Moeller’s last statement leaves questionsThe final words of a man executed Tuesday night for killing a 9-year-old girl appeared to some onlookers to mock those witnessing his death, including the child’s mother. But prison officials say that may not have been the case.
By: Kristi Eaton, The Daily Republic
The final words of a man executed Tuesday night for killing a 9-year-old girl appeared to some onlookers to mock those witnessing his death, including the child’s mother. But prison officials say that may not have been the case.
Donald Moeller, 60 was executed at the state penitentiary in Sioux Falls for the 1990 kidnapping, rape and murder of Becky O’Connell in Sioux Falls.
Before the lethal dose of pentobarbital was administered, he was asked for his last words, to which he replied, “No, sir.” But then he looked up and, according to prison officials, asked: “They’re my fan club?”
Some speculated that Moeller was referring to people watching the execution, including Becky’s mother and stepfather, who had traveled from their home in New York to watch his death.
But the Department of Corrections released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying witnesses and prison staff could hear inmates in nearby cells, possibly cheering. That led DOC officials to believe Moeller might have been referring to his fellow inmates, and some who witnessed the execution thought Moeller may have said, “Hear my fan club?”
“Although one can only speculate, it is our belief that Inmate Moeller’s reference to a ‘fan club’ was intended toward the other inmates, and not those people witnessing or staffing the execution,” the DOC statement said.
The confusion only adds another unanswered question for Becky’s mother, Tina Curl, and stepfather, Dave Curl. Not only are they uncertain about the intent behind Moeller’s last words, but they’d hoped to learn why Moeller targeted their daughter, who disappeared after leaving her Sioux Falls home to walk to a convenience store to buy sugar for lemonade.
Curl had written Moeller letters in prison asking for answers; he never replied. On his death bed, he offered no insight.
Moeller fought his conviction and death sentence for years until July, when he announced that he was ready to accept death as the consequence of his actions — and only then did he finally admit to killing Becky.
Moeller’s death marked the second execution in South Dakota in as many weeks. On Oct. 15, Eric Robert died in the same death chamber for the April 2011 killing of prison guard Ronald “R.J.” Johnson. There was no dispute in Robert’s final words: “It is done.”