STARKE — More than 25 years after her aunt and cousin were brutally murdered by John Ruthell Henry, Selena Geiger finally felt peace.
"I actually feel good. I don't feel sorry for him," she said, after witnessing Henry's execution by lethal injection. "I wish it could've been different. I wish he could've died the way he killed them."
The state of Florida executed Henry, 63, for the 1985 murder of his wife Suzanne Henry — Geiger's aunt — at the Florida State Prison on Wednesday night.
Henry's was the third execution in the United States in the past 24 hours.
Those executions, in Georgia and Missouri, were the first since April 29, when officials stopped the execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma because of issues with his veins. He writhed and shook, according to reports. He later died of a heart attack.
Henry's execution was calm. He refused a last meal and was visited by his family, who did not attend the execution.
In a statement, they said they are grateful for an ending to the decades-long saga.
A group of the victim's family members sat in the front row, in front of a glass window. There were 24 people in the room.
Henry spent his last moments strapped to a bed and draped in a white sheet to his neck. Tubes out of a wall went into his arms. His last words were an apology: He asked for forgiveness in Jesus Christ's name and said if he could take back what he did, he would.
He muttered to himself when the execution began at 7:30, which was delayed because of a last minute appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. His eyes fluttered and he yawned when the first of the three-drug cocktail took effect. A man shook him to make sure he was unconscious. The sheet stopped rising and falling around 7:34, and his face lost color.
After the execution, Geiger, 38, held up a photo of Suzanne Henry and her 5-year-old son, Eugene Christian.
"These are the victims," she said. "These are the ones we need to remember."
Henry was convicted of three murders. In 1976, he stabbed his 28-year-old girlfriend Patricia Roddy 20 times in the front seat of a car while her children sat in the back. One child pleaded with him, saying "Daddy, Daddy, please stop hurting Mommy."
He did a little over seven years in prison and seemed to improve and rehabilitate. He was a model inmate. After his release, he got back into drugs and had pending charges against him. He murdered his wife after an argument while Eugene was with them in a Zephyrhills apartment.
Henry covered the boy's face and kidnapped him, drove to Hillsborough County and bought him fried chicken. Henry smoked crack, then, with Christian sitting in his lap, he stabbed the child and left his body in a field.
Henry stabbed both his wife and stepson in the neck so many times with a 5-inch paring knife that they were nearly decapitated, Geiger said.
Geiger was young when the crime happened, and she remembers the chaos of that day. She said she carries that brutality with her always. Henry stole her youth from her, she said.
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"You see movies and you see TV shows about bad guys but you never really know," she said. "This man showed me that true evil really exists."
His apology? It means nothing to her. But her family can finally rest. "We have some closure," she said. "Justice has finally been done."