Pee Wee Gaskins began burglarizing homes and getting into trouble when he was very young, so he was sent to reform school. Over the years, his crimes kept escalating and he started torturing and murdering people. He got away with the murders for a long time and didn't stop when he was sent to prison. He ended up using a homemade bomb to blow up an inmate on death row.
The Redneck Charlie Manson
Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins is one of the most prolific serial killers in South Carolina history. He wrote a book called Final Truth which is $300 to $600 on every site, but bless the wicked soul who posted a PDF of it online, so I could get the necessary information for this podcast. Donald Gaskins was born March 13th, 1933 in Florence County, South Carolina. His mother wasn't married when she got pregnant with him and she was with many different guys throughout his childhood. Many of the men were no good and ended up beating him. Eventually, his mother did get married and the stepfather was abusive and regularly beat all five children. At a young age, Donald was given two nicknames and one really stuck, Junior Parrott and Pee Wee due to his small frame. As an adult, he was about 5'4” and 130 lbs. Since he is mainly known as Pee Wee, that's what we will use going forward.
In Pee Wee's book, he talks about one of his earliest memories in life. As a child, he remembers going to a local Carnival with his mom, stepfather, and cousin. They went into a tent that had a Cobra and one of the Carnie's dropped a live rat in the cage. The Cobra was sleeping, but suddenly, it rose up and was ready to strike. Pee Wee realized at that moment that the Cobra wasn't hungry and it didn't need to defend itself from anything, it was going to kill this rat just because it decided to. The snake struck and then calmly went back to sleep. Pee Wee's cousin was scared and she was clinging to his mother's leg. He noticed that his mom and stepfather looked horrified, but Pee Wee felt different. He says this gave him a hard-on and he felt like he had just witnessed something very special and important.
When Pee Wee began attending school, he was getting in daily fights and he was constantly being punished by the teachers. At age eleven, he quit school and started working on cars at a local garage and he also helped on the family farm. He hated people, especially women. At the garage, Pee Wee met two boys named Danny and Marsh and they were all close in age and the other boys had dropped out of school as well. They decided to call themselves The Trouble Trio and began burglarizing homes and picking up sex workers in nearby cities. They also raped young boys in town and threatened them so they wouldn't go to the police. In Pee Wee's book, he talks about meeting up with some friends at an old abandoned house and learning from older boys in the neighborhood, how to jerk off, give blow jobs, or do anal sex by watching them. He also says they did things to sheep, goats, and chickens.
One of the boys in The Trouble Trio, Danny, had a father that had done some time in Georgia for burglary, armed robbery, and assault. During World War II, you had to use gas ration coupons, so the trio would take Danny's father's truck for joy rides at night, and they would break the padlocks on the pumps to steal gas. Danny's father knew this was happening because his truck kept magically getting filled up. Danny decided to tell his dad that they were burglarizing people's homes and he wanted to get advice on this. His dad was like, actually I do have advice for you. He says it's best to break into homes on Saturday afternoons, he told them how to make sure no one is home, what items to steal, and what things you can't take because they're traceable. Danny's father let the boys keep the money at his house and when they saved up enough, he bought them a 36 Ford.
Pee Wee and two older boys dug a trench on the back of the outhouse at the Church, so they could hideout and watch women and girls when they pulled their pants down. He says this was the worst whipping he ever got. Three sets of stepfathers, a preacher, a deacon, and four mom's, including his, joined together and beat the boys. This part of Pee Wee's book is actually very telling. He says, “ Even back then, girls pissed me off: The way I saw it, they had something boys wanted, but wouldn't even let a boy look at it, much less fuck it, unless the boy did whatever the girl wanted. It specially made me mad that them bitches could do anything they wanted-show their asses, make fun of me, even beat me up-and dare me to do anything about it, knowing I couldn't do nothing without being punished by grown-ups.”
Pee Wee was actually very good at fixing things and he started a business when he was a kid. On Saturdays, people would bring things like broken radios, records players, or sewing machines to the gas station and he would repair them in the evenings, but that certainly didn't keep him out of trouble.
The Trouble Trio ended up gang raping Marsh's younger sister and they were caught. The reason they went for her is because they decided they needed a virgin and Marsh figured he could easily persuade her not to tell. As a punishment, their parents bound and beat two of the boys until they bled. Pee Wee ended up getting a boner during the beating, which enraged the pissed off parents even more. Danny didn't get beat for this because he went to his daddy for help. He told him that he had sex with Marsh's sister and because of her age, he was afraid she'd call it rape. When Marsh's parents showed up at the house, Danny's father was on the porch with a shot-gun on his lap and wouldn't let them near his son. Marsh and Danny ended up leaving the area after this incident and Pee Wee continued to break into homes by himself. In 1946, when he was only 13, he was burglarizing a home and a girl he knew ended up interrupting him. She went after him with an ax, but he managed to get away, grab the ax, and struck her in the head and arm before escaping. Luckily, the girl survived and Pee Wee was arrested and found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon and intent to kill. He was sent to South Carolina Industrial School for Boys until he was 18. During the court proceedings, Pee Wee heard his real name spoken for the very first. For the first 13 years of his life, he had only been known as Junior Parrott or Pee Wee. His mother's last name was Parrott and she told Pee Wee that he had the same last name since she never married his father. When the judge questioned her about this, she confessed that Pee Wee's true given name was Donald Henry Gaskins Jr.
Reform school was a horrendous idea. Pee Wee was gang raped by 20 students. There was a “boss boy” who would offer him protection from the others in exchange for sex. Pee Wee tried to escape the school several times, but was repeatedly beaten and sexually exploited. Every night after showers, all the boys had to line up naked and the guards would read a list of the boys who had been written up for doing something bad that day. If your name was on the list, you had to go to the hallway, grab your ankles and the guards would whip you. Pee Wee's escape attempts got him in many fights with the guards and he was sent for observation at a state mental hospital because he attacked a guard. Doctors found the young boy sane enough to return to reform school after a few nights. Pee Wee escaped and was able to join a traveling carnival. He married a 13 year old girl named Mary and decided he wanted to finish his sentence, so he turned himself into the police and went back to reform school until his 18th birthday. He actually did this because Mary wasn't comfortable being with someone who was on the run. As punishment, he was put in an isolation cell for his remaining three months.
When Pee Wee had worked at the carnival, he had a bunch of keys and would check all the doors for the wagons. This got him interested in learning how locks actually worked and he began taking them apart and putting them back together. When he was in isolation, he realized that the cell door could be opened with his belt buckle. He decided to drive the guards crazy and would be sitting in the hallway or taking a shower when they'd come down to work. After lights out, he would open all of the cells and the guys would hangout in the corridors. The guards would hear everyone, lock them back up, and they'd get back out again. Pee Wee told everyone to tell the officers that Pee Wee lets us out and that's what they did. The Superintendent finally agreed to let Pee Wee out of isolation for the rest of his sentence, if he stopped opening cells and told him how he had done it. Pee Wee had already made deals with the superintendent before and he hadn't followed through with his end of the deal, so he got the agreement in writing this time.
When Pee Wee was released from reform school he had a tough time finding a job and he needed one because he got Mary pregnant. He got a job at a logging company with Mary's family, but that was very temporary and only lasted a few months. Then, he ran into a boy from the reformatory named Slick and he got him a job on a tobacco plantation. The two of them got involved with insurance fraud by collaborating with tobacco farmers to burn their barns for a fee. Slick's ex-wife and her new husband ended up being murdered and witnesses saw Slick going into the house that night, so he ended up taking off. People around the area were suspicious about all of the barn fires and began suspecting that Pee Wee was involved. His employer's daughter and a friend ended up confronting him about the barns and he flipped out. He hit the girl in the head with a hammer, kicked her in the face, and was sent to prison with a five-year sentence for assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder. He also got an additional year for contempt after telling the judge to fuck off during sentencing.
Prison was pretty much a repeat of reform school. Pee Wee had to do sexual favors for a prison gang leader, Arthur for protection. He was transferred to Arthur's cell and says he was told to strip. Arthur kicked Pee Wee in the balls, beat him, gave him a bloody nose, held him down on the floor to choke him and raped him. Then, he made Pee Wee lick him clean afterwards. He realized there were people in prison that gained power for being brutal and dangerous. He was small and didn't come off very intimidating to others. He knew he had to come up with a plan that would scare the shit out of all the inmates. Pee Wee decided to approach one of the meanest inmates in prison, Hazel Brazell. He built a relationship with him, gained his trust, and then slit his throat when he was naked on the toilet. He was found guilty of manslaughter, spent six months in solitary confinement and had now gained the title of a Power Man with the inmates.
When he came out of solitary confinement, Pee Wee was elated to find out that his plan had worked. He was a powerman and was assigned a boy of his own. He had this person do his laundry and help with chores, but he never traded him to the other powermen and he shared his money and cigarettes with him. He said that's how he wished his powerman had treated him. Things were finally going well for Pee Wee and he figured the rest of his sentence would be a breeze.
In 1955, Mary filed for divorce and Pee Wee decided he should leave prison. He ended up escaping from prison by getting inside a garbage drum on a prison truck. He stole a car, and drove to Florida. He joined another carnival and got married to Junie Alice Holden, but the marriage ended after two weeks. Pee Wee basically says that he just wanted to sleep with this girl and she refused to do that unless they were married. After they slept together, he dropped the young lady off at her parents home and dipped. He ended up finding another lady in the carnival, a contortionist, named Bettie Gates and the pair drove to Cookeville, Tennessee to bail Bettie's brother out of jail. Pee Wee headed into the jail with bail money and cigarettes. When he got back to the hotel, he found out that Bettie and his car were gone. The police informed him that he had been duped. The brother he was bailing out, was really Bettie's husband who escaped prison with a razor blade that was tucked inside a carton of cigarettes. The husband pulled the razor blade on the guard so he could get the jail keys.
Police questioned Pee Wee and he told them his name was David Gaskins which is the name of the cousin he stole the car from. They put him in a holding cell and told him he was going to be released shortly, they had to get some paperwork done. While the car was being searched to see if there was anything that would help them find Bettie, police noticed that the Certificate in the glove box was for South Carolina plates, but the car had Florida plates. They called Lake City, South Carolina police and they said David Gaskins lives there, they know him, and he had his car stolen. The South Carolina police asked for a description of the person they had in custody because they just had coffee with David Gaskins an hour earlier. The Sheriff gave a description and said he had a tattoo that said Pee Wee on his shoulder. That mystery wasn't tough to solve.
Pee Wee caught nine months for aiding an escape and for knifing another prisoner. He was later convicted of driving a stolen car across state lines and received three years in federal prison in Atlanta, Georgia. During his stay, he got to know a mafia boss, Frank Costello. He gave Pee Wee the nickname, “the little hatchet man” and was offered future employment. He was given envelope with a paperback dictionary and taped inside was $300, an address, and a phone number. Pee Wee didn't end up following Frank Costello to New York.
In August, 1961, Pee Wee was released from prison and he went back to Florence, South Carolina to work in the tobacco sheds. He briefly spent time with his mother and stepfather, but quickly got into fights with his stepfather and threatened his life with a pitchfork. He began burglarizing homes again, but he also got a job with a traveling minister to avoid being arrested. He worked as a driver and general assistant and this gave him the opportunity to break into homes in other towns where the group preached, so it was hard to trace.
In 1962, Pee Wee got married to his third wife, Jerrie Deloris. She was 18 and he felt like this was old for his standards. Then, he ended up being arrested for statutory rape of a 12 year old girl, Patsy. He made the poor thing bleed on her sheets and her aunts drove up to the home. Pee Wee didn't want to get caught, so he took the girl and made her flee out the window with him and they ran to his mother's house. The aunts were smart ladies. When they saw the blood on the sheets and noticed that Patsy was gone, they called the police and said they believed Pee Wee raped Patsy and took off with her. Police showed up at Pee Wee's mother's house and he pretended that he was sleeping. The police saw a skirt behind the dresser and of course, it was Patsy, so he was arrested. When County Deputies transported Pee Wee to the courthouse, they removed his cuffs and put him in a locked room to wait for his lawyer. He managed to escape by jumping out a window and fled to North Carolina in a stolen Florence County car. He met a 17 year old named Leni and they got married. This lasted about three months and Pee Wee decided he was over her and he called his previous wife, Jerrie and told her to come meet up with him, which she did. After spending some time together, Jerrie realized she didn't want to spend her life on the run and she wanted to go home. Pee Wee agreed and on the way back, he ended up speeding. He saw the flashing lights, but he knew he would be back to prison of they caught him. Eventually, his left front time blew out and he lost control, went off the road, and ended up in the water. Pee Wee crawled out the window and through the grass and made it to the road. He ditched Jerrie and left her with the police while he hopped a train.
At this time, the news had reported that Pee Wee was a killer who died in the swamp in Georgia after wrecking his vehicle. Remember how he ditched his wife Leni for his other wife Jerri? Well, now he was running back to Leni. She had obviously seen the photos of him and Jerri on the news and she wasn't particularly pleased. Pee Wee decided to give her some bullshit story. He said he was very ill and ended up going to the Veterans Hospital and he almost died. While he was there, he didn't have an ID on him, so the VA found his veteran's records and called his ex-wife Jerrie who came and got him. Leni pretended to buy into this story, then she turned his ass in. Pee Wee woke up to five officers around him and he was extradited back to Florence County Jail. He didn't like the deal he was offered and figured that he could just convince a jury that he didn't physically force or threaten the 12 year old girl, so there wasn't anything wrong with what he did. The jury didn't go for this and the Judge gave him 6 years for Statutory rape, plus an additional two years for escaping from the courthouse.
Pee Wee didn't have any trouble with inmates this time due to his reputation. He decided to be very polite to the guards and Warden and in the summer of 1968, he went to the Warden, thanked him for all that he's learned and told him that since he served more than four years without causing problems, he'd like his good behavior credits and a letter of recommendation for the Parole Board. This worked like a charm and he was paroled in November.
Instead of wasting time looking for a job, Pee Wee decided to become a middle man in theft. There were two teenage boys that stole property and would sell the goods to him pretty cheap, so he could sell it. One night, the boys got brave, pulled a knife on him and took his money. In retaliation, he got his gun, and forced the boys into the trunk of the car. He drove them to the woods, got the money, and made them take their clothes off. He left the boys in the woods, naked.
In September of 1969, Pee Wee really ramped things up. He would go cruising for hitchhikers to find women to have sex with. He picked up a female hitchhiker in North Carolina and told her he could take her out for a nice dinner and they could share a hotel room. The girl ended up laughing and said no thanks and he became enraged. He pulled over to let the woman out and suddenly....he smiled. He knew at that moment that if he killed this girl, he would feel better. If he started murdering people, they couldn't tell the police on him. He beat the woman until she was unconscious. He took her belt off and tied her hands behind her back, then took hist belt and put it around her neck. He drove for awhile and the girl began to wake up. Pee Wee pulled the girl out of the vehicle with the belt and kept choking her. The woman was screaming and he put a blade in her nose and told her to shut up. He sliced off part of her nipple and choked her again while she screamed. ****TW Pee Wee says he put her nipple in his teeth and smiled at her while the blood dripped on her face. Then, he put the nipple in her mouth and made her chew it and swallow. He raped her and made her lick him clean afterwards. Then, placed her in the trunk and said she could live if she was quiet and she thanked him. This fucker says he read a book about Nazi Death Camps that explained how to get people to cooperate by promising you won't kill them. He pushed a blade through this woman in a horrific way that I won't describe, weighed her body down and sunk her in the swamp. He later described this as a vision into the bothersome feelings that haunted him. He had finally found a way to satisfy those feelings and now it's all he could focus on.
In November 1970, Pee Wee offered a ride to his 15 year old niece, Janice Kirby, and her friend, 17 year old Patrica Alsobrook. Janice had a few beers with her friends and she needed to sober up. The other kids needed to go home and since Pee Wee was Janice's uncle, he was going to get her home. The three of them got in the car and went to a restaurant to get some coffee. Janice ended up vomiting in the car and Pee Wee suggested that they go to his place so she could take a cold shower. During the drive, Janice realized they weren't heading to his mobile home and Pee Wee said they were going to his place in the country. He brought the girls into the house and started undressing Janice to put her in the shower. After he cleaned her up, he got on top of her on the bed. Suddenly, he was smacked in the back of the head. Once he came to, he realized the girls were gone, so he got in the car and chased them. He did find the girls and forced them into the trunk of his car. He beat the girls until they were unconscious and decided he had to get rid of them. He drove to an abandoned house. He took Patricia into the house and put her body inside the septic tank. He dug a grave behind a barn for Janice.
Now, several friends of the girls knew that they got in Pee Wee's vehicle. He told everyone that he did pick up the girls and they went for coffee. He says the girls talked about being unhappy and wanting to run away. Then, they got in a car with some boys they knew and they took off.
A month after killing Janice and Patricia, 13-year-old Peggy Cuttino disappeared. Her father was a powerful man in politics and the town was in an uproar. The police were pulling people in for questioning and you can bet your ass Pee Wee was on their list. When he was questioned, he gave a pretty airtight alibi and the detectives were suspicious of this because most people can't provide an alibi for every hour of the day. It seemed too convenient. Pee Wee demanded a polygraph test, he passed and they let him go. A man named Junior Pierce was arrested for the murder, he was found guilty, and received a life sentence. In the Final Truth book, Pee Wee wrote, “Junior Pierce did not kill Peggy Cuttino-I did.” He later confessed to killing her, but he was ignored because they already had someone doing time for this and police said the case had been solved.
In December of 1970, Pee Wee was working for Fort Roofing & Sheet Metal Company, so he was doing repairs at the school. He says his bothersome feelings were back and he had to kill someone. He was getting tools from his truck and he saw Peggy and a few of her friends walking near him. Peggy's father was well known around town, so Pee Wee knew who Peggy was too. He claims that he greeted her as she walked by and Peggy put her nose in the air and kept walking. Then he heard the girls ask her who that was and Peggy said Just white trash, can't you tell? This pissed him off, so he went looking for a hitchhiker and he found one to torture from about noon to sundown. He sank the woman's body and went out to eat afterwards. Even though he felt better for killing someone, he still couldn't get Peggy's words out of his head. He decided to murder Peggy, but began working on his alibi in advance.
Pee Wee called into work and said he was in Charleston and they agreed to cover his work for a few days. He paid for a cabin, talked to people and made sure everyone knew he was in Charleston. He drove back to Sumter and parked near Peggy's home. As soon as he saw her, he grabbed her and put her in the trunk. He brought her to the barn where he worked on cars and raped and burned her. Since Peggy's father was so well known, Pee Wee knew that the police wouldn't stop looking for her body. If he buried her, police may accidentally stumble across another person he had buried. So, he dumped her body in a place where she would easily be discovered and he headed back to Charleston. It was reported that Peggy was covered in burns that appeared to be from cigarettes. To prove that Pee Wee was telling the truth about being the murderer, he says they weren't cigarette burns. He poured acid on her, one trickle at a time.
Police were watching Pee Wee pretty close in 1971, so he had to make his life appear better. He got married, which wasn't actually legal because he never divorced some of his previous wives. He got her pregnant and they had a son. He started working at a used car place so it would look normal for him to be carrying car parts to his vehicle. He had a deal with two guys where they would bring stolen cars to him and he would strip and repaint them. The three guys knew they shouldn't meet up or be seen together, so the cars were driven on the back roads and dropped off at a location near Pee Wee's daughter's place. He had a full grown daughter who was married and had children. He would go visit his daughter, so he could pick up the stolen vehicles. Pee Wee was able to keep this life up for awhile and when he got his bothersome feelings, he would take a trip to The Coast for a day or two to murder someone. He says he killed 11 women on the Coast in 1971. He didn't want to get caught up in killing people that could be linked to him, but yet again, he couldn't help himself.
Final Truth: The Autobiography of a Serial Killer by Donald H. Gaskins and Wilton Earle