At 11.34 a.m. Barbara was finally guided into the twin-chaired gas chamber and helped to sit in the chair
on the right. In the blue-green light, the lower part of her face below the sleeping mask looked as white as
ivery. Her natural chestnut hair, grown back from being bleached blond, looked soft and shiny. Four
brown-uniformed oficers quickly strapped her ankles, forearms, and chest to the chair. They left the
chamber, the last one to leave patted her knee and told her to take a deep breath, "and it won't bother
you". Turning toward his voice Barbara grunted derisively: "How the hell would you know?"
The big airtight door was swung shot and pressure locked. Witnesses saw Barbara swallow nervously.
Several times she wet her lips. At some point she moved her lips, perhaps praying.
It was a full minute before she heard the plunger-like sound of a cheesecloth bag, containing two
golf-ball-size cyannide pellets, being lowered into a concrete vat of sulphuric acid directly underneath her
chair. The sound, though very faint, startled her and she tensed momentarily. Her heartbeat increased to a
The death fumes were invisible, but their slight bitter almond odor reached Barbara's olfactory nerves and
her nostrils flared once, briefly.Then she drew in a deep, deliberate, tortuous breath. Almost at once, her
head nodded, lips twitching, then slumped forward, chin on chest. Suddently she gasped and drew her
head up twice. Then came another gasp. Then her head tipped far back, her mouth agape. She gasped
and strangled and strained against the straps that bound her, twitching in agony. Saliva sprayed the air like
a fine mist. Foam bubbled at her mouth. Again and again she gasped until her head pitched forward for
the last time at 11:37. Her gasps came slowly and fainter and finally stopped. Her heart slowed until it
finally chugged and gushed to a final halt. Barbara drooled and regurgitated onto the front of her suit, and
her bowels and bladder emptied inside her clothes. It took Barbara seven minutes to die and she seemed
to struggle for about 3 minutes. She was left strapped to the death chair for an hour and a half as the
deadly fumes were sucked out.
Barbara was allowed to wear shoes to the gas chamber. There are conflicting accounts, but it is most
likely they were taken from her when her legs were strapped to the chair. If she wore them while she was
gassed, they would be saturated with gas and dangerous to handle.
Barbara Graham was literarily caught with her panties down: As the police busted into the hideout of
three suspected robbers, they met quite a sight: Barbara Graham, totally nude, straigtened up in schock
from an open sofa bed she had been leaning over. Jack Santo, also naked, was stretched out on the bed
with an erection. Emmett Perkins, naked, was walking out of a nearby bathroom. The next moment
Barbara cringed in terror against the wall, attemting to cover her nudity. They had killed an elderly lady,
and all 3 were sentenced to death. Barbara claimed her innocence, she wanted her freedom or - if
convicted "the fucking Gas Chamber". She preferred being gassed to a lifetime in prison.
In the morning of June 3, 1955 32 years old Barbara Graham had one more hot fudge sundae before she
changed from her red silk pyjamas into a champagne wool suit with matching covered buttons, brown
high-heel shoes, small, gold, drop earrings, and a crucifix around her neck, but no underwear and a
stethoscope in her cleavage. It was a tight fitting suit for her slender 120 pounds body.
It was 10.00 a.m. and she was waiting to be taken to the gas chamber. When they came for her, she
was asked to leave her shoes behind. Barbara protested. She did not want to appear before the witnesses
on stocking feet, and was allowed to keep her shoes on. She was calm, self-controlled and ready to die
with dignity, but after a last-minute delay - having faced the gas chamber and the 37 faces of the
audience - she was too scared to go and had to be blindfolded and half carried to the chamber of death.
In prison Barbara showed an above-average
I.Q. of 114. When Barbara, called Bonnie by
her friends was arrested, she had a mask of
caked make-up and a bottle-blond hairdo, but
as she was moved to the death house at San
Quentin 26 months later, she had neat brown
hair, a scrubbed face, wore a tasteful beige suit
and looked like a "respectable suburban
housewife". Participating in the slaying would
make her eligible for the Gas Chamber.
According to the warden she did make a
confession to him before she walked to the
It must have been a relief for the warden who
saw Bonnie's pretty head "go up and down the
usual way"; He then knew that "Bloody Babs";
is guilty, and that she does prefer being gassed
to a long life in prison.
If so, then Bonnie in fact needed to sniff the
death fumes, despite her fear and agony.
She was the right girl at the right place!