One of the most despicable killers of all time died in prison today. John Couey, who murdered little Jessica Lunsford, met his maker in a Jacksonville, Florida hospital.
Three child murders are always fresh in my mind: The Girl Scout murders, killing three in Oklahoma in 1977, the murder of Adam Walsh, the son of John Walsh, the host of America’s Most Wanted, and his then-wife Reve, in 1981, and Jessica Lunsford’s death at the hands of John Couey in 2005. Couey died of natural causes – cancer, and had been in hospital for treatment since August 12th.
In contrast, Jessica was kidnapped from her bedroom by Couey on February 24, 2005. She was taken across the street to a filthy mobile home, in the midst of filthy people. Couey raped her, further tortured her, and buried her alive with her stuffed purple dolphin.
John Evander Couey was 46 when he took Jessica. He had a long, long rap sheet, including: indecent exposure, carrying a concealed weapon, burglary, larceny and “fondling a child.” He was a registered sex offender. When Couey was arrested he was an emaciated druggie weighing just 125 pounds.
By the time the trial was over, Couey was well-porked in jail. I don’t know what he weighed at that time, but it was obvious he was eating well. Jessie Lunsford was dead, and buried a second time.
As the search for Jessica continued, Couey’s step-sister bought him a bus ticket out-of-town. An Augusta, Georgia Salvation Army was hosting him as the mourning for Jessica began even before her body was found.
It was also the Salvation Army who recognized him and called authorities.
Couey confessed to the murder during an FBI polygraph. He said he kept Jessica alive for 3 days in a closet in the trailer. He told them he buried the little girl alive in a grave on the property. He put her in plastic garbage bags, which she managed to poke her fingers through before she died. Reports say she suffocated and died with 3 to 5 minutes. Pathologists believe she was sexually assaulted within 6 hours of dying. This man had starved her before she died. Her body was found on March 19th, 25 days after she was kidnapped.
Couey was sentenced to death and has been clothed and fed by taxpayers at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, Florida.
Jessica’s father, Mark Lunsford, was at times thought to be guilty of his daughter’s disappearance – there was chat and whispers. He stoically persevered. In the end, Mr. Lunsford became a voice for his daughter in death, and a fierce advocate for child victims of sexual predators. “Jessica’s Law” has been passed by approximately 26 states.
See a map of those states which have passed the Jessica Lunsford Act, and which states have not. The Act was introduced in Congress, but of course, has not been enacted into law.
The site linked above says that Mark Lunsford now has a baby boy, born on what would have been Jessic’s 12th birthday. Mr. Lunsford says his son’s birth is a miracle.
You can read more about Couey’s crime against Jessica Lunsford here.