49 year-old Tommy Lynn Sells was put to death Thursday night after the U.S, Supreme Court rejected demands to release information on the lethal drugs used in the execution. He was the first to be executed with the new supply of pentobarbital to replace TDCJ expired supply.
Refusing to make a last statement the drugs began to flow, Sells took a few breaths, his eyes closed and he began to snore. In less than a minute he stopped moving and was pronounced dead at 6:27 pm, just 13 minutes after the drugs began to flow.
A jury convicted Sells of capital murder in 2000 for the death of Kaylene Harris and slashing of her 10-year-old friend, Krystal Surles, who survived and helped police find Sells. The girls were attacked on New Year’s Eve 1999 as they slept in the home of Kaylene Harris’ family in Del Rio. The Harris family had befriended Sells at a community church.
Court records show Sells claimed to have committed as many as 70 killings across the U.S.In 2003, Sells was indicted but never tried for the slaying of 13-year-old Stephanie Mahaney in Missouri. He also pleaded guilty to capital murder in the 1999 death of 9-year-old Mary Bea Perez, who was strangled during “Fiesta” in San Antonio. She was last seen alive at Market Street Square on April 18, 1999. Prosecutors waived the death penalty in exchange for the plea.Among his other confessions was the slaying of an Illinois family in 1987. Those victims included Ruby Dardeen, who was eight months pregnant. Her fatal beating forced her to prematurely give birth. The newborn was killed along with her 3-year-old sibling.
Terry Harris, whose 13-year-old daughter, Kaylene Harris, was fatally stabbed by sells in 1999 in South Texas said the injection was way more gentle than what Sells gave out.. “Basically, the dude just took a nap,” he said,
The Supreme Court earlier in the day declined to halt the execution as Sells’ attorneys tried to obtain more information from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice about the supplier of the new drug stock. TDCJ officials argued that the pharmacy must be kept secret to protect it from threats of violence.
Lawyers for Sells contended they needed to know the name of the pharmacy in order to verify the drug’s quality and protect Sells from unconstitutional pain and suffering.
“My sister didn’t get the constitutional pain and suffering,” said Shawn Harris, the victim’s brother, adding that Sells’ punishment was “pretty easy” compared to what his sibling suffered: being stabbed 16 times and having her neck repeatedly slit. Shawn said that it didn’t matter that Sells never made a final statement, the family had closure,
Early this morning the Greene County Missouri Sheriff who initially investigated the murder of Stephanie Mahaney in 1997 announced he was reopening the investigation into the murder. This after interviewing Sells last week on death row. Arnott isn’t less confident that Sells killed Mahaney but the interview prompted him to review some facts in the case.
Arnott said he didn’t expect to reopen the case before he went to interview Sells. He made the decision to do so on his drive back from Texas.
Arnott said he asked Sells, in 2002, specifically about eight points in the case. Arnott asked those same eight questions this week, and got different answers on two of the questions.
He said it’s those differences that have led him to reopen the case — not necessarily because he now thinks Sells is innocent — but because he wants to have answers to all his questions.
Arnott said he interviewed him again, hoping Sells — at that time only days away from execution — would tell the complete truth about Mahaney.
It’s been an emotional case for Arnott. As he opened the news conference, he showed a photo of Mahaney he says he’s carried every day since 1997.
Since then, he said he personally followed up on more than 100 leads in the case.
Sells was charged with a total of thirteen deaths but claimed up to 70. Some of those he claimed or was charged with are listed below.
Unidentified man-This unknown man was murdered in Mississippi, 1979. Sells claimed that he murdered this man because he was molesting a child, which later proved to be false.
Unidentified man-This unknown male was murdered in 1980. He was murdered with an icepick in Los Angeles.
Colleen Gil-Colleen was beaten to death on July 21, 1983. She was murdered with her daughter Tiffany.
Tifany Gill-Tiffany, age 4, was beaten to death on July 21, 1983. She was murdered with her mother.
Ena Cordt-Ena was murdered on July 26, 1985. She was murdered with her son Rory in Missouri.
Unidentified female-An unknown woman was murdered in 1986. She was shot to death in St. Louis.
Suzanne Korcz-Suzanne, age 27, was murdered on May 1, 1987 in Niagara Falls.
Stephanie Stroh-Stephanie was strangled to death on October 16, 1987 in Nevada.
Russell Dardeen-Russell, age 29, was shot to death on November 18, 1987 in Illinois. He was murdered with his wife, son and new born baby.
Ruby Elaine Dardeen-Ruby was beaten to death on November 18, 1987 in Illinois. She was pregnant at the time beating and went into labor. She was murdered with her husband, son and new born baby.
Peter Dardeen-Peter, age 3, was beaten to death on November 18, 1987 in Illinois. He was murdered with his father, mother and new born sibling.
New Born-A new born baby was beaten to death on November 18, 1987 in Illinois. This baby was born while his mother, Ruby, was being beaten to death.
Melissa Ann Trembley –Melissa was found murdered in September of 1988.
Unknown Boy 1-This boy is thought to have been murdered in the fall of 1988. He is believed to have been murdered with his mother.
Unknown Woman 2-This woman is thought to have been murdered in the fall of 1988. She is believed to have been murdered with her son.
Kent Alan Lauten-Kent, age 51, was murdered on December 18, 1988 in Arizona. Kent’s throat was cut.
Unknown Woman 3-This unknown woman was murdered in Nevada, January of 1989.
Unknown Person 1-This person is thought to have been murdered in Oregon, May of 1989.
Unknown Person 2-This person is thought to have been murdered in Oregon, May of 1989.
Stephanie Mahaney-Stephanie, age 13, was murdered on October 15, 1997 in Missouri.
Debra Harris-Debra, age 32, was murdered on April 4, 1999 in Tennessee. She was stabbed to death with her daughter Ambria. Sells claimed responsibility for these murders.
Ambria Halliburton-Ambria, age 8, was stabbed to death on April 4, 1999. She was murdered with her mother. Sells claimed responsibility for these murders.
Mary Bea Perez-Mary, age 9, was murdered on April 18, 1999. She was strangled to death. Sells confessed to this crime.
Haley McHone-Haley, age 13, was strangled to death on May 13, 1999 in Kentucky.
Bobbi Lynn Wofford-Bobbi, age 14, was murdered in July, 1999 in Oklahoma. She had been shot to death.
Danny Freeman-Danny was murdered on December 31, 1999 in Oklahoma. He was murdered with his wife, daughter and family friend. Sells confessed to this murder.
Kathy Freeman-Kathy was murdered on December 31, 1999 in Oklahoma. She was murdered with her husband, daughter and family friend. Sells confessed to his murder.
Ashley Freeman-Ashley was murdered on December 31, 1999 in Oklahoma. She was murdered with her father, mother and family friend. Sells confessed to this murder.
Laura Bible-Laura was murdered on December 31, 1999 in Oklahoma. She was murdered with her friend’s parents and her friend. Sells confessed to this murder.
Kaylene Harris-Kaylene, age 13, was stabbed to death on December 31, 1999 in Texas.
In 2003 Diane Fanning wrote a book, ‘”Through the Window”: The Terrifying True Story of Cross Country Killer Tommy Sells.
MARY B. PEREZ
KRYSTAL SURLAS, 13, SURVIVED TO TESTIFY AGAINST SELLS
NOTE KRYSTAL WROTE THAT SAVED HER LIFE
BOOK ON SELLS
IMAGES OF SELLS BELOW