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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

Monday, January 9, 2017

Jury Sentences Gary Lee Sampson to Death for Murder

BOSTON –A federal jury in Boston sentenced Gary Lee Sampson, 57, to death in connection with a murdering spree in July 2001.


In September 2003, Sampson pleaded guilty to killing Philip McCloskey and Jonathan Rizzo, and in December 2003, he was sentenced to death by a federal jury. In 2004, Sampson also pleaded guilty to state murder charges in New Hampshire for the murder of Robert Whitney. In 2011, a federal judge in Massachusetts overturned Sampson’s death sentence, leading to a retrial of the sentencing phase. By law, U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin must impose the jury’s sentence of death.


In 2001, Sampson returned to Massachusetts from North Carolina, where he had committed several bank robberies. In July 2001, Sampson met McCloskey, a 69-year-old retiree, in Weymouth, Mass. Sampson persuaded McCloskey to drive him to a nearby town, where Sampson tied McCloskey up and stabbed him several times, killing him. Sampson then hitchhiked to Plymouth, Mass., where he was picked up by 19-year-old Jonathan Rizzo. Sampson forced Rizzo to drive to a remote area and then led him into the woods, tied him to a tree and repeatedly stabbed and killed him. Sampson then drove Rizzo’s car to New Hampshire and broke into a lake house, where the caretaker, Whitney, a 58-year-old retiree from New Hampshire, arrived and found Sampson inside. Sampson tied Whitney to a chair, strangling him to death. Sampson then fled to Vermont where he was eventually apprehended by authorities.


United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Colonel Richard D. McKeon, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zachary R. Hafer and Dustin Chao are prosecuting the case with assistance of Michael Warbel of the Justice Department’s Capital Case Section.

Violent Crime
Updated January 9, 2017