365 Days of Texas True Crime: Karla
On June 13th 1983 Texas learned the name of a woman the state and most of the US would never forget. Karla Faye Tucker.
Karla had smoked pot for the first time at just 8 years old and began taking drugs and having sex at the age of 12, with the approval of her mother, a drug addicted prostitute with a job during the day as a secretary. By the age of 14 she had dropped out of school and her mother had introduced her to the world of prostitution. Some people say they had a bad childhood but Karla didn't really have a childhood at all. She went through life with no one who truly cared about her well-being and no one to guide her. She developed a temper and was known to start fights in bars with both men and women. When a friend of Karlas shows up beaten by Karlas ex-house mate, she's livid. Jerry Dean and Karla had already had been involved in a minor tussle with Karla kocking him in the face and cutting his eye for cutting up some pictures of Karla and her mother. She decided that her and her boyfriend, Danny Garrett would pay Jerry a visit and teach him a lesson. The two plan to go to Jerry's house to confront him and steal a motorcycle he had been restoring while they were at it. They spend the weekend doing more drugs than most normal people can handle when at the end of a night of drinking and doing cocaine and after all the other party goers are asleep they decide to head over to Jerry's. Meth, Dilaudid, cocaine, marijuana, uppers, downers, you name it, Karla Faye Tucker had it all in her system that night. To say the least she was in a whole other world that night. After the couple breaks into Jerry's house they creep into his room and Karla pounces on him. As they struggle Danny decided to give Karla the upper hand cracks Jerry over the head a few times with a ball peen hammer. When Danny leaves the room thinking the assault was over Karla notices an axe in the room leaning against the wall.
Without hesitation she picks it up and goes to work on Jerry Dean, allegedly to silence the sounds of his gurgling. She strikes him the the axe at least 35 times before she sees the covers next to Jerry moving. Jerry is having a one night stand with 35 year old Deborah Thornton. She's hiding under the blankets hoping that the intruders will leave before they realize she's there. That's not what happens however. The two of them hit her with the axe as she begs for them to stop and then is in so much pain that she begs for them to finish saying "Please, just kill me and get it over with". The axe was left sticking out of Deborah's chest.
After the crime Karla bragged about what she had done to all her biker friends and everyone knows what happens when you open your mouth about a crime, you get caught. Maybe she thought her friends wouldn't rat her out, maybe she just really wanted to look like a bad ass...either way she and Danny were arrested. When asked about the murders, specifically about if she enjoyed what she did she said, "Hell yes". Karla told police that she had an orgasm with every blow she delivered with that pick axe. She showed no remorse and was convicted and sent to death row.
While in prison Karla turns her life around, finds Jesus and gains somewhat of a cult following. She even marries the prison minister. Inmates and prison workers, even the warden grew fond of the reformed drug addicted, biker, prostitute, axe murderer. The prison chaplain said he had over a dozen inmates volunteer to take her place on the gurney.
After 14 years on death row however, Karla Faye Tucker is executed. She was the first woman to be executed in the U.S. since 1984.