'Tourniquet Killer' Anthony Shore's execution halted hours before scheduled lethal injection

A convicted sex offender whose signature killing method prompted him to be dubbed Houston's "Tourniquet Killer" had his execution halted on Wednesday just hours before he was set to receive a lethal injection.

A judge withdrew the execution warrant of Anthony Allen Shore in response to a request from prosecutors who want to further investigate an alleged scheme in which Shore says another death row inmate asked him to confess to his crime.

Shore's execution is now set for Jan. 18.

Shore, 55, would have been the seventh Texas inmate to be executed this year. When he was arrested in 2003, he confessed to killing a 21-year-old woman by twisting a cord from a window blind around her neck and dumping her in the drive-thru lane of a Dairy Queen in 1991. 

Maria del Carmen Estrada's murder went unsolved for more than a decade until a tiny particle collected from beneath her fingernail matched the DNA of Shore.

When police arrested Shore, who was on probation for his 1998 conviction for sexually assaulting two relatives, he also confessed to killing three others, including a 9-year-old girl and two teenage girls. All were Hispanic, and three had been sexually assaulted.

"There were voices in my head that I was going to have her, regardless, to possess her in some way," Shore, a former tow truck driver, phone company repairman and part-time musician, told detectives about Estrada. The then-21-year-old Estrada was walking to work about 6:30 a.m. on April 16, 1992, when he offered her a ride she accepted.

It wasn't until five years after Shore's DNA went into a state database following his 1998 sexual assault conviction that the match to Estrada's murderer was made.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has described Shore as a "true serial killer" who terrorized Hispanic women and girls in the Houston area for years.

Besides Estrada, Shore confessed to the killings of Laurie Tremblay, 15, found beside a trash bin outside a Houston restaurant in 1986; Diana Rebollar, 9, kidnapped while walking to a neighborhood grocery store in 1994; and Dana Sanchez, 16, who disappeared in 1995 while hitchhiking to her boyfriend's home in Houston.

Montgomery County District Attorney Bret Ligon said that investigators from his office spoke with Shore on Tuesday and he told them inmate Larry Swearingen asked him to take the blame for the 1998 killing of 19-year-old Melissa Trotter.

Swearingen was convicted of her slaying and is scheduled to be executed for it on Nov. 16.

"I would describe Anthony's demeanor as that of any condemned man, that even though his life is severely altered by being in prison, especially on death row, he would rather have that than death," Knox Nunnally, one of Shore's attorneys, said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.