William Emmett LeCroy, 50, who was obsessed with witchcraft, told his spiritual advisor, Sister Battista, last week that he didn't want to play into the "theater" surrounding his execution. She stood a few feet away inside the chamber on Tuesday and read from a prayer book before a prison official removed his face mask and asked if he had any last words.
“Sister Battista is about to receive in the postal service my last statement,” the inmate responded calmly.
LeCroy kept his eyes open as the lethal injection was administered before his midsection quickly started to heave uncontrollably and the.color drained from his limbs. He was pronounced dead at 9:06 p.m. EDT.
Back in 2001, LeCroy broke into the Georgia home of Joann Lee Tiesler and waited for her to return from a shopping trip. Upon walking through the door, LeCroy hit Tiesler with a shotgun, bound the nurse's hands, strangled her with an electrical cord, and raped her. He then slashed her throat and repeatedly stabbed her in the back.
He was arrested two days later after passing a U.S. checkpoint in Minnesota heading to Canada while driving Tiesler's truck. He was convicted in 2004 on a federal charge of carjacking resulting in death by a jury in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
LeCroy told police he believed Tiesler to be his old babysitter he called Tinkerbell, who he said sexually molested him. After killing Tiesler, he determined that to be untrue.
“You were an angel and I killed you,” a note by LeCroy read prior to his arrest. “I am a vagabond and doomed to hell.”
LeCroy joined the Army at the age of 17 but was shortly discharged for going AWOL. He later discussed having an interest in witchcraft that started during a previous stint in prison for burglary, child molestation, and other charges. LeCroy also believed that assaulting Tiesler would reverse a hex she put on him.
A few hours before the execution, Battista held a bag of caramel chocolate that she said was LeCroy’s favorite. She added that he sounded resigned and had been thinking about his likely death.
“He said, ‘You know, once we were not and then we are and then we are not,’” his spiritual advisor said. “He was reflective. He didn’t seem agitated.”
Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement that Tiesler’s father and her fiancé had witnessed the execution at the U.S. prison in Terre Haute, Ind.
“Nearly 19 years after brutally ending the life of Joann Lee Tiesler, William Emmett LeCroy finally has faced the justice he deserved,” Kupec said.
LeCroy’s lawyers had unsuccessfully tried to halt the execution and argued that his trial lawyers didn’t properly emphasize evidence about his upbringing and mental health that could have persuaded jurors not to impose a death sentence. Their last-minute appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was also rejected.
He became the sixth federal inmate to be put to death this year. The U.S. government started carrying out federal executions back in July following a 17-year period without one.
Over the previous 56 years, before the Trump administration’s reboot of executions this year, the federal government had executed just three people -- all in the early 2000s. Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was among them.
Christopher Vialva's execution is scheduled for Thursday. He would be the first African American on federal death row to be put to death in the series of federal executions this year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report