Photos of Death Row Inmates’ Last Meals
VICE: Hey Henry. So what made you start photographing serial killer’s last meals?
Henry Hargreaves: I’m really interested in people’s choices with food. It’s one of those things that everyone does several times a day, but you never really see it out of context or think about what it says about someone. I was reading about a campaign to abolish the last meal in Texas, so I went online and researched it. And as I was reading through these records, I felt that I could identify with these people for a brief moment just from what they ordered.
Do you think the meals offer a window into the psyche of the condemned?
I think in general—yes, definitely. The thing that kind of struck me with these last meals was how many of them were these big, deep fried meals, which we like to call comfort food. Here were these people in their last moments and all they really want was a little bit of comfort.
Is the project a statement about the death penalty?
Yeah. I mean, I’m from New Zealand, and when I came to America the death penalty struck me as a really inhumane thing. It’s seen by most of the world as this outdated, barbaric act. And it’s strange that it still exists in a country that spends so much time advertising their democracy and morals to the rest of the world. In the process of researching the project, I came across claims that reckon there’s about 12 people over the last 20 years who have been executed falsely in America. That’s only hearsay of course, but those people are still gone and they have no hope of a retrial.
A few months ago, a death-row inmate from Nevada sent our music editor, Kelly McClure, a fan letter. His name is Scott Dozier, and he seems like a nice guy on paper—on the other hand, he did steal $12,000 from a dude who had brought the cash to buy stuff to make meth, then shot him, hacked the body into two pieces, and put it into a suitcase. He also killed another man in 2002, and they never found that guy’s head or arms. So just keep that in mind when you read the excerpt from his fan letter below.
Dear Ms. McClure,
You are hilarious and awesome and I love you, not, however, like you’d reasonably (and correctly the vast majority of the time) presume someone on death row means when they say they “love” you.
You’ve made it plain you’re a lesbian—which is terrific, but again, not like you’d reasonably presume when someone on death row says, “Gee… I think it’s terrific you’re a lesbian.” (I guess I can reasonably presume you’re not the same Kelly McClure from Boulder City, NV, who shared her virginity with me in the shower at Jeff Yinger’s house in the summer of ’85 for two reasons: I) I can’t imagine you’re old enough. II) you’re a lesbian… although she did play softball…)
If you’ve ever had even the most remote personal or journalistic interest about life on death row, living as a “condemned to die” individual, associations or dynamics therein from someone who is not a creep… I’m your guy.
I’ve written the magazine before to no avail, and will likely continue to until the government-sanctioned murder of my corporeal being (and maybe my “soul” too, guess we’ll see ϑ), as I’ve got a surplus of time on my hands and a catastrophic dearth of intelligence, hilarity, and awesomeness. I can only draw and work out so much.
If you’re interested you can check out my “fit for public consumption” pastels at/on my Facebook page/wall (whatever the frick it’s called). No (in the event you’re wondering), I do not have FB/computer access, it’s managed by my sister and a friend.
My most sincere thanks for the little taste I get monthly, the mag rocks way hard ass, I love it (and yes I’d marry it). I read it cover to cover at least three times and wait with bated breath for the next issue to arrive.
Be nice to yourself, all my very, very best
Bring a box of tissues and read more from our Hopelessness Issue:
Killers on Death Row Love VICE’s Kelly McClure
Oh hey, it’s me, Kelly McClure, Music Editor and butthole expert for VICE. I just have something I’d like to talk to you about real quick. Are you busy? Okay. Do you need a beverage or a snack? Have a seat.
Not sure if you caught our last issue, The Hopelessness Issue, but towards the front of it we ran an excerpt from a letter I received in the mail in September. The letter was from a man named Scott Dozier who is currently living out a life sentence on death row at Ely State Prison in Nevada. Dozier was convicted of murdering a guy for drug reasons, dismembering him, and stashing the guy’s torso in a suitcase, which he then threw into a dumpster. The guy’s head, lower arms, and lower legs were never recovered. AND WE’RE IN LOVE!
In Scott’s first letter to me, he wondered if I was the same girl who’s virginity he took in a shower somewhere in his hometown many years ago, who (and I don’t believe this) shared my first and last name. In case you all were wondering, I’m not that girl. Today, after returning back to the VICE office after our week long holiday break, I was pleased (as in horrified) to see that Scott had sent me a new, four page letter. He took some time with this one, both emotionally, as well as creatively.
The bulk of the letter was Scott thanking me/us for writing about him in the issue, and saying how he KNOWS that us/me writing about him does not mean that I am looking to strike up a relationship with him in any way (!!!!!!!!!), but the take away quote has got to be this:
"When they slip the needles into my strapped down arm, and I tell them with the utmost sincerity and honest, warm smile: "ya’ll have a good day, alright." My last thought will be "and I got published in VICE."
So, I guess I should stop spending my work days bitching about how it’s cold in here, the bathrooms stink, and there’s never any coffee or cups, because there’s a guy out there who’d give anything to be in (or hack off) my shoes.