Wesley Ira Purkey, 68, (pictured) was put to death by lethal injection at 8:19 a.m. EDT Thursday morning in Terra Haute penitentiary, Indiana
'Claw-hammer' killer Wesley Ira Purkey, 68, has become the second inmate to be put to death by lethal injection this week after the Supreme Court rejected his defense's plea that he has dementia and the father of his 16-year-old victim said 'I hope he rots in hell'.
Purkey was pronounced dead at 8:19 a.m. EDT Thursday morning - two days after white supremacist Daniel Lewis Lee was the first to be executed by the federal government in 17 years in the same federal prison in Terra Haute, Indiana, Tuesday.
Purkey was convicted and sentenced to death for kidnapping, raping and killing 16-year-old Jennifer Long before dismembering, burning and then dumping her body in a septic pond in 1998.
He was also convicted in a state court in Kansas after using a claw hammer to batter 80-year-old polio sufferer Mary Bales to death when he was called to her home for a plumbing job.
The double murderer expressed remorse for Jennifer's slaying in his final words right before he was executed, casting doubt on his defense's claims that his dementia had left him unable to understand why he was being executed.
The killer also showed no remorse for bludgeoning to death his second victim Bales and also slammed his death sentence as 'sanitized murder'.
'I deeply regret the pain and suffering I caused to Jennifer's family,' he said as he lay strapped to the gurney.
'I am deeply sorry. I deeply regret the pain I caused to my daughter, who I love so very much.
'This sanitized murder really does not serve no purpose whatsoever.'
As the lethal chemical was injected, Purkey took several deep breaths and blinked repeatedly, laying his head back down on the gurney before he was confirmed dead.
Jennifer's father, William Long, attended the execution of his daughter's murderer and said 'I hope he rots in hell'.
The teenage victim's mother, Glenda Lamont, had told the Kansas City Star last year she planned to attend the killer's execution but it is not yet clear if she was at the penitentiary Thursday.
Purkey (pictured) was put to death by lethal injection Thursday morning, marking the second federal execution in 17 years
Purkey's show of remorse over Jennifer's murder comes after his defense argued he suffered severe dementia, did not understand why he was on death row anymore and thought his execution was part of a government conspiracy because he had complained about prison conditions.
Department of Justice Spokesperson Kerri Kupec issued a statement confirming the murderer's execution had taken place.
'This morning, Wesley Ira Purkey was executed at USP Terre Haute in accordance with the death sentence imposed by a federal district court in 2004,' she said.
Kupec added: 'After many years of litigation following the death of his victims, in which he lived and was afforded every due process of law under our Constitution, Purkey has finally faced justice.'
Purkey's victims: Jennifer Long, 16, (pictured) was last seen at East High School in Kansas City, Missouri on January 22, when she skipped lessons. Purkey confessed to her murder, saying he abducted the teenager, drove her to his home where he raped her and stabbed her to death
Purkey's victims: 80-year-old Mary Bales (pictured) was beaten to death by the killer when he came to her home to fix a kitchen faucet
THE GRISLY CRIMES OF WESLEY PURKEY
On January 22, 1998, Purkey drove from his home in Kansas to Kansas City, Missouri for a job interview with a plumbing company.
After the interview, Purkey smoked half a rock of crack cocaine and began driving down the street when he passed 16-year-old Jennifer Long, who was walking on the sidewalk.
He pulled over to ask Jennifer if she wanted to 'party,' then took her to a liquor store and bought her gin and orange juice.
He then told her needed to go back to his home in Kansas. She asked to be let out of his truck.
Instead, Purkey reached into the glove box, grabbed a boning knife, and placed it under his thigh, making it clear she couldn't leave.
When they arrived at his home in Lansing, about 30 miles away, Purkey took Jennifer into his basement.
Holding a knife, he ordered her to take her clothes off and lie down on the floor, where he raped her.
After Purkey finished the vile sexual assault, Jennifer told him that she had been a virgin.
He confessed that he then grew fearful, and as Jennifer tried to escape his house, he grabbed her leg and forced her to the ground.
The two briefly struggled before Purkey became enraged and repeatedly stabbed Jennifer in the chest, neck, and face with the boning knife, eventually breaking its blade inside her body.
When he confessed, he told FBI Agent Dirk Tarpley, 'it's not like in the movies. They don't die right away. It took her a little time to die.'
Purkey dismembered Jennifer's body with a chainsaw and tried to burn the body parts in his fireplace while his wife and stepchildren were away at work and school.
Nine months after raping and murdering Jennifer Long, Purkey was employed by a plumbing company when he met Mary Ruth Bales, 80, on a service call at her home during the evening of October 26.
Purkey told Bales his employer charged a lot for the job she needed, and he offered to return later to do the work under the table if she would pay him $70 up front.
She paid, and Purkey left, using Bales's money to hire a prostitute and buy several rocks of crack cocaine the next morning.
Purkey and the prostitute retired to a motel room for several hours, where they had sex and smoked the crack cocaine before driving together to Bales's house.
Telling the prostitute that someone who lived in the home owed him money, Purkey went inside with a toolbox from his truck and bludgeoned Bales to death in her bedroom with a claw hammer.
Investigators determined that Bales died from blunt force trauma resulting from repeated strikes to her skull with the claw side of the hammer.
On November 5, 2003, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri found Purkey guilty of kidnapping a child resulting in the child's death, and he was sentenced to death.
The Supreme Court voted 5-4 early Thursday for Purkey's execution to go ahead, one day after he was granted an eleventh-hour delay over his lawyer's claims of his mental incompetence.
The court's four liberal members - Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan - all dissented.
Sotomayor wrote that 'proceeding with Purkey's execution now, despite the grave questions and factual findings regarding his mental competency, casts a shroud of constitutional doubt over the most irrevocable of injuries.'
A lower court then put an emergency hold on the execution for one hour as it weighed issues in the case.
The double murderer was granted a delay by a US District Court in Washington early Wednesday, just hours before it was due to take place, following objections by his lawyers that he has dementia and no longer understands his punishment.
District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan imposed two injunctions prohibiting the federal Bureau of Prisons from moving forward with Purkey's execution.
'The court finds that at least one of plaintiffs' claims has a likelihood of success on the merits, and that absent a preliminary injunction, plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm,' she said.
The Justice Department immediately appealed in both cases.
A separate temporary stay of execution was already in place from the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
Purkey's lawyers had argued he is not mentally competent and that he believes his execution is part of a federal government conspiracy against him because of complaints he has raised about prison conditions.
They said his dementia has deteriorated so severely that he didn't understand why he was being executed.
'He has longstanding issues of mental illness, now suffers from Alzheimer's disease and his dementia has progressed to the point that he no longer has a rational understanding of why the government seeks to execute him,' said attorney Rebecca Woodman.
She added: 'He has long accepted responsibility for the crime that put him on death row.
'But as his dementia has progressed, he no longer has a rational understanding of why the government plans to execute him.'
Woodman also argued Purkey has a history of mental illness and an 'excruciating history of trauma at home and school' far longer than his dementia diagnosis.
They said he was the victim of physical and sexual abuse as a child - including abuse by a Catholic priest - and was diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and psychosis when he was 14.
Last week, three mental health organizations urged US Attorney William Barr to stop Purkey's execution and commute his sentence to life in prison without possibility of parole.
Under the US Constitution, it is prohibited from executing an individual who does not have a reasonable understanding of why they are being executed.
His lawyers also argued federal executions are not safe to conduct amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The US judge Wednesday didn't rule on whether Purkey is competent but said the court needed to evaluate the claim.
She said that while the government may disagree with Purkey's lawyers about his competency, there's no question he'd suffer 'irreparable harm' if he's put to death before his claims can be evaluated.
Purkey pictured in 1998 being escorted by police officers in Kansas City, Kansas, after he was arrested in connection with the death of 80-year-old Mary Ruth Bales
They also said that if Purkey's execution did not take place Wednesday, the government would need to set a new date.
But government lawyers said there was no obstacle to going through with the execution Thursday if the Supreme Court lifted the injunctions.
The issue of Purkey's mental health arose in the run-up to his 2003 trial and when, after the verdict, jurors had to decide whether he should be put to death for the brutal rape, murder and mutilation of Jennifer Long, 16, in Kansas City, Missouri back in 1998.
Jennifer was last seen at East High School in Kansas City, Missouri on January 22, when she skipped lessons.
The teenage girl was then lured into Purkey's pickup truck outside a grocery store and was never seen again.
Her remains have never been found.
Purkey, 46 at the time and an ex-con who was high on crack, confessed to her murder in December, while in jail awaiting trial for the murder of an elderly woman.
Protesters against the death penalty gather in Terre Haute, Indiana, Wednesday
He told investigators he abducted the teenager, drove her to his home where he raped her and stabbed her to death.
Purkey then used an electric chainsaw to dismember her body and burned her remains in a fireplace, before dumping her ashes 200 miles away in a septic pond in Clearwater, Kansas.
Nine months after the brutal rape and murder, Purkey beat 80-year-old Mary Ruth Bales to death with a hammer and tried to set her body on fire in October.
He had been working for a plumbing company at the time and had gone to Bales home to fix a kitchen faucet.
Bales' neighbors saw him trying to burn the elderly woman's body and he was arrested.
Purkey pleaded guilty to Bale's murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
He was then convicted for Long's murder in 2003 and sentenced to death.
Purkey's execution was originally set to take place in December but was put on hold by a federal judge before it was rescheduled for Wednesday at the US Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.
The double murderer's execution marks only the second federal execution in 17 years and the second amid the pandemic, after Daniel Lewis Lee was the first to be put to death by the federal government in almost two decades earlier this week.
Purkey's (pictured in 1998) lawyers had objected that he is not mentally competent, has dementia and no longer understands his punishment
Lee, 47, of Yukon, Oklahoma, was executed Tuesday morning at the same facility, when he died by lethal injection after the Supreme Court cleared the way overnight with a 5-4 vote.
The self-confessed white supremacist was convicted in Arkansas of the 1996 killings of gun dealer William Mueller, his wife Nancy, and her 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Powell.
Lee continued to maintain his innocence up until his death, saying 'I didn't do it' and 'you're killing an innocent man' just moments before he was executed.
His execution, which came over the objection of the victims' family, was carried out after a series of legal volleys that ended when the Supreme Court stepped in early Tuesday in a 5-4 ruling and allowed it to move forward.
It had been scheduled for Monday afternoon but was put on hold just hours earlier by a US District Court judge over concerns from death row inmates on how executions were to be carried out.
Lee was sentenced to death in 1999 for the brutal triple murder of a family in Arkansas in 1996.
His co-defendant and the reputed ringleader, Chevie Kehoe, received a life sentence.
Kehoe, of Colville, Washington, recruited Lee in 1995 to join his white supremacist organization, known as the Aryan Peoples' Republic.
The duo dressed in police raid clothing and lay in wait in the home of gun dealer William Mueller, his wife Nancy, and her 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Powell, in Tilly, Arkansas, about 75 miles northwest of Little Rock, according to court documents.
Daniel Lewis Lee, 47, of Yukon, Oklahoma, died by lethal injection Tuesday morning at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. He is pictured above waiting for his arraignment in Arkansas in October 1997
Dustin Honken (pictured in 2004) had his request for a delay to his federal execution denied by a federal judge Tuesday. The infamous Iowa drug kingpin who murdered five people in 1993 is due to be executed Friday
When the Muellers returned home, Lee and Kehoe overpowered and incapacitated Mueller and his wife.
They then interrogated the couple's young daughter, Sarah, about where they could find cash, guns, and munitions.
The home invaders found and took roughly $50,000 in cash, guns and ammunition.
After robbing and torturing the victims with a stun gun, prosecutors said Lee covered their heads with plastic bags, sealed the bags with duct tape, weighed down each victim with rocks, and threw the family of three into the Illinois Bayou.
The bodies of the three victims were found five months later.
A third death row inmate also had his request for a delay to his execution denied by a federal judge Tuesday.
Dustin Honken, 52, an infamous Iowa drug kingpin who murdered five people in 1993, had applied for a delay to his Friday execution due to the coronavirus pandmemic.
The decision to move forward with federal executions has drawn scrutiny from civil rights groups
Protesters outside Terra Haute Wednesday. Critics have argued that the Trump administration, which has been pushing for the executions, was creating an unnecessary and manufactured urgency for political gain ahead of the 2020 elections
US District Judge Leonard Strand wrote Tuesday that he would not intervene to delay Honken's execution date due to the coronavirus pandemic and that the Bureau of Prisons was in the best position to weigh the health risks against the benefits of carrying out the execution.
Strand also denied Honken's motion to declare his execution void due to an alleged procedural error by the government and affirmed the executive branch's power to set the date for executions.
A federal judge also turned down on Tuesday a request by Honken's spiritual adviser - a Catholic priest - to put the execution on hold until after the pandemic.
Honken is on death row for the 1993 slayings of five people in Mason City.
He shot and killed two men who planned to testify against him for operating a methamphetamine lab in Arizona, as well as a single, working mother and her ten-year-old and six-year-old daughters.
The decision to move forward with federal executions has drawn scrutiny from civil rights groups.
Critics have argued that the Trump administration, which has been pushing for the executions, was creating an unnecessary and manufactured urgency for political gain ahead of the 2020 elections.
Attorney General William Barr has said the Justice Department has a duty to carry out the sentences imposed by the courts, including the death penalty, and to bring a sense of closure to the victims and those in the communities where the killings happened.
The entrance to the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, where the executions are taking place
Upcoming federal executions:
Daniel Lewis Lee was the first person in 17 years to be executed by the federal government Tuesday.
Wesley Ira Purkey was executed Thursday after the Supreme Court voted iit could go ahead, after a delay granted Wednesday.
Dustin Lee Honken is scheduled to be executed Friday. His requests for a delay to his execution were denied by a judge Tuesday.
Keith Dwayne Nelson will be put to death next month.
Dustin Lee Honken
Dustin Lee Honken is scheduled for federal execution on January 15, 2020
Honken, 51, shot and killed five people—two men who planned to testify against him and a single, working mother and her ten-year-old and six-year-old daughters.
In 1993, Honken was operating a methamphetamine lab in Arizona when one of the two dealers he used for distribution, Greg Nicholson, was pinched by police and turned informant, according to court documents.
Honken was arrested on state drug charges, but made bond. Once free, he began a desperate hunt for Nicholson, who went into hiding by staying with Lori Duncan, a single mother raising her two girls, 10-year-old Kandi and six-year-old Amber.
On July 25, 1993, Nicholson, Duncan, Kandi, and Amber suddenly disappeared.
Five days later, Honken appeared for his plea hearing, but declined to plead guilty.
Honken told his attorney he heard a rumor Nicholson had skipped town. Honken also provided his attorney with a VHS tape of Nicholson saying Honken was not guilty of the charges against him.
The government turned its attention to the other possible witness against Honken: his other dealer, Terry DeGeus.
Lori Duncan (left), a single, mother raising her two girls, 10-year-old Kandi (center) and six-year-old Amber (right) were all slain by Dustin Lee Honken
Honken was also convicted of murdering his meth distributors, Gregory Nicholson (left) and Terry DeGeus (right), who were scheduled to testify against him
DeGeus disappeared on November 5, 1993.
After another informant wore a wire and caught Honken referencing eliminating the witnesses against him, Honken's bail was revoked.
While incarcerated, Honken admitted to other inmates he killed witnesses to avoid earlier charges. Honken went into great detail about the murders.
Using prison informants, investigators discovered the bodies of Nicholson and the Duncan family, buried in a single hole located in a wooded area outside Mason City.
Kandi and Amber each had a single bullet hole in the back of their heads.
Nicholson and Duncan were bound, gagged, and shot multiple times, including once in the head.
DeGeus's body was found in a field a few miles away, face down in a shallow hole with a severely fragmented skull having been shot one or more times.
On October 14, 2004, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa found Honken guilty of numerous offenses, including five counts of murder during the course of a continuing criminal enterprise, and he was sentenced to death.
Keith Dwayne Nelson
Nelson, 45, kidnapped 10-year-old Pamela Butler on October 12, 1999. She was rollerblading in front of her home when he approached her.
He then took her into a forest behind a church, raped her and strangled her to death with a wire.
A witness who saw Nelson grab Pamela was able to get his license plate, but he managed to get away.
Keith Dwayne Nelson (left), 45, kidnapped 10-year-old Pamela Butler (right) on October 12, 1999. She was rollerblading in front of her home when he approached her.
Nelson was arrested two days later on the bank of the Kansas River.
Pamela's strangled body was found later in a wooded area in Grain Valley, Missouri.
On October 25, 2001, Nelson plead guilty in the US District Court for the Western District of Missouri to the kidnapping and unlawful interstate transportation of a child for the purpose of sexual abuse which resulted in death.
He was sentenced to death. Nelson's execution is scheduled to occur on August 28, 2020.