October 2006 Executions

Six killers were executed in October 2006. They had murdered at least 20 people.
killers were given a stay in October 2006. They have murdered at least 2 people.
One killer committed suicide in October 2006. He had murdered at least 1 person.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 11, 2006 Tennessee Lisa Stephenson Jonathan Stephenson stayed

At approximately 10:00 a.m. on December 4, 1989, police were called to investigate a shooting death. They found the victim, Lisa Stephenson, sitting in the driver’s seat of her car with a large hole in her forehead. She had been shot to death through the windshield. The investigation led police later that night to the home of Ralph Thompson in Morristown, Tennessee, where a high powered rifle was recovered. The rifle smelled as if it had been recently cleaned. Although bullet fragments were later recovered from the victim’s body, it was not possible to establish whether they were fired from that rifle. An autopsy revealed that Lisa had been shot in the forehead at close range and her hands indicated that she was in a defensive position when she was killed. At trial, a man who worked as a truck driver with Lisa’s husband, Jonathan Stephenson, stated that a few weeks after he became acquainted with Stephenson, he began talking about wanting to kill someone “practically every time we got together." The co-worker did not know who the intended victim was, only that Stephenson wanted him to kill the wife of a friend. Stephenson offered his co-worker various forms of payment in exchange for the killing including cash, insurance proceeds, and a boat and motor. Stephenson told the man that the victim lived out in the country and offered various ways she could be shot and killed. One night, Stephenson brought a handgun to work and told his co-worker he had the money with him. The man refused to become involved in any such killing. A few weeks after the last discussion he had with Stephenson about killing the victim, the man returned from a road trip and learned through a newspaper article about Lisa Stephenson’s murder. Another man, named Michael, testified that he met Stephenson through a friend named Ralph Thompson. In the fall of 1989, during a discussion among Michael, Thompson, and Stephenson, Stephenson offered him $5,000 to kill his wife. Stephenson suggested that Michael go to his mobile home and shoot his wife with a rifle as she sat on the couch. Stephenson stated that his wife intended to divorce him and “take everything he’d ever worked for” and said this was the reason he wanted her killed. Michael stated they never discussed killing Stephenson’s wife again. He recalled next seeing Stephenson on December 3, 1989, the day of the murder. Michael and Thompson went to Stephenson’s house to cut firewood and then to Thompson’s house to watch movies. Stephenson arrived that evening and reminded Thompson about a job interview. Thompson changed clothes and left with Stephenson. Thompson later returned alone. On cross-examination, Michael testified that Thompson had a key to a fishing boat owned by Stephenson and a key to Stephenson’s truck. He stated that he and Thompson had permission to take the truck and boat and go fishing whenever they liked. Michael acknowledged that Thompson owned a hunting rifle. A woman named Julie testified that in 1989 she was single and living in La Follette, Tennessee. She met Stephenson that year at a bar in Knoxville and the two began dating. Stephenson told Julie that he had a son and had been married, but that his wife, Lisa, had been killed in a car accident five years earlier. Stephenson also told Julie that after his wife’s death, he developed a relationship with his wife’s sister and the two had a child together. Julie testified that her relationship with Stephenson was “serious” and they had discussed marriage. On the weekend before Lisa Stephenson’s murder, Julie accompanied Stephenson to a K-Mart where he bought rifle ammunition. Julie stated that in the afternoon on the day of the murder, she and Stephenson were supposed to meet. Instead, they spoke on the telephone and agreed to meet at 8:00 o’clock that evening. However, they did not meet and Julie did not hear from Stephenson again until 10:30 that night when he called and instructed Julie to meet him in Harrogate, Tennessee. Julie met Stephenson at a Hardee’s restaurant and Stephenson informed her that “Kathy” was dead. Stephenson explained that he and Ralph Thompson had gone to a place where Kathy was meeting with people to whom she owed money. Stephenson said that when he and Thompson arrived, Kathy was already dead. According to Stephenson, he and Thompson fought the two men that had killed her and left them for dead. Stephenson told Julie that the police “were in with the people” that killed Kathy. Asked about his children, Stephenson told Julie that they were with Kathy’s father. Julie testified that Stephenson commented about Kathy, “I didn’t love her, but I’m going to miss the bitch.” The next morning, Stephenson called Julie at her office and told her he had been called in for questioning. The following day, Julie learned that the woman Stephenson had been referring to as “Kathy” was actually his wife, Lisa. Julie read a letter Stephenson wrote to her from jail in December 1989. In the letter, he stated that he had told his wife about Julie and asked Julie not to “get involved with this.” He denied killing Lisa, hinting that Lisa was “involved with some powerful people.” He said that “David and Ralph” are both involved and asked Julie not to say anything about the time he and she had met at Hardee’s. Stephenson told Julie that he loved her. Julie agreed that everything Stephenson had told her was a lie. On re-direct examination, Julie testified that Stephenson gave her a ring in November 1989. She further recalled a time when she traveled with Stephenson to his father’s home near St. Louis. Upon their arrival, Stephenson hitched up a boat and told Julie that he did not want to go inside because Stephenson’s children were staying with his father and would want to return to Tennessee with Stephenson if they saw him. Stephenson and Julie returned to Tennessee, and the boat was stored at Julie’s house. Julie later told authorities about the boat and it was seized. Julie testified that Stephenson also owned another boat, different from the one they picked up in St. Louis. David Davenport testified that in December 1989, he was a special agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. On December 4, 1989, he interviewed Stephenson at the sheriff’s department about Stephenson’s wife’s murder. Agent Davenport recalled Stephenson’s statement: Stephenson had left home at around 7:00 p.m. on December 3, 1989, and gone to Ralph Thompson’s home. Stephenson told Thompson about a job that Thompson might get with the help of Stephenson’s friend. Stephenson stated that he and Thompson went to the friend’s house and stayed there until 10:00 p.m. and then went to work. Stephenson told Agent Davenport that he and his wife were getting along great and did not have any serious disagreements, although Stephenson also stated that he had a girlfriend. Stephenson believed that his wife also had a boyfriend, but he wasn’t sure who it was. However, Stephenson told Agent Davenport that he would not dream of giving up his wife and that divorce had not been discussed. According to Stephenson, after he had left Morristown that evening, he stopped at Harrogate and visited with his girlfriend. Stephenson denied trying to hire anyone to hurt his wife. He told Davenport that he did not know anyone that would have killed her and offered to take a polygraph test. At 2:15 p.m. the next day, Davenport again met with Stephenson. At that time, Stephenson noted that he and his wife had been to a movie and dinner on the day before her death. He essentially repeated that on the day his wife was killed, he had gone to Thompson’s house, then to Robertson’s home, and then to work, leaving about 10:15 p.m. He denied being involved in any criminal activity. Later that evening, Davenport again questioned Stephenson. At this meeting, Davenport confronted Stephenson with Thompson, who informed Stephenson that he had given a statement about his involvement in the murder to police. In response, Stephenson told Davenport that the year before, his supervisor had asked Stephenson if he knew anyone who could kill the man’s ex-wife. Stephenson stated that he approached Thompson, who agreed to take the “job” for $15,000. Stephenson stated that on the night of his wife’s murder, he and Thompson went to Robertson’s house and Thompson brought his rifle. Stephenson stated that he stayed at Robertson’s house for two hours. Thompson left and returned, said “it” was done, and gave Stephenson two rifle shells. Stephenson stated he had no idea his own wife had been killed until he was notified later that night. Stephenson further stated that after the murder, he asked Thompson why Thompson had killed his wife. Thompson replied that he didn’t know it was her. Stephenson told Davenport that he did not believe that Thompson had killed his wife, but that he had taken someone with him who had. Davenport confronted Stephenson, telling him that his supervisor had told a different story and that he didn’t believe Stephenson. Stephenson then admitted that his initial statement was not true. Stephenson admitted that he and Thompson planned to kill Lisa, but he stated that he did not pull the trigger. According to Stephenson, he picked up Thompson, who was carrying a rifle. The two men went to Robertson’s house for a few minutes at about 7:15 p.m. Stephenson told Robertson to tell anyone who asked that they had remained there until 9:45 p.m. Thompson directed Stephenson to drive down a gravel road in the country, then told Stephenson where to stop. Thompson exited the car with the rifle. Stephenson remained in his car and heard a shot. Stephenson drove back down the road and saw his wife’s car. He picked up Thompson, who gave him two empty rifle cartridges. Stephenson went to work and threw away the cartridges on the way. Stephenson stated that he told his girlfriend that his wife had gotten into some trouble and he wasn’t able to stop it. Stephenson concluded his signed statement as follows: “Ralph asked me if he killed Lisa would I give him my boat, motor and truck and I told him I would. I did not pull the trigger. I did not arrange the set up. Ralph took care of everything.” Stephenson’s father testified that he owned a boat that he discovered missing one morning, and he had reported it stolen. He stated that he had not given Stephenson permission to take the boat. Near the end of Stephenson’s trial, Davenport informed Stephenson that his boat had been found chained to a tree at Julie’s house and could be picked up from police storage. Stephenson did not know how the boat got to Julie’s house and never knew his son had taken the boat. On further examination, Stephenson stated that Stephenson had permission to use the boat when he wanted. The victim’s father testified he lived in a mobile home in a wooded area of Hamblen County. His daughter had another mobile home she shared with her family at the back of the same property. On December 3, 1989, he and his wife worked the “graveyard shift,” returning home at 7:00 a.m. Around noon, he became concerned after not noticing any activity at his daughter’s house. He explained that his daughter did not work outside the home, but painted figurines for a local company which allowed her to stay home and care for her children. He knocked on her door and found his 4-year old grandson eating from a box of cereal. The child had prepared a bottle for his 8-month old brother. He took the children to his home and began looking for his daughter. When he arrived home, authorities were there and told him that she had been murdered. He testified that he and his wife adopted the children and had raised them since his daughter’s death. He identified a ring as one he had brought back from a tour of duty in Korea. He had given it to his grandson when he was born, and his daughter had kept it in a locked jewelry box. He testified he had not given Stephenson permission to give the ring to his girlfriend, but had noticed the ring on Julie’s finger during Stephenson’s trial. After the sheriff spoke to Julie, she returned the ring. He testified that Stephenson had not tried to contact his children and had never expressed remorse or sorrow for his wife’s murder.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 18, 2006 Florida Stella Salamon, 63 Arthur Rutherford executed

During the summer of 1985, Arthur Rutherford told his friend Harold that he planned to kill a woman and place her body in her bathtub to make her death look like an accident. Rutherford also told a longtime business associate that he was going to get money by forcing a woman to write him a check and then putting her in the bathtub. If the woman initially refused to make out the check, Rutherford explained that he would “get her by that arm and she would sign.” It was then that Rutherford bragged that he would do the crime but not the time. About a week after making those statements, Rutherford again told Harold about his homicidal plan. Rutherford also told his uncle that they could get easy money by knocking a woman Rutherford worked for in the head. Unfortunately, none of these three men took Rutherford seriously enough to report his plans to the authorities. If any of them had, Rutherford’s murder of Stella Salamon a week later could have been prevented. Mrs. Salamon, a 63-year-old widow originally from Australia, lived alone in Santa Rosa County, Florida with her two Pekingese dogs since her husband had died unexpectedly from a heart attack two years earlier. Other than a sister-in-law in Massachusetts, she had no family in this country. Rutherford, who hired out to do odd jobs, installed sliding glass doors in the doorway leading from Mrs. Salamon’s patio to her kitchen. Before long, Mrs. Salamon had those sliding glass doors replaced because they did not close and lock properly. She told her long-time friend and next-door neighbor Beverly that the unlocked doors made her nervous and that she wondered if Rutherford had intentionally made the doors so that she could not lock them. Mrs. Salamon also said that Rutherford kept coming to her house and acted as though he was “casing the joint.” It is unclear whether Mrs. Salamon notified Rutherford about the problems with the doors, but on the morning of August 21, 1985, Rutherford asked Harold to come along with him when he went to repair the doors he had installed for Mrs. Salamon. When they got to her house, she told them she had those doors replaced. Harold left to get money to give Mrs. Salamon as a refund on the doors. Rutherford stayed behind at Mrs. Salamon’s house. Around noon that day, Mrs. Salamon received a call from her friend Lois. Mrs. Salamon told Lois that she was nervous because Rutherford had been at her house for “quite awhile.” Lois drove over there and found Rutherford sitting shirtless on Mrs. Salamon’s porch. Rutherford left after Lois arrived, and Mrs. Salamon told her that Rutherford “really has made me nervous” and had been sitting around on her couch. Apparently, Mrs. Salamon never got the refund that Harold was supposed to bring, and Rutherford left the old glass doors in her garage. At 7:00 the next morning, August 22, Rutherford and Harold went to retrieve the old doors from Mrs. Salamon’s garage. When they reached the house, Rutherford told Harold that he had a gun in his van and said, “If I reach for that gun, you’ll know I mean business.” Harold testified that this was the first time he really believed that Rutherford might actually hurt someone, yet he still did nothing about it. While they were loading the doors, Harold overheard Mrs. Salamon say to Rutherford, “You can just forget about the money.” Later that morning, between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m., the manager of a local Sears store saw Mrs. Salamon when she came by to pick up a package. She also stopped at the Consolidated Package Store and made a purchase at 10:29 a.m., according to computer sales records. After that, Rutherford was the only other person known to have seen Mrs. Salamon alive, and she was not alive long, as Rutherford’s actions on that day evidence. Around noon, Rutherford went to see a woman who sometimes baby-sat for his children and with whom he had once lived for a few months. He showed her one of Mrs. Salamon’s checks and asked her to fill it out. The woman cannot read or write other than to sign her name, so she called for her thirteen-year-old niece. Rutherford promised the girl money if she would fill out the check as instructed. She filled out the check the way Rutherford told her to, making it payable to the baby-sitter, but she did not sign anyone’s name on it. Rutherford told the babysitter that he owed her money for work she had done for him and asked her to accompany him. He took her to the Santa Rosa State Bank, gave her the check, and sent her into the bank to cash it. Because of the blank signature line, the teller refused to cash the check; the woman returned to Rutherford’s van and told him. Rutherford responded by driving them to the nearby woods, where he took out a wallet, checkbook, and credit cards wrapped in a shirt, and threw the bundle into the trees. He also signed Mrs. Salamon’s name onto the check, and then they went back to the bank. Outside the bank, the babysitter watched as Rutherford endorsed her name on the check. In doing so Rutherford misspelled her name, scratched it out, and corrected it. She re-entered the bank, and this time she successfully cashed the check and left with $2,000 in one hundred dollar bills. Rutherford gave her $500 of those funds, and she in turn gave the girl $5 for filling out the check. Around 3:00 that afternoon, Rutherford visited his friend Johnny. He told Johnny that he had “bumped the old lady off” and showed him $1500 in cash. He wanted Johnny to hold $1400 of that amount for him. Rutherford said that he had hit the “old lady” in the head with a hammer, stripped her, and put her in the bathtub. Johnny refused to take the cash, and his mother later notified the police of Rutherford’s claim to have committed a murder. Earlier that day Mrs. Salamon had made plans to go walking that evening with two neighbors. At 6:30 p.m. her neighbor Beverly tried to contact Mrs. Salamon by phone but got no answer. She went to Mrs. Salamon’s house, saw her car outside, and realized that she must still be at home. Beverly rang the front doorbell. After receiving no answer, she went around back and through the sliding glass doors saw that the television was on and that the normally calm dogs were jumping around excitedly. She retrieved a spare key to the house, met up with the other neighbor who was to have gone walking with them that night, and the two women let themselves into Mrs. Salamon’s home. When the two women entered the kitchen through the carport door, they heard water running. They followed the sound to a little-used guest bathroom. There they were horrified to find Mrs. Salamon’s naked body floating in the water that filled the tub to overflowing. Realizing that their friend was dead, the stunned women went to call for help. When walking through the house, Beverly noticed that Mrs. Salamon’s eyeglasses were on the kitchen floor underneath the counter. The makings of a tomato sandwich were out on the counter. Mrs. Salamon had liked to eat tomato sandwiches for lunch. When crime scene investigators arrived they found three fingerprints on the handle of the sliding door to the bathtub, one fingerprint on the tile wall of the tub, and a palm print on the window sill inside the tub with the fingers up and over the sill as though the person had grabbed it. All of those prints were later identified as Rutherford’s. Blood was spattered on the bathroom walls and floor. According to an expert, the spatter pattern indicated that the blows occurred while Mrs. Salamon was sitting or kneeling on the bathroom floor. Mrs. Salamon’s naked body floated face-up in the water. She had been viciously beaten. There were bruises on her nose, chin, and mouth and a cut on the inside of her lip consistent with a hand being held forcefully over her face. Her lungs showed signs of manual asphyxiation, apparently from someone covering her nose and mouth. Her arms and knees were bruised and scraped, and her left arm was broken at the elbow. Of the three large wounds on her head, two were consistent with being struck with a blunt object or having her head slammed down. The other wound, a puncture that went all the way to the bone, appeared to be from a blow with a claw hammer or screwdriver. Her skull was fractured from one side to the other. Severe as those injuries were, none of them were the actual cause of Mrs. Salamon’s death. Although Rutherford had beaten and smothered her, she had water in the lungs. That shows the 63-year-old widow was still alive when Rutherford stripped off her clothes and placed her in the bathtub to drown.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 18, 2006 Mississippi Velma Odell Noblin
Katie Belle Moore, 45
Bobby Wilcher executed

In 1994, a resentencing trial was held that resulted in Bobby Glenn Wilcher’s second death sentence for the 1982 murder and robbery of Katie Belle Moore, 45. The case arises out of the gruesome double murder and robbery of Velma Odell Noblin and Katie Belle Moore. The evidence reflects that Bobby Glenn Wilcher, age nineteen, met his two female victims at a Scott County bar on the night of March 5, 1982. When the bar closed at midnight, Wilcher persuaded the women to take him home. Under this pretext, he directed the women down a deserted service road in the Bienville National Forest–where he robbed and brutally murdered the women by stabbing them a total of forty-six times. Thereafter, Wilcher was stopped for speeding by the Forest Police Department between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. He was alone and was driving victim Noblin’s car. The victims’ purses and one victim’s brassiere were on the back seat. Wilcher was covered in blood; he had a bloody knife in his back pocket that had flesh on the blade. Wilcher explained his condition by telling the policeman that he had cut his thumb while skinning a possum. The officer followed Wilcher to the hospital, where Wilcher’s wound was cleaned and covered with a band-aid. Another officer was called to the hospital to observe Wilcher, the knife, the car, the purses, and the brassiere. The officers left the hospital on an emergency call. Wilcher went home. The next morning, he abandoned Noblin’s car at an apartment complex. Wilcher also threw the victims’ purses and some of the victims’ clothing in a ditch. He was arrested later that day. The victims’ jewelry was subsequently found in Wilcher’s bedroom. UPDATE : The families of the women Bobby Glen Wilcher stabbed to death nearly a quarter century ago said Wednesday’s execution was "long overdue." Joe Rigby, the nephew of Katie Belle Moore, said Wilcher’s death brought relief and closure. Rigby was the coroner who worked the brutal crime scene at the time of his aunt’s death. He was one of the family members who witnessed Wilcher’s death by lethal injection at the sprawling penitentiary at Parchman. "The families of Katie Moore and Odell Noblin are relieved this day has finally come," Rigby said. "We feel that the execution of Bobby Wilcher is long overdue. For everyone involved, we hope this will bring closure."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 19, 2006 Texas Jeff Wetterman Michael Johnson committed suicide

On May 8, 1996, Michael Dewayne Johnson was sentenced to death for the capital murder of Jeff Wetterman, which occurred in Lorena, Texas, on Sept. 10, 1995. Around Sept. 9, 1995, David Noel Vest went to Michael Johnson’s house. While at the house, Vest saw a 9 mm gun sitting on a table. After Vest returned home, some friends came by in a stolen Cadillac. Vest drove the Cadillac for a while, letting off each passenger in turn until only he was left in the vehicle. Vest next began heading for his home when he pulled into a parking lot and noticed Johnson talking on a public telephone. Vest motioned for Johnson to get into the car, and the two drove around for a while. They subsequently went back to Johnson’s house, and Johnson briefly went inside. Johnson returned to the stolen Cadillac with the 9 mm gun tucked in his waistband. After one more stop, Vest and Johnson headed to the coast. Around Waco, Vest and Johnson were getting low on gas and decided to "make a gas run." "Making a gas run" was another way of saying they were going to steal some gas by stopping, jumping out and pumping the gas, and then taking off. After switching positions so that Johnson was driving, they approached two different stations, but decided the circumstances were unfavorable at both. Around 7:00 a.m. on September 10, they drove to a convenience store/gas station and Vest jumped out and started pumping gasoline. As he was doing so, Jeff Wetterman, who had been married just three weeks earlier, came outside and began talking to Vest. Johnson then got out of the car and walked to the rear of the vehicle. Vest asked Johnson whether he had the gun on him and Johnson lifted his shirt to reveal the weapon. As Vest returned the gas nozzle to the pump, he heard a shot and saw Jeff Wetterman fall. Jeff was shot in the face, the bullet severing his spinal cord. Vest and Johnson got back into the car and sped away. The two then proceeded to Corpus Christi, selling the gun along the way to a truck driver for $35. On their way home later the same day, Johnson sold the gun to a truck driver to get money for gas, drinks and cigarettes. The day following the murder, Vest saw an account of the murder on TV and told his mother what had happened. Officers who arrived on the scene after the murder, talked to Jeff Wetterman’s co-worker who testified that Jeff had gone to the pumps to tend to a customer when she heard a noise that sounded like a shot. When she looked toward the pumps, she saw Jeff sitting on the ground and saw a blond-haired man standing by the passenger door of what she later identified to be a Cadillac. She then saw the man get in the passenger side of the vehicle and the two drove off. A friend testified that after the crime, he and Johnson were at Vest’s house when Johnson told him that Johnson and Vest pulled into a station to get gas when an attendant came out. Johnson said that he shot Jeff Wetterman in the face after he thought Vest had said "shoot." Although Johnson argued at trial that he had an alibi and was at home at the time of the offense, he admitted to a psychologist who examined him after he was convicted that he was in fact at the gas station when the murder occurred.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 24, 2006 Ohio Dennis Avery, 49
Cheryl Avery, 46
Trina Avery, 15
Rebecca Avery, 13
Karen Avery, 7
Jeffrey Lundgren executed

avery family smallIn August 1990, a Lake County jury found cult leader Jeffrey Lundgren guilty of the kidnapping and murder of five of his followers, all members of the Avery family. Lundgren was born in Missouri and raised in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ("RLDS"). While attending college, Lundgren met and married his wife, Alice. Unsuccessful in school, Lundgren joined the Navy and served in the Vietnam War in the early 1970s. After his honorable discharge in 1974, he unsuccessfully held a series of hospital maintenance and other jobs in Missouri. Lundgren’s religious beliefs form the foundation of this case. Although the RLDS, headquartered in Independence, Missouri, differs from the Utah-based Mormon Church, both religions trace their origins back to the prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., who published the Book of Mormon in 1830. During the 1830s, Smith moved to Kirtland, Ohio, and built the Kirtland Temple, now managed by the RLDS. In summer 1984, Lundgren and his family moved from Missouri to Kirtland so that Lundgren could serve as senior temple guide, a job that had no pay but did include family lodging. Lundgren initially attracted favorable attention in his Sunday school classes and as a guide. A religion professor at an RLDS college testified that Lundgren knew scripture exceptionally well, especially the Book of Mormon, and followed the chiastic method of scripture interpretation, which involves searching text for recurring patterns. However, Lundgren did not understand the Bible’s historical context and tended to concentrate on this esoteric method. Lundgren generally fit within the traditions of the RLDS faith in that he described visions, direct spiritual experiences, and God speaking directly to prophets. Over the next three years, Lundgren served as a temple guide and taught classes on the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Despite the church’s direction to turn over all money received from temple visitors to the church, Lundgren solicited and kept contributions received from visitors. Temple contributions dropped dramatically, and the temple bookstore also suffered fund shortages. The church eventually removed Lundgren as a religion teacher and, in October 1987, fired him as a temple guide and evicted him from his quarters next to the temple. From 1985 on, Lundgren attracted a substantial following in his classes because of his knowledge of religious texts. Eventually, half a dozen followers moved in with the Lundgrens. Those living with the Lundgrens called him "Dad" and contributed their paychecks and other money for common group expenses. Two couples also contributed money, but did not live with the Lundgrens. In the spring of 1987, the Avery family moved from Missouri to follow Lundgren’s teachings. The Avery family included Dennis, age 49; Cheryl, age 46; and their daughters, Trina, age 15; Rebecca, age 13; and Karen, age 7. After Lundgren’s eviction, he and his family and followers moved to a rented farmhouse. There, Lundgren continued his classes, stressing the importance of the Kirtland Temple. According to Lundgren, his followers had to recapture the temple, an earthquake would elevate it, and Christ would return and establish Zion. Lundgren also spoke of his conversations with God and his visions. He discussed the Book of Revelations and the Book of Mormon, and referred to "pruning the vineyard" and the need to kill ten followers before Zion could be created. Eventually, the men in the group undertook paramilitary training to prepare for a temple assault. Lundgren picked May 3, 1988 (his birthday) as the day to recapture the temple, but later decided it was not yet time. The Averys, on the fringe of the group, were invited to only a few of Lundgren’s prayer meetings. By October 1988, the RLDS church had excommunicated Lundgren. In early 1989, Lundgren was stressing the need for his followers to go on a wilderness trip before Zion would be possible. By that time, two early followers had left the group, but Kathryn and Larry Keith Johnson had joined. In April 1989, at Lundgren’s direction, the group began preparing for the wilderness trip. Those who worked left their jobs and some bought provisions. Lundgren encouraged all of the followers to use up any of their available credit cards. All of the group members, including the Averys, gathered their worldly possessions. Around April 12, two or three of the followers secretly began digging a six-by-seven-foot pit in the dirt floor of Lundgren’s barn. Lundgren told Cheryl Avery to write and tell her family that they were going to Wyoming. Then, Lundgren invited the Averys to dinner. On April 17, 1989, Dennis, Cheryl and their three daughters ate dinner at Lundgren’s farmhouse. After dinner, Lundgren went out to the barn with his son, Damon, and four followers, Richard Brand, Daniel Kraft, Gregory Winship, and Ron Luff. The Averys stayed in the house with the women and children. At Lundgren’s direction, Luff individually led each Avery family member out to the barn, where each was bound and gagged by the men. After the men placed each Avery family member into the pit, Lundgren shot each person two or three times with a.45 caliber semiautomatic weapon. The men then filled the pit with dirt and stones. Afterwards, Lundgren and the others went back to the farmhouse and held a prayer meeting. The next day, April 18, police officers and FBI agents visited the Lundgren farm to investigate reports about the planned temple assault. Everyone interviewed said that they were at the farm voluntarily and denied knowing anything about plans to assault the temple. The FBI left without arresting anyone, and the group drove away on their wilderness trip. Lundgren selected mountain campsites near Davis, West Virginia, and the group lived in tents there through October 1989. Some of the followers took jobs, and the men continued their military exercises. While in West Virginia, Lundgren chose Tonya Patrick as his second wife. That arrangement did not work out, so Lundgren then picked Kathryn Johnson as his second wife. That choice upset Larry Johnson, Kathryn’s husband, and contributed to group dissension. By October 1989, Lundgren, his family, and about ten of his followers moved to Missouri. However, more dissension occurred and, by the end of December 1989, Larry Johnson had contacted federal law enforcement authorities about the murders. On January 3, 1990, Kirtland police began digging out the pit in the barn and found Dennis Avery’s body. Police uncovered the other Avery family members’ bodies the next day. Lundgren had shot Dennis twice in the back and Cheryl three times in the torso. He shot Trina once in the head and twice in the body, Rebecca in the back and thigh, and Karen in the head and chest. The coroner found silver duct tape wrapped around the victims’ heads, hands, and feet. The origin of two damaged bullets found at the scene was unknown. Police discovered that a.45 caliber semiautomatic weapon, belonging to Lundgren, had fired all of the other bullets they recovered. Lundgren bought the weapon in 1987 and sold it in West Virginia in October 1989. On January 7, 1990, federal authorities arrested Lundgren in California. During his opening statement, Lundgren conceded that he had shot the Avery family. At the close of the trial, the jury found Lundgren guilty of five counts of aggravated murder with each count containing two death penalty specifications. One of the specifications alleged multiple murders and the other alleged a felony-murder kidnapping specification. The jury additionally convicted Lundgren as charged with five kidnapping offenses. After further deliberation, the jury recommended the death penalty for each aggravated murder count. The trial court sentenced Lundgren to death on each aggravated murder count and to consecutive terms of imprisonment for each kidnapping offense.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 25, 2006 Texas Mandell Eugene "Gene" Summers
Helen Summers
Billy Mack Summers
Gregory Summers executed

Mandell Eugene Summers, Helen Summers, and Billy Mack Summers were fatally stabbed and left in a burning building. Evidence at trial revealed that Gregory Lynn Summers hired Andrew Cantu for $10,000 to murder Summers’s relatives–father, mother, and mentally retarded uncle, respectively–for financial gain. Summers expected to collect $24,000 in insurance proceeds. The family had adopted Summers when he was three days old. Andrew Cantu told a friend named Max that he [Cantu] had a job to do — kill three old people; he explained that the intended victims were Gregory Summers’ parents and Cantu asked for the friend’s assistance. Max declined to help in any way, using the fact that he was on probation as an excuse. Later that same night, Cantu borrowed his brother’s black sweat pants and sweat shirt, and paced in and out of the house as if waiting for someone, but no one arrived. Early on June 11, 1990, Summers and Cantu were riding in Summers’ truck and approached Max and asked him to contact his cousin, Ramon Gonzales. He was unable to contact him, but Gonzales heard that Max had tried to reach him, and thinking that Max was having gang troubles, Gonzales came to Abilene from Haskell with a friend, Paul Flores. Gonzales had previously only briefly met Cantu, and Flores met him that day. While riding around with Gonzales, Flores, and Max, Cantu asked if they would "waste" three old people whose adopted son wanted them killed. Cantu added that he would be paid with money, jewelry, and guns in the house, and from insurance policies collected later. When the others refused to help, Cantu changed the subject to burglary of a house. Gonzales and Flores agreed to join in the burglary. Max declined, saying he was on probation. Gonzales dropped Cantu off at his house then took Max home. Max attempted to dissuade the others from assisting Cantu and believed they were homebound when last he saw them. However, Gonzales and Flores returned to pick up Cantu, who had again borrowed his brother’s black sweat pants and shirt, explaining to his brother that he was going to pull a "heist." The three then went to a grocery store where Cantu purchased lighter fluid, gloves, pantyhose, and a cap. The cashier later identified Cantu and remembered some of the items he purchased. Cantu had earlier that day bought a knife from Flores. They then rode around before setting out for the house to be burglarized. Sometime near midnight, they drove through an alley behind the Summers’ residence. Cantu was dropped off in the alley behind the house and cut the telephone line. Gonzales picked up Cantu, drove to a nearby street and parked. The three got out and walked toward the alley behind the Summers’ home. Cantu carried the knife and lighter fluid. A neighbor, seated on her unlit porch, saw three men and remembered that one was carrying a knife which shone in the streetlamp’s light. The three men entered the Summers’ yard through a back gate. Cantu cut a hole in a back window screen and crawled into the house. By the time Gonzales and Flores had crawled inside, Cantu was already stabbing Gene Summers, who was lying in his bed. Cantu threatened to "waste" Gonzales and Flores if they attempted to leave, then proceeded to the living room where he repeatedly stabbed Helen Summers as she sat sleeping in a recliner. Cantu ordered Flores and Gonzales to search the house for the promised money before proceeding to a front bedroom where he murdered Billy Mack Summers. Angry that Gonzales and Flores had not found it, Cantu ransacked the house looking for the money himself but found none of the promised money. Before leaving the scene, Cantu doused the bedroom with lighter fluid and set it on fire. As they drove from the scene, ambulance and fire truck sirens could be heard heading in the direction of the Summers’ home. When Cantu ordered Flores to "get rid" of the knife, Flores, called "slow poke" for his mental prowess, threw it out the car window. This infuriated Cantu. The bloody knife was found by a woman mowing her lawn. The three went to the home of Cantu’s uncle, where Cantu chided Gonzales and Flores for their failure to find the promised money and searched them for it, accusing them of theft. Cantu threatened to kill Flores and Gonzales if they had the money or talked about the incident. Flores and Gonzales returned to Haskell. The following morning, June 12, 1990, in a highly uncharacteristic manner, Cantu asked his brother if he had seen the news. Alerted by the strangeness of the question, his brother watched the midday news and learned about the triple murders. Knowing Cantu and that the victims were Greg Summers’ parents, he asked him whether he had been involved in the murders. Cantu denied involvement. Later that week, his brother again asked Cantu if he had any part in the murders; disgusted by the answer, he called the police and made a statement on June 19, 1990. Max also asked Cantu about the murders; Cantu confessed that he had committed them and complained about not having been paid. On June 15, 1990, a man contacted the police. He said he was an acquaintance of Summers, reported that Summers had approached him in the recent past, attempting to hire him to murder his parents and uncle, and to burn their house down. Summers offered to pay the man from insurance money and case in the house. His suspicions were aroused upon reading the details of the murders and the victim’s identities in the newspaper. While in custody, Summers befriended another inmate who assisted Summers with legal work and prepared documents for Summers. When the inmate realized that Summers was using documents prepared by him as false evidence, he contacted prison officials and told them of his encounter with Summers. During their interactions, Summers told the inmate of Summers’s part in the murders. Andrew Cantu was also convicted of capital murder and was executed in 1999. Sandra Mitchell, a relative of the victims said, "I just think it has gone on too long. It should have happened 10 years ago." UPDATE : Gregory Summers was executed today for initiating a murder-for-hire plot that authorities said led to the fatal stabbing of his parents and an uncle. "These were real people that we all loved very, very much," Arbie McAliley, the victims’ niece, said after watching Summers die. "Justice was served, we believe in our hearts. There was nothing inhumane about this at all tonight. He got a better treatment than what he gave our three loved ones. It was brutal what they did. The only regrets we have is we had to sit and wait for something we knew was coming."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 25, 2006 Tennessee Connie Johnson Donnie Johnson stayed

cynthia3On December 8, 1984, Donnie Johnson signed Ronnie McCoy out of the Penal Farm where he was serving a four month sentence for charges of false reporting. Johnson took McCoy to their place of employment, Force Camping Sales. At the close of the work day, Johnson’s wife Connie met them there. McCoy testified that he left Connie Johnson alone with her husband in a sales office, and when he returned Johnson showed him Connie’s dead body. McCoy testified that he thereafter helped Johnson clean up the office and dispose of the body because he was scared of Johnson. Johnson’s story was that he left the room and when he returned, McCoy had killed Connie and that he had helped McCoy clean up the crime scene and dispose of Connie’s body because he was scare of what McCoy would do if he did not cooperate. The jury convicted Johnson of first-degree murder.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 25, 2006 Florida Tom Grissom
Julie Grissom, 24
Sean Grissom, 8
Sonya Larson, 17
Christina Powell, 17
Christa Leigh Hoyt, 18
Tracy Inez Paules, 23
Manuel R. Taboada, 23
Danny Rolling executed

Sonya Larson christina powell Christa Hoyt Tracey PaulesIn the early morning hours of August 24, 1990, Danny Rolling, armed with both an automatic pistol and a Marine Corps K-Bar knife, broke through the rear door of an apartment shared by college students Sonya Larson and Christina Powell. Upon entering the apartment, Rolling observed Christina Powell asleep on the downstairs couch. He stood over her briefly, but did not awaken her. Rolling then crept upstairs where he found Sonya Larson asleep in her bedroom. After pausing to decide with which young woman he desired to have sexual relations, he attacked Sonya as she lay in her bed, stabbing her first in the upper chest area. He then placed a double strip of duct tape over her mouth to muffle her cries and continued to stab her as she unsuccessfully attempted to fend off his blows. During the attack, she was stabbed on her arms and received a slashing blow to her left thigh. Sonya maintained consciousness for less than a minute and died as a direct result of the stab wounds inflicted by Rolling. After killing Sonya, Rolling returned to the downstairs of the apartment where Christina remained asleep. He pressed a double strip of tape over her mouth and taped her hands behind her back. Rolling cut off her clothing and undergarments with the K-Bar knife and sexually battered Christina, threatening her with the knife. Thereafter, Rolling forced her to lie facedown on the floor near the couch and stabbed her five times in the back, causing her death. Rolling posed the bodies of the victims and left the apartment. Sonya’s body was found on her bed, posed with her arms above her head. Their bodies were mutilated. Approximately forty-two hours later, during the evening hours of Saturday, August 25, Rolling broke into the apartment of college student Christa Hoyt, located about two miles away from the first crime scene, by prying open the sliding glass door with a screwdriver. Armed with the same automatic pistol and K-Bar knife, Rolling waited in the living room for the arrival of Christa a young woman into whose bedroom he had peeked a few days earlier. When Christa eventually returned home at about 11 a.m., Rolling surprised her from behind, placing her in a choke-hold and subduing her after a brief struggle. He taped her mouth and her hands and then led her into her bedroom where, after cutting and tearing off her clothing and undergarments, he forced her onto her bed, threatened her with his knife, and sexually battered her. Rolling subsequently turned Christa facedown in her bed and stabbed her through the back, rupturing her aorta and killing her. Just as he had done with his first two victims, Rolling posed the body of his third victim and left the apartment. Christa’s lifeless head was found sitting on a bookshelf in the bedroom, and her body was propped, sitting up on her bed and bent over at the waist. Rolling had sliced off her nipples and left them on the bed next to her, and police discovered that her torso was sliced open, from her chest to her pubic bone. A little over a day later, at approximately 3 a.m. on August 27, Rolling entered a third apartment, occupied by roommates and college students Tracy Paules and Manuel Taboada. Again, Rolling broke into the apartment by prying open the double-glass sliding door with the same screwdriver he used to enter Christa’s apartment. Armed with the same pistol and knife, Rolling crept into one of the bedrooms where he found Manny Taboada asleep. Rolling attacked Manny, stabbing him in the solar plexus and penetrating his thoracic vertebra. Manny was awakened by the blow and struggled to fight off his assailant. Rolling repeatedly stabbed him on the arms, hands, chest, legs and face and eventually killed him. Hearing the commotion caused by the struggle, Tracy Paules approached Manny’s bedroom and, catching a glimpse of Rolling, fled to her room where she attempted to lock her door. Rolling, who was covered with Manny’s blood, followed Tracy and broke through her bedroom door. Rolling subdued her, taped her mouth and her hands, and cut or tore off her t-shirt. He sexually battered her and threatened her with his knife before turning her over on the bed and killing her with three stabbing blows to her back. Finally, Rolling cleaned and posed the body of Tracy Paules and left the apartment. A friend of Manny’s had gone to the apartment to check on them after another mutual friend expressed concerns about not being able to reach Manny for a couple of days. The maintenance man from the apartment complex was called and opened the door with a master key. They immediately saw Tracy’s naked and bloody body in the hallway and there was a dark bag on the floor near her. The maintenance man slammed the door shut and locked it, then left and called police. They arrived within five minutes, and when they reopened the apartment, the door was unlocked and the bag was gone. Tracy’s body had been placed on a towel and police surmised that Rolling was interrupted before he could mutilate her body. Rolling had a series of prior violent felonies; to-wit: a 1976 Mississippi conviction for armed robbery; a 1979 Georgia conviction for two counts of armed robbery; a 1980 Alabama conviction for robbery; a 1991 Hillsborough County, Florida, conviction for three counts of attempted robbery with a firearm and two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, and a 1992 federal conviction for armed bank robbery. Rolling was arrested after robbing a grocery store and police from his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana had contacted the Gainesville police task force and described similarities between the murders in Florida and a triple homicide in Louisiana in November 1991. In November 1989, Tom Grissom, his daughter Julie, and her 8-year-old son Sean were stabbed to death. Julie’s body was found bound and mutilated, covered with bite marks and posed on her bed in a sexual depiction. In both states, the killer had used solvents to clean the victims’ bodies in an attempt to eliminate DNA clues; duct tape was used to bind victims; the knife used in both cases was the same type and in both cases, victims’ were left displayed in grotesque poses, for maximum shock effect. DNA matched Rolling to three of the crime scenes and items found at a campsite in the woods where Rolling had been living were stained with Manny Taboada’s blood. Eventually, Rolling confessed to the Gainesville murders and pled guilty at trial. He also confessed to murdering the Grissom family.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
October 26, 2006 Alabama Irma Thelma Gray Larry Hutcherson executed

Irma GrayOn June 26, 1992, the body of 89-year-old Irma Thelma Gray was discovered in her home on Moffat Road in Mobile, Alabama. Shortly before dark, Larry Hutcherson broke into Irma’s home while she was visiting a neighbor. He first tried to get in through the bathroom window and the front door, but could not, so he broke the front window and entered, cutting himself in the process. Irma returned home while Hutcherson was ransacking her home. Hutcherson said that Irma ordered his out of the house and he refused. When Irma tried to leave herself, Hutcherson grabbed her and flung her to the floor. Hutcherson got a knife from the kitchen and stabbed her. Irma’s throat had been cut so severely that she was almost decapitated. A forensic medical examiner testified that the cut on her throat was 10 inches long, beginning at her left earlobe and progressing to within one and one-half inch of her right earlobe. The cut severed her windpipe and her carotid artery and went all the way to her spine. Her nose was smashed and Irma had many other injuries that the medical examiner testified occurred before her throat was cut. These injuries, consistent with a beating, included numerous other cuts, bruises, and multiple fractured ribs. There was also evidence that Irma Gray had been sodomized. An officer with the Mobile Police Department testified that when he arrived at the house to investigate Irma’s death, the door to the screened porch was punched inward; a window had been broken and there was blood on the window sill, the furniture and the carpet. The inside of the house was in total disarray. The antenna for the television was on the floor and a bracket in a window sill, where an air conditioner would have been, was empty. Woodward found Irma’s body lying face down on the kitchen floor. Blood covered the floor near her head and there was talcum powder on her lower body. There was also blood and a bloody footprint on the floor of the bathroom. The door to the garage was partially open and that one of the windowpanes in the door was broken and there was a trail of blood leading from the window to the driver’s side of the automobile that was in the garage. Missing from the home were various appliances including a microwave oven, television and radio. UPDATE: Before being given the lethal injection, Larry Hutcherson apologized to the family of Irma Gray saying he was "so very sorry for hurting you like this." He said he hoped someday they could forgive him. But Gray’s daughter, Fran Sprott, said "He’s so guilty — very, very guilty" She said the family has been ready for Hutcherson’s execution for 14 years.

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