William Emmett LeCroy, 50, is scheduled to die at 4 p.m. on September 22 at the Terre Haute, Indiana, federal prison for the rape and murder of a 30-year-old nurse practitioner, Joann Tiesler, in Georgia in 2001.
After a 17-year hiatus during which no federal executions were carried out due to questions about the methods being “cruel or unusual,” 2020 has seen a resurgence of federal inmates being put to death by lethal injection. LeCroy will be the sixth person to be executed by the federal government since July, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
When Attorney General William P. Barr directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to resume executions in July, starting with four men who were convicted of killing children, he said in a statement, “The American people, acting through Congress and Presidents of both political parties, have long instructed that defendants convicted of the most heinous crimes should be subject to a sentence of death. … We owe it to the victims of these horrific crimes, and to the families left behind, to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”
LeCroy Is Convicted of Killing Joann Tiesler in Her Home in an Effort to Reverse a Spell He Thought She Cast on Him
According to court documents, LeCroy joined the Army when he was 17 and was stationed in Hawaii, but he went AWOL by the time he was 19. He burglarized homes to get food and was subsequently arrested. He was dishonorably discharged from the Army and went back to Georgia to live with his mother and stepfather. It was 1989.
He started having ongoing sexual contact with his 13-year-old stepsister until he was caught in 1990. Meanwhile, police had been investigating ongoing burglaries in Cobb County with LeCroy as a suspect. They arrested him for both crimes, and LeCroy was convicted in Georgia for aggravated assault, burglary, child molestation and statutory rape, court records showed.
He went to prison for those crimes and was released in August 2001, just months before he would commit the rape and murder that would land him on death row. Upon his release, he went back to live with his mother and stepfather. According to court documents, his stepfather, Sam Houston, was concerned about his behavior and said he’d spent most of his time on the computer. It was later discovered that LeCroy was looking into and ordering survival gear. Around this time, LeCroy kept seeing a particular woman when he would ride into town. Sometimes the two would wave.
That woman was 30-year-old Joann Tiesler. Tiesler was a nurse practitioner who joined the “National Health Corps to help the underserved medical resources in Blue Ridge and Ellijay, Georgia,” according to an obituary. She is described as a “natural healer and teacher, bringing courage and love to everyone she met.”
But LeCroy had his own delusions. According to court documents, LeCroy told a doctor who evaluated him that when he was 8 years old, a babysitter who he remembers only as “Tinkerbell” had molested him a couple of times before he never saw her again. Two decades later, LeCroy got it in his head that Tiesler may be Tinkerbell, and maybe Tinkerbell had put him under a spell all those years ago by doing the sex acts with him — the spell that “explained all the troubles and frustrations in his life,” the court document said. Maybe he could reverse the spell by doing the sex acts again, he thought.
LeCroy Broke Into Tiesler’s Home & Assaulted Her Before Slashing Her Throat & Stabbing Her in the Back 5 Times
On the day of the murder, October 7, 2001, LeCroy broke into Tiesler’s cabin in Cherry Log, Georgia, while she was out and waited for her to return. When she did, he hit her in the head with a shotgun and tied her up. He raped her, then demanded that it was her turn to “undo it.” According to the court records, he repeatedly told her she needed to “do it” and she repeatedly said she didn’t know what he wanted her to do but tried to “appease him.” Yet he only became angrier and said, “Do it or else.” LeCroy wanted her to break the spell he believed had been cast on him as a child.
LeCroy then strangled Tiesler with a cord he found in the cabin — leaving her incapacitated — and, according to court records, said, “That’s it.” He told her, “You can do it or I’ll do it.” Then he pulled Tiesler’s head back by the hair and cut her throat, causing her death. He also stabbed her in the back five times.
CBS reported that after Tiesler was dead, LeCroy used her computer to search for books on witchcraft before taking Tiesler’s car and heading north to try to get into Canada, where he was caught at the border in Minnesota on October 9. Tiesler’s body was found on October 8 by a real estate agent and a co-worker, according to court records.
Besides driving a murdered woman’s car to leave the country, police found plenty of evidence inside the vehicle to charge LeCroy. There was a knife still covered in Tiesler’s blood, according to court records. He had plastic cable ties — the same kind used to tie Tiesler’s wrists. And there were notes.
One was written on the back of a map that said, “Please please please forgive me Joanne [sic]. You were an angel and I killed you. Now I have to live with that and I can never go home. I am a vagabond and doomed to hell.”
A second note said, “Please call the police and report this vehicle as stolen. Thanks, The Thief.”
Semen found inside Tiesler’s body was a match to LeCroy, and he was sentenced to death in 2004.