Thursday, October 10, 2002

October 9, 2002

lesbian, prostitute and the confessed killer of seven men...

Last Meal: Wuornos didn't order a last meal and skipped the regular fare of barbecued chicken, mashed potatoes, apple crisp and tea but had a cup of coffee about 12:30 a.m. Instead Wuornos ate a hamburger and other snack food from the prison's canteen. Later, she drank a cup of coffee.

The skinny: One of the nation's few female serial killers was executed by lethal injection, Wuornos shot to death at least six middle-aged men along Florida highways. Using a roadside cafe near Daytona Beach she murdered six middle-aged businessmen who approached her for sex between 1989 and 1990, accompanying them into the woods and shooting them. Her story has been portrayed in two movies, three books and an opera.

She initially said the killings were in self-defense after she was assaulted by customers who picked her up. But she later said the self-defence claim was a lie and she intended to rob and kill the men.

"I'm one who seriously hates human life and would kill again," she wrote earlier this year. "I have hate crawling through my system." Keeping her alive, she added, would be "a waste of taxpayers' money".

Buzz was high: Three dozen reporters, two dozen television cameras and a dozen satellite trucks camped out in the cow pasture across the road from the Florida State Prison.

Attendance was low: Wuornos was the most famous Florida death row inmate to be executed since Ted Bundy, but her execution attracted only about a tenth of the crowd of supporters, opponents and curiosity-seekers that Bundy received in 1992.

"I thought it would be bigger," said Jennifer SantaLucia, a Clearwater bingo hall worker who described herself as someone who "loves serial killers." She unsuccessfully tried corresponding with Wuornos and has received letters from Danny Rolling, who is on death row for killing five Gainesville students.

Reporters outnumbered the 30 death penalty protesters who gathered in a semicircle with signs reading "Execution is not the solution" and "Time out on executions."

Final words: In her final statement, she referred to Jesus and a blockbuster movie. "I'd just like to say I'm sailing with the Rock and I'll be back like Independence Day with Jesus, June 6, like the movie, big mother ship and all. I'll be back."

Final night:

Wuornos' last night was spent talking with a "friend: from Michigan, Dawn Botkins. The pair talked from 9 p.m. to midnight Tuesday, and prison officials said Botkins planned to claim the body. Botkins plans to scatter Wuornos' ashes in Michigan, their childhood home.

Prison logs show she had been increasingly agitated, sleeping restlessly and even shouting out in her sleep once.

Officials said she was calm Wednesday morning as she was placed on a steel gurney, her arms taped down to wooden paddles. Thick leather straps held her down from the chest to the feet. A white sheet hid the straps but revealed their outlines.

A clear tube wound its way from under the gurney and into a vein in her right arm, just at the soft spot where the inside of the elbow bends.

A female guard stood by her head; a male guard stood at her left side, in front of a curtained closet where an anonymous executioner waited for the warden's order to begin.

When the order was given, Wuornos blinked and swallowed hard.

At 9:32, Wuornos gasped, shut her eyes and opened her mouth as if to form a word.

She did not move again.

For the next 15 minutes, witnesses watched her lips turn an ever-darker blue and her skin a pallid white.

At 9:47, a doctor checked for a pulse and heartbeat. It was announced the death sentence had been carried out.

The curtains closed and the witnesses left.

Factoids: Wuornos, 46, became the 10th woman executed in the United States since capital punishment resumed in 1977. Oklahoma has put three women to death; Florida and Texas have executed two each.

Opponents of the death penalty say the execution was timed to boost the popularity of Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida and the president's brother, just weeks before he stands for re-election.

Wuornos is the 10th woman executed in the US since 1976, when the death penalty for women was reinstated after a brief moratorium. The previous woman executed in Florida was Judy Buenoano, the "Black Widow", electrocuted in 1998 for killing her husband and drowning her paraplegic son.

Wuornos was one of 52 women on Death Rows throughout the U.S. and one of three in Florida.

In the past 100 years, 48 women have been executed in the United States.