The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, December 03, 1997, Page 6, Image 6

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

call inmate
happy, calm
WITNESSES from page 1
anchorman for Omaha’s KETV Channel 7.
“When the curtains opened he was grinning,
he was smiling, and he looked like he was happy,”
Stephens said during a news conference follow
ing the execution. “It was incredible how calm he
tvas, how at ease he was... he was ready to go.”
Stephens said the last five words in
Williams’ official final statement - “I’m on my
way home” - were maybe the thing that helped
set everyone at ease before die execution.
“He seemed very happy at the moment and
very eager to get the process under way,” he said.
Williams, 61, had been on death row since
1978, a year after confessing to the shooting
deaths of two Lincoln women, Patricia
McGarry and Catherine Brooks.
in a tnree-aay, tnree-state cnme rampage,
Williams also shot to death and raped an Iowa
woman, Virginia Rowe. He also raped and shot
a Minnesota woman, who survived.
But even for Wayne Earl Rowe, who, in 1977,
found his murdered wife in their Sioux Rapids,
Iowa, home, Williams’calmness helped.
Rowe, 75, was allowed by prison officials
to be one of the 10 witnesses to see Nebraska’s
third execution in four years. He was also the
first victim’s family member to watch an exe
cution since the state resumed carrying out the
death penalty in 1994.
“Really, the man put us at ease,” Rowe said,
with his son, Tom, and daughter-in-law, Jan,
sitting next to him.
RobynTysver, a reporter with The Associated
Press, said she was surprised by Williams’ final
words and motions directed to Rowe.
She said after Williams looked around the
witness room for his selected witnesses, blow
ing kisses to each of them, he seemed to look
specifically for Rowe.
“He looked for Mr. Rowe and he said, ‘I am
sorry, Mr. Rowe. I love you, brother.’And I diink
Mr. Rowe lifted his hands as if to wave back,”
she said. “It was an unbelievable moment.”
Rowe said he did give an accepting wave to
Williams after his apology.
Tysver and Stephens were joined by Omaha
World-Herald Lincoln bureau chief, Bill Hord,
Tracy Overstreet, news director for KRGI radio
in Grand Island and Lincoln Journal Star
reporter Butch Mabin as the official media wit
nesses for the execution.
Williams’ personally selected witnesses
were his spiritual adviser, Marylyn Felion of
Omaha, his attorney, Paula Hutchinson of
Lincoln, Joy Stevens of Fort Calhoun and Dick
Hargeshiemer of Lincoln.
After the execution, the five media witness
es and the Rowe family were led into a visitors
room filled with radio, television and print
None of the media witnesses seemed visi
bly shaken by what they had just seen, but even
with Williams’ calm demeanor, watching an
execution was anything but routine.
“As a human being watching another human
being being (second “being” is part of quote)
electrocuted and killed,” Stephens said, “it’s
something I’ll never forget. It’s not easy to watch.
“To see a man strapped in a chair; knowing
what he’s done, knowing the horrible crimes
he’s committed - it doesn’t make it any easier to
Hold said the prison’s clinical way ofhandling
the procedure helped him get through what he had
expected to be a terribly difficult assignment.
Tysver said once they were led into the wit
ness room, she tried to turn off the emotions
and immerse herself in the role of journalist. "
“It was like autopilot,” she said after the
press conference.
The calmness and serenity the witnesses
felt stopped for a few minutes at 10:16 a.m.
when, after the first jolt of electricity, smoke
came from Williams’ exposed left knee.
Overstreet said she saw no movement from
Williams after tijjat. . v
“I didn’t see him breathe after the first six
second jolt,” she said, “so he probably died
quicker than his victims did.”
The witnesses said they also noticed smoke
coming from the leg and also the top of the
head after a third, 19-second jolt.
The state used four jolts to put Williams to
death, but the witnesses all agreed and were
comforted that before the first jolt of electricity
was given, Williams seemed like a man at
peace with himself.
“If he was looking for the grace to get through
this,” Hord said, “I would say he found it”
of Iowa and his son, fmflwwi; fluid gimtinim,
execution. .■
UEFE VIRGINIA WALSH, a member of Nebraska*
tape recorumg or 111111301$ singing songs anon
TOP: A PROTESTER HBIDS a candle In «ibbt>
Friend notes Williams’ Cl
FRIEND from page 1
requested for his execution. He became the
fourth person to die in Nebraska^ electric chair
since 1959.
Tuesday’s execution differed from the past two
executions in several ways - such as the daytime
death and the lack of boisterous crowds—but one
of the more subtle was the Christian rhetoric of
two witnesses, a victim’s son and the condemned.
In his last words, Williams thanked God for
all of his blessings. Wayne Earl Rowe, the hus
band ofrqne of Williams’ three victims, said
without his faith, he would not have been as calm
as he was after die execution. And Stevens said
her faith was reaffirmed by watching Williams’
peace, even in die face of death.
Smiling and calm, witnesses said Williams
was completely at ease having his death warrant
read to him and being strapped to the electric chair.
To Stevens, it was Williams’ faith in God that
gave him his peace.
“You can’t fake that,” she said. “He had joy
flowing from him. You can’t fake that. That came
from the last 20 years of him getting to know
God and getting to trust God.”
Stevens, who describes herself as a deeply
religious woman, met Williams in 1995, wheaj
for her first interview for a Christian radio shew
on Omaha’s KGBI, she called Williams to tap*
about his conversion.
From that interview on, Stevens and Williami
began a friendship that centered on their faitk^
Both read their Bibles daily - Williams began hi.
studies at 3:30 a.m. every morning - and bo®
shared passages through their correspondence. .
Williams was a deeply repentant man{
Stevens said, asking all of his victims’ families
for forgiveness. One by one, they gave it to hint;
In one of the most dramatic moments of tin*
day, Williams, strapped to the electric chatty
asked Rowe for forgiveness.
“I am sorry, Mr. Rowe. I love you, brother"
he said. !
Rowe told reporters he had forgiven Williams
long before the execution.
Rowe’s son Tom also said he had forgiven
Williams, r
“We have forgiven Mr. Williams. We have"
not, nor will we ever forgive what he did.”
I 1977_1978_| 1979 | 1980 $.
pm [|1 ^ |j[t|i|i|g[g^^ m§]j|
M--T!-t.-7^- r> 1^ ?\ ^ "ll
Aug. 10-11,1977 Aug. 11,1977 Aug. 12,1977 Aug. 13,1977 Aug. 14,1977 May 1,1978 June 30,1978 Feb. 14,1980
Wiiams shoots Williams rapes a Farmer Wayne Wiiams forces railroad worker Williams arrives in Jury rejects Wiiams’ Sentenced to Execution set for May
Patricia McGarry in the female Earl Rowe of Walter Behun to drive him to Chicago. Stays insanity defense and death. 20,1980. Execution
face after she acquaintance in rural Sioux St Paul, Minn., from Fridley, three days. convicts him of first- TS later stayed,
disagrees with his Lincoln Rapids, Iowa, Minn. Behun is left bound in a degree murder in the Dec. 18,1978 7S
version of his failed repeatedly, discovers the caboose. He then kidnaps a Aug. 18,1997 deaths of McGarry Nebrska Oct 27,1980
marriage. He then assaults her with body of his wife, woman leaving a St Paul Wiiams is and Brooks. Jury also Supreme Execution set for Jan.
rapes and murders . a handgun and She was raped liquor store. He shoots her arrested in finds Williams guilty Court affirms 29,1981. Stayed
McGarry’s neighbor, forces her to and shot by twice, drives her to a seduded Lincoln after he of raping Brooks. He Williams’ about 2 months later
Catherine Brooks, who prepare him two Williams, who area, rapes her and leaves her hopped a freight admits to, but is not conviction and by state Supreme
cametoMcGarry’said. meals. fled in her car. for dead. She survives. train west. tried for, other crimes, sentence. Court
Source: AP
f / *
1987 f 5,
|lj?|?|l|s|i|j |j|
7, k&i 1
March 3,1987 March 16,1993 July 13,1994 Nov. 9,1994
Williams files his first Federal judge throws Execution date set for 8th U.S. Circuit Court atT
federal lawsuit OW death sentence Nov. 16,1994. of Appeals delays Car'
claiming his rights in McGarry case; execution for 30 days Ant '
were violated. upholds sentence in to allow more time to dmi
Brooks’case. consider appeal. ^