Death Row Inmate Had Chilling ‘Grim Reaper’ Final Words Before Execution

Death row inmate Robert Alton Harris uttered some disturbing final words before his execution.
Credit: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/Alamy

A death row inmate named Robert Alton Harris uttered some disturbing final words before his execution. 

There are over 2,400 men and women who are on federal or state death row in the US, as per the Death Penalty Information Center.

Through their last meal or their final words, many use their last moments to send a message to the world.

While some beg for forgiveness, others perform a defiant final act.

And for Robert Alton Harris, this was certainly the case.

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Harris, from North Carolina, US, spent 13 years on death row for the ruthless killings of two 16-year-old boys, John Mayeski and Michael Baker.

In 1978, he and his younger brother, Daniel Marcus Harris, kidnapped the teenagers from a fast food restaurant in San Diego.

The pair were held at gunpoint and forced to drive to an isolated area – when they arrived Robert Harris ruthlessly killed the two victims.

Michael Brian Baker
Michael Brian Baker. Credit: Find A Grave
John Fitzgerald Mayeski
John Fitzgerald Mayeski. Credit: Find A Grave

The killers reportedly gloated about the boys’ deaths while enjoying the rest of their hamburgers, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Later that day, the Harris brothers used the vehicle they had stolen to rob a nearby bank. However, they were caught by the police after one of the witnesses followed them to their home address after they robbed the bank.

A year later, Robert Harris was convicted just a year later of two counts of murder in the first degree with special circumstances, and kidnapping.

He was sentenced to death on March 6, 1979.

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Harris remained on death row for thirteen years but was eventually sent to the gas chamber at San Quentin State Prison in April 1992.

His was the first execution in the state of California for 25 years.

So, obviously, Harris had to go out with a bang.

He uttered some truly chilling final words that have ensured his execution goes down in history.

Robert Harris
Robert Harris was convicted of two counts of murder in the first degree with special circumstances, and kidnapping. Credit: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

His final moments were recorded by the Los Angeles Times, as per the Express US.

“Again, Harris was walked in. This time, his face was blank. His resignation and fear seemed greater,” the report began.

“Again, officers swarmed over him, strapping his wrists, arms, chest, legs. The officer’s arms again were around Harris’ chest. There was no fight.

“At 6:02 or so, Harris nodded to his officer friend, looked up, blinked, turned to his brother and looked away. After a pause, a thumbs-up again. His cousin, Leon Harris, returned the sign.

“Then the moment everyone in the room will remember: He threw his head back over his left shoulder and caught the eye of Michael Baker’s still-grieving father. ‘I’m sorry’, he mouthed.”

According to prison boss Daniel Vasquez, the killer’s final words were: “You can be a king or a street sweeper, but everyone dances with the Grim Reaper.”

And to make matters even more unsettling, Harris then continued to laugh, wink, and smile at the audience that had gathered to attend his killing.

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Written by Aimee Walker

Aimee is a senior content editor at IGV who specialises in finding the best original stories, trending topics and entertainment news. She graduated from Birmingham City University with a degree in Media and Communications.