Update: Monday, November 11, 2014 12:38 pm EST
Edmund “Ed” George Zagorski is scheduled to be executed at 10 pm CST, on Tuesday, December 9, 2014, at the Riverbed Maximum Security Institute in Nashville, Tennessee. Fifty-nine-year-old Ed is convicted of murdering John Dale Dotson and Jimmy Porter on April 23, 1983, in Robertson County, Tennessee. Ed has spent the past 30 years on Tennessee’s death row.
Ed was born in Michigan and grew up in a very poor family. Ed never completed high school and had a learning disability. He had trained to become a boat captain.
Ed Zagorski first met John Dotson at a trout farm in Bucksnort, Tennessee on April 5, 1983. Zagorski claimed to be a mercenary from Central America. Zagorski agreed to supply John with a large marijuana purchase, 100 pounds for $23,000. Zagorski told John that the marijuana would be dropped by airplane on April 21, 1983.
Zagorski informed John when the marijuana had arrived and the two arranged to meet at Spot, Tennessee, on April 23, 1983, around 6 pm. John and his friend Jimmy Porter met at a tavern with the money before going to meet Zagorski. The tavern operator saw the money in the bag, along with a pistol. They left in Jimmy’s red truck and were never seen alive again.
Around 5:30 pm, the owner of the trout farm and his girlfriend heard gunshots from the area they knew Zagorski had gone to meet John and Jimmy. Gunshots were not an unusual occurrence because of deer hunting.
On May 6, 1983, the badly decomposing bodies of John and Jimmy were discovered in a wooded area. Both men had been shot and had their throats cut. Near the bodies, a cartridge was discovered that was later identified to have been fired from Zagorski’s HK 91 semi-automatic rifle. Other items belonging to, or identical to items Zagorski possessed were also discovered. Although time of death could not be determined for John and Jimmy, it was determined that the gunshot ultimately killed them and that they had been drinking prior to their deaths.
In late April, Zagorski arrived at a friend’s home in Ohio and had in his possession several items that had belonged to John and Jimmy, including Jimmy’s truck. He also had a large amount of cash.
On May 26, 1983, Zagorski was arrested in Ohio after a shoot-out with police. During the shoot-out, Zagorski shot a special deputy five times. After his arrest, he gave several versions of what happened between himself and John and Jimmy. Zagorski was sentenced to death on March 27, 1984.
Please pray for peace and healing for the families of John and Jimmy. Please pray for strength for the family of Ed Zagorski. Please pray that Ed will come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.
Update, Monday, November 17, 2014 12:40 pm EST
Paul T. Goodwin's execution is scheduled for 12:01 am CST, on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Corrections Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri. Forty-eight-year-old Paul is convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering his elderly neighbor, Joan Crotts on March 1, 1998, in St. Louis County. Paul has spent the last 15 years on Missouri’s death row.
Paul struggled in school as a child, failing multiple grades and being placed in a special high school program. Paul never graduated from high school.
Paul Goodwin met Joan Crotts in the summer of 1996, when Goodwin moved into a boarding house next door to Joan. Although Goodwin was not at the boarding house long, during his time there, he frequently harassed Joan with vulgar insults and verbal confrontations. Goodwin also verbally threatened her. Goodwin was evicted from the boarding house August of 1996. He blamed Joan for his eviction, as they had an altercation earlier in the day, and warned her “I’m going to get you for this.”
Nearly a year and a half later, on March 1, 1998, Joan noticed one morning that her backyard gate was open. After further investigation, she noticed that a step on her back porch was out of place and that papers she had in her car were lying on the ground. Joan called the police, fearful that someone was on her property and tampered with her vehicle. Police were unable to find anything wrong.
Goodwin had opened the back gate and entered Joan’s house through an unlocked door. For several hours he sat in the basement and smoked cigarettes. Eventually, carrying a hammer, he confronted Joan and forced her into the living room. Joan attempted to give Goodwin money or jewelry, which he refused. He forced her into the bedroom where he sexually assaulted her.
Goodwin forced Joan back into the kitchen, where he wrote “You are next” on a piece of paper. Goodwin then shoved Joan down the steps to the basement. Joan fell onto the concrete floor, where she lay unmoving. Goodwin walked down the steps and struck her on the back of the head several times with a hammer before leaving.
Joan was found alive later that day by her daughter. Joan was able to tell police what had happened. She died later that evening. An autopsy later determined that Joan had also been severely beaten, as she had eight broken ribs, a broken hip, and numerous defensive wounds. Goodwin was arrested that day. He confessed to the crime.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Joan Crotts. Please pray for strength for the family of Paul Goodwin. Please pray that Paul will come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.
Update: Monday, November 17, 2014 12:42 pm EST
Robert Charles Ladd is scheduled to be executed at 6 pm CST on Thursday, December 11, 2014, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Fifty-seven-year-old Robert is convicted of murdering 38-year-old Vickie Ann Gardner on September 25, 1996, in Tyler, Texas. Robert has spent the last 17 years on Texas’ death row.
As a child, Robert was abused. He spent time in foster homes while his parents were imprisoned for criminal neglect. He was also abused while in foster homes. Although Robert did not graduate from high school, he did earn his GED.
The body of Vickie Ann Gardner was discovered by firefighters on September 25, 1996, after they responded to a fire at her apartment. Vickie was lying on the floor with her wrists bound. Vickie had been severely burned and suffered head injuries. The cause of death was determined to be strangulation. DNA testing revealed that she had been raped before her death. Vickie’s apartment had also been robbed of several electronic devices and jewelry.
Robert Ladd was linked to the crime by Johnny Robertson, to whom Ladd had sold several of the items stolen from Vickie’s apartment. Additionally, Ladd was forensically linked to the crime scene. Ladd had met Vickie at a rehabilitation center where they both worked.
Ladd had previously been arrested and served timed for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. In 1980, Ladd was arrested for the murder of Vivian Thompson and her two infant children, Latoya and Maurice, which was nearly identical to the murder of Vickie. Ladd spent 12 years in prison for the murder of Vivian and her two children. He was released on parole in 1992.
Please pray for peace and healing for the families of Vickie and Vivian. Please pray for strength for the family of Robert Ladd. Please pray that Robert may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.
Update: Wednesday, November 19, 2014 1:34 am EST
Leon Taylor was executed shortly after 12:01 am CST, on Wednesday, November 19, 2014, at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, and Corrections Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri. Fifty-six-year-old Leon was executed for the murder of 53-year-old Robert Newton in Independence, Missouri on April 14, 1994. Leon has spent the last 20 years on Missouri’s death row.
Leon’s mother was an alcoholic who drank while she was pregnant. She also gave alcohol to Leon to drink as a child and abused him. Leon alleged that he was sexually abused until the age of five and never taught right from wrong. As a teenager, Leon suffered from depression.
Leon Taylor and his half siblings, Willie and Tina Owens, were driving in Tina’s car discussing robbery possibilities. Taylor suggested the gas station in Independence, Missouri because only one person would be working. Upon arriving at the station, they discovered that the gas station manager, Robert Newton had his daughter, 8-year-old Sarah Yates, with him that day. Tina no longer wanted to rob the store.
The trio bought gas and left the station, only to return minutes later because the oil light had come on. Willie entered the store and asked for some oil. Taylor then entered and drew a pistol. He pointed it at Robert and said he would shoot him unless he gave them his money. Robert handed over approximately $400 to Willie, who then left the store.
Taylor forced Robert and Sarah into a back room, where he shot Robert in the head. Taylor attempted to shoot Sarah but the gun jammed. Taylor locked Sarah in the back room and returned to the vehicle, telling Willie and Tina what had happened. Robert wanted to return and kill the girl, however Willie and Tina wanted to leave, so all three left.
Please pray for peace and healing for Sarah Yates and the family of Robert Newton. Please pray for strength for the family of Leon.
Update: Monday, November 17, 2014 12:06 pm EST
Gregory Lott was scheduled to be executed at 10 am EST, on Thursday, November 19, 2014, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. His execution has been rescheduled to Thursday, May 14, 2015. Fifty-three-year-old Gregory is convicted of murdering 82-year-old John McGrath during a robbery in his East Cleveland home on July 12, 1986. Gregory has spent the past 27 years on Ohio’s death row.
On July 12, 1986, a man, later determined by police to be Gregory Lott, broke into the home of John McGrath. The intruder tied up John, doused him with heating-lamp oil, and set him on fire. Police discovered John on July 15, 1986, when they went to his home to check on his welfare following a report that an unknown person was driving his car. John had been badly injured but was still alive. Unfortunately, John died on July 23, 1986, from pneumonia arising from his injuries.
Lott was arrested on July 30, 1986, after his fingerprints had been found inside of John’s house and a shoe print found at the house was discovered to have matched a pair of shoes found in Lott’s car. Additionally, the person who saw an unknown person driving John’s car, a trained artist, identified the man as Lott. However, John had told police before he died that the man who broke in and tied him up was light skinned African-American who had long hair. Lott is medium to dark skinned at had very short hair at the time of his arrest. This information was allegedly not passed on to Lott’s defense team until after he was sentenced to death.
According to police, Lott eventually confessed to burglarizing the home twice, once previously and once when John was attacked, and to tying John up. There is no evidence to this confession beyond the word of the police. Lott has steadfastly denied setting John on fire, which resulted in his death. Lott waived his right to a trial by jury, and was instead sentenced by a three-judge panel, which unanimously sentenced him to death.
This is not Gregory Lott’s first execution date. Gregory has received multiple prior execution dates; one in 2002, another in 2004, and a third earlier this year. The 2002 execution was stayed due to the new ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States which forbid the execution of mentally disabled persons. Gregory was eventually declared mentally competent and the execution was rescheduled for 2004. That execution was then stayed by the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals to consider if Gregory deserved a new trial because evidence had been withheld from the defense team at the original trial. US District Judge Kathleen O’Malley eventually refused to grant a new trial.
Gregory was then scheduled to be executed on March 19, 2014, however, this execution was stayed following the prolonged execution of Denis McGuire in January of 2014. Dennis McGuire was executed using a new two-drug execution process. The execution took far longer than expected. Following his execution, Ohio examined their execution protocol and McGuire's death, eventually concluding that McGuire was indeed unconscious for the execution. However, the state plans to increase the dosage of each drug given to alleviate any further concerns regarding the execution process. Federal Judge Gregory Frost ordered a moratorium on executions until January 15, 2015, to allow time for appeals of Ohio's new execution procedure. Gregory’s March 19, 2014, execution was rescheduled for November 19, 2014, which has now been rescheduled to May 14, 2015.
Please pray for peace for the family of John McGrath. Please pray for strength for the family of Gregory. Please pray that Gregory may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already found one.
Only through a relationship with Jesus Christ can anyone hope to separate themselves from the power of sin in this world. Through Him, all things are made new. For a complete listing of readings, please download our Bible Study.