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Press Release

Statement by Department of Justice Spokesperson Kerri Kupec on the Execution of Wesley Ira Purkey

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

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

“This morning, Wesley Ira Purkey was executed at USP Terre Haute in accordance with the death sentence imposed by a federal district court in 2004.  Purkey was pronounced dead at 8:19 a.m. EDT by the Vigo County Coroner.

Purkey violently raped and murdered 16-year-old Jennifer Long, and then dismembered, burned, and dumped the young girl’s body in a septic pond.  He also was convicted in state court for using a claw hammer to bludgeon to death 80-year-old Mary Ruth Bales.  On November 5, 2003, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri found Purkey guilty of kidnapping a child resulting in death, and he was sentenced to death on January 23, 2004.

After many years of litigation following the death of his victims, in which he lived and was afforded every due process of law under our Constitution, Purkey has finally faced justice.  The death penalty has been upheld by the federal courts, supported on a bipartisan basis by Congress, and approved by Attorneys General under both Democratic and Republican administrations as the appropriate sentence for the most egregious federal crimes.  Today that just punishment has been carried out.”

Updated July 16, 2020

Press Release Number: 20-660