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As unsavory in death as he was in life, mass murderer Richard Speck has come back to haunt the Illinois department of corrections. Last week state legislators packed a hearing room to view a two-hour tape of Speck cavorting with his prison lover. Purportedly filmed in 1988, three years before Speck’s death, the tape shows the two inmates snorting cocaine, rolling marijuana joints, brandishing a roll of $100 bills and engaging in oral sex. “If they only knew how much fun I was having,” Speck deadpans to the camera, “they would turn me loose.”

Speck, who was convicted of the 1966 slayings of eight student nurses, spent 25 years in Stateville Correctional Center, a maximum-security lockup in Joliet, until he died, apparently of a heart attack. On the tape, Speck boasts about the murders. “Strangle a person? It ain’t like you see on TV,” he says. “You have to go at it for about 3 1/2 minutes. It takes a lot of strength.”

The tape, obtained by a Chicago TV journalist, is the third in a series of recent embarrassments for the corrections department. Last August a drug conspiracy was traced to an inmate at another facility; earlier this month, several guards at a women’s prison were dismissed for having sex with inmates. Now legislators are demanding an end to the “culture of complicity” that has been allowed to flourish between prison guards and Illinois’ 38,000 inmates. “This is the type of spark that is required to get something going,” says Illinois state representative Peter Roskam. “My hunch is there are 49 other [corrections] directors biting their nails today, wondering, ‘When is this bombshell going to hit my state?'”

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