On June 4, 1998, rampager Douglas Edward Gretzler -- who had been on death row since November 15, 1976 -- was executed by lethal injection for two murders in Arizona's first daytime execution. Gretzler, 47, who along with mental hospital escapee Willie Luther Steelman, confessed to killing 17 people during a week long rampage through Arizona and northern California. Asked if he had any last words, Gretzler turned his head toward the 35 witnesses behind the glass and said: "From the bottom of my soul, I'm so deeply sorry and have been for years for murdering Michael and Patricia Sandberg.... Though I am being executed for that crime, I apologize to all 17 victims and their families."
Gretzler and Steelman were convicted in the November 3, 1973, slayings of Marine Capt. Michael Sandberg and his wife, Patricia, at their Tucson condominium. The lethal duo spotted Sandberg washing his car in a parking lot and forced him into his home, where his 32-year-old wife, a University of Arizona graduate student, was studying.
The couple was hog-tied -- one on a bed, the other on the living-room couch -- for several hours while Gretzler and Steelman ate their food. At sundown, they shot them several times in the head, stole their car, cash and credit cars and headed to northern California.
On November 6, Gretzler and Steelman robbed grocery store owner Walter Parkin of $4,000 in cash and checks and killed all nine people inside Parkin's home outside Victor, California. Among the victims were a 9-year-old boy and 11-year-old girl, both shot in the head as they covered in bed under the sheets.
The killers were arrested two days later in Sacramento where they confessed to six additional killings. Among their possessions was "In Cold Blood," Truman Capote's book about a Kansas murder case.