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Chessman, Caryl Whittierlocked

(27 May 1921–02 May 1960)
  • Susan E. Gunter


Chessman, Caryl Whittier (27 May 1921–02 May 1960), criminal and writer, was born in St. Joseph, Michigan, the son of Serl Whittier Chessman, whose occupations were varied and who spent some time on welfare, and Hallie Cottle. Because of his mother’s precarious health, Chessman and his parents moved to southern California a few months after his birth. Chessman was a sickly child, suffering from attacks of pneumonia, asthma, and encephalitis. (Psychiatrists suggest that his bout with encephalitis may have precipitated his psychopathic tendencies.) A serious car accident in Los Angeles in 1929 left his aunt dead, his mother paralyzed from the waist down, and Chessman with a broken nose and jaw. Overwhelming medical bills forced the family onto welfare, and he obtained a paper route to help out....

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