A grim autopsy has revealed the reason behind the "excruciating" execution of long-time death-row inmate, Wesley Purkey.
Here's the full story...
Purkey made headlines in 1998 when he was arrested for the rape and murder of a sixteen-year-old girl in Missouri.
Kansas Department of Corrections
On January 22nd that year, the Kansas native, who was forty-six-years-old at the time, had lured Jennifer Long into his pick-up truck when he had spotted her outside of a grocery store.
Upon her getting into the vehicle, he had driven her to his home...
Before raping and stabbing her to death.
He then dismembered her body with a chainsaw and partially burned it in a fireplace.
Purkey went on to bury her remains in a septic pond in Clearwater, Kansas, where they remain undiscovered to this very day.
Then, 9 months on from his first murder, Purkey struck again.
In October 1998, Purkey beat eighty-year-old Mary Bales to death with a claw hammer.
He had been in Mary's home to fix a kitchen tap when he carried out the brutal murder.
Purkey returned to the scene of the crime the following morning with the intent of burning the house down to cover his tracks - however, a neighbor saw him in Mary's backyard and called the police.
Here, he was arrested for Mary's murder...
And, once sentenced to life in prison, he also confessed to killing Jennifer Long.
In 2003, he was handed the death penalty.
However, in recent years, there have been efforts to overturn the sentence due to his deteriorating mental health.
The issue of Purkey's mental health first 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 in the killing of Jennifer Long.
In more recent times, Purkey's lawyers argued that he was clearly not well enough to be executed...
Wesley Purkey was mentally deteriorating with Alzheimer’s and dementia. I can’t believe the US still practices the death penalty. Why does justice always equal punishment. https://t.co/oIRVnajIfd— gender.ender (@ender_gender) July 16, 2020
Pointing out that recent filings showed he had been suffering from advancing Alzheimer's disease in the later stages of his life.
However, while various legal issues in Purkey's case have been hashed, rehashed, and settled by courts over the last 2 decades...
The federal government is trying to execute Wesley Purkey even though he has advanced Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and severe brain damage. Wesley is not mentally competent and it would be unconstitutional to execute him. The Dept. of Justice should end this political charade.— Sister Helen Prejean (@helenprejean) June 24, 2020
The issue of mental fitness for execution can only be addressed once a date is set, according to experts.
Well, the US Supreme Court rejected these pleas...
The Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution of Wesley Ira Purkey, who is said to be suffering from dementia https://t.co/KS3UTY2oX9— TIME (@TIME) July 16, 2020
And his execution date was set for July 16th, 2020.
On that date, at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, at 8:19 a.m. local time...
Purkey was put to death via lethal injection.
His final words were:
"I deeply regret the pain and suffering I caused to Jennifer's family. 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."
Jennifer's family were present at the execution...
DOJ Spokesperson @KerriKupecDOJ on this morning’s execution of Wesley Ira Purkey: “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.” pic.twitter.com/5fxr2WS1uw— Clare Hymes (@ClareHymes22) July 16, 2020
Her devastated father, William Long, said:
"We took care of today what we needed to take care of. It has been a long time coming. He needed to take his last breath - he took my daughter's last breath. And there's some resolve. There is no closure, and there never will be because I won't get my daughter back."
However, 7 months on...
Grizzly details surrounding Purkey's execution have emerged.
It turns out that Purkey had actually been in "excruciating pain" at the time of his supposedly painless death.
As stated earlier, Purkey was put to death by an injection of pentobarbital, which is commonly used in federal executions across the country.
An autopsy revealed that he had suffered "severe bilateral acute pulmonary oedema" and "frothy pulmonary oedema in trachea and main stem bronchi."
In simple terms, fluid quickly entered Purkey's lungs and trachea, causing "a near-drowning" sensation.
A medical expert has described this as "among the most excruciating feelings known to man."
Dr. Gail Van Norman, who was retained to interpret Purkey's autopsy, said the flash flood-like filling of Purkey's lungs could only occur when a person was still alive.
She explained that most death row inmates will actually experience this kind of sensation with the injection:
"It is a virtual medical certainty, that most, if not all, prisoners will experience excruciating suffering, including sensations of drowning and suffocation from (the drug) pentobarbital."
Purkey reportedly requested pecan pie as his last meal.
However, upon receiving it, he had asked to have it "later" - not realizing that there would not be a "later."
The last night before his execution, he was also said to have seen Bill Clinton on TV and said he would vote for him in the upcoming presidential election.
Make sure to stay posted for further details surrounding his death.