On November 17, 1998 serial killer Kenneth Allen McDuff was finally put to death by lethal injection in Huntsville prison for the 1992 abduction, rape and murder of 22-year-old Melissa Ann Northrup, a pregnant mother of two from Waco. Before dying, the 52-year-old McDuff said, "I'm ready to be released; release me."
McDuff also faced a second death sentence for the 1991 abduction and slaying of 28-year-old Austin accountant Colleen Reed, and authorities say he may have killed as many as a dozen other people, primarily in central Texas between Austin and Waco. For his last meal, he requested two T-bone steaks, five fried eggs, vegetables, french fries, coconut pie and a Coca-Cola.
McDuff, first imprisoned in 1965 for burglary, went to death row in 1968 for fatally shooting in the face two teen-age boys in Fort Worth and raping and strangling their 16-year-old female companion. But while he was awaiting execution, the Supreme Court in 1972 struck down the death penalty as unconstitutional and McDuff's sentence was commuted to life.
He won parole about 17 years later when parole board members, facing overcrowded Texas prisons, released him along with thousands of other inmates. Ms. Northrup and Ms. Reed were killed a short time later. McDuff was thought to be the only U.S. criminal ever to go to death row for one murder, get out of jail, then be sent back to death row for another killing.
The subject of a nationwide manhunt, McDuff was arrested in 1992 in Kansas City, where under an assumed name he was working as a trash collector.
After his execution authorities revealed that McDuff was secretly taken out of prison to help police find the body of one of his victims in exchange for a reduced sentence for his drug dealing nephew.
In a highly unusual move, McDuff was taken out of death row under heavy guard for two days in October to search for the body of Colleen Reed of Austin because authorities were unable to find her body with maps he drew.
Authorities had earlier found the bodies of two Waco women, Reginia Moore and Brenda Thompson, using McDuff's maps. Earlier, authorities said they found the bodies with help from an informant, but they didn't identify the informant.
In exchange for the help finding the bodies a federal judge reduced the sentence of McDuff's nephew, Michael Wayne Royals, 42, from 15 years to 10 years. Royals is serving a prison term for delivery of amphetamines and methamphetamines.
Like all proficient killers, he has a book out called "No Remorse", and before being executed he is said to have posted the brief message: "If there is anyone left out there, drop me a letter."In a nonprofit prisoners advocacy group Web site.