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Mark Edward GARDNER

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape - Robbery
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: December 12, 1985
Date of birth: 1956
Victims profile: Joe and Martha Joyce, and their daughter, Sara Joyce McCurdy
Method of murder: Suffocating with tape
Location: Sebastian County, Arkansas, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Arkansas on September 8, 1999
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mark Gardner, 43, was a murderer executed on September 8, 1999 by lethal injection by the State of Arkansas. He was convicted of the December 12, 1985 murder of Joe and Martha Joyce as well as the rape and murder of their daughter, Sara Joyce McCurdy in Sebastian County, Arkansas.

Alan Willett was also executed on the same day for the unrelated murders of Eric Willett and Roger Willett.

The Murder

Joe Joyce had just returned home from a funeral and Sara McCurdy had gone to her parents' home for lunch while her husband was away on Air National Guard duty.

The family was tied up and they were suffocated with tape that was placed over their mouths and noses. Martha was found with a wire coat hanger around her neck. Their house was ransacked and jewelry and a car was stolen.

Gardner was on parole for an armed robbery conviction and was under an arrest warrant out of Illinois for another armed robbery. Some of the family's jewelry was found on Gardner when he was arrested and he told police that he had also killed a man in New York State. At his trial he claimed that "demons" had made him do it.

Execution

Gardner's last meal was fried shrimp, grilled salmon, garden salad, and chocolate cake with a Coke. Gardner was executed first because he had the lower inmate number (SK901) than Alan Willett (SK930). The injection of a lethal drug was administered at 8:02 p.m. CDT, and he was pronounced dead at 8:15.

Gardnerís last words were "Blessed are those who are called to the Lord's supper. A never-ending feast awaits me. I love the Melanie Alberson family (his pastoral advisor) and I thank them very much."

Gardner was the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death in 1999 in Arkansas and the 20th person executed by the state of Arkansas since Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), after new capital punishment laws were passed in Arkansas and that came into force on March 23, 1973.

He was also the 569th person executed overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

 
 

Mark Gardner was sentenced to die for the Dec. 12, 1985 murder of three people in Sebastian County, Arkansas.  

Gardner was 29 at the time and killed Joe Joyce, his wife Martha and raped and murdered their adult daughter, Sara Joyce McCurdy.

Joe had just returned home from a funeral and Sara had gone to her parents' home for lunch while her husband was away on Air National Guard duty.

The family was tied up and they were suffocated with tape that was placed over their mouths and noses. Martha was found with a wire coat hanger around her neck. Their house was ransacked and jewelry and a car was stolen.

Gardner was on parole for an armed robbery conviction and was under an arrest warrant out of Illinois for another armed robbery.

Some of the family's jewelry was found on Gardner when he was arrested and he told police that he had also killed a man in NY state. At his trial he claimed that "demons" made him do it.

 
 

Mark Edward Gardner, (c. 1956 Ė September 8, 1999) was a murderer executed at the age of 43 by lethal injection by the State of Arkansas. He was convicted of the December 12, 1985 murders of Joe and Martha Joyce, as well as the rape and murder of their daughter, Sara Joyce McCurdy, in Sebastian County, Arkansas.

Alan Willett was also executed on the same day for the unrelated murders of Eric Willett and Roger Willett.

The murders

Joe Joyce had just returned home from a funeral and Sara McCurdy had gone to her parents' home for lunch while her husband was away on Air National Guard duty. The family was tied up and they were suffocated with tape that was placed over their mouths and noses. Martha was found with a wire coat hanger around her neck. Their house was ransacked and jewelry and a car was stolen.

Gardner was on parole for an armed robbery conviction and was under an arrest warrant out of Illinois for another armed robbery. Some of the family's jewelry was found on Gardner when he was arrested and he told police that he had also killed a man in New York State. At his trial he claimed that "demons" had made him do it.

Mark Gardner was also know for confessing to repeatedly raping and beating a fellow Death Row inmate, Damien Echols, who had been convicted for the West Memphis Three murders.

Execution

Gardner's last meal was fried shrimp, grilled salmon, garden salad, and chocolate cake with a Coke. Gardner was executed first because he had the lower inmate number (SK901) than Alan Willett (SK930). The injection of a lethal drug was administered at 8:02 p.m. CDT, and he was pronounced dead at 8:15.

Gardnerís last words were "Blessed are those who are called to the Lord's supper. A never-ending feast awaits me. I love the Melanie Alberson family (his pastoral advisor) and I thank them very much."

Gardner was the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death in 1999 in Arkansas and the 20th person executed by the state of Arkansas since Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), after new capital punishment laws were passed in Arkansas and that came into force on March 23, 1973.

He was also the 569th person executed overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

 
 

Mark Gardner, 43, 99-09-08, Arkansas

In Varner, 2 murderers convicted in separate cases went to their deaths just an hour apart in an Arkansas state prison Wednesday in a rare double execution.

Mark Gardner, 43, was pronounced dead at 9:15 p.m. EDT, 13 minutes after a lethal combination of chemicals was injected into his arm as he lay strapped to a gurney in the death chamber of Cummins Prison, a prison spokeswoman said.

Gardner was convicted of murdering a couple and their adult daughter and raping the older woman in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1985.

Alan Willett, 52, went into the same chamber just under an hour after Gardner. Willet died at 10:15 p.m. EDT, 16 minutes after receiving the injection.

Willett was found guilty of slaying his son and the youngster's uncle in 1993.

After a last meal, Gardner's final words included thanks to his pastoral advisor on death row, Melanie Alberson.

"Blessed are those who are called to the Lord's supper. A never-ending feast awaits me. I love the Melanie Alberson family and I thank them very much," Gardner said.

5 relatives of Gardner's victims watched him die on closed circuit television.

After his last meal, when asked if he had any last words, Willet responded, "None."

No relatives came to the prison to witness Willett's execution.

The executions were scheduled despite an earlier plea from Pope John Paul II to Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to commute the 2 death penalties into life prison sentences. Huckabee decided not to intervene.

Death penalty opponents held vigils at several sites, including a small group outside the prison as well as another outside the governor's mansion in Little Rock.

Executions of more than one inmate on the same day are very rare among U.S. states, limited so far to Arkansas and South Carolina, according to the Washington-based National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

It was the 4th multiple execution in Arkansas since 1990. South Carolina has carried out 1 double execution.

(source: Associated Press)

 

 

 
 
 
 
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