Chima Simone Bathtub killer Story:
'Bathtub killer,' who was convicted of Arlington woman's 1996 slaying, is
10:00 AM CST on Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The Associated Press
HUNTSVILLE, Texas – A Louisiana man condemned for strangling and drowning an Arlington woman, charged with the slaying of a second and blamed for the rapes of at least five other women was executed Tuesday evening.
Asked if he had any final statement, Dale Devon Scheanette paused and said, "My only statement is that no cases ever tried have been error-free. Those are my words. No cases are error-free."
Scheanette then told the warden he could proceed. He selected no witnesses for his death. Six relatives of his two murder victims watched as he took his final breath. He never looked at them.
Nine minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow, he was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m.
Scheanette, 35, became known as the "Bathtub Killer" after two women at the same apartment complex in Arlington in 1996 were found dead in half-filled bathtubs, strangled, raped and bound with duct tape.
He was sent to death row for the Christmas Eve 1996 slaying of Wendie Prescott, 22, and charged but not tried for killing Christine Vu, 25, three months earlier.
Scheanette was the seventh condemned inmate executed in Texas this year and the first of two set to die this week.
Scheanette, acting as his own lawyer, had appeals rejected Monday in the federal appeals courts. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles also voted 7-0 to turn down a clemency request.
A woman identifying herself as Scheanette's sister filed a three-page handwritten motion on his behalf Tuesday with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a reprieve so he could get a court review of the appeals rejected Monday. The high court turned down the appeal less than an hour before Scheanette was scheduled to die.
The slayings that terrorized the suburban Dallas-Fort Worth area went unsolved for more than three years because detectives couldn't match a fingerprint at the murder scenes to anyone in criminal databases. Finally, in 1999, Scheanette was arrested for a burglary outside Dallas and his prints were tied to the killings. DNA then strengthened the confirmations and also pointed to his involvement in the other rapes.
"He personifies evil," said Greg Miller, the Tarrant County district attorney who prosecuted Scheanette in 2003. "I've been doing this 35, 36 years. I've had others who have killed and done bad things. But he's at the top of the list."
Prosecutors and defense lawyers said it was uncertain what set Scheanette off. Evidence showed that at some time before the Prescott and Vu killings, the native of Ouachita Parish in northern Louisiana had lived at the apartment complex where both women lived and died.
Scheanette declined to speak with reporters as his execution date neared. At his trial, lawyers tried to show the evidence was insufficient to convict him.
"We brought in his family to show he had a pretty good family unit and that he got along well," said J.R. Molina, his trial attorney. "The DNA evidence, the fingerprint evidence that came in, were very strong. Several other instances of burglary, break-ins and rapes that he committed, that was pretty strong evidence to show to a jury."
Prescott's aunt and uncle, concerned when she failed to show up for a shopping trip with her sister, went to her apartment and found her dead.
"I hope he asks God to forgive him and save his soul," Brenda Norwood, Prescott's aunt, told The Dallas Morning News. "I had to forgive because I can't live like that. I can't hate him for what he did because that would not bring Wendie back. You have to move on."
After jurors convicted him of capital murder for the Prescott slaying, prosecutors in the punishment phase of the trial called to the witness stand five women who testified how they were beaten, threatened and raped by Scheanette.
"I am convinced that testimony of those five women was very therapeutic for them," Miller said, describing the women as crying and hugging one another after leaving the witness stand. "It was a pretty moving event. ... It was a miracle he didn't kill any of the other women."
Miller, however, said he was left to wonder how many others Scheanette may have raped or killed.
"The possibility certainly exists," said Tommy LeNoir, the Arlington homicide detective who investigated the slayings. "I will tell you this, without reservation, that the right person is in this position, that the person who took the lives of these two ladies, I have absolutely no reservation that the person responsible is Dale Scheanette."
** just to add - Chima revealed this story on the
On September 17, 1996, Thang Khuu returns home to his Arlington, Texas apartment to find his girlfriend, Christine Vu, dead in the bathtub. Christine's naked body is lifeless, her hands and feet are bound with duct tape and she has been strangled. Khuu pulls his girlfriend out of the tub, and dials 911.
Detective Ed Featherston of the Arlington Police Department takes the call. At the scene he finds no signs of forced entry. However, he does find two critical pieces of evidence left behind by the killer, including semen recovered from Christine's body and a single fingerprint found on a deadbolt lock.
Featherston began his investigation by questioning Thang Khuu. Khuu denied any involvement and provides hair and saliva samples for DNA testing.
Three months later, on Christmas Eve, the bathtub killer strikes again. Twenty three-year-old Wendie Prescott is found dead in her Peartree apartment in the same signature fashion.
Like Christines, Wendie has been raped, strangled, and bound with duct tape. Inside the apartment, crime scene investigators discover a pristine fingerprint pressed into the dust on a TV stand. The print is documented and collected. Semen from both crime scenes is determined to be a match, confirming that a serial killer is on the loose in Arlington.
With the focus off Thang Khuu, detectives spread out and begin looking at every male associated with the Peartree apartment complex. They identify hundreds of residents, employees, and associates of the property, and begin the painstaking process of questioning and eliminating. Thousands of leads are followed up and more than 80 men are eliminated through DNA, yet the detectives are no closer to finding their killer.
Three years later, in February of 1999, 22-year-old Chima Benson sleeps soundly in her sorority house when she wakes up to a masked man in her bedroom. The man brutally beats and rapes Chima, before fleeing into the night. At the hospital semen is collected. The sample is compared to the DNA from the 1996 murders at the Peartree apartment complex, and confirmed to be a match.