Federal Death Penalty Inmates Scheduled for Execution

federal death penalty inmates

Getty These are the federal death penalty inmates scheduled for execution.

Attorney General William Bar has ordered the reinstatement of the federal death penalty, and five federal inmates are scheduled for execution first. They are all convicted murderers whose offenses run the gamut from killing witnesses to child homicide. They are of different races, and one is a member of the Navajo Nation. All are men.

“Congress has expressly authorized the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President,” Barr said in a statement of the executions, which would be the first federally in 15 years. “Under administrations of both parties, the Department of Justice has sought the death penalty against the worst criminals, including these five murderers, each of whom was convicted by a jury of his peers after a full and fair proceeding. The Justice Department upholds the rule of law—and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”

Since 1976, the federal government has only executed three people. One was Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. According to ABC News, the other federal inmates executed are Juan Garza, “who was convicted for the killings of three men,” and Louis Jones in 2003, “after being convicted of raping and killing a female soldier.”

According to the Department of Justice, the federal inmates whose executions have been scheduled are Daniel Lewis Lee; Lezmond Mitchell; Wesley Ira Purkey; Alfred Bourgeois; and Dustin Lee Honken. The executions would unfold at a federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. According to Fox News, the last federal execution was in 2003, and 37 federal inmates have been put to death since 1927. The executions are scheduled to start in December 2019.

Here’s what you need to know about each federal inmate:

Daniel Lewis Lee

According to a Department of Justice press release, Daniel Lewis Lee is a member of a white supremacist group who murdered a family of three, including an eight-year-old girl.

“After robbing and shooting the victims with a stun gun, Lee covered their heads with plastic bags, sealed the bags with duct tape, weighed down each victim with rocks, and threw the family of three into the Illinois bayou,” the release states.

“On May 4, 1999, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas found Lee guilty of numerous offenses, including three counts of murder in aid of racketeering, and he was sentenced to death. Lee’s execution is scheduled to occur on Dec. 9, 2019.”

According to a federal court decision, the government contended that Lee “participated in a variety of criminal activities to promote and fund a white supremacist organization known as the Aryan Peoples’ Republic or the Aryan Peoples’ Resistence (APR).”

Lee was recruited into the APR in 1995 and, with another member, Chevie Kehoe, “left the state of Washington and traveled to Arkansas where they dressed in police raid clothing and went to the home of William Mueller, a gun dealer near Tilley who owned a large collection of weapons and ammunition.”

The court records say that Kehoe and his father had robbed Mueller in February 1995, so Kehoe and Lee thought they could find “valuable property at his house.” They lay in wait and ”when the Muellers returned, Lee and (the other man) overpowered and incapacitated Mueller and his wife. Then they questioned Nancy Mueller’s eight year old daughter, Sarah Powell, about where they could find cash, guns, and munitions. After finding $50,000 in cash, guns, and ammunition, they shot the three victims with a stun gun, placed plastic bags over their heads, and sealed the bags with duct tape.”

According to the court records, “They took the victims…to the Illinois bayou; there they taped rocks onto them and threw them into the bayou. The bodies were discovered in Lake Darnelle near Russellville, Arkansas in late June 1996.”

The court records say that Kehoe’s mother “testified that Lee had confessed the murders to her” and the other man also confessed the murders to his mother in great detail and said that, while “Lee had participated in the murder of the adults,” he “would have no part in the killing of Sarah Powell” so the co-actor did that alone. Other witnesses testified to knowledge of Lee being involved in the white supremacist movement. Others who knew Lee recounted “that Lee had told them about a trip down south in which some people had messed with him and he had done something violent to take care of them. They also testified that Lee had made statements to them about his white supremacist beliefs.”

The Associated Press reported that both Chevie Kehoe and Lee “were convicted in what prosecutors said was a plot to set up a new nation where people of Asian, black, Hispanic and Jewish descent would be banned.” The article says that Kehoe did not get the death penalty even though prosecutors described him as the leader of the plot.

Court documents say that, in 1990, while a juvenile in Oklahoma City, Lee was involved in disposing the clothing of a man who was murdered in a sewer tunnel. In 1995, he was convicted of carrying a concealed weapon in Florida. In 1996, he “transported and placed an improvised explosive device at the Spokane City Hall building in Washington, which detonated and damaged the building.”

The amended notice to seek the death sentence says that Lee “trivialized the murders by stating he had put the Mueller family ‘on a liquid diet.'” In 1998, he tried to recruit an inmate to smuggle a firearm into the prison in order to try to escape, the records say. Under mitigating factors, the U.S. Attorney wrote: “Defendant DANIEL LEWIS LEE was 23 years-old when he committed the Mueller murders, and this Court may consider the relative youth of the offender as a mitigating factor.”

Lee’s mental health expert Dr. Mark Cunningham told the court that the following mitigating circumstances were in play: “1) Lee was a follower and under the influence of Chevie Kehoe and others at the time of the instant offenses, 2) Lee had been abandoned by his biological father, abused by his stepfather, and neglected by his mother, 3) Lee had suffered from childhood seizures, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and learning disabilities, 4) Lee began abusing alcohol and drugs at an early age, and 5) Lee had been diagnosed with a potential borderline personality disorder and other psychological dysfunctions.” The court records say Cunningham also “testified about past acts by Lee, including episodes in which he had physically abused a girlfriend, assaulted his sister, committed burglary and arson, assaulted inmates and patients at various facilities, and treated blacks more poorly than whites.”

Federal prison records said of Daniel Lewis Lee in 2019:

Register Number: 21303-009
Age: 46
Race: White
Sex: Male
Release Date: DEATH SENT
Located At: USP Terre Haute.”

Lezmond Mitchell

US Highway 163 passes through Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Utah, May 15, 2015.

Lezmond Mitchell “stabbed to death a 63-year-old grandmother and forced her nine-year-old granddaughter to sit beside her lifeless body for a 30 to 40-mile drive,” according to the release.

“Mitchell then slit the girl’s throat twice, crushed her head with 20-pound rocks, and severed and buried both victims’ heads and hands.”

The release continues: “On May 8, 2003, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona found Mitchell guilty of numerous offenses, including first degree murder, felony murder, and carjacking resulting in murder, and he was sentenced to death. Mitchell’s execution is scheduled to occur on Dec. 11, 2019.”

According to court records, Lezmond Mitchell is a member of the Navajo Nation. “In October 2001, Mitchell, then 20 years old, Jason Kinlicheenie, Gregory Nakai and Jakegory Nakai decided to rob a trading post on the Arizona side of the Navajo Indian reservation,” the records say. “Mitchell and 16 year-old Johnny Orsinger set out from Round Rock, Arizona, for Gallup, New Mexico, on October 27 to look for a vehicle they could steal to use during the robbery. They bought one knife and stole another while there. Hitchhiking back to the reservation, they were picked up by a trucker who took them part of the way.”

Meanwhile, on the afternoon of Sunday, October 28, 2001, “Alyce Slim (63 years old) and her nine year-old granddaughter, Jane Doe, left Fort Defiance, Arizona to go to Tohatchi, New Mexico where Slim hoped to secure the services of Betty Denison, a traditional medicine person, for leg ailments,” the records continue.

“It is a 35 minute drive that the two made in Slim’s pewter-colored double cab Sierra GMC pickup truck. They got to Tohatchi about 4 p.m. Denison was unable to assist her, but thought another medicine woman, Marie Dale, might be able to help. She, Slim, and Jane drove to Twin Lakes, New Mexico where Slim arranged an appointment with Dale for the next day. The three returned to Denison’s home where they dropped Denison off around 5 p.m., then Slim and her granddaughter left. That is the last time they were seen alive.”

“Somewhere in route, and somehow, Mitchell and Orsinger got into Slim’s truck,” the records continued. “Slim and Jane were in front, Mitchell in the right-rear passenger seat and Orsinger in the left.   Slim stopped near Sawmill, Arizona, to let Mitchell and Orsinger out of the car, but Orsinger started stabbing her with a knife and Mitchell joined in. Slim ended up being stabbed 33 times, both from the left and right, with sixteen incised wounds on her hands that indicated she fought the attack.”

“Once dead, her body was pulled onto the rear seat. Jane was put next to her. Mitchell drove the truck some 30-40 miles into the mountains with Jane beside her grandmother’s body. There, Slim’s body was dragged out. Jane was ordered out of the truck and told by Mitchell ‘to lay down and die.’ Mitchell cut Jane’s throat twice, but she didn’t die. Orsinger and he then dropped large rocks on her head, which killed her. Twenty-pound rocks containing blood tied to Jane were found near the bodies.”

The records continue: “The defense presented as mitigating evidence the testimony of family members, friends, and teachers of Mitchell whom they portrayed as an excellent high school student with no disciplinary problems except for a brief suspension for possessing marijuana, who was an outstanding athlete with college football prospects, a leader both in student council and in sports, and respectful towards teachers. FBI agent Duncan also testified. He discussed Mitchell’s confession, noting that Mitchell claimed to have been drinking heavily at the time of the murders.”

Mitchell raised his status as a member of the Navajo Nation in court. “Mitchell also submits that he cannot be sentenced to death under the FDPA because the Navajo Nation never opted into the federal capital punishment scheme, and that applying the FDPA in these circumstances violates the First Amendment and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 (AIRFA), 42 U.S.C. § 1996,” the court records say.

According to Santa Fe New Mexican, “The Navajo Nation, like nearly every other tribe, outlaws the death penalty.”

The article states, “…federal prosecutors can still pursue the death penalty for certain crimes that fall under the U.S. government’s jurisdiction both inside and outside Indian Country. This is true even if the offense is committed on tribal land.” The article reports that Mitchell was 20 and his friend 16 when the murders occurred, and says he is the only Native American on federal death row. “The U.S. Department of Justice obtained a death sentence for Mitchell against the tribe’s wishes,” the newspaper reported. “The federal government based its case for a death sentence on a different offense not included in the Major Crimes Act: carjacking resulting in death.”

The newspaper reported that Slim’s family and the Navajo Nation both opposed the death penalty in the case, but then Attorney General John Ashcroft thought otherwise. The court of appeals upheld Mitchell’s sentence but Judge Stephen Reinhardt dissented harshly saying that Mitchell could “suffer the ignominious fate of becoming the first person to be executed for an intra-Indian crime that occurred in Indian country.” Cronkite News explained, “He could not be executed for the murders under federal and Navajo law – but because carjacking falls under another section of federal law, he could face the death penalty for that.” He was also described, though, in court, as “a borderline sociopath who denied he was intoxicated at the time of the killing, who talked calmly about killing the girl and who had a history of ‘swinging dogs and cats by their tails and then throwing them off bridges just for fun,'” Cronkite News reported, adding that he was age 20 and had no criminal record at the time of the offenses.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, “As of October 2018, 28 individuals identified as Native American were on death rows across the country. The number was down from 31 on April 1, 2015. Eight states and the federal government hold condemned Indian prisoners. As of April 2019, 16 Native Americans have been executed since 1976, accounting for 1% of all executions in the United States since 1975. Thirteen Indian prisoners have been executed for killing whites, two for killing other Native Americans, and one for killing a Latino victim. Native Americans have been victims in 4 cases that have resulted in execution, comprising one-quarter of one percent of the victims in cases that have resulted in executions. Between 1979-1999, whites killed 32% of the 2,469 Indians murdered, whereas Native Americans killed 1% of the 164,377 whites murdered.”

Court records explain that “in 1994 Congress enacted the Federal Death Penalty Act, a provision of which delegated to tribal governments the decision whether the death penalty could be imposed by a federal court for certain offenses committed by Indians in Indian country. The relevant provision states in full:

Notwithstanding [the Major Crimes Act or the General Crimes Act], no person subject to the criminal jurisdiction of an Indian tribal government shall be subject to a capital sentence under this chapter for any offense the Federal jurisdiction for which is predicated solely on Indian country (as defined in section 1151 of this title) and which has occurred within the boundaries of Indian country, unless the governing body of the tribe has elected that this chapter have effect over land and persons subject to its criminal jurisdiction.”

Wesley Ira Purkey

Wesley Ira Purkey, according to the DOJ release, “violently raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl, and then dismembered, burned, and dumped the young girl’s body in a septic pond. He also was convicted in state court for using a claw hammer to bludgeon to death an 80-year-old woman who suffered from polio and walked with a cane.”

The release continues: “On Nov. 5, 2003, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri found Purkey guilty of kidnapping a child resulting in the child’s death, and he was sentenced to death. Purkey’s execution is scheduled to occur on Dec. 13, 2019.”

Court records explain, “On November 2003, a federal jury convicted Purkey of the interstate kidnap, rape, and murder of sixteen-year-old Jennifer Long. During the penalty phase of the trial, the jury heard evidence on six statutory aggravating factors, four non-statutory aggravating factors, and twenty-seven mitigating factors.”

The crime was horrific. According to court records, were are based on “Purkey’s confession to the FBI, which was largely confirmed by his own testimony during the guilt phase,” Purkey drove to Kansas City, Missouri, from his home in Lansing, Kansas, on January 22, 1998, “for a job interview with a plumbing company. After the interview, Purkey smoked half a rock of crack cocaine and began driving down the street when he passed sixteen-year-old Jennifer Long, who was walking on the sidewalk.”

He pulled over to ask Jennifer if she wanted to ‘party,’ “then took her to a liquor store to buy her gin and orange juice,” the records show. “After buying her the gin, Purkey told Jennifer he needed to go back to his home in Kansas. She asked to be let out of his truck. Instead, Purkey reached into the glove box, grabbed a boning knife, and placed it under his thigh, making it clear that he would not let her go.”

He took her into a room in his basement and raped her at knifepoint. “After Purkey finished raping her, Jennifer told him that she had been a virgin. He then grew fearful, and as Jennifer tried to escape his house, he grabbed her leg and forced her to the ground,” the court records say. “The two briefly struggled before Purkey became enraged and repeatedly stabbed Jennifer in the chest, neck, and face with the boning knife, eventually breaking its blade inside her body. When he confessed, he told FBI Agent Dirk Tarpley, ‘it’s not like in the movies. They don’t die right away. It took her a little time to die.’ Purkey then stuffed Jennifer’s body into a toolbox, cleaned up the surrounding area, and spent several hours drinking at a bar before driving to Sears to purchase an electric chainsaw. Over the next few days, Purkey used the chainsaw to dismember Jennifer’s body while it was lying inside the box.”

Purkey’s side presented these mitigating factors:

“The witnesses included Purkey’s brother, daughter, and aunt, as well as inmates and religious counselors with whom Purkey had developed relationships while in prison. Each family member testified that, as a child, Purkey suffered significant physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his parents. The evidence established that Purkey’s father was an alcoholic who repeatedly assaulted both Purkey and his brother and who eventually committed suicide. His mother, also an alcoholic, humiliated Purkey for stuttering, once throwing a drink in his face while he was having trouble speaking.”

Furthermore, the records state, “A religious counselor testified that Purkey was eager to leave his past behind, which Purkey had demonstrated by renewing his Christian commitments and expressing remorse for his crimes. Duchardt also elicited evidence that Purkey filed a request with the Bureau of Prisons to have his Aryan Brotherhood tattoos removed and attempted to cover up the tattoos on his own using flesh-toned ink. Family, friends, and fellow inmates alike testified that Purkey was a good friend, and that, if he were granted a life sentence rather than death, it would enrich their lives and the lives of his fellow prisoners.”

Dr. Stephen Peterson testified, according to court records, that Purkey’s mother, Velma, “sexually assaulted Purkey between ages six and fourteen, teaching him to ‘sexually stimulate her anally and orally and ․ washing him in way[s] that were sexualized.'”

The records say that Purkey also witnessed his mother “being sexually involved with many of her paramours” after his father left the family household. “When Purkey was about fourteen years old, his father began offering to pay for prostitutes for Purkey, ‘encourag[ing] him to be sexually active well beyond his years and emotional development.’ According to Dr. Peterson, these experiences rendered Purkey unable to engage normally with anyone in a sexual way and caused him to seek sexual gratification in a ‘scripted and controlled’ manner.”

Way back as 1982, a prison report described him as “having a serious personality disorder centered on psychosexual problems of identification,” a diagnosis consistent with reports of Purkey’s childhood sexual abuse. Dr. Peterson also found within Purkey’s records a statement from his aunt, which corroborated Purkey’s claims of childhood abuse.”

The other murder, in state court, was of a woman named Mary Ruth Bales. “Nine months after raping and murdering Jennifer Long, Purkey was employed by a plumbing company. He met Bales when he responded to a service call at her home during the evening of October 26, 1998,” court records say.

“Purkey told Bales that his employer charged a great deal for the particular job she needed, and he offered to return later to do the work under the table if she would pay him $70 up front. She paid, and Purkey left, using Bales’s money to hire a prostitute and buy several rocks of crack cocaine the next morning. Purkey and the prostitute proceeded to a motel room for several hours, where they had sex and smoked the crack cocaine before driving together to Bales’s house. Telling the prostitute that someone who lived in the home owed him money, Purkey went inside with a toolbox from his truck and bludgeoned Bales to death in her bedroom with a claw hammer. Investigators determined that Bales, who had suffered from polio and walked with a cane, died from blunt force trauma resulting from repeated strikes to her skull with the claw side of the hammer. Bales also suffered from defensive wounds on both hands.”

Alfred Bourgeois

alfred Burgeous

Alfred Bourgeois

Alfred Bourgeois, according to the release, “physically and emotionally tortured, sexually molested, and then beat to death his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter.”

“On March 16, 2004, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas found Bourgeois guilty of multiple offenses, including murder, and he was sentenced to death. Bourgeois’ execution is scheduled to occur on Jan. 13, 2020.”

Court records refer to the daughter as JG. “Initially, JG lived with the Bourgeois family at their home in LaPlace, where they remained until May 28, 2002 After that, JG accompanied the family on Bourgeois’s long-haul trucking route, residing with the other four in his 18-wheel tractor/trailor until her death, approximately one month later,” the records say.

“From the outset, Bourgeois systematically abused and tortured his two-year-old daughter in several ways. For example, Bourgeois became fixated on JG’s toilet training. Her training potty became JG’s primary seat during the day, and Bourgeois even forced her to sleep on it when they were traveling at night. When she had ‘accidents,’ Bourgeois would strike JG and then tell his older daughter, AB1994, that it was her fault,” say the records.

“In addition, Bourgeois constantly beat and otherwise assaulted JG. He punched her in the face with enough force to give her black eyes. He whipped her with an electrical cord, and he beat her with a belt so hard that it broke. Bourgeois hit JG in the head with a plastic baseball bat so many times that her head ‘was swollen like a football.’ Later, when he was in jail, Bourgeois laughed to a fellow inmate that ‘[t]hat f—ing baby’s head got as big as a watermelon.’ There was also evidence that, before the Bourgeois family left LaPlace, Bourgeois had thrown JG against the wall of the master bedroom. He scratched and pulled her ears, bit her hands, feet, and forehead, and burned the bottom of her foot with a cigarette lighter. Bourgeois’s wife, Robin, and others noticed that bruises and other injuries appeared on JG’s body shortly after she came to stay with the Bourgeois family, and that, between the middle and end of May, JG’s hands and feet had become extremely calloused and swollen.   When others tried to clean the sores on JG’s feet, Bourgeois would stop them and jam his dirty thumb into the wounds, then force JG to walk on her injured feet.”

In addition to physically torturing JG, Bourgeois traumatized her emotionally, the court records allege. “For example, on one occasion, Bourgeois decided that it was time for JG to learn how to swim, despite her tender years and fear of the water. Bourgeois picked up the two-year-old and tossed her several feet in the air and into a swimming pool. He allowed her to sink for several seconds before pulling her out, then repeated the ‘lesson’ for thirty minutes while JG choked and gasped for air.   Similarly, when the family visited a California beach on Bourgeois’s long-haul trucking route, he forced JG into the ocean even though she was terrified of the water, holding her under the water and letting the waves roll over her. By the time they left the beach, JG had swallowed so much salt water that she had difficulty walking and was ill with a swollen stomach.”

There was also evidence of sexual abuse. “When the family was staying in LaPlace in May, Bourgeois slept in the master bedroom with JG and AB1994 behind a locked door, while Robin slept in a different bedroom. Late that month, a family friend noticed blood in JG’s diaper and convinced Bourgeois and Robin to take JG to Louisiana Child Protective Services (‘CPS’) for an evaluation. There, the examining physician concluded that the source of the blood was external irritation to JG’s genitalia.  Although the doctor determined that the cause of the injury was inconclusive, he noted that it could have been the result of vaginal trauma. The same doctor examined JG after her death and found a similar but more severe irritation to JG’s genitalia, this time concluding that the irritation was likely caused by vaginal trauma. Furthermore, after JG’s death, rectal swabs revealed the presence of semen.”

This is how the murder was described: “He…slammed the back of her head into the front and side window area around the dashboard four times. Meanwhile, warehouse personnel who were standing in the trailer felt shaking coming from within the cab of Bourgeois’s truck….JG’s body was limp, her eyes were closed, and her heart was racing.” The child died and officials noted that “JG had (1) a bruised shoulder, (2) human bite marks on her back and arm, (3) scratch marks and injuries to her ears, (4) loop marks on her body consistent with an electrical cord, and (5) a circular hole a quarter of an inch deep on the bottom of one foot.  When she opened JG’s torso for examination, Dr. Rouse observed deep tissue bruising in every area of JG’s body. All in all, JG exhibited 25 or 26 whip marks, 78 healed scars, 73 to 105 nonspecific contusions, 8 pattern contusions, 9 or 10 abrasions or excoriations, 7 to 9 healing ulcerations, and 3 lacerations. On the basis of JG’s injuries, Dr. Rouse concluded that JG was a chronically abused or battered child. She determined that the ultimate cause of death was an impact to the head resulting in a devastating brain injury.”

Furthermore, to the extent that Bourgeois challenges the district court’s acknowledgment of the authority of the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to determine the particulars of Bourgeois’s execution, his argument is without merit.  Section 3596(a) specifies that Bourgeois’s execution is to take place “in the manner prescribed by the law of the State in which the sentence is imposed.”20  Texas effects the death penalty “by intravenous injection of a substance or substances in a lethal quantity sufficient to cause death until such convict is dead, such execution procedure to be

Bourgeois claimed in court that he was “intellectually disabled.”

Dustin Lee Honken

dustin honken

Dustin Honken

Dustin Lee Honken, the release reports, “shot and killed five people—two men who planned to testify against him and a single, working mother and her ten-year-old and six-year-old daughters.” There was a TV show created about the case.

“On Oct. 14, 2004, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa found Honken guilty of numerous offenses, including five counts of murder during the course of a continuing criminal enterprise, and he was sentenced to death. Honken’s execution is scheduled to occur on Jan. 15, 2020.”

Although the reinstatement of the federal death penalty is provoking controversy, the Justice Department noted: “Each of these inmates has exhausted their appellate and post-conviction remedies, and currently no legal impediments prevent their executions, which will take place at U.S. Penitentiary Terre Haute, Indiana. Additional executions will be scheduled at a later date.”

According to federal court records, “In 1993, after being indicted on federal drug trafficking charges, Dustin Lee Honken (Honken) and his girlfriend, Angela Johnson (Johnson), kidnapped and murdered a federal witness, the witness’s girlfriend, and the girlfriend’s two young daughters. Honken and Johnson murdered another potential federal witness three months later.”

Honken was selling meth. “Honken and his best friend, Timothy Cutkomp (Cutkomp), began manufacturing methamphetamine in Arizona in 1992. Honken distributed his methamphetamine to only two dealers, Greg Nicholson (Nicholson) and Terry DeGeus (DeGeus). Both Nicholson and DeGeus were located in the Mason City, Iowa, area,” the records say.

Law enforcement became aware of the operation, and Nicholson began cooperating with them. Meanwhile, according to court records, “…in mid-July 1993, a mutual friend introduced Nicholson to Lori Duncan (Duncan). Duncan was a single, working mother raising her two girls, Kandi (age 10) and Amber (age 6). Nicholson began staying at Duncan’s house…. On July 25, 1993, Nicholson, Duncan, Kandi, and Amber suddenly disappeared.” DeGeus then disappeared as well.

Authorities eventually discovered the bodies. “Officers discovered the bodies of Nicholson and the Duncan family, buried in a single hole located in a wooded area outside Mason City. Kandi and Amber each had a single bullet hole in the back of their heads,” court records say. “Nicholson and Duncan were bound, gagged, and shot multiple times, including once in the head. DeGeus’s body was found in a field a few miles away, face down in a shallow hole. DeGeus had been shot one or more times, and his skull was severely fragmented, requiring significant reconstruction.”