Gaskins, Donald Henry

March 31, 1933–September 6, 1991

Gaskins is considered to be one of South Carolina’s most notorious murderers and career criminals. His diminutive height—he was barely five feet tall—and small body frame, gained him the nickname “Pee Wee,” a moniker he retained to the end of his life.

Serial killer. Born on March 31, 1933, near the Florence County community of Prospect, Gaskins is considered to be one of South Carolina’s most notorious murderers and career criminals. His diminutive height–he was barely five feet tall–and small body frame, gained him the nickname “Pee Wee,” a moniker he retained to the end of his life. Gaskins was in legal trouble from an early age. Arrested for viciously beating another youth, Gaskins was incarcerated in a Florence reform school for several years. He returned to the Prospect community when released to live with his grandmother. Gaskins also ran up an extensive police rap sheet, with charges ranging from petty larcenies and auto thefts to aggravated assaults and murders. According to police, Gaskins resided for periods of time near Sumter, Florence, Columbia, Lake City, and North Charleston. While in North Charleston, police uncovered information that eventually implicated Gaskins in a series of murders. Investigations revealed that Gaskins’s victims were mostly women, but also a local businessman and an eighteen-month-old child. Several bodies had been buried near Prospect. In all, Gaskins would eventually confess to killing roughly one hundred people, a criminal achievement that biographer Winton Earle called “one of the bloodiest records in the annals of American crime.”

Gaskins took on the aura of a folklore character. He was the subject of national news profiles and a CBS Movie of the Week. Initially charged in 1975 in Florence County with five murders, Gaskins was sentenced to death on May 28, 1976. Those convictions were overturned by the South Carolina State Supreme Court in 1976 and remanded to consecutive life sentences. On September 12, 1982, while a prisoner working on death row, Gaskins was charged with murdering inmate Rudolph Tyner, who was awaiting execution for an Horry County murder. On March 24, 1983, Gaskins was convicted of Tyner’s murder and sentenced to death. Gaskins was executed in South Carolina’s electric chair on September 6, 1991. His remains were cremated and scattered in an undisclosed location.

Gaskins, Pee Wee, and Wilton Earle. Final Truth. Atlanta: Adept, 1992. Hall, Frances Swain. Slaughter in Carolina. Florence, S.C.: Hummingbird, 1990.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Gaskins, Donald Henry
  • Coverage March 31, 1933–September 6, 1991
  • Author
  • Keywords Serial killer, one of South Carolina’s most notorious murderers and career criminals, “Pee Wee,”
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date December 6, 2022
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 4, 2022
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