Texas "Bathtub Killer" executed
A Louisiana man condemned for strangling and drowning a suburban Dallas
woman, charged with the slaying of a 2nd and blamed for the rapes of at
least five other women was executed Tuesday evening.
Asked if he had any final statement, Dale Devon Scheanette paused and
said, "My only statement is that no cases ever tried have been error free.
Those are my words. No cases are error free."
Scheanette then told the warden he could proceed. He selected no witnesses
for his death. 6 relatives of his 2 murder victims watched as he took his
final breath. He never looked at them.
9 minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow, he was pronounced dead at
Scheanette, 35, became known as the "Bathtub Killer" after 2 women at the
same apartment complex in Arlington in 1996 were found dead in half-filled
bathtubs, strangled, raped and bound with duct tape.
He was sent to death row for the Christmas Eve 1996 slaying of Wendie
Prescott, 22, and charged but not tried for killing Christine Vu, 25, 3
Scheanette, acting as his own lawyer, had appeals rejected Monday in the
federal appeals courts. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles also voted
7-0 to turn down a clemency request.
A woman identifying herself as Scheanette's sister filed a three-page
handwritten motion on his behalf Tuesday with the U.S. Supreme Court
seeking a reprieve so he could get a court review of the appeals rejected
Monday. The high court turned down the appeal less than an hour before
Scheanette was scheduled to die.
The slayings that terrorized the suburban Dallas-Fort Worth area went
unsolved for more than three years because detectives couldn't match a
fingerprint at the murder scenes to anyone in criminal databases. Finally,
in 1999, Scheanette was arrested for a burglary outside Dallas and his
prints were tied to the killings. DNA then strengthened the confirmations
and also pointed to his involvement in the other rapes.
"He personifies evil," said Greg Miller, the Tarrant County district
attorney who prosecuted Scheanette in 2003. "I've been doing this 35, 36
years. I've had others who have killed and done bad things. But he's at
the top of the list."
Prosecutors and defense lawyers said it was uncertain what set Scheanette
off. Evidence showed that at some time before the Prescott and Vu
killings, the native of Ouachita Parish in northern Louisiana had lived at
the apartment complex where both women lived and died.
Scheanette declined to speak with reporters as his execution date neared.
At his trial, lawyers tried to show the evidence was insufficient to
"We brought in his family to show he had a pretty good family unit and
that he got along well," said J.R. Molina, his trial attorney. "The DNA
evidence, the fingerprint evidence that came in, were very strong. Several
other instances of burglary, break-ins and rapes that he committed, that
was pretty strong evidence to show to a jury."
Prescott's aunt and uncle, concerned when she failed to show up for a
shopping trip with her sister, went to her apartment and found her dead.
"I hope he asks God to forgive him and save his soul," Brenda Norwood,
Prescott's aunt, told The Dallas Morning News. "I had to forgive because I
can't live like that. I can't hate him for what he did because that would
not bring Wendie back. You have to move on."
After jurors convicted him of capital murder for the Prescott slaying,
prosecutors in the punishment phase of the trial called to the witness
stand 5 women who testified how they were beaten, threatened and raped by
"I am convinced that testimony of those 5 women was very therapeutic for
them," Miller said, describing the women as crying and hugging 1 another
after leaving the witness stand. "It was a pretty moving event. … It was
a miracle he didn't kill any of the other women."
Miller, however, said he was left to wonder how many others Scheanette may
have raped or killed.
"The possibility certainly exists," said Tommy LeNoir, the Arlington
homicide detective who investigated the slayings. "I will tell you this,
without reservation, that the right person is in this position, that the
person who took the lives of these 2 ladies, I have absolutely no
reservation that the person responsible is Dale Scheanette."
Scheanette becomes the 7th condemned inmate to be put to death this year
in Texas and the 430th overall since the state resumed capital punishment
on December 7th, 1982. Scheanette becomes the 191st condemned inmate to be
put to death since Rick Perry became governor in 2001.
On Thursday, another inmate linked to multiple slayings and rapes was set
to die. Johnny Ray Johnson, 51, was convicted of the 1995 rape-slaying of
Leah Joette Smith, whose head was slammed repeatedly into a cement street
curb in Houston after she refused to have sex with him.
Scheanette becomes the 10th condemned inmate to be put to death this year
in the USA and the 1146th overall since the nation resumed executions on
January 17, 1977.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)