TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — William Emmett LeCroy, 50, on Tuesday became the sixth federal inmate executed by lethal injection this year at the Federal Correction Institution in Terre Haute. He was pronounced dead at 9:06 p.m.
A former U.S. soldier who said an obsession with witchcraft led him to slay a Georgia nurse in a bid to lift a spell he believed she put on him, LeCroy also said he believed she might have been his old babysitter he called Tinkerbell, who he claimed sexually molested him as a child. LeCroy struck Joann Lee Tiesler at her home with a shotgun, bound and raped her. He then slashed her throat and repeatedly stabbed her in the back. After killing Tiesler, he realized she couldn’t possibly have been the one he believed molested him.
The execution took about 20 minutes. LeCroy was calm before his death, seemingly resigned to his fate. Asked if he had a final statement, he said, “Sister (Barbara) Battista will receive through the postal service my last statement.” Battista, of the anti-death-penalty group Sisters of Providence, served as his final witness.
When the execution began, LeCroy had his eyes open. A few minutes into the process, however, he closed his eyes and his breathing became more difficult.
A note LeCroy wrote before his arrest asked Tiesler for forgiveness, according to court filings. “You were an angel and I killed you,” it read. “I am a vagabond and doomed to hell.”
Tiesler’s family did not want to speak to the media, but issued a statement after LeCroy was pronounced dead.
“Today justice was finally served. William LeCroy died a peaceful death in stark contrast to the horror he imposed on my daughter Joann,” Tom Tiesler’s statement began.
“I regret that it took nineteen years to get to this point, but it has bought some needed closure to Joann’s family and friends.”
Tom Tiesler recalled his daughter: “Joann made good grades in high school and earned a scholarship to Berry College in Rome, Georgia. After graduation she moved back to Tennessee and attended Vanderbilt University on a work scholarship and earned a degree as a Nurse Practitioner, she graduated with honors. She went to work in Ellijay, Georgia and bought a cabin in Cherry Log, Georgia. Her plans were to start her own practice and marry her fiance, when she was murdered.”
He added, “I realize that some people are against the death penalty for various reasons, however I believe that premeditated murder, especially when it involves torture is a justification for the death penalty.”
Lawyers for LeCroy had asked President Trump in a recent petition to commute his sentence to life in prison, citing, among other things, that LeCroy’s brother, Georgia State Trooper Chad LeCroy, was killed during a routine traffic stop in 2010, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“The pain and sorrow felt by the LeCroy family at potentially losing two of their sons is unimaginable,” the petition said. The petition to Trump notes that the man who killed LeCroy’s brother received a sentence of life in prison, arguing that the two cases show how capital cases can often be arbitrary.
LeCroy’s lawyers had also sought to halt the execution on appeal on grounds 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. This appeal delayed Tuesday’s execution by over 90 minutes, as lawyers awaited a decision from the Supreme Court.
Two of the three July executions experienced 16-hour delays. Both August executions were performed on schedule. All last-minute legal appeals by the previous five death-row inmates ultimately failed.
Over the previous 56 years, before the Trump administration’s reboot of executions in 2020, the federal government had executed just three people — all in the early 2000s. Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was among them.
Last week, two inmates died in as many days from coronavirus at the federal prison complex where executions take place, creating concerns about those who would be attending this week’s executions.
Christopher Vialva, who was 19 when he murdered an Iowa couple in 1999, is scheduled to be executed Thursday. He would be the first Black man to be executed this year. One was a Navajo; the others were white.
The Associate Press contributed to this report.