Wesley Purkey, Federal


Updated: Friday, July 3, 2020

An appeal has been filed by Wesley Purkey's Buddhist spiritual advisor, asking that Purkey's execution be halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.  The request argues that carrying out the execution risks exposing those who attended to the coronavirus.  Specifically, Purkey's religions advisor, 68-year-old Rev. Dale "Seigen" Hartkemeyer who believes he is "religiously obligated" to attend the execution.  Rev. Hartkemeyer has a lung related illness that makes him especially vulnerable to the disease.  The lawsuit claims that carrying out Purkey's execution would force Rev. Hartkemeyer to risk his health and life, violating the Religious Freedoms Restoration Act.

Updated: Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Supreme Court of the United States has declined to hear an appeal from the federal death row inmates who are scheduled to be executed in the upcoming months.  The appeal was challenging the federal death penalty protocols.  When the federal government first started scheduling federal executions in 2019, a new execution protocol was established: a single drug lethal injection for all federal executions.  The appeal argued that the new protocol did not abide by the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994, which establishes that the federal government must comply with the execution protocol of the state in which they were tried.  The federal government argued that they were following the act by using lethal injection.  Lawyers for the inmates argued that because the drug was different and not being considered on a state-by-state basis, the government was not following the protocol.  This appeal had previously halted four federal executions scheduled in late 2019, and early 2020.   This decision by the Supreme Court of the United States means that this issue will not prevent the federal government from carrying out executions.

Updated: Monday, June 29, 2020

Wesley Ira Purkey is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, July 15, 2020, at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. Sixty-eight-year-old Wesley has been sentenced to death for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of 16-year-old Jennifer Long in January 22, 1998, in Kansas City, Missouri. Wesley has spent the last 16 years on death row in a federal prison.

According to his attorney, Wesley had a difficult childhood. He was beaten and humiliated by both of his parents. Wesley was sexually abused by his family and by a priest at the Catholic school he attended. Additionally, the nuns at the school “demeaned and brutalized him.” Wesley is also allegedly suffering from dementia.

On January 22, 1998, Jennifer Long, a high school sophomore, disappeared in Kansas City, Missouri.

On October 26, 1998, 80-year-old Mary Ruth Bales was beaten to death in her Kansas City, Kansas home. Wesley Purkey was arrested for the crime and being held at Wyandotte County Jail, awaiting trial, when he asked to speak to an FBI agent about a kidnapping and homicide that had occurred earlier. Purkey specifically wanted to speak to a federal agent because he wanted to be sent to a federal facility instead of a state institution.


Upon meeting with the federal agent, Purkey signed a form saying he understood his rights and was voluntarily waiving them. Purkey told the investigators that he was willing to plead guilty in the Kansas case and confess to the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a Missouri woman, provided that he would be placed in a federal penitentiary. While the agent was unable to promise anything, but they would pass the information along to the US Attorney.


Purkey confessed and gave an account of the kidnapping, rape, and murder, of a girl who was later identified as Jennifer Long. But Purkey refused to cooperate further, unless he was guaranteed to have his case federally prosecuted.


Several more meetings occurred, with Purkey providing a full, written confession, and taking law enforcement officials to the areas where he had disposed of Jennifer’s things and her dismembered body.


During his trial, Purkey maintained his guilt, although he denied kidnapping Jennifer and forcing her to travel across state lines. Purkey claimed that he thought she was a prostitute, who willing entered his truck and accompanied him home. Purkey further claimed that he fabricated the kidnapping claims in order to ensure his case would be federally prosecuted. Purkey was convicted and sentenced to death by a federal court for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Jennifer.


Since his conviction, many of Purkey’s appeals have argued that he should not have been sentenced to death, as it violated his agreement with the US attorney. Additionally, Purkey has argued that his multiple confessions to kidnapping, rape, and murder, should not have been allowed in court, as they violated his 5th Amendment rights. His appeals have been rejected.


Wesley Purkey was previously scheduled to be executed on Friday, December 13, 2019. That execution was stayed by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, who issued the stay due to questions of legality over the planned method of execution. The stay was appealed and the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit lifted the stay of execution, allowing the execution to be rescheduled.


Separately, an appeal for a stay of execution was filed, with Wesley's lawyers arguing that he is ineligible to be executed because he has Alzheimer's. Lawyers for Wesley allege that his condition is so advanced that Wesley is unable to know or understand why he is being executed. One of his attorneys describes Wesley as "severely brain-damaged and mentally ill," with Wesley allegedly believing the government wants to executed him for making complaints about prison conditions. His lawyers argue that executing him would violate his 8th Amendment rights.


Please pray for the families of the Jennifer Long and Mary Ruth Bales. Please pray for strength for the family of Wesley Purkey. Please pray that if Wesley is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, that evident will be presented prior to his execution. Pray that Wesley may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.



For more information regarding financial support, please click here.