RAIFORD — Oscar Ray Bolin, convicted of murdering three Tampa-area women in 1986, was executed by lethal injection Thursday night at Florida State Prison.
Bolin, 53, was pronounced dead at 10:16 p.m., 11 minutes after the execution began.
Scheduled for 6 p.m., Bolin’s execution was delayed by the U.S. Supreme Court as it considered a last-minute appeal.
The delay stretched into the night before a decision was reached just before 10 p.m.
About 40 people were inside the execution chamber when the curtain opened at 10:04 p.m. Bolin was strapped to a gurney with a white sheet pulled up to his chin and his arms exposed. His hands were restrained by heavy leather straps.
Bolin looked straight at the ceiling during the procedure.
When asked by a prison official if he had any last words, Bolin replied “No sir.”
The execution phase began at 10:05 p.m. and Bolin was expressionless. A minute later his eyes closed.
Bolin was still and his mouth went slack and opened slightly.
Minutes later a prison official shook Bolin and called his name but he did not respond in any way.
He appeared to stop breathing and at 10:15 p.m. a doctor came in, checked his eyes and his pulse and placed a stethoscope on his chest to check his heart beat. A minute later, Bolin was pronounced dead.
Gov. Rick Scott signed a death warrant for Bolin in October for the murder of Teri Lynn Matthews, who was abducted from a Land O’ Lakes post office, raped, beaten and stabbed to death on Dec. 5, 1986.
After a series of convictions and appeals, Bolin was convicted in 2001.
Matthews’ body was found on the same day she died near railroad tracks in rural Pasco County.
Bolin also was sentenced to death for the 1986 killing of 17-year-old Stephanie Collins, last seen alive in the parking lot of a Carrollwood drugstore in November that year.
Collins’ body was found a month later — the same day as Matthews’ — off Morris Bridge Road in Hillsborough County.
Bolin also murdered Natalie Blanche Holley, 25, who in January 1986 was abducted after she left work at Church’s Chicken in North Tampa. She was stabbed to death and her body was found the next day in a Lutz orange grove. Bolin was sentenced to life in prison for Holley’s murder.
In 1990, Bolin, an Indiana native, was serving a sentence of up to 75 years in an Ohio prison for raping a woman near Toledo when he was extradited to Florida to face the murder charges.
The new husband of Bolin’s ex-wife had called an anonymous tip line to report Bolin’s involvement in the crimes.
Bolin claimed that an Ohio inmate confessed to Matthews’ murder. That inmate committed suicide, but a DNA test was performed. The results excluded the inmate, but did not exclude Bolin.
Nearly 40 people witnessed the execution.
Matthews’ mother, Kathleen Reeves, was among them.
Reeves said later that she was relieved Bolin was finally executed. She thanked law enforcement for their efforts.
“I no longer have to worry and wonder if we would have to endure another trial or appeal,” Reeves said.
She thanked Phillip Bolin, the half brother of Oscar Ray Bolin, for testifying against his brother.
“As to the possibility of ever forgiving Oscar Ray Bolin for (murdering my daughter) it will never happen,” she said.
She said she missed her daughter very much.
“You were the sunshine in our lives. Rest in peace my darling daughter,” she said.
Stephanie Collins mother, Donna Witmer, also spoke briefly.
“We all miss Stephanie every day,” she said. “I can’t have her back.”
On Thursday, Bolin awoke at 6 a.m. and visited with his wife Rosalie for three hours.
He also met with a catholic spiritual adviser for two hours and was “calm and in good spirits,” said McKinley Lewis, communications director for the depth of corrections.
His last meal was served at 10 a.m.
Bolin ate half of a medium-rare rib-eye steak, half of a baked potato with sour cream, a few bites if a salad with thousand island dressing, garlic bread, some lemon meringue pie and half a bottle of Coke, Lewis said.
Sometime before 6 p.m. he was brought into a 6-by-9-foot holding cell to await his execution.
And that’s where he sat as 6 p.m. came and went.
The delay lasted nearly four hours but ultimately Bolin would not live to see another day.
Bolin’s attorney Bjorn Brunvand appeared to weep quietly as he left the chamber.
He gathered himself before speaking with the press.
“One of the things I found out about people charged with horrific crimes is that they are fellow human beings who have had (terrible) lives,” Brunvand said. “As far as Oscar Ray Bolin is concerned, he always maintained his innocence. He was in a place where he could not harm anyone and he was perfectly healthy.”
Bolin and his wife Rosalie provided comfort to each other for 20 years, he said.
“I think the whole process is disgusting,” Brunvand said.
Outside the prison Thursday a small group of death penalty protestors gathered in a roped-off area across the street. They huddled in blankets and held signs that questioned the logic of executions.
During an interview on the day before his death Bolin professed his innocence.
“I didn’t know ‘em, never seen ‘em, never met ‘em,” he said of the three victims in an interview Wednesday with WTVT-TV in Tampa.
Bolin told the TV station that evidence used to convict him was both tampered with and planted.
“My conscience is clear,” he said. “I’m at peace with myself. It’s my release. My punishment’s over.
“I didn’t do it, you’re not going to believe me, fine,” he said, adding that “After 28 years of this, being in this box for 28 years, it’s a release. My punishment’s over. They can’t hurt me no more.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.