January 1999 Executions

Ten killers were executed in January, 1999. They murdered at least 16 people.
Twenty killers were given a stay in January 1999. They have murdered at least 23 people.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 5, 1999 Texas Maureen Louise Maulden, 77 John Moody executed

John Glenn Moody was a parolee when he raped and strangled a 77-year-old woman after she gave him a job doing lawn work. Moody had nearly two dozen convictions over 19 years and had been out on parole for five months, having completed a seven-month term for burglary. In July of 1988 he was hired by Maureen Louise Maulden to do yard work at her Abilene home. The widow apparently was unaware of Moody’s criminal past, which he blamed on drinking, drugs and a bad temper. Mrs. Maulden’s sister found her body. She had been raped, beaten with a fireplace brush and strangled with a telephone cord. Maureen Maulden’s son Blair Maulden took his own life in 1991, three years after his 77-year-old mother’s body was found in her home. Family members and the lawmen who investigated the case are convinced the brutal slaying plunged her only child into a depression from which he never recovered. "It was devastating to him," said District Attorney James Eidson. "It wore on him wondering how much his mother had suffered. Victims never stop living that." The 46-year-old death row resident declined a recent interview request. Oddly, he said he didn’t want to disappoint his mother, who objects to the media. "Everyone’s got a momma," said prison spokesman Larry Fitzgerald. By all accounts, Maureen Maulden was the mothering sort. An employee of Southland Beauty Supply, a member of the Abilene Women’s Club and a worshipper at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, she was admired most for her unflinching service as her family’s caretaker. She moved back into the Sayles Boulevard family home in 1971 to care for her elderly mother. She retrieved a mentally ill sister from the Big Spring State School to care for her also. And she nursed her bedridden husband, L.B. Maulden, before he died in 1978. In December 1997, Maureen moved from the family home to a home where she could be closer to her friends. She occasionally hired, at her sister’s recommendation, John Glenn Moody to do odd jobs and yard work. Neither woman was aware the man had a long and often violent criminal history. On the evening of July 3, 1988, neighbors noticed a pickup truck matching Moody’s in Maureen’s driveway and someone resembling the handyman on her front porch. Mildred Adams, who had introduced Moody to Maureen, discovered her sister’s battered body the following evening. Police subsequently found the elderly woman had been violated sexually, beaten bloody with a fireplace tool, and strangled with a telephone cord that was left cinched around her throat. The violence of the attack shocked even veteran law officers. "The thing I’ve always thought about was her last two minutes of life had to be just horrible," said police Sgt. David Watkins, who investigated the death. "That still sticks with me." Eidson added, "You can’t help but put yourself in her place and wonder what must have been going through her mind. To be humiliated, degraded and tortured — it doesn’t get any worse than that." About three hours after Maulden’s body was discovered, Abilene police arrested Moody for public intoxication. Working on a hunch, detectives linked the murder to Moody, who left an indisputable trail of evidence. When arrested, Moody was carrying two of Maulden’s rings in his wallet. When his then wife went to the jail to retrieve his personal belongings, booking officers overheard Moody warn the woman to ditch the rings because they were "hot" — slang for stolen. But the most incriminating piece of evidence was a bloody fingerprint on a phone in Maulden’s home. The blood was Maulden’s; the print was Moody’s. And the impression was so distinct it offered 20 points of similarity for an expert to confirm — twice as many as the law requires. "That’s what did it," said attorney David Thedford, who defended Moody at the trial. "There just was no way around it and no way to explain it." After 2-1/2 hours of deliberation, the six-man, six-woman jury found Moody guilty of capital murder. After more testimony that labeled Moody a homicidal sexual deviant certain to commit more crimes, jurors sentenced him to death. "We didn’t want to do it, but you can’t just let him get away, you just can’t," said 74-year-old Rachel Hamm, one of the jurors. "It was a hard decision, but he had done it; he obviously had no remorse, and he needed to be punished." Five months before Maulden’s murder, Moody was freed on parole as a nonviolent offender having served seven months of a five-year sentence for burglary. Had parole officials checked his past, they would have found 21 convictions over the previous 19 years — most of them in West Virginia and Ohio. His crimes ranged from theft and armed robbery to escape and sexual assault. At trial, then prosecutor Sandy Self dubbed him a "monster" with a "Ph.D. in crime." Eidson cited him as a lost cause for criminal rehabilitation. The district attorney recently conceded the system failed Maulden. "But that answer becomes obvious only in hindsight," he said. "The situation where the system works, you never hear about." Eidson said, "I have no misgivings about executing John Glenn Moody. This was an easy decision to seek the death penalty. But I’m not in a frame of mind to celebrate. It’s regretful the system has to go to this end, but it does." As he did at trial, defense attorney Thedford argued that killing a killer is a mistake. "The death penalty is wrong under any circumstance," he said. "Society doesn’t benefit by murdering a murderer." Since his conviction, Moody has flip-flopped between arguing he is innocent — while refusing to discuss the evidence — and insisting a recipe of brain maladies, narcotics and an abusive childhood are to blame for his victim’s death. Jon McAden, Maulden’s nephew, expects Moody to "deny till he dies." "I wish he would admit it," said McAden, an Abilene High teacher. "It might bring some closure, but you never have full closure on a tragedy like this. "Maureen was one of the most loving people I ever met. How could this happen to someone like her who was always willing to help somebody? It just floored you." Though McAden supports capital punishment, he has no desire to watch Moody die. "I think it’s kind of morbid," he said. "If it needs to be done, just let it be done." Likewise, neither Mildred Adams nor her daughter, Clark, will drive to Huntsville for Wednesday’s execution. Clark said her mother especially is wrestling with feelings of guilt and pain over her sister’s murder. "It’s going to bring some closure to the pain," Clark said of the execution. "Of course, you never forget about it. I just wish it hadn’t taken so long. It just seems like the wound hasn’t healed." In a 1994 interview with the Associated Press, Moody seemed to have accepted his fate, saying, "It doesn’t bother me anymore. I’m at peace. I know where I’m going." Watkins, the cop who helped win the death sentence, hopes so. He tempered his call for justice with one wish for Moody. "The thought of someone dying — just or not — is not pleasant," the officer said. "He’s forgiven for his sin, but he’s still got to do the punishment. It would be my prayer he makes things right with the Lord. He’s gonna need it."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 5, 1999 Pennsylvania Andrea Graves Rodney Collins stayed
Rodney Collins, whose brother, Ronald Collins is also on death row for an unrelated murder, received a death sentence for the execution-style murder of his long-time girlfriend, Andrea Graves, in 1992.
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 6, 1999 Arizona Christopher Milke, 4 James Styers stayed

Christopher Milke smallOn December 2, 1989, four-year-old Christopher Milke was shot and killed with a handgun. Christopher thought he was going on an outing to see Santa Claus but James Styers took him into the desert instead and shot him three times as part of a plot engineered by his mother, who wanted to be with a man who did not want kids. Styers filed a missing child report, advising police that his roommate’s son had disappeared during their visit to Metrocenter mall. Roger Mark Scott was present with Styers. On December 3, 1989, Scott admitted during a police interview that he had accompanied Styers the previous day to a desert wash where Styers shot and killed Christopher. Styers agreed to provide Scott with $250 to file a social security claim. Styers believed he would receive some of Christopher’s $5,000 life insurance policy. At the conclusion of the interview, Mr. Scott led police to the desert area where they found Christopher Milke’s body. During a police interview, Debra Jean Milke, Christopher Milke’s mother, conceded that she had conspired with Styers to have her son killed. She indicated that it would be better to have her son die than grow up like her husband.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 6, 1999 Pennsylvania Joelle Donovan , 3 Michael Bardo stayed

In September of 1992, in Luzerne Co. Pennsylvania, Michael Bardo, 23, sexually assaulted and murdered his three-year-old niece, Joelle Donovan. He put her body in a plastic bag and hid it. *

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 7, 1999 Oklahoma Beulah Grace Sissons Cox , 31
Rhonda Pappan, 29
John Walter Castro executed

John Walter Castro was sentenced to die for the April 18, 1983, murder of Oklahoma State University student Beulah Grace Sissons Cox. Castro met Cox near an Oklahoma City bus station and she agreed to give him a ride. According to Castrol, he became angry at her as they drove around in her car an talked. After asking her to drive down a secluded dirt road, Castrol pulled a gun, directed her away from her car and while she sat with her back to him, shot her in the head three times at close range. Her body was found 4 moths later in rural southern Noble County near Lake McMurtry. He was awaiting resentencing after receiving the death penalty for the June 6, 1983, stabbing death of Rhonda Pappan, 29, a Ponca City restaurant owner whom he killed during a robbery. In a recent interview, Castro said he isn’t sure why he killed the women. "If I hadn’t been caught and stopped, I probably would have killed someone else," he said. UPDATE: Mary Atkin, the sister of Beulah Cox, witnessed the execution of John Castro. Mary shared a birthday with her baby sister who was 10 years younger and had helped raise her after their parents died. She said she accepted the apology that Castro offered prior to his execution but said she doubted his sincerity. "I was not touched. I’m sorry," she said. "We need to have closure and we also have to realize that all actions have consequences."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 7, 1999 Pennsylvania Chedell Williams James Dennis stayed

James Dennis and an accomplice attacked Chedell Williams and her friend Zahra Howard as they were buying transit fares at Fern Rock Station in Philadelphia. Chedell was shot and her earrings, worth $450, were stolen in broad daylight in mid-afternoon.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 8, 1999 South Carolina Chinh Thi Nguyen Le, 34 Ron Howard executed

Ronnie Howard and another man put a plastic bag over the head of Chinh Thi Nguyen Le, a 34-year-old Vietnamese refugee and mother of 3, while they were stealing her car. Howard and Dana Weldon intentionally bumped Le’s car at a stop sign and held her at gunpoint after she got out of the car. Howard later put the bag over Le’s head while Weldon punched her in the stomach until she suffocated, according to trial records. Le’s naked body was found several weeks later under some kudzu vines in rural Greenville County, too decomposed to determine what killed her. Her car was found 100 miles away in Columbia. Howard and Weldon were arrested nearly 3 months later in Asheville, N.C., after robbing a Pizza Hut. Howard, who was on parole for bank robbery when Le was murdered, confessed to the killing and admitted to another, similar murder. Howard, 40, and Weldon were prosecuted together and convicted. Howard, who received a life sentence for the other killing, was sentenced in September 1986 to die for Le’s murder. Weldon, 39, was also sentenced to die for Le’s killing and is on death row. Howard also confessed to being involved in 72 armed robberies, mostly of Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 8, 1999 Louisiana Sonya Merritt Knippers , 43 Dobie Williams executed

On the evening of July 7, 1984, Mrs. Sonya Knippers fell asleep on her living room sofa while watching television. She awoke just past midnight and stopped in the bathroom before going to bed. When she closed the bathroom door, she discovered Dobie Williams hiding behind it, pantless and brandishing a knife. Sonya began to scream. Williams locked the bathroom door and stabbed Sonya repeatedly with the knife before fleeing out the bathroom window. Although fatally injured, Sonya was able to unlock the bathroom door after Williams fled. Her husband carried her to the living room, where she bled to death in his arms. Mr. Knippers informed police that his wife had screamed that a black man was trying to kill her. At the time, Williams was staying at the home of his grandfather on a five-day furlough while serving a prison sentence for a prior burglary conviction. Police suspected Williams because his grandfather’s home was nearby. Williams was taken in for questioning, and ultimately confessed to the crime after investigators observed fresh scratches and other abrasions on his arms and legs. Williams’s statement led the investigators to the murder weapon, found in the grass outside the Knippers’ home, and to the shirt that he was wearing at the time of the crime, which he had hidden underneath the porch at his grandfather’s house. Despite Williams’ claims of mistaken identity, recent DNA testing concluded that he was the killer.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 11, 1999 Texas Bobby Grant Lambert Gary Graham stayed

Bobby Lambert, murder victimAround 9:30 pm on the night of May 13, 1981, Gary Graham accosted Bobby Grant Lambert in the parking lot of a northwest Houston, Texas, grocery store and attempted to grab his wallet. When Lambert resisted, Graham drew a pistol and shot him to death. Graham was arrested for another offense about a week later and was also charged with the capital murder of Bobby Lambert. Five months later, a jury rejected Graham’s defense of mistaken identity and convicted him of capital murder. An eyewitness who identified Graham had followed him in her car after the murder. She testified that Lambert was coming out of the Safeway store in the 8900 block of the North Freeway when Graham reached into Lambert’s pockets and then shot Lambert as they scuffled. Lambert staggered back into the store where he died. He was robbed of only the change from a $100 bill even though police found $6000 in cash on his body. Lambert was killed in the middle of a crime spree that seventeen-year old Graham confessed to, including 10 other armed robberies and a rape. During the period May 14 through May 20 of 1981, Gary Graham robbed some 13 different victims at nine different locations, in each instance leveling either a pistol or a sawed-off shotgun on the victim. Two of the victims were pistol-whipped, one being shot in the neck; a 64-year old male victim was struck with the vehicle Graham was stealing from him; and a 57-year old female victim was kidnapped and raped. A total of 19 eyewitnesses positively identified Graham as the perpetrator. Graham pled guilty to and was sentenced to 20-year concurrent prison sentences for 10 different aggravated robberies committed May 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, and 20, 1981. During the armed robbery of one victim, Richard B. Sanford, Gary Graham boasted of having killed six other people already. Four out of the original five witnesses described the murderer as a young, thin black male, from medium height to tall.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 12, 1999 Texas Gracie Purnhagen, 16
Tiffany Purnhagen, 9
Dennis Dowthitt stayed

Grace PurnhagenTiffany PurnhagenIn Conroe, Texas, on June 13, 1990 sixteen-year-old Gracie Purnhagen and her 9-year-old sister Tiffany were picked up at a bowling alley by Gracie’s ex-"boyfriend", Delton Dowthitt, also 16, and his father, Dennis Dowthitt. They drove to a secluded area. Delton’s father began fondling Tiffany when Delton and Gracie had walked to the back of the truck to talk about their relationship and left the girl alone with Dennis. Tiffany screamed and broke away from him and ran to her sister, chased by the elder Dowthitt. Dennis told Delton they had to kill the girls and ordered Delton to strangle Tiffany with a rope. The father attempted to rape Gracie, then cut her throat and subsequently took a beer bottle and sexually assaulted Gracie with it. He alsostabbed Gracie in the chest. Delton thought he had convinced a friend to help bury the girls but the friend backed out on both visits to the remote wooded murder scene. When Delton was arrested in Metairie Louisiana, he confessed to the murders but said he acted alone, however, his mothe told police that she knew her husband and son were together that night. Dennis Dowthitt voluntarily went to the sheriff’s office for questioning and was confronted with the evidence that he was with his son the night of the slayings. The elder Dowthittthen admitted in a written statement that he was present at the time the Purnhagen sisters were murdered but blamed the murders on his son. Delton was sentenced to 45 years. At trial, Dennis’s daughter testified that her father had raped her, and also that he had confessed to the murders.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 13, 1999 Arizona Suzanne Rossetti Jess Gillies executed

Suzi Rossetti, murder victimOn January 29, 1981, Suzanne Rossetti locked herself out of her car at a Phoenix convenience store. Jess James Gillies and Mike Logan helped her get into her car. To show her gratitude, Suzi bought the men a six-pack of beer and offered them a ride to a riding stable where Gillies worked. The two men forced her to drive to a secluded area where both men raped her. Then they tied her up, put her in the back of the car and forced her to direct them to her Scottsdale apartment. They raped her again at her apartment. Then they put her back in the car and drove to the Superstition Mountains. Eight hours after the horror began, the men led Suzi to the edge of a cliff and told her to jump. She refused. Gillies punched her; Logan kicked her over the edge. The two men climbed down and found Suzi still alive. She pleaded for mercy, court records say. "Leave me alone, I’m going to die anyway," she told her tormentors. They didn’t. At least one of them — each man later blamed the other — beat her repeatedly over the head with a rock. They buried her beneath a heap of rocks and dirt. Later, the coroner said Suzi probably was still alive when she was buried. Gillies began talking to friends about the killing and drove Rossetti’s car for a couple days. He and Logan were arrested after someone contacted police. When homicide Detective Jack Hackworth told Gillies he could face execution, Gillies said, "All that, for killing that (expletive)?" court records show. Logan pleaded guilty and led searchers to Suzi Rossetti’s body. He got three consecutive life sentences in return. Gillies pleaded innocent and went to trial. The jury deliberated less than an hour before convicting him.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 13, 1999 Missouri William Parr, 62
Myrtle Benham
unnamed woman
Kelvin Malone executed

Kelvin Malone, now 37, was paroled from a Missouri prison on a robbery sentence in 1980 from the street robbery in 1979 of the late U.S. District Judge George F. Gunn Jr., then a state appeals judge. Malone allegedly stole $4. Seven weeks before Parr was murdered, Malone escaped from jail in Monterey Co. Calif, where he was held on a robbery charge. When he escaped from the jail in February 1981 and returned to Missouri, he abducted cab driver William Parr, 62, near a St. Louis bus station and shot him in the head. Parr was dispatched to pick up a package at a bank around 11:45 p.m. on March 17, 1981. Later that morning police found Parr’s body in Entrance Park in Berkeley, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb. Parr had been shot and was lying face down with blood coming from his nose and right ear. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. After killing Parr, police said, Malone and a friend, Michael Crenshaw, drove to Kansas City. There, authorities believe they kidnapped a businessman who was attending a convention. The man’s body was never found. Two days after Parr’s murder, Malone kidnapped Myrtle Benham from her workplace in the California desert community of Baker, robbed the cash register, stole her rings and beat her to death. California police found Malone and Crenshaw asleep in Crenshaw’s car in San Jose on March 24 and asked for identification. The men drove off instead and were apprehended after a high speed chase. The officers found a small suitcase and two loaded.25 caliber pistols in the car. Three bullets test fired from one of these guns were later compared to a.25 caliber slug taken from Parr’s brain. It was determined that all four bullets came from one of the guns which Malone had carried when he arrived in St. Louis and which were found in the car at his arrest Tried first in California, Malone was sentenced to death for Benham’s murder and to life in prison for murdering a woman from Texas whose body was found in the desert in Blythe, CA four days after Myrtle’s murder. Missouri charged Malone with the murder of William Parr. Malone was convicted on March 30, and on the next day the jury returned a verdict of death. He chose not to appear at sentencing on April 26, 1984, when he was sentenced to death. He was then returned to California where he remained incarcerated until his execution date was scheduled in Missouri. Crenshaw, also 37, received two life sentences in California for the murders of the 2 women.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 13, 1999 Texas Carl Rosenbalm Troy Farris executed

Troy Dale Farris was convicted of the Dec. 3, 1983, slaying of Tarrant County Sheriff’s Deputy Carl Rosenbalm, who interrupted a roadside drug deal. Rosenbalm, although wearing a bulletproof vest, was shot and killed. Two men testified about the slaying, according to court records. They said they drove from Wichita Falls to meet Farris in Fort Worth "to exchange marijuana for amphetamine." After the exchange, Rosenbalm drove up on the scene with the lights on his patrol car flashing. As the two men drove away, they saw the deputy lying on the ground. Although he was wearing a protective vest, one of two shots fired at close range went through Rosenbalm’s left arm and into his chest. One of the men involved in the drug deal testified that Farris "later admitted to shooting Rosenbalm." Farris also confessed to his brother-in-law "that he shot a policeman."

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 14, 1999 Mississippi Victoria Ann Harris Justin Underwood stayed

On 2/15/94, Justin Underwood kidnapped and shot to death his neighbor, Victoria Ann Harris. Justin was 20 years old at the time of the murder and had done yard work for the family. Victoria’s body was found the day after she disappeared, near Bozeman Lake. She had been shot four times from behind, while on her knees. The gun that was used to kill Victoria was stolen from Underwood’s uncle’s home ten days before the killing. When police questioned him regarding the missing weapon, Underwood blurted out, "It’s a wonder y’all didn’t try to accuse me of killing Mrs. Harris!" Underwood was not a suspect at the time but became one after his statement. When Underwood confessed to killing Victoria, he claimed that she wanted him to kill her because she got AIDS from her husband (neither had AIDS). He claimed she drove them to the spot by the lake, prayed, then he shot her and returned to her home and got his car. The prosecution presented evidenc+-e that the AIDS story was a lie and that circumstances showed that Victoria was not preparing to die that day. Victoria was found not fully dressed, with only half of her makeup applied and the dressing area in her house was disturbed. Also, she had a series of appointments scheduled that morning.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 14, 1999 Nebraska Janet Mesner, 30
Victoria Lamm, 28
Randy Reeves stayed

Randolph K. Reeves was sentenced to death for stabbing Janet Mesner, 30, and Victoria Lamm, 28, to death on March 29, 1980, in Lincoln. The two women were murdered in Janet’s apartment at the local Quaker Meeting House, where Janet worked as a caretaker. Reeves raped Janet before killing her. She lived long enough to tell police that Randy was her attacker. The morning of the crimes, Randy planned to work at his construction job in Hastings, Nebraska, but the job was "rained out." Randy and the rest of the crew instead went out to a bar. From 9:00 am that morning until early evening, Randy and his friends drank beer and other alcoholic beverages. During the afternoon, Randy and several of his friends traveled 100 miles to Lincoln, the town where the murders occurred. At a party there, Randy drank more and ingested peyote "buttons". A friend dropped Randy off a few blocks from the Quaker Meeting House. At the time of the murders, Victoria was 15 weeks pregnant and had returned to Nebraska from her home in Oregon to visit family and friends. She and her two year old daughter were staying overnight with Janet, a close college friend. Victoria was scheduled to fly back to Oregon the next day to be with her husband of 3 years. But in those pre-dawn hours her plans were tragically altered when she awoke to investigate noises coming from Mesner’s room. Prosecutors said Reeves, who was raping or attempting to rape Mesner at the time, stabbed Lamm to death to conceal his identity. The baby apparently slept through the attack and was left unharmed in another room. Reeves then stabbed Janet 7 times. Janet managed to telephone police and identify her attacker – a family friend from her hometown of Central City, Neb. – before her death 3 hours later. At 3:46 am Janet made a 911 call stating that she had been stabbed and that she thought a friend in the house was dead due to stab wounds. The Mesner and Reeves families were Quakers and attended the same church in Central City. At 4:45 am Randy was picked up by police as he walked along the main street of Lincoln. At the time of his arrest, Randy’s breath-alcohol test showed a blood-alcohol concentration of.149. During his questioning Randy stated that he did not remember much about the killings.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 14, 1999 Oklahoma unknown David Paul Hammer stayed

David Paul Hammer pled guilty in June 1998 to strangling his cellmate with a cord on April 13, 1996, after tying him to a bunk. Hammer was serving a 1,223-year sentence at the Allenwood Federal Penitentiary for a 1980’s crime spree in Oklahoma at the time of the murder. The spree included kidnapping and attempted murder following his escape from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester in the early 80’s. Oklahoma officials considered Hammer so dangerous that they opted to have him placed in federal custody. By the time the transfer was requested, Hammer had run credit card scams and shut down the Oklahoma Capitol with a bomb threat. State officials spent thousands of dollars investigating his schemes and building a special cell before transferring him. Hammer, 39, addressed the judge during a sentencing hearing in Williamsport, Pa., and said in a statement afterwards that "With my death comes freedom from over 20 years of incarceration. So rather than be overwhelmed by what lies ahead, I will actually be relieved when my time with the executioner arrives." Hammer is still serving his Oklahoma sentences, but the judge ordered that the death sentence take precedence. Oklahoma officials previously said they would accommodate Hammer’s death sentence through an interstate compact that would give control of Hammer to federal authorities unless his conviction were overturned. Hammer would be the 1st inmate executed under a new federal death penalty law.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 19, 1999 Ohio Tryna Middleton, 14 Romell Broom stayed

On the morning of 9/18/84, a 12-year-old girl was kidnapped by Broom but was rescued by two bystanders who opened the car door, allowing her to escape. Three days later, on 9/21/84, Broom committed the rape and murder of fourteen-year-old Tryna Middleton, who had attended a Friday night football game with two friends. Walking home to make their midnight curfew, the girls noticed a car they thought looked suspicious because of the way it was parked. They turned around and took another route. Shortly, they heard footsteps from behind, and Broom tried to grab all three girls. During the struggle, he pulled a knife. Tryna, who was short and slightly built, could not get free. The other two girls ran across the street where a homeowner let them in to call the police and their mothers. Two hours later Tryna’s body was found in a parking lot. She had been raped and sodomized, and then stabbed seven times in the chest and abdomen. Five of the stabbings perforated Tryna’s heart and lungs causing almost instantaneous death. Tryna also had a wound on her right arm which the coroner testified was the result of Tryna’s efforts to defend herself. Then on December 6, 1984 around 6:30 p.m., an eleven-year-old girl had gone to a corner store close to her home in Cleveland. On her way home, the girl noticed a car following her. A short time later, Broom grabbed her neck from behind and started hitting her. She struggled and screamed as she was thrown into his car. Her younger sister witnessed the beating and abduction and called to her mother. The mother, who was barefoot, ran outside to the car, and grabbed the locked door of the driver’s side of the car and hung on to the door while screaming for help and for her daughter to jump from the car. The icy road made the car’s wheels spin and slowed its travel, thus allowing the mother to hold on to the door and to pound the window and push the car with her hip so that the car bumped into a parked car. The girl was able to unlock the door on the passenger’s side and jump out. Two young men who witnessed the commotion got the license number of the departing car and gave it to the girl’s mother. The police traced the car to its owner, Broom’s father. The engine was still warm when the police arrived. After Broom was arrested, Tryna’s friends positively identified both Broom and the car he had been driving. Blood and hair samples confirmed that Broom was Tryna’s killer.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 20, 1999 Indiana Tamika Turks Debra Brown stayed

7-year-old Tamika and her 9-year-old niece were walking back from the candy store to their home when they were confronted by Debra Brown and Alton Coleman. Brown and Coleman convinced them to walk into the woods to play a game. Once there, they removed Tamika’s shirt and tore it into small strips which they used to bind and gag the children. When Tamika began to cry, Brown held her nose and mouth while Coleman stomped on her chest. After carrying Tamika a short distance away, her niece was forced to perform oral sex on both Brown and Coleman, then Coleman raped her. Brown and Coleman then choked her until she was unconscious. When she awoke, they were gone. Tamika was found dead in the bushes nearby, strangled with an elastic strip of bedsheet. The same fabric was later found in the apartment shared by Coleman and Brown. The older girl received cuts so deep that her intestines were protruding into her vagina. Evidence of a remarkably similar murder in Ohio was admitted at trial. These acts proved to be part of a 7-week midwestern crime spree by Coleman and Brown that began in May 1984 with the abduction and murder of a 9-year-old Wisconsin girl and ended 8 murders later when Brown and Coleman were arrested July 20, 1984, in Illinois. Their deadly crime spree included up to 8 murders, 7 rapes, 3 kidnappings, and 14 armed robberies. Along with Coleman, Brown was twice sentenced to death in Ohio after being convicted of the strangling murder of Tonnie Storey, 15, of Over-the-Rhine in July 1984 and killing Marlene Walters, 44, of Norwood. Mrs. Walters’ husband was also attacked but survived. Outgoing Governor Richard Celeste commuted those sentences to life.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 20, 1999 Texas Diana Harris Broussard, 28
Corey Harris, 10
Windell Broussard stayed

Windell Broussard, 38, who was convicted of stabbing his wife and his stepson to death in April 1992. Diana Fay Harris Broussard, 28, and her 10-year-old son, Corey Harris, were found in the front yard of their Port Arthur home suffering from stab wounds. Mrs. Broussard’s daughter, 12-year-old Toccara Harris, was also stabbed, but she lived and testified against Mr. Broussard.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 20, 1999 Virginia Richard Rosenbluth
Rebecca Rosenbluth
Mark Sheppard executed

On 11/28/93, Mark Arlo Sheppard and his companion Andre Graham shot and killed Richard and Rebecca Rosenbluth. Their bodies were found two days later. Richard, 40, had been shot twice in the face and Rebecca, 34, had been shot four times in the head and neck. Sheppard was 22 at the time of the murders and had a history of violence reaching back to when he was nine years old. Sheppard admitted to being at the scene of the murders (his fingerprints were found in 61 spots) but says that Graham killed the couple. Sheppard is also a suspect in about ten other murders. In December 1994, Sheppard was sentenced to death. Rosenbluth and Sheppard had known each other for some time before the murder. Sheppard said he had sold cocaine to the victim on numerous occasions and Rosenbluth owed him a lot of money. Sheppard testified that he and 2 partners, Andre Graham and Benji Vaughan, went to the Rosenbluth home early in the morning of the murders. Circumstantial evidence alluded to Sheppard’s possession of the gun. A few weeks prior to the murder, Sheppard had accidentally shot Vaughan with the gun that was used to kill Rosenbluth and his father had seen it in his room a few days before the crime. The jury convicted Sheppard and sentenced him to death. The appellate court denied Sheppard’s appeal stating that the conflicting testimony on whether he was the actual perpetrator of the murders presented a credibility question for the jury to resolve. Obviously, the jury in weighing the evidence refused to accept defendant’s denial of guilt. While attempting to prove future dangerousness, the prosecution brought out a maimed witness from a previous unadjudicated crime of Sheppard’s. Graham was convicted of killing Mrs. Rosenbluth and was given a life sentence. The bodies of the couple were found in the den of their suburban Chesterfield County home. Richard Rosenbluth, 40, had been shot twice in the head; his wife, Rebecca Rosenbluth, 35, hit 4 times in the head and neck from close range. Witnessing will be Stanley and Phyllis Rosenbluth of Arlington County. “People have asked me, ‘Why do you want to go? Why do you want to witness?'” said Mr. Rosenbluth, a plump, avuncular man, 72 years old with a white mustache and a New York accent. Watching Sheppard die is not about retribution, he said. “You (take) someone’s life, and you pay the consequences. It’s not as if you didn’t know what you were doing. There’s no revenge. There’s no vengeance,” he said. Watching Sheppard die is not about forgiveness. His wife, 68, asked, “Why would I forgive someone who, first of all never asked to be forgiven? At no time during the trial did I hear anyone ever say that they were sorry…or asked for forgiveness.” Watching Sheppard die is not some vain attempt at closure. “Don’t use that word with me. I hate that word. I don’t know who made that word up,” she said. “There is no closure. So many people don’t seem to understand that: There is no closure,” she said. Mr. Rosenbluth asked, “How can there be closure on a life sentence? We’re both serving a life sentence.” Instead, watching Sheppard die is a duty, of sorts, they said. To people who ask why he wants to watch the execution, “I say, ‘I really don’t. But when somebody wrongs your child you’re going to do everything to right that wrong as much as you can do,'” he said. “I feel this way, I’ve done, up to this point, everything that I can humanly do to right the wrong for my child. The last act is coming up. “What it is, is my obligation…as a parent to my child,” he said. “This is the last thing I can do for him to right that wrong.” Mrs. Rosenbluth said, “You have to understand, it’s not a big thing in my life to go to this execution. It’s just that sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in.” Richard and Rebecca Rosenbluth died in their Chesterfield County home on Nov. 28, 1993, gunned down by Sheppard and Andre Graham who had been selling them cocaine. The 2 killers stole the couple’s vehicles and some personal items before fleeing the house. Sheppard was sentenced to death for the crime. Andre Graham got life plus 23 years. Graham is also facing the death penalty for another capital murder he committed. The bodies were discovered several days later by police when Rebecca’s employer, alerted by a concerned Rosenbluth, went to check on the couple at their home. Richard grew up in Northern Virginia. He was a bright child. He started college at East Carolina University and then attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He was a musician, a percussionist, his parents said. Richard met Rebecca when he was playing with a band in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and they married in 1987. “This was the daughter I never had. I can’t really describe it,” Mr. Rosenbluth said. “She was a very loving girl, and a very beautiful girl. She fit right into the family.” Rebecca’s mother, Louise Dillon of Montgomery, W.Va., said without explanation that she will not be attending the execution. However, she said, “I just hope that this goes through on the 20th.” Dillon said she still misses her daughter very much. “She was a beautiful young lady….She was just a joy to be around. A beautiful smile. She was just a lovely young lady.” Rebecca went to high school in West Virginia and was living in Myrtle Beach when she met Richard, her mother said. Mr. Rosenbluth said his son tried his hand at making a living through music, but “he finally decided that, hey, it’s time I have to do something else.” He went into the coffee service business. He started out working sweeping floors in a warehouse for The Coffee Butler, moving his way up management and eventually winding up in Richmond as regional manager. Rebecca was a secretary at Air Distribution Sales Inc. “Richard was a very good young man,” Mrs. Rosenbluth said. “He was a very caring person up until the day he was taken away.” Though they maintained frequent contact, the Rosenbluths lived 100 miles from their son and his wife. They said they had no hint either had a drug habit. Finding out about it and having it aired publicly in the trial was difficult. “It was horrible. Horrible,” Mrs. Rosenbluth said. According to a Virginia Supreme Court summary of the trial evidence, “The victims’ personal records showed that, during the several months immediately preceding their deaths, the couple made substantial cash withdrawals and credit card charges averaging hundreds of dollars per day, apparently to support their addiction to the drug.” Stanley said, “There was no reason for it. They were starting to make it, the typical American couple. What would make you think? There were no signs, there were no signs.” She said, “I still find it hard to believe about the drugs. I’m not disputing it, but I can’t find a reason. Why? They had everything they wanted, except a child.” The Rosenbluths said their son and his wife were trying to have a baby. “I think they would have made great parents,” he said. They last saw Richard and Rebecca on Thanksgiving. The couple had to return to Richmond on Friday, and they spoke on the phone. Mrs. Rosenbluth remembered chatting over the phone with Rebecca that Saturday morning. It was the last contact they had. The Rosenbluths could not get an answer at their son’s house on Sunday or Monday, so on Tuesday morning he called Rebecca’s employer. Then, “It’s like a quarter to one and the doorbell rings. There are 3 Arlington County police officers and…they came in and they told us,” Mr. Rosenbluth said. Mrs. Rosenbluth said, “You’re in a state of shock….You don’t even have the time to mourn” because there are funeral arrangements to make, police investigators to meet with and media questions to answer. When asked what it was like those first few days, she said, “I try and answer honestly. Looking back, everything is a blur, it’s one big blur. You’ve got a big ache in your heart. That’s all you can feel.” Mr. Rosenbluth said that at “The 1st trial, Andre Graham, when he was given life imprisonment, I flipped. I flipped out, because the jury wasn’t told that life imprisonment meant you were eligible for parole.” “I didn’t do anything then because we had the other trial coming up. Sheppard’s trial. After Sheppard got the death penalty, I said, ‘How do we correct this?…I didn’t feel it was right that the jury didn’t have all the information in order to come back with a proper sentence” in the Graham case. He contacted then-Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Jerry W. Kilgore, who suggested he speak at a town hall meeting scheduled that week on then-Gov. George Allen’s plan for abolishing parole and establishing truth in sentencing. “They asked me if I’d like to go to that meeting” and speak. “I said, ‘Yes.'” “After the meeting, 25 homicide victims (family members) got together, this was in November ’94, to discuss whether there was a need for an umbrella organization” for several crime victims organizations in the state. As a result, they formed Virginians United Against Crime, a victims’ advocacy group. Mr. Rosenbluth, the group’s president, said he threw himself in the organization’s work as a form of therapy. Among other things, the group supported Allen’s parole abolition and truth in sentencing reforms and supported the crime victim’s rights bill. Among the many reforms the effort led to were true life sentences. The Rosenbluths have kept busy as the final act in their son’s murder approaches. “The fact of the matter is, the execution of this animal does not bring my children back, my son and his wife back,” Mrs. Rosenbluth said. “Nothing will ever bring them back. “The only thing that I feel that this will do is, it will stop this animal from ever doing this again to somebody else. “It’s the final deterrent, that’s all there is to it.” It will not stop the pain. Mr. Rosembluth said, “If you talk to victims, and they’re honest with you, they’ll tell you it doesn’t matter how many years go by. “You’re walking down the street, you’re sitting in a room, you hear a voice. You say, ‘My God, there’s (his) voice.’ Or you look around, you see somebody looks like him. This never goes away.” This never goes away.” Mrs. Rosenbluth said, “I can’t even come to terms with myself that I’m never going to see Richard again. “Every time the damn phone rings I still think it might be them calling.”

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 21, 1999 Ohio ? Thomas Keenan stayed
Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 21, 1999 Idaho Denise Williams, 28 Maxwell Hoffman stayed

Maxwell Hoffman, 40, was convicted in 1989 of the revenge slaying of Nampa Police drug informant Denise Williams two years earlier. Williams, 28, disappeared in September 1987, 8 days after helping police arrest Hoffman associate Richard Holmes. Williams’ body was found in the Owyhee County desert nearly a year after her disappearance. Holmes was allegedly the police “snitch” on the Williams case, and a month after the body was found, Holmes was killed during a prison riot by fellow inmate Rodney “Shorty” Araiza. Although several death row inmates have at times raised the possibility of ending appeals so they could be executed, only double-murderer Keith Eugene Wells has seen the procedure through. Wells died by lethal injection on Jan. 6, 1994, for beating a couple to death in a Boise bar nearly 4 years earlier. Last June, Hoffman filed a petition with the 3rd District Court, saying he no longer could stand the guilt he feels for the murder. On Feb. 27, he filed a motion to dismiss counsel, drop all further appeals and vacate his stay of execution. And he requested an injunction that would prevent filing any documents without his consent. Hoffman said he was tired of living under the confinement of death row, which caused him back pain, prevented him from gaining access to educational materials to remedy his illiteracy and denied him a vegetarian diet. The court called for a psychological evaluation to determine his competency to waive his right to an attorney, and said it had no jurisdiction to change the conditions of Hoffman’s confinement. Psychologist Craig Beaver interviewed Hoffman and testified that while he suffered from depression, he was not actively psychotic and understood his legal circumstances. Winmill said Hoffman understands dropping his appeal could result in his death within a matter of weeks or months. “The conditions on death row are inherently difficult, but they have not been shown to be unconstitutional,” Winmill wrote. “His decision between these two alternatives is not irrational.”

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 22, 1999 South Carolina Benjamin Atkins, 75
Charles Atkins, 23

Karen Patterson, 13
Joseph Ernest Atkins executed

Joe Atkins was convicted of the 1985 murders of his father Benjamin Atkins, 75, and a 13-year-old neighbor girl, Karen Patterson, 5 years after being paroled for murdering his brother. Atkins, who lived with his father, was angry with his next-door neighbors, according to trial testimony. He got drunk and broke into their house armed with a machete, a shotgun and a revolver. He shot the girl with the 12-gauge, sawed-off shotgun as she slept. Then he chased her mother back to the Atkins’ house, where he shot his father, who had convinced parole officials to release his son from prison 5 years earlier. Fifteen years prior to Karen’s murder, Atkins had served 10 years of a life sentence for killing his 23-year-old brother, Charles. Although Atkins’ attorneys claimed that he was drunk during the attack and didn’t know what he was doing, prosecutors said Atkins knew enough to cut the telephone lines to his neighbors’ house before breaking in and to flee when a county police officer arrived.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 22, 1999 North Carolina Shelly Diane Chalflinch
Christine Chalfinch
David Brown stayed

David Junior Brown stabbed a Moore County woman and her daughter to death in 1980. Brown was convicted of killing Shelly Diane Chalflinch, who was 26, and her 9-year-old daughter, Christine. They were found stabbed hundreds of times in their apartment in the old employees’ quarters of the Pinehurst Hotel on Aug. 24, 1980. The evidence against Brown was overwhelming; his bloody palm print on Diane Chalflinch’s bedroom wall, the trail of bloody foot prints leading from the Chalflinch’s apartment to his, and his ring being found underneath Diane Chalflinch’s liver. A Union County jury convicted Brown of the murders and sentenced him to die in December 1980.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 26, 1999 Illinois Sgt. Tim Simenson Gregory Shaw stayed

On 9/28/94, Greg Shaw and Elton Williams were stopped by police sergeant Tim Simenson, 38, who was responding to a 911 armed robbery call. The car they were in matched the description of the vehicle fleeing the robbery. Shaw was driving and Williams was in the trunk. When the trunk was opened, Williams fired two shot with a.22 rifle into the face of Tim Simenson. Greg Shaw had previous convictions for burglary, shoplifting and drugs and was 30 years old at the time of the murder.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 26, 1999 Pennsylvania William "Skip" Moyer, 37 Frederick Thomas stayed

William "Skip" Moyer, a 37-year-old delivery driver, was the first FexEx courier to be murdered. He was shot in the face at point-blank range with a shotgun as he was making a delivery in Philadelphia. His killer, Frederick Thomas, had a lengthy rap sheet, including aggravated robbery, burglary and Voluntary Manslaughter. There are still appeals pending and this execution is not likely to take place on this date.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 26, 1999 Texas James William Mims Martin Vega executed

Thanks to Texas’s policy of mandatory supervision, Martin Vega had been released on parole after serving only ONE WEEK of a two year sentence for aggravated robbery. That conviction came after previous prison terms for burglary and drug dealing, with him serving half of an eighteen year sentence on the drug charge. In July of 1985 in Luling, Texas, about fifty miles east of San Antonio, Vega shot and killed James Mims. James, 36, was shot eight times with a.22 caliber handgun, his skull was fractured and he was left on the side of the road in Caldwell Co. Police said his killer also tried to drown him. Mims’ murder went unsolved for 2 and a half years before Vega walked into the police station in Luling and confessed to plotting the slaying for a $30,000 portion of Mims’ insurance. He also led authorities to the gun. Vega said Mims’ wife, whom he eventually married, had encouraged the murder so she could pocket the remainder of the payoff. Prosecutors said they were not able to corroborate his claims and never charged the woman in her husband’s slaying. In the punishment phase of Vega’s trial, jurors heard testimony from a woman who said Vega had raped her at gunpoint. Vega was also believed to have committed a murder in the St. Louis area.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 26, 1999 Louisiana Ray Liuzza John Thompson, Sr. stayed

In New Orleans, Louisiana, John C. Thompson, Sr. robbed and killed Ray Liuzza, 37. Ray was accosted on the street near his home and gave Thompson everything he had but Thompson shot him five times anyway.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 28, 1999 Tennessee James Keegan Jeff Dicks stayed

Jeff Dicks and Donald Strouth were convicted of robbing a used clothing store of $200 and killing the owner by slashing his throat in February of 1978.

Date of scheduled execution State Victim name Inmate name Status
January 28, 1999 Pennsylvania Eleftherios Eleftheriou William Gribble stayed

On November 11, 1992, 50-year-old Eleftherios Eleftheriou, the owner of a pizza shop, was robbed, beaten with a hammer and, while still alive, his body was cut into seven parts. William Gribble and Kelly O’Donnell were both sentenced to death in this horrific murder. They lured Eleftherios to a home they were staying in while the owner was gone on vacation. Eleftherios’ head – missing one eye – and his arms were found first; the next day, his legs and torso, missing his penis, were found in a burning car. The medical examiner stated that Eleftherios was still alive when the duo started cutting him apart in the basement of the home. The missing body parts were found in a plastic bag in the house. In a switch from the norm, both killers claimed to be "the one" who killed the victim.

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