The mother of a Mississippi teen will witness the execution of a man convicted of the 2000 killing and rape of her 16-year-old daughter, Leesa Gray.
Abc 24 reports that a federal judge declined to block Mississippi’s death sentence for Thomas Edwin Loden Jr., 58, who’s scheduled to die today by the Mississippi Department of Corrections. His attorneys tried unsuccessfully to block it due to Mississippi’s use of three drugs for execution.
According to Oxygen, the incident happened on June 22, 2000, ahead of Leesa’s senior year in high school. She had a flat tire and was left stranded on a rural road after working a shift at her family’s restaurant in the Dorsey community of Mississippi.
Loden Jr., a Marine Corps recruiter, pulled up to Leesa’s car and forced her into a van. He then spent hours raping her before brutally strangling her. Her family later found her phone and other belongings in her car.
“Over the next four hours… repeatedly raped and sexually battered Leesa, videotaping portions of the sadistic acts, before murdering her by way of suffocation and manual strangulation,” court records read.
In 2001, Loden Jr. waived his right to a jury trial and pleaded guilty to capital murder, rape and sexual battery.
“I don’t particularly want to see somebody die,” Leesa’s mother, Wanda Farris, told AP. “But I do believe in the death penalty … I do believe in justice.”
“She loved life and she was a good Christian girl….She wasn’t perfect, now, mind you, but she strived to do right.”
The execution is scheduled to take place at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at 6 p.m. Check back for updates.
For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast. Listen to the latest episode:
[Featured image: Police Handout/Family Handout]