Oklahoma town battling Department of Corrections for custody of ‘Old Sparky’

MCALESTER, Okla. – Oklahoma’s electric chair, which is known as “Old Sparky,” was built in 1915 and took 82 lives until its retirement in 1966.

Since the chair’s retirement, it was displayed in the Tannehill Museum in McAlester.

McAlester resident Dee Murdock said, “Whether it’s a dark part of our history or a part of the enjoyment of our history, we really need to keep our history so our kids can know where we came from.”

Recently, the Department of Corrections came to the museum and took the chair back.

They say they are currently housing it in an undisclosed warehouse.

With the recent botched executions, lethal injections have come under fire.

Jerry Massey, with the Department of Corrections, says if lethal injection is deemed inhumane, they may be forced to consider dusting off “Old Sparky.”

Mayor Steve Harrison says he hopes they consider his city’s request to give the chair back to the museum.

Harrison said, “I think because it was always here, this is where it was used, it just makes sense that it be a part of our history, and we’d like to display it.”

Harrison says the chair is great for McAlester’s tourism department, as well as a valuable historic lesson.

Murdock says the chair shows others “you don’t want to be there.  Look at the people who have come through and had to sit in that chair because of the things they did.  You never want to put yourself in a position that you would ever deserve that type of punishment.”


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