Joe Arridy

The Happiest Prisoner on Death Row
Birth Name:
Joe Arridy
Birth Date:
April 29, 1915
Birth Place:
Pueblo, Colorado
Death Date:
January 6, 1939
Place of Death:
Colorado State Penitentiary, Cañon City, Colorado
Cause of Death:
Execution - gas chamber
Cemetery Name:
Greenwood Cemetery
Claim to Fame:
Crime and their Victims
In August of 1936 Joe Arridy was arrested for vagrancy and shortly after confessed to the rape and brutal murder of Dorothy Drain, a 15-year-old girl in Pueblo, Colorado. Only problem was that Joe Arridy had an I.Q. of 46 and the understanding of a 6-year-old child. Unfortunately that did not matter to the arresting sheriff, the prosecutor or the judge who sentenced Arridy to death in the gas chamber. Despite the exhaustive work his attorney did along with a host of professionals to halt this travesty of "justice" Joe Arridy was murdered by the State of Colorado on January 6, 1939. So unaware of his surrounding or his situation, he enjoyed his last meal of ice cream and smiled and joked with the guards as they escorted him to the gas chamber.

Those responsible for the murder/execution of Joe Arridy include:

  • Sheriff George Carroll who first arrested Joe Arridy. He managed in less than two hours a full and complete confession to the murder of Dorothy Drain. Problem was that Pueblo police officers already had a full confession and a murder weapon from the actual killer. This didn’t seem to bother Sheriff Carroll much as he not only amended the confession over time to match with the actual facts of the case, but testified at trail that Joe was mentally competent to stand trial. Despite three psychologist stating otherwise, the jury sided with the unethical, aggressive lawman.
  • Pueblo County District Attorney French Taylor fabricated witness, testimony, events and withheld evidence of Arridy’s innocence to secure a conviction and death sentence.
  • Pueblo County Judge Harry Leddy who allowed this travesty of justice to play-out in his courtroom.

Joe Arridy was given a full pardon nearly 70 years after being executed by the state of Colorado.

Cemetery Information:

Final Resting Place:

Greenwood Cemetery

14959 S 1st Street

Cañon City, Colorado, 81215


North America

Grave Location:

Woodpecker Hill

Grave Location Description

Joe Arridy monument is located in the back along the fence line in this forsaken prison and pioneer cemetery. His monument is easy to spot as it is the only actual tombstone located in this paupers section, however it is a bit of a walk on a dirt trail to the back of the cemetery on the small hill.



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