The biggest funeral of the year was that of Nelson Mandela
, but there have been many others. One person who is buried without being dead is former rock musician Ian Watkins, who was given a heavy sentence at Cardiff Crown Court
in December for unspeakable crimes
. When he is eventually released, he will be monitored closely by the authorities, and will probably need to be afforded some sort of anonymity.
Whatever his taste in music, Joseph Paul Franklin was probably not a big fan of Nelson Mandela; the self-styled white supremacist was executed last month
for crimes dating back to the 1970s. He was sentenced to death as long ago as 1997, and even with the mandatory appeal there was no reason for him to see in the New Millennium. Sadly, this is the rule rather than the exception for America's death rows, even for serial killers.
Back in the UK, another odious individual who will not be missed is Mick Philpott
. In April this year he was given a life sentence for a crime of unbelievable stupidity that led to the deaths of six of his own offspring. His 15 year tariff is likely to be exceeded by many years, if he is ever released. Likewise self-styled jihadis
Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale or whatever they are now calling themselves will not be seen walking the streets again for many years if ever after their conviction for the grotesque murder
of Lee Rigby.
A week before Christmas, double killer Johnny Dale Black was executed in Oklahoma. According to the London Daily Mail
, he was the last person to suffer judicial execution in the US this year. Black was executed for the murder of "the wrong man", a case of mistaken identity. He had a previous conviction for manslaughter. Although it attracts a lot of attention, the death penalty is used extremely sparingly in the United States. There were only 39 executions
this year, in 9 states.
Although she never murdered anyone, Sylvia Browne earned her own brand of infamy with her ludicrous predictions, outright lies and shakedowns of the gullible. She died in November
, younger than she would have liked and, totally in character, younger than she predicted.
Probably the most remarkable testament to the gullibility of her followers is that Browne was a convicted fraudster
, yet they continued to fill her coffers. It is therefore perhaps entirely understandable that she continued to do what she did and rake in the big bucks.
In October last year, South Dakota terminated the rapist and child killer Donald Moeller
. He was sentenced to death in 1997 after a retrial, and was executed at Sioux Falls; on December 1 this year, serial killer Walter E. Ellis
died in the same penitentiary. Ellis murdered seven women, six of them black. He was sentenced to life without parole in February 2011, and died from natural causes aged just 53.
We end with another serial killer who died in prison of natural causes at the age of 53. Though you may not have heard of Ellis, you will quite likely have heard of Richard Ramirez
. Ramirez was sentenced to death for his crimes, but spent more than two decades on death row. It remains to be seen if he did worship the Devil as claimed, but there is no doubt whatsoever that he went to meet him.