Gas Chamber

In September 1937, Governor Lloyd Crow Stark signed a bill into law calling for execution by lethal gas. Prior to this criminals in Missouri were executed by public hangings, conducted by the Sheriff in the county were the crime was committed.

The gas chamber was located at the Jefferson City Correctional Center in a small rock building set apart from the main prison. The chamber area was built in 1937 at a cost of $3,570 and consisted of two small cells on one side of the room and the chamber on the other side.

One cell housed the condemned for the last few hours before execution. The second cell was used for mixing the sulfuric acid that was used in the execution. The cell contained the crocks used to hold sulfuric acid and later placed under the perforated chair. The leather restraints that were used to hold the condemned in the chair were also stored in the second cell.

In the center of the building was the air tight chamber painted white, with two perforated steel chairs. Beneath the chairs were guides to hold the three-gallon earthen jars which contained the sulfuric acid into which the cyanide pellets were dropped when a lever was pulled by the Warden.

After the execution the lethal gas was extracted from the chamber and vented out a forty-five foot pipe through the roof of the building. [More photos]

Below are the Bureau of Criminal Identification cards for those that were executed in Missouri’s gas chamber.