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Luis José Monge (August 21, 1918 – June 2, 1967) was a convicted mass murderer who was executed in the gas chamber at Colorado State Penitentiary in 1967. Monge was the last inmate to be executed before an unofficial moratorium on executions began in the United States in 1972.



Monge, a Denver, Colorado insurance salesman, was a native of Puerto Rico who grew up in New York. He was convicted and sentenced to death for murdering his wife, Leonarda, and three of the couple's ten children after his wife had discovered his incestuous relationship with one of their daughters.[1]

Monge's murder victims were: Leonarda, Alan (aged 6), Vincent (aged 4), and Teresa (11 months old). Immediately after the four murders, Monge called police and admitted his guilt.[2]

The alleged motive for the murders was "to prevent exposure of sex crimes committed by defendant with his own children".[3] He beat his wife to death with a steel bar, stabbed Teresa, choked Vincent, and bludgeoned Alan with the steel bar.[2]

He had no prior felony convictions; in 1961, however, he abandoned his family for two months and served a short jail sentence in Louisiana for vagrancy.[3]


After Monge had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, psychiatrists evaluated him and found him to be sane. He then insisted on pleading guilty to first-degree murder. A jury that was convened for the penalty phase of the trial recommended a death sentence, and Monge's conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal. In January 1966, Governor John Arthur Love suspended all executions in Colorado, pending a referendum on capital punishment by voters. On November 8, 1966, the voters decided to retain the death penalty by a three-to-one margin. In March 1967, Monge attracted national attention when he asked a Denver court to allow him to be hanged at high noon on the front steps of the Denver City and County Building. This request was denied.

The following month, Monge fired his attorneys and directed that no attempts should be made to save his life. He gave up all of his appeals and asked to be executed. Nonetheless, his surviving children appealed for clemency. Doctors again evaluated Monge's mental status and found him mentally competent for execution. A week before his death, Monge shared a final meal with his surviving seven children. On the eve of the execution, some seventy members of the Colorado Council to Abolish Capital Punishment gathered on the steps of the state capitol building in Denver in a rally to protest the execution. On June 2, 1967, Monge was executed at the age of 48 in the state's gas chamber.[4] Upon his death, and according to his wishes, one of Monge's corneas was transplanted to a teenaged reformatory inmate.[5]

Monge was buried in Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery in Cañon City, Colorado in the pauper's section set aside for deceased inmates of the state penitentiary.[6] His grave lies a few feet from that of John Bizup, Jr., a convicted murderer executed in 1964. The metal marker indicating Monge's grave has been marred with bullet holes.[7] The Colorado gas chamber, retired after Monge's execution, is now an exhibit at the Museum of Colorado Prisons in Cañon City.[8]


Opponents of capital punishment, in an attempt to abolish the death penalty, waged a national litigation campaign that ultimately found its way to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court agreed to review a series of cases challenging that the death penalty was unconstitutional. While the Supreme Court reviewed these cases, lower courts in all states stayed all pending executions, thereby creating a de facto moratorium on death sentences throughout the nation. The period of this "unofficial" moratorium on capital punishment began on June 2, 1967, with the execution of Luis Monge in Colorado. It would end nearly ten years later on January 17, 1977, with the execution of Gary Gilmore in Utah.[9][10]

Execution in contextEdit

Luis Jose Monge's was the last execution both in Colorado and in the United States prior to the 1972 Supreme Court decision in Furman v. Georgia.[11] It would be almost ten years before any state would carry out another execution, the state of Utah executed Gary Gilmore on January 17, 1977.[12] The state of Colorado itself took 30 years before it would do so in the execution of Gary Lee Davis, on October 13, 1997.[13][14] Monge's was one of only two executions to occur in the United States in 1967.[15] His was also the last execution by gas chamber in Colorado.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Langeland, Terje (July 15, 2002). "Eye for an Eye". Colorado Springs Independent. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Prendergast, Alan (August 22, 2014). "Tonight: Diann Kissell, Daughter of Executed Killer, on Trauma and Healing". Westword. Denver Westword LLC. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Radelet, Michael (2017). The History of the Death Penalty in Colorado. University Press of Colorado. p. 242. ISBN 9781607325123. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  4. ^ "Execution gave debate new fury". The Denver Post. October 11, 2007. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 10, 2008. Retrieved June 8, 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Thomas, Mary Ann (January 19, 2001). "A Short History of Greenwood Pioneer Cemetery". Clear Digital Media, Inc. Retrieved December 19, 2018. ... William Cody Kelly and Luis J. Monge, the first and last to die in the state gas chamber ...
  7. ^ "From the Grave: A Roadside Guide to Colorado's Pioneer Cemeteries". Google. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  8. ^ "Mainliner Denver". Google. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  9. ^ "Killing as Punishment". Google. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  10. ^ WAXMAN, OLIVIA B. (June 2, 2017). "The Story of the Last U.S. Execution Before a Nationwide Moratorium Took Effect 50 Years Ago". Time. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  11. ^ MITCHELL, KIRK (April 6, 2011). "Inmates' thorny histories call out from their graves in Cañon City". The Denver Post. Retrieved December 19, 2018. ... he was executed June 2, 1967, the last man executed in the U.S. before the Supreme Court in 1972 struck down the broad application of the death penalty
  12. ^ Roberts, Michael (March 27, 2018). "Three Ways to Kill the Death Penalty in Colorado". Westword. Denver Westword LLC. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  13. ^ "Colorado Holds First Execution in 30 Years, Giving Convicted Murderer and Rapist Gary Lee". AP NEWS. October 14, 1997. Retrieved December 19, 2018. Colorado's last execution was in 1967 when Luis Jose Monge was put to death for killing family members.
  14. ^ Rosenberg, Carol (October 2, 2015). "Pentagon team to survey 2 prisons in Colorado for 'Gitmo North'". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved December 19, 2018. Davis, who killed a Byers, Colo., woman in 1986, will be put to death on Monday, Oct. 13
  15. ^ Herbert H. Haines (1996). "Introduction: Death Penalty Abolition in America". Against capital punishment : the anti-death penalty movement in America, 1972–1994. Oxford University Press. p. 32. ISBN 9780198024934. Retrieved December 19, 2018. ... two men were put to death – Aaron Mitchell in California and Luis Jose Monge in Colorado.
  16. ^ Jackson, Steve (June 7, 2001). "Murderers' Row". Westword. Retrieved December 19, 2018. The last man executed in the chamber was Luis Jose Monge, killed in 1967 for the murder of ...

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