McALESTER, Okla. (AP) — A man convicted of committing three murders in three states during a 10-day rampage was executed Tuesday in Oklahoma for one of the murders, the 1999 death of a woman whose credit cards he used to buy Christmas presents for his family.
Steven Ray Thacker, 42, used his final statement to apologize to his victims' families and friends, several of whom witnessed his execution from an adjacent room at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
"I don't deserve it, but as God has forgiven me, I hope you will forgive me for the pain I've caused," Thacker said while strapped to a hospital gurney. He then thanked his family and friends for their support, and added: "An eternity in heaven is mine."
Thacker winked at his stepfather, Donald Johnston, who silently nodded back at him. Thacker then lay still, with his eyes closed and occasionally fluttering as if asleep. After two minutes, his breathing stilled and he didn't stir again. He was pronounced dead at 6:10 p.m.
Thacker, a laid-off plumber's apprentice, was sentenced to death after being convicted of abducting 25-year-old Laci Dawn Hill from her home in Bixby, after going there under the guise of looking at a pool table she had advertised for sale. Her body was found six days later at a cabin in Mayes County, east of Tulsa. She had been raped and stabbed.
According to prosecutors, Thacker fled Oklahoma, stole a car in Springfield, Mo., and broke into a Missouri home looking for money. Forrest Reed Boyd, 24, arrived at his Aldrich home mid-theft and was stabbed to death by Thacker, who received a life sentence in that case.
Thacker then took Boyd's car and drove to Dyersburg, Tenn., where he killed Ray Patterson, 52, after Patterson arrived to help tow the car and discovered Thacker possessed stolen credit cards. A Tennessee court sentenced Thacker to death for that murder.
Marnie Reed, who described herself as Hill's best friend, read a statement after the execution on behalf of Hill's family.
"They say time heals all wounds, which I guess is true, but Laci's murder has left a huge scar to remind us all daily of what we have lost, what we will never have again," she said, adding that neither Thacker's apology nor his death could lessen that loss.
"It was time," she said. "Now we can truly celebrate and remember what an amazing person she really was."
In late 1999, while searching for Thacker, the FBI said he had been recently laid off from his job as a plumber's apprentice. Thacker's father-in-law, Keith Roberson, told the Tulsa World newspaper at the time that Thacker didn't have much money to spend on his family but suddenly seemed flush with cash.
"We just can't believe how he sat here at Christmas with us and carried on like nothing happened," Roberson told the newspaper.
Thacker waived his right to ask for clemency from the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board last month. Courts previously rejected Thacker's argument that he had a bipolar disorder and shouldn't be executed.