STARKE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida inmate was put to death Thursday, nearly three decades after the murder of 17-year-old Lynn Elliott, whose failed escape attempt ended a string of rapes and slayings that shook the quiet coastal town of Vero Beach.
David Alan Gore, 58, was pronounced dead at 6:19 p.m. Thursday after receiving an injection at the Florida State Prison, officials said.
Asked if he had a final statement, Gore said as he lay strapped to a gurney: “Yes, I do.”
“I want to say to the Elliott family, I am sorry for the death of your daughter. I am not the man I was back then, 28 years ago. I am a Christian. Christ lives within me. I hope you all can find peace today,” Gore said.
Making no eye contact with the family, he added that he hoped the family could “find it in their hearts to forgive me” and concluded: “I don’t fear death.”
After watching Gore die, Carl Elliott, Lynn’s father, said he planned to celebrate. He also scoffed at Gore’s final statement.
“He said he was a Christian. You know what I said to myself? ‘I condemn your soul to hell, sir,'” Elliott said. “He had it easy compared to my daughter.”
In all, Gore killed four teenage girls and two women, authorities say. Elliott’s murder was the only one for which he was sentenced to death — and the only family he mentioned in his last statement.
Not that Mike and Nancy Byer, whose 14-year-old daughter Barbara Ann was killed by Gore in May 1983, wanted an apology.
“I want nothing from that man except to have him out of my life and gone. This does that,” Mike Byer said. “He had no remorse at all.”
Gore met with a spiritual adviser earlier Thursday and was visited by his mother and an ex-wife. He was calm and cooperative, said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Ann Howard.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied a final appeal less than two hours before the execution.
On July 26, 1983, Gore and his cousin Fred Waterfield picked up Lynn Elliott and her 14-year-old friend hitchhiking to Wabasso Beach north of Vero Beach. They took them at gunpoint to Gore’s parents’ house. Waterfield left and Gore raped the girls, who were bound in separate rooms.
Elliott freed her legs and ran naked from the house, hands still tied behind her back. Gore, also naked, chased her, dragged her back toward the house as she kicked and screamed and then shot her twice in the head. Police were called after a boy witnessed the murder. Gore was caught and the other girl rescued.
After his arrest, Gore admitted to killing three other girls and two women and led authorities to the bodies of four of the victims. He was sentenced to life in prison for the other murders.
Nancy Byer said Elliott’s death was what helped the families of other victims find their loved ones’ bodies. It also stopped Gore from hunting more victims.
“The killing would have gone on and on,” she said after the execution.
Gore managed to stretch out his appeals and remain on death row 28 years after he was condemned. Gov. Rick Scott signed his death warrant after the Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers asked him about the case.
“I’ve been waiting for this day for years. I would’ve saved the state a lot of money if they let me. I’d do it myself and have no qualms about it,” Mike Daley, whose wife, Judy Kay Daley was killed by Gore in July 1981, said in a phone interview before the execution.
Daley was Gore’s third victim. He disabled her car while she was alone on a secluded beach, then waited for her to try to start it. When she couldn’t, he offered her a ride, raped her, killed her, then chopped up her body.
Five months earlier, Gore kidnapped, raped and murdered Ying Hua Ling, 17, and her mother, Hsiang Huang Ling, 48. Their bodies were stuffed in steel drums and buried in an orange grove where he worked.
Gore was arrested in July 1981 after being found in the back seat of a woman’s car. He was shirtless and had a cocktail in one hand and a gun in the other. He also had handcuffs, rope and a police scanner. Gore was sentenced to five years in prison, though he was paroled and served only about a year-and-a-half. He soon began killing again.
In May 1983, Gore and Waterfield picked up two 14-year-old hitchhikers, Barbara Ann Byer and Angelica LaVallee and raped and killed them. While Gore says Waterfield was his partner throughout the killing spree, this was the only case that earned Waterfield a murder conviction. He is serving back-to-back life sentences.
Outside the prison Thursday evening, seven people waited in a section cordoned off for the victims’ supporters. They knew the execution was over when they spotted vans carrying witnesses from the prison.
George Byer, uncle of Barbara Ann Byer, turned away and sighed.
“I don’t know how I feel, really,” he said. “There’s never any closure. You can’t explain how it affects your life.”
A handful of protesters also were outside the prison.
Mark Elliott, executive director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said he was representing many people not there who oppose the death penalty, primarily because of the expense.
He added: “And if someone is locked up permanently and found innocent they can (at least) be released. In David Gore’s case, innocence is apparently not an issue, but it certainly is for a lot of other people on death row.”
Follow Brendan Farrington on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bsfarrington
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.