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Wesley Purkey Executed For 1998 Murder Of Kansas City Teenager Jennifer Long

Wesley Ira Purkey was put to death this morning for the murder of a Kansas City teenager in 1998 after the Supreme Court lifted two stays blocking his execution.

Purkey was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 8:19 a.m. EDT.

His execution came after a flurry of legal moves seeking to halt the procedure. On Wednesday morning, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., granted Purkey a preliminary injunction after his lawyers said he was incompetent to be executed, citing his dementia, mental illness and a history of being abused as a child.

A federal appeals court later in the day upheld the injunction, but the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, lifted it, clearing the way for his execution.

Purkey admitted to abducting 16-year-old Jennifer Long as she was walking home from high school, raping and murdering her in his Lansing, Kansas, home and then dismembering her body. A federal jury convicted him in 2003 of kidnapping resulting in a child’s death, and he was sentenced to death.

His execution was originally set for December 13, 2019, but legal challenges had delayed it.

Purkey’s was the second federal execution this week after Daniel Lewis Lee was put to death on Tuesday. Lee was a member of a white supremacist group who was convicted of killing an Arkansas family of three, including an 8-year-old girl.

Lee was the first of four men sentenced to death after the Trump administration announced last year that it would resume federal executions. The four also include Keith Dwayne Nelson, 45, who admitted to the 2001 abduction of Pamela Butler while she was rollerblading in front of her Kansas City, Kansas, home, then raping her and strangling her with a wire.

Since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988, only three federal executions have taken place, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

One of them was Timothy McVeigh, who was executed for his role in the 1995 terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people.

But after a botched state execution in Oklahoma in 2014, President Barack Obama ordered a review of how the death penalty is applied in the U.S.

Copyright 2020 KCUR 89.3

Dan Margolies is editor in charge of health news at KCUR, the public radio station in Kansas City. Dan joined KCUR in April 2014. In a long and varied journalism career, he has worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star and Reuters. In a previous life, he was a lawyer. He has also worked as a media insurance underwriter and project development director for a video production firm.