Execution date set for Mississippi killer Thomas Loden Jr., who raped and murdered teen waitress

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An execution date has been set for a notorious Mississippi killer who raped and murdered a teen waitress in 2000.

Former US Marine Corps recruiter Thomas Edwin Loden Jr. has been on death row for more than two decades, but had his final appeals rejected and will be put to death on Dec. 14 by lethal injection.

Loden encountered Leesa Marie Gray, 16, on the side of a road after her car had a flat tire, authorities said. She had just left her family’s restaurant where she worked as a server.

Prosecutors said Loden raped and suffocated Gray over four hours before fatally strangling her, recording portions of the crime.

Cops found her body in Loden’s van the following day, and he eventually pleaded guilty to the murder and other raps in 2001.

Thomas Edwin Loden Jr. is set to be executed next month.
AP

Loden signed up for the Marine Corps after graduating from high school in 1982, later serving in Operation Desert Storm and eventually operating a recruiting center in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Meanwhile, Alabama officials on Thursday were forced to cancel the scheduled lethal injection of a man convicted in a murder-for-hire killing of a preacher’s wife in 1988.

Corrections officials said prison staffers were unable to establish two intravenous lines into Kenneth Eugene Smith, 57, and the execution was called off.

Since the death warrant expired at midnight, officials must renew their request for an execution date.

A police photo of Kenneth Smith
Corrections officials said prison staffers were unable to establish two intravenous lines into Kenneth Eugene Smith.
AP

Smith was one of two men who each received $1,000 to kill Elizabeth Sennett at the behest of her husband, the pastor of a Colbert County church.

Deeply in debt, Charles Sennett Sr. was hoping to collect on a life insurance policy, but killed himself after he emerged as a suspect in his wife’s death.

Smith’s accomplice, John Forrest Parker, was executed in 2010.

with Post wires

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