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2022

Mississippi Executed Thomas Loden, Jr. on December 14, 2022

Thomas Loden Jr., Mississippi

Updated: Monday, December 12, 2022

Thomas Loden

Mississippi executed Thomas Edwin Loden, Jr., on Wednesday, December 14, 2022.  Thomas was pronounced dead at 6:12 pm local time, inside the execution chamber at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Mississippi.  Thomas was 58 years of age.  He was convicted and executed for murdering 16-year-old Lessa Marie Gray on June 22, 2000, in Itawamba County, Mississippi.  Thomas spent the last 21 years of his life on Mississippi’s death row.

Thomas was allegedly sexually abused as a child.  Despite the abuse, Thomas was a good student in school.  After graduating, he joined the US Marines, where he served for 18 years.  During his years of service, he served in combat during Desert Storm and was highly decorated for his service.  At the time of the crime, he was working as a Marine recruiter and had no prior criminal history.

On June 22, 2000, teenager Lessa Maria Gray left her job at her family’s restaurant in Dorsey, Mississippi.  She never arrived home and her vehicle was discovered hours later with her purse still inside and hazard lights flashing.  The following day, Lessa’s body was discovered in Thomas Loden’s van.  

Loden was arrested and eventually confessed to the crime.  In his confession, Loden stated that he saw Leesa’s car on the side of the road and pulled over to help.  Leesa told Loden she had a flat tire.  Loden told her that he was a Marine and could help her.  As he bent down to look at the tire, Loden asked if she had ever thought about joining the Marines.  Leesa said it was the last thing she wanted to do with her life.

Loden claimed that comment made him so upset that he reacted violently and forced Leesa into his van.  Inside the van, he repeatedly raped and assaulted her before killing her.  He then abandoned his van.  Loden was found later morning along the side of the road.  He had lacerations on his wrists and the words “I’m sorry” carved into his chest.  Loden’s van with Lessa inside, was discovered a short time later.

Loden initially pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.  However, about one month before his trial was scheduled to start, Loden decided to enter a guilty plea, following the advice of his attorneys.  He was then sentenced to death. 

Pray for peace for the family of Lessa Marie Gray.  Pray for strength for the family of Thomas Loden.  

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