Last public hanging in America happened in Owensboro 82 years ago

Local News

Click here to watch our updated story.

It’s an anniversary that hangs a dark cloud over Owensboro, Kentucky.

It was on this day, back in 1936, that the nation’s last public hanging took place — in Owensboro.

Media accounts from that day say over 20,000 people rushed to the city to watch the hanging of Rainey Bethea.

The case made national headlines as Rainey, a young man, was accused of raping an elderly woman. It was also historic as he was executed by a white female sheriff

Reporters from all over covered the event. New York City newspapers flew in their reporters and photographers so they could immediately fly back to have the story in the next morning’s paper.

For the latest breaking news and stories from across the Tri-State, follow Eyewitness News on Facebook and Twitter.

(This story was originally published August 14, 2018)

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.