all involve lengthy bouts of torture, something he says was required to make his “bothersome feelings” subside. Nearly all of his murders that involved torture, however, are in the collection of unproven murders that bloat his kill count.
All of the murders that we know to be completely real are much simpler and done more conveniently. Gaskins shot and stabbed most of his victims, with the exceptions being blowing up Rudolph Tyner, drowing the Dempseys, and poisoning Martha Dicks. The trend shows he was a quick and efficient killer, but his words say he had a need to torture, which is not supported by any of his proven murders.
The Death of Margaret “Peg” Cuttino
“So it’s logical to say that the onliest person outside of the coroner and court officials who knows about them burns is the one who did the torture and the murder and that weren’t Junior Pierce and them burns weren’t made with no cigarettes. I poured acid on her, a trickle at a time.”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.
Margaret “Peg” Cuttino was the 13-year old daughter of South Carolina Senator James Cuttino, Jr. She was reported missing on December 18th, 1970 and was found dead on the 30th. A Georgia prisoner named Junior Pierce was convicted for the crime but controversy exists to this day over whether or not he is the man responsible.
Pee Wee Gaskins tried to claim Cuttino’s death as his work. More importantly, Gaskins alleged that it was not just an ordinary murder. He maintained the claim that members of the Sumter County Police hired him to assassinate Peg Cuttino, though he refused to name the officer or officers involved.
The excerpt below was published in The State by J. Duncan Hite on April 26, 1977.News_Article__State_published_as_The_State___April_26_1977__p1
Junior Pierce claimed he only confessed because the police coerced him to, threatening violence against him if he refused, but promising steak dinners and visits from loved ones if he cooperated.
Concerns with the handling of the Peg Cuttino case were raised in an article in The State by Jack Truluck on June 7, 1977. How could the Sumter County Police uncover the truth if they were responsible for the murder?News_Article__State_published_as_The_State___June_7_1977__p13
Though Pierce got some key details of the crime scene correct, he also got a number of them wrong, which the police “chose to disregard.”
Pierce was already serving a life sentence for a series of other murders, making him a prime target to act as the “fall man” so the true culprit could remain hidden. The death penalty had been made illegal by the Supreme Court in 1972, meaning his punishment could not get any worse than the life sentence he already had. Promises of steak and family would go a long way in covering up a crime.
In fact, the FBI was already aware of corruption in the Sumter County Police Department. Dr. Charles H. King, Jr., a Georgia attorney and civil rights activist, concluded while working with the FBI that Pee Wee Gaskins likely was behind the murder.Summary-of-Dr.-Charles-H.-Kings-Work-on-Gaskins-4_Part1-1
However, the FBI also discovered that Pee Wee Gaskins admitted to falsifying much of his claim. Given Gaskins tendency to take credit for things he did and things he likely did not do, seeing Gaskins admit a lie stands out as one of the very few moments in which Gaskins said he did not kill someone.Summary-of-Dr.-Charles-H.-Kings-Work-on-Gaskins-8
Gaskins himself states in his book that he was accounted for every hour of the day Peg Cuttino disappeared.
“But I had an alibi they couldn’t bust: I could prove I was in Charleston when Peggy Cuttino took missing, and I could account for every hour of my time from then until they found the body.”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.
When he begins detailing his “murder” of Miss Cuttino, he never revisits this point. He does not elaborate on how he faked his alibi, nor does he explain where he obtained the acid he claimed to use as a torture device or how the an autopsy lab working on a high-profile case would get acid burns confused with cigarette burns.
“I confessed because I knowed Junior Pierce weren’t guilty and I didn’t want him to end up in South Carolina’s CCI for a crime he didn’t commit.”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.
This comes from a mass murderer who, over the course of his entire life, proved that he only cared about himself and inflating his image. Gaskins claimed that it made no sense for him to take credit for a murder he did not commit because it was not going to improve his situation.
“Why would I want more publicity? Admitting more murders sure wasn’t going to help me none.”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.
It is, however, important to note that he did not try and take credit for this death until after he had been charged with other murders. He could have admitted to it when he was first questioned by authorities years prior, but instead he waited until his fate was sealed and he had the opportunity to paint himself as larger than life.
The Death of Rudolph Tyner
“All things considered, the South Carolina Department of Corrections has been lax enough to make most of my time on Death Row as enjoyable as possible.”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.
On September 2, 1982, an explosion rocked the South Carolina Correctional Institution, leaving an inmate named Rudolph Tyner with much of his head blown off from the blast.
At first, it looked simple: Tyner had made a makeshift explosive in an escape attempt, only to have it backfire and kill him.
It soon became clear that something else had happened. Authorities, while investigating the murders done by Pee Wee Gaskins, discovered a trove of tapes… phone calls that he had recorded over the years. One phone call to a Mr. Tony Cimo discussed smuggling in poisons and explosives to kill Rudolph Tyner.
Tyner was responsible for killing Tony Cimo’s parents. He had escaped the death penalty repeatedly and Cimo was running out of patience. Through a mutual friend, Cimo got in contact with Pee Wee Gaskins while he was in prison and asked him to kill Tyner.
Gaskins tried to poison Tyner at first, but the poison only made him ill. Finally, he asked for explosives and Cimo managed to get him plastic explosives.
“Forget the fucking poison. Send me some explosives so I can blow the son of a bitch to pieces!”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.
Pee Wee Gaskins befriended Tyner as part of this plan. The two would have long conversations and spent time together. Gaskins told him that he smuggled them in radios so they could talk from their cells. The radio he gave Tyner held the explosives within. When Tyner went to use the radio, it exploded and killed him.
Once Pee Wee Gaskins was identified as the culprit behind the killing, it quickly became clear what his fate would be. Gaskins had narrowly avoided a death penalty when the Supreme Court outlawed it. This was the first crime Gaskins had committed after executions were reinstated in 1977. Seeking the death penalty in Tyner’s death would be much easier than trying to change a sentence he was already serving.Rudolph-Tyner-Report-124
One curious observation in the documents in the reader below is in the “Subject” line. The first lists his name as Donald H. Gaskins, while the second has him as Pee Wee Gaskins. Though “Pee Wee” started as a nickname, it carried as much weight both in the eyes of the public and in legal matters as his birth name. It is not often that a criminal’s nickname is used as his main name in a legal document.Rudolph-Tyner-Report-128
Below is a collection of evidence gathered from the cell of Rudolph Tyner, showing the debris and destruction from the blast, as well as the components believed to be part of the explosive.
Pages 94-164 show tests conducted on surviving parts of the explosive device.Pages-from-Rudolph-Tyner-Report-1
“We swore we wouldn’t never be taken alive.”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.
Pee Wee Gaskins developed a reputation for being a criminal escape artist. Throughout his life, he evaded long-term capture through continuously pulling off plans that police thought would be too insane to execute.
Pee Wee Gaskins in Popular Culture
“I’ll die peaceful because my name is going to live as long as men have memories, as long as they talk about good and evil, and as long as they read my words of Final Truth.”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.
Pee Wee Gaskins has been the subject of a number of books and documentaries. His own autobiography, Final Truth, is considered very rare and often sells at high prices on various online retailers.
His drawings, letters, and even hair samples also sell for hundreds of dollars on websites specializing in serial killer memorabilia.
You can also find clothing sporting his image.
An Indonesian rock band wanted to share a name with a serial killer. They landed on “Pee Wee Gaskins” after doing a dive into his story and liking what they found.
“‘Pee Wee, Pee Wee, playing with your pee pee,’ they used to say, and when I’d get mad and hit somebody, that was all the excuse they needed to gang up and beat hell out of me.”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.
“I will always be grateful to, and owe a great debt to, the Federal Bureau of Investigation of Washington, D.C. for getting me out of Maximum Security, then out of the whole damn South Carolina State Penitentiary, just at the time when I was feeling my downest.”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.
Below is a collection of FBI materials on Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr. obtained on September 14, 2018 through a FOIA request. These documents mostly concern the deaths of Rudolph Tyner and Margaret “Peg” Cuttino.FBI-Notes
Hear From Pee Wee Gaskins
“It’s the same with the way the press keeps on quoting writers who says they spent so much time with me that they has become experts on me and my life. None of them never got no Final Truth from me.”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.
Wilton Earle recorded a number of conversations with Pee Wee Gaskins and included excerpts from their talks with some copies of his book. This marketing ploy helped to sell many copies at the time of its release.
“To me, school was more than just a waste, it was a kind of torture.”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.
- Beech, Jess. “Killer Who Raped a 1-Year-Old Was so Twisted – His Own Lawyer Didn’t Defend Him.” Life Death Prizes, TI Media Limited, 4 July 2017, www.lifedeathprizes.com/real-life-crime/murderer-donald-henry-gaskins-21516.
- Bovsun, Mara. “South Carolina Serial Killer, Who Bragged He Killed More than 100 People, Offs Fellow Sicko in Prison with Homemade Bomb .” New York Daily News, New York Daily News, 9 Apr. 2018, www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/s-sicko-blown-bits-prison-monster-serial-killer-article-1.2190077.
- Capps, Henry. “‘Pee Wee’ Gaskins and the Subjectivity of History.” 2014 Caravel Archive, University of South Carolina, 2014, sc.edu/about/offices_and_divisions/research/news_and_pubs/caravel/archive/2014/2014-caravel-pee-wee.php.
- “Donald ‘Pee Wee’ Gaskins.” Crime Museum, Crime Museum, www.crimemuseum.org/crime-library/serial-killers/donald-pee-wee-gaskins/.
- “Donald ‘Pee Wee’ Gaskins.” Supernaught, Supernaught, supernaught.com/collections/donald-pee-wee-gaskins.
- “FOIPA Request No.: 1415380-000.” Federal Bureau of Investigation.
- Gaskins, Pee Wee, and Wilton Earle. Final Truth: The Autobiography of a Serial Killer. Adept, 1992.
- Gilbreth, Edward M. “S.C.’s ‘Meanest Man in America’ Should Never Be Glamorized.” Post and Courier, Post and Courier, 11 Dec. 2013, www.postandcourier.com/news/s-c-s-meanest-man-in-america-should-never-be/article_68e42532-85fb-551f-9c38-215eafb56dfd.html.
- Kirby, Briana, et al. Donald Henry Gaskins, Jr.Radford University, 2011, Donald Henry Gaskins, Jr.
- Kissel, Ben, et al. “Episode 298: Pee Wee Gaskins Part 1 – See Ya Monday.” The Last Podcast on the Left, The Last Podcast on the Left, 8 Dec. 2017, soundcloud.com/lastpodcastontheleft/episode-298-pee-wee-gaskins.
- Kissel, Ben, et al. “Episode 299: Pee Wee Gaskins Part II – The Chicken’s Tongue.” The Last Podcast on the Left, The Last Podcast on the Left, 14 Dec. 2017, soundcloud.com/lastpodcastontheleft/episode-299-pee-wee-gaskins.
- Kissel, Ben, et al. “Episode 299.5: Pee Wee Gaskins Part III – Tell That to Aunt Monkey.” The Last Podcast on the Left, The Last Podcast on the Left, 29 Dec. 2017, soundcloud.com/lastpodcastontheleft/episode-299-5-pee-wee-gaskins.
- Kissel, Ben, et al. “Episode 299.75: Pee Wee Gaskins Part IV: The Final Truth.” The Last Podcast on the Left, The Last Podcast on the Left, 5 Jan. 2019, soundcloud.com/lastpodcastontheleft/episode-299-75-pee-wee-gaskins.
- Montaldo, Charles. “Donald ‘Pee Wee’ Gaskins Serial Killer Profile.” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, 2 Jan. 2019, www.thoughtco.com/donald-pee-wee-gaskins-973165.
- O’Shea, Margaret N. “Wherever He Lived, ‘Pee Wee’ Gaskins Left Death Behind.” The State, The State, 14 Nov. 2017, www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article183476256.html.
- Odeku, Nicola. “‘Pee Wee’: The Meanest Man in America.” Wicked Horror, Wicked Horror, 20 Apr. 2017, wickedhorror.com/features/donald-pee-wee-gaskins-the-meanest-man-in-america/.
- Odeku, Nicola. “Donald Pee-Wee Gaskins- The Redneck Charles Manson.” Share The Horror, Aardvark News, 9 Jan. 2019, sharethehorror.com/2019/01/08/donald-pee-wee-gaskins-the-redneck-charles-manson/.
- “Profile of an American Serial Killer: Pee Wee Gaskins.” Prolific Killers, 21 June 2010, prolifickillers.wordpress.com/2010/06/20/profile-of-an-american-serial-killer-pee-wee-gaskins-2/.
- Raphael, Shannon. “Donald Henry Gaskins: The ‘Pee Wee’ Killer.” The Lineup, Open Road Media, 17 Apr. 2019, the-line-up.com/donald-henry-gaskins.
- Smoot, Lisa D. “The Hitchhikers Killer Donald Gaskins.” Hunt A Killer With The BAU, Hunt A Killer, 5 Oct. 2018, www.huntakillerwiththebau.com/hitchhiker-killer/.
- Truluck, Jack L. “Questions Raised In Sumter May Never Be Resolved.” The State, 7 June 1977.
“Then he asked me if I had heard the voice of God, or any other voice, telling me to attack that girl with a hatchet.”Donald Henry “Pee Wee” Gaskins, Jr.