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Department of Justice
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Friday, August 28, 2020

Statement by Department of Justice Spokesperson Kerri Kupec on the Execution of Keith Dwayne Nelson

Department of Justice Spokesperson Kerri Kupec has issued the following statement:

“Today, Keith Dwayne Nelson was executed at U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute in accordance with the capital sentence recommended by a jury in 2001 and imposed by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri in 2002.  Nelson was pronounced dead at 4:32 p.m. EDT by the Vigo County Coroner.

In October 1999, Nelson told an acquaintance that he wanted to kidnap, rape, torture, and kill a young girl he had seen in Kansas City, Kansas.  Shortly thereafter, Nelson parked his white pickup truck outside the home of 10-year-old Pamela Butler, who was rollerblading nearby.  As Pamela skated by the truck, Nelson grabbed her around the waist, threw her into the truck, and sped away as Pamela’s sisters looked on in terror.  Sometime later that day, Nelson raped Pamela, strangled her to death with a wire, and buried her in a forest behind a church in Kansas City, Missouri.  In October 2001, Nelson pleaded guilty to the kidnapping and unlawful interstate transportation of a child for the purpose of sexual abuse resulting in death, and the district court, consistent with a federal jury’s recommendation, later sentenced him to death.  His conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal, and his claims for collateral relief were denied by every court that considered them.

More than two decades after viciously taking the life of Pamela Butler, causing untold devastation to those who loved her, Nelson finally faced the justice he deserved.  Family members of Pamela Butler, including her mother, attended the execution and witnessed implementation of the sentence for Nelson’s horrific crime.”  

Press Release Number: 
Updated August 29, 2020