Keith Nelson, Federal

 

August 28, 2020

Keith Dwayne Nelson has been executed by the federal government on Friday, August 29, 2020. He was pronounced dead at 4:32 pm inside the execution chamber at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Keith was 45 years of age and convicted of kidnapping 10-year-old Pamela Butler from her Kansas City, Kansas home, and murdering her in Missouri on October 12, 1999. Keith spent the last 18 years of his life on federal death row.

Shortly after Keith’s premature, complicated, birth, he experienced a brain bleed that stopped his breathing and resulted in several oxygen deprivation, with lasting effects on his frontal lobe, which regulates behavior and impulse control. During his trial, several family members testified that Keith had a disadvantaged and difficult childhood. Keith’s mother frequently left her children alone and the home lacked sanitation and cleanliness. However, several of Keith’s siblings were able to overcome their upbringing, and become successful in their chosen careers. Keith was also allegedly raped as a child. Keith spent some time during his youth incarcerated, where he engaged in self-harm and multiple suicide attempts. While at a youth detention facility, he witnessed others being physically and sexually assaulted, and was physically assaulted as well, receiving several injuries.

 

On September 29, 1999, Keith Nelson offered a job to James Robinson in Kansas City, Kansas. While working, Nelson commented that he wanted to kidnap a woman, take her to a secluded location to torture, rape, electrocute, kill, and bury. Nelson claimed that he was going back to prison and wanted to go back for “something big.” James was uncomfortable with the comments, however James thought Nelson was joking and did not report the conversation to the police.

 

During the early morning hours of October 2, 1999, Michanne Mattson was attacked outside her apartment building coming home from a friend’s house. Michanne had noticed a white pickup truck following her while driving home. Michanne was grabbed, however she struggled and managed to get away. She was later able to identify her attacker as Nelson.

 

On October 12, 1999, Keith Nelson told an acquaintance that he wanted to kidnap, rape, torture, and kill a young girl that he had spotted in Kansas City, Kansas. A short time later, Nelson was seen, in his white Ford F-150 pickup in a residential area of Kansas City, Kansas. A young girl, Pamela, skated near the truck, whose door was slightly ajar. As Pamela skated by, Nelson jumped out of the truck, grabbed Pamela and threw her into the cab of the truck.

 

Pamela’s kidnapping was witnessed by several people, including her sister who saw Pamela fighting with a man in the cab, and a person who gave chase in their own vehicle. Nelson was able to evade his chaser, however, the person chasing him managed to write down his license plate number, which was verified by several other witnesses.

 

On the evening of October 12, 1999, a church custodian noticed a white pickup truck with a Missouri license plate parked in the church parking lot in Kansas. Later, after seeing the kidnapping story on the news, the custodian called the police, as the license plate matched. When the police arrived at the church, the truck was gone.

 

The truck was found abandoned the following day in Kansas City, Missouri. A police dog indicated that Pamela had been in the truck. A manhunt for Nelson began, and on October 14, 1999, he was seen hiding under a bridge. Nelson attempted to escape into the river, however he had been surrounded by railroad workers who detained him until the police arrived. When Nelson was asked the location of Pamela, he responded, “I know where she's at, but I'm not saying right now.” Pamela’s body was discovered the following day in a wooded area behind the church where his truck had been parked.

 

An investigation determined that Pamela had been raped and strangled to death. Nelson was connected to her rape through DNA evidence. He pled guilty to interstate kidnapping resulting in death.

 

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