This Idaho Serial Killer Has Been on Death Row for 41 Years. The State Just Botched His Execution 10 Times

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Thomas Eugene Creech’s new execution date has not been set

<p>Idaho Department of Corrections</p> Thomas Eugene Creech

Idaho Department of Corrections

Thomas Eugene Creech

Thomas Eugene Creech was set to be the third death row inmate executed in the country so far this year.

But an hour after Creech entered the death chamber Wednesday, Department of Correction Director Josh Tewalt called off the execution, after determining that “the medical team could not establish an IV line,” per a timeline of events posted to Idaho Department of Correction’s website.

“I made the decision to stand down the execution based on the professional advice of our medical team,” Tewalt said in the statement, noting that he would allow Creech’s death date to expire without trying again that day. “It was the right decision.”

<p>Idaho Department of Corrections</p> Idaho Maximum Security Institution

Idaho Department of Corrections

Idaho Maximum Security Institution

The Department of Correction’s statement and timeline did not specify how many times medical staff attempted to execute Creech between 10 and 11 a.m. yesterday.

But Federal Defender Services of Idaho said in a statement Feb. 28 that they “tried and failed 10 times to access Tom’s veins in both of his arms and both legs.”

Federal defenders called yesterday’s attempts a “botched execution,” alleging that the serum the state had planned to use was “mysteriously acquired pentobarbital.”

“We are angered but not surprised that the State of Idaho botched the execution of Thomas Creech,” they said, adding: “This is precisely the kind of mishap we warned the State and the Courts could happen when attempting to execute one of the country’s oldest death-row inmates in circumstances completely shielded in secrecy despite a well-known history of getting drugs from shady sources.”

<p>Idaho Department of Corrections</p> Thomas Eugene Creech

Idaho Department of Corrections

Thomas Eugene Creech

Creech – a convicted serial killer on death row since 1983 – has been convicted of at least five murders in three states and is suspected in multiple others, per the Associated Press.

Creech was placed on death row for the beating death of an inmate in Ada County, per his online registry, which lists him as one of eight death row inmates in the state.

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In 1981, Creech killed David Jensen – a young, disabled man, who was in jail for car theft – by repeatedly beating him with a battery-filled sock, the AP reports.

More than 40 years later, on the night before Creech was scheduled to be put to death, he met with his wife, per the timeline provided by the corrections department.

<p>Idaho Department of Corrections</p> Execution table with podium, inside Idaho's death chamber.

Idaho Department of Corrections

Execution table with podium, inside Idaho's death chamber.

Creech selected for what he believed to be his last meal: fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, corn and rolls. He had ice cream for dessert.

At 8:34 a.m. Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court issued orders denying all pending applications to halt his execution.

Viewers invited to attend his execution were brought into a gallery at 10 a.m. A glass wall separated them from the white table, which he was strapped to, next to a podium with the state's seal, per the timeline and photographs of the death chamber provided by the corrections department.

A new date for Creech’s execution has not been set, the AP reports.

In his statement Wednesday, Tewalt referred to his efforts to use alternative execution methods, which have gained momentum in other parts of the country.

<p>Alabama Department of Corrections via AP</p> Kenneth Eugene Smith, executed in Alabama Jan. 25, 2024.

Alabama Department of Corrections via AP

Kenneth Eugene Smith, executed in Alabama Jan. 25, 2024.

Last month, Alabama executed the first American with nitrogen gas in what Kenneth Eugene Smith’s lawyers called an “experimental, never-before-used method” and which garnered extensive criticism after witnesses watched Smith wreathing and convulsing as he was put to death.

In states like South Carolina, execution by firing squad is also legal.

Tewalt said in his Wednesday statement that his department’s efforts to “retrofit F Block” to “accommodate a firing squad” had been thwarted by potential contractors’s “unwillingness to work on a project related to executions.”

He said he was continuing to pursue the use of a firing squad as “a secondary method of execution.”

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