Death row inmate Wesley Ira Purkey to be executed on July 15 for raping, dismembering teen before burning her

The new dates of at least four executions starting mid-July were announced by the Justice Department on June 15, Monday


                            Death row inmate Wesley Ira Purkey to be executed on July 15 for raping, dismembering teen before burning her
(Kansas Department of Corrections)

Wesley Ira Purkey, the 68-year-old on death row for 1998 rape and murders, has been assigned an execution date for July 15. Purkey, who had recently sought clemency from President Donald Trump, will be among the firsts to be executed after 17 years by the Justice Department, ever since the practice was halted after 2003. The new dates of at least four executions starting mid-July were announced by the federal agency on June 15, Monday.

Purkey, from Lansing, Kansas, was given the death sentence for raping and killing a 16-year-old girl, Jennifer Long, in Kansas City, Missouri, 1998. He reportedly raped Long then killed her by stabbing her repeatedly and eventually used a chainsaw to cut her body into pieces. Purkey later burned her remains in a fireplace and threw her ashes 200 miles away in a septic pond in Clearwater, southwest of Wichita.

Nearly nine months after Long's killing, he attacked an 80-year-old woman, Mary Ruth Bales, from Kansas City with a hammer and killed her. Purkey, at the time, pleaded guilty to the elderly woman's murder and was given a life sentence for the crime. However, years later, in 2003, a federal jury in the Western District of Missouri found Purkey guilty of kidnapping and killing Long. Prosecutors then sought the death penalty for him. Purkey, since then, has continued to remain at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Purkey, in April this year, had made a last-ditch attempt to save his life by petitioning President Donald Trump for clemency. The death row inmate's attorneys had urged the POTUS to commute their client's death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"He has not forgiven himself, and so he cannot ask for forgiveness from you or your office. He asks only for your intervention, which would simply permit him to die in prison, at this late stage of his life," Purkey's attorneys had written in his clemency petition.

Purkey's attorney, Rebecca Woodman, had told MEA World Wide (MEAWW): "Mr. Purkey is not the worst of the worst. He is a man who grew up in a house of horrors, beaten and humiliated by both of his parents and subjected to extensive and ongoing sexual abuse by members of his family." The attorney had also said that his client had been "demeaned and brutalized" by Catholic nuns, and "repeatedly molested" by a priest. "Had the jurors heard this information, at least one of them might have voted for a life sentence," Woodman said.

Purkey's legal team had filed for a stay of execution in April, 2020, arguing that his trial attorney did not investigate his traumatic childhood. His current attorneys described his upbringing by abusive and alcoholic parents in court filings, claiming that  Purkey's mother began sexually molesting him after his parents separated when he was eight.
 
The slain teenager, Long's mother, Glenda Lamont, however, said that she planned to attend his execution. "I don’t want to say that I’m happy. At the same time, he is a crazy mad man that doesn’t deserve, in my opinion, to be breathing anymore."

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