Man who claimed he was a vampire executed for abducting and murdering girl

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Johnny Johnson was executed at the state prison in Bonne Terre, Missouri, 21 years after being found guilty of murdering six-year-old Casey Williamson (Image: Uncredited/AP/REX/Shutterstock)
Johnny Johnson was executed at the state prison in Bonne Terre, Missouri, 21 years after being found guilty of murdering six-year-old Casey Williamson (Image: Uncredited/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

A man who claimed he was a vampire and went on to abduct and murder a six-year-old girl has been executed.

In his final handwritten statement he said: "God Bless. Sorry to the people and family I hurt." The statement was released by the Department of Corrections hours before the execution. Reports said his final meal comprised of a burger, curly fries, and a strawberry milkshake.

Johnny Johnson, 45, was convicted in July, 26, 2002, of killing Casey Williamson, whose disappearance set off a frantic search in her hometown of Valley Park, a small suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. Casey's mother had been best friends in childhood with Johnson's older sister and had even helped babysit him.

After Johnson attended a barbecue the night before the killing, Casey's family let him sleep on a couch in the home where they also were sleeping. In the morning, Johnson lured the girl - still in her nightgown - to an abandoned glass factory, even carrying her on his shoulders on the walk to the dilapidated site.

When he tried to sexually assault her, Casey screamed and tried to break free. According to court documents, he killed her with a brick and a large rock, then washed off in the nearby Meramec River. Johnson confessed that same day to the crimes, according to authorities.

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After a search involving first responders and volunteers, Casey's body was found in a pit less than a mile from her home, buried beneath rocks and debris. At Johnson's trial, defense lawyers presented testimony showing that their client - an ex-convict who had been released from a state psychiatric facility six months earlier - had stopped taking his schizophrenia medication and was acting strangely in the days before the slaying.

Man who claimed he was a vampire executed for abducting and murdering girlCasey Williamson was lured from her home to an abandoned factory where she was brutally murdered (KTVI)

In recent appeals, Johnson's attorneys have said he has delusions about the devil using his death to bring about the end of the world. They also noted he had been placed on suicide watch in prison a couple years ago after claiming to be a vampire.

In June, the Missouri Supreme Court denied an appeal seeking to block the execution on arguments that Johnson's schizophrenia prevented him from understanding the link between his crime and the punishment.

The Missouri Attorney General's Office successfully challenged the credibility of the psychiatric evaluation and said medical records indicate that Johnson is able to manage his mental illness through medication.

Man who claimed he was a vampire executed for abducting and murdering girlJohnny Johnson pictured after his arrest for the murder of six-year-old Casey (KTVI)

A three-judge federal appeals court panel last week temporarily halted the planned execution, but the full 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated it. Johnson's attorneys then filed multiple appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court centred around his competency to be executed.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Monday denied a clemency request to reduce Johnson's sentence to life in prison. Parson a former sheriff, said in a statement: "Johnny Johnson's crime is one of the most horrific murders that has come across my desk".

The clemency petition by Johnson's attorneys said Casey's father, Ernie Williamson, opposed the death penalty.
But Casey's great aunt, Della Steele, wrote an emotional plea to Parson urging him to proceed with the execution to "send the message that it is not okay to terrorise and murder a child." Steele said in the message that the grief from Casey's death led to destructive effects among other family members.

Man who claimed he was a vampire executed for abducting and murdering girlCasey was lured from her home in Valley Park, St Louis, before being murdered in an abandoned glass factory (KTVI)

"He did something horrible. He took a life away from a completely innocent child, and there have to be consequences for that," Steele said. Steele has led a variety of community efforts to honour Casey. Through years of fundraising, Casey's family provided $500 scholarships or savings bonds to all 65 students of the senior class of Valley Park High School in 2014, the year Casey would have graduated.

The family also has organised community safety fairs in Casey's memory, including a July 22 event that drew a couple hundred people. They gave away dozens of child identification kits along with safety tips involving fire, water and bicycles, among other items. "A lot of kids from Casey's class were there with their children. It was nice to see, but it definitely makes you think," Steele said. "They're pushing their strollers with their couple of kids and you think, `That's where she should be."'

The scheduled execution is the 16th in the U.S. this year. In addition to three previous executions in Missouri, five have been conducted in Texas, four in Florida, two in Oklahoma and one in Alabama. There were 18 executions in six U.S. states last year.

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Abigail O'Leary

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