Waiting to die: Dustin Lee Honken execution

News 10's Heather Good served as a media witness for Dustin Honken's execution. This is her first-hand account of how it happened.

Posted: Jul 17, 2020 8:02 PM
Updated: Jul 17, 2020 8:04 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Death came much quicker for Dustin Lee Honken. The federal death row inmate was executed on schedule, unlike the two men who came before him. Daniel Lewis Lee and Wesley Ira Purkey both died 16 hours after the scheduled execution due to back-and-forth legal battles that would reach the Supreme Court.

Dustin Honken murdered five people including Lori Duncan and her two daughters Kandace and Amber. Honken was a drug kingpin in Iowa. He shot and killed two men, Greg Nicholson and Terry DeGeus, who planned to testify him, and the family of three.

Who is Dustin Honken?

Offense Date: July 25, 1993

Offense Description: Inmate Honken, shot and killed five people—two men who planned
to testify against him and a single, working mother and her ten-year-old and six-yearold daughters. On October 14, 2004, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern
District of Iowa found inmate Honken guilty of numerous offenses, including five counts
of murder during the course of a continuing criminal enterprise, and he was sentenced
to death.

Sentencing and Incarceration Information
Sentenced on: October 11, 2005
Sentencing District: Northern District of Iowa

Conviction:

  • Conspiracy to Commit Murder
  • Engaging in the Manufacture & Distribution of Methamphetamine
  • Continuing Criminal Enterprise Murder

Committed: October 13, 2005 to the Federal Bureau of Prisons

Jail Credit: No Jail Credit

Time Served at date of execution: 22 years and 5 months

SOURCE: BOP

----

WESLEY PURKEY'S EXECUTION

DANIEL LEE'S EXECUTION

I served as a media witness to Honken’s execution. I was one of seven members of the press to document his final moments.

LINK | WAITING TO DIE: DANIEL LEWIS LEE EXECUTION

The Department of Justice scheduled his execution for Friday, July 17th at 4 p.m. Unlike the two federal executions earlier in the week, Honken’s went on as scheduled inside the execution chamber in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Media witnesses were escorted into the media area of the chamber at 4:03 p.m. I heard a few brief mumbles behind the windows into the area where Honken was already strapped to the gurney.

The curtain was lifted at 4:05 p.m. and a minute later the marshal notified the gallery there were no legal impediments to the execution.

By 4:36 p.m. he was dead.

Like all death row inmates strapped to the gurney, Honken was given the opportunity to make a final statement. He did not raise his head to address the media witnesses, victim’s families or his own witnesses.

Instead, he looked toward the ceiling and recited a poem called Heaven-Haven.

'I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.
And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.'

Honken then proceeded to pray. “Hail Mary, full of grace,” he said, “pray for me. I am a sinner.”

He ended his remarks by saying, “Mary Mother full of God, pray for me.”

Honken was joined in the chamber by a United States marshal, two Bureau of Prisons officials and his spiritual advisor. The priest stood in the corner of the room with a face mask.

Another face mask sat on the gurney behind Honken’s head as if he had been wearing it earlier. A green sheet covered his body up to his neck. He wore a brown shirt.

A fatal dose of pentobarbital ran through intravenous lines that passed from a room holding the medical team through a square hole in the wall. Those lines connected to Honken’s left arm and right hand.

LINK | WAITING TO DIE: WESLEY IRA PURKEY EXECUTION

Honken never looked up. He kept his eyes on the ceiling and blinked as the poison first pumped through his veins. He puffed air out of his mouth a few times. His feet moved slightly.

By 4:09 p.m. his eyes were closed. His breathing got weaker and appeared more as stomach gurgles than actual breaths.

By 4:11 p.m. I no longer saw any movement. His face and hands grew paler and eventually the tips of his fingers and the inside of his lips appeared blue.

I watched the clock and waited for death to be declared.

At 4:35 p.m. a man entered the chamber. He used a stethoscope to listen to Honken’s chest before leaving the room. An announcement was made through a speaker in the chamber saying death occurred at 4:36 p.m.
The families of Honken’s victims were offered the opportunity to address the press. They decline the offer but, instead, released written statements.

The family of Terry DeGeus said:

“The reason for us being present today was not to watch a man die. It was to show love, support, and respect to my daughter’s father, Terry. That we loved him until the end and still do. It was the least we could do.”

The Family of Lori, Kandace and Amber Duncan said in part:
“Finally justice is being done. It will bring a sense of closure but we will continue to live with their loss. However this is a step toward healing of broken hearts and shattered lives.”

Terre Haute
Partly Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 40°
Robinson
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 34°
Indianapolis/Eagle Creek
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 34°
Paris
Partly Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 30°
Mattoon/Charleston
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 37°
Terre Haute
Partly Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 40°
Terre Haute
Partly Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 40°
Cold, Patchy Frost
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1285298

Reported Deaths: 23826
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook5150759776
DuPage852721242
Will70754954
Lake63931960
Kane54789749
Winnebago30463457
Madison29638512
St. Clair26990500
McHenry26537276
Peoria20450276
Champaign19531136
Sangamon17479229
McLean16500169
Tazewell15507252
Rock Island14100303
Kankakee13332196
Kendall1211990
LaSalle11594228
Macon10098189
DeKalb9079118
Vermilion8976123
Adams8132116
Williamson7166125
Whiteside6698161
Boone629671
Clinton569190
Ogle566678
Grundy555971
Coles548294
Knox5243136
Jackson482763
Effingham465771
Henry465461
Macoupin455781
Livingston454383
Stephenson444879
Marion4377114
Franklin430970
Woodford430562
Monroe429690
Jefferson4127118
Randolph407584
Lee389349
Morgan373779
Montgomery363472
Logan358356
Fulton356050
Bureau350080
Christian348371
Perry312859
Fayette312654
Iroquois288364
Jersey260248
Douglas253635
McDonough251742
Saline246853
Lawrence238625
Shelby223837
Union222840
Crawford208425
Bond196024
Cass194324
Pike174951
Clark174332
Jo Daviess173924
Wayne172551
Warren172146
Hancock171430
Richland170639
Carroll168335
Ford168146
White166326
Edgar165639
Washington162225
Moultrie155825
Clay147042
Greene141932
Piatt140814
Mason139841
Johnson138314
De Witt136523
Mercer134433
Wabash134112
Massac130939
Cumberland127819
Menard117211
Jasper114017
Marshall96517
Hamilton81615
Schuyler6935
Brown6846
Pulaski6787
Stark59823
Edwards54812
Henderson51914
Calhoun5072
Scott4671
Alexander46210
Gallatin4534
Putnam4393
Hardin36512
Pope3043
Out of IL20
Unassigned02286

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 700775

Reported Deaths: 13167
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion956451709
Lake51038935
Allen38781670
Hamilton34153404
St. Joseph33552538
Elkhart26950431
Vanderburgh21987393
Tippecanoe21560212
Johnson17387373
Porter17124297
Hendricks16690309
Clark12628190
Madison12271337
Vigo12126243
Monroe11302166
LaPorte10716204
Delaware10271184
Howard9590211
Kosciusko9037113
Hancock7896139
Bartholomew7824153
Warrick7665155
Floyd7526176
Wayne6865197
Grant6753168
Boone651099
Morgan6356138
Dubois6060117
Marshall5729108
Cass5662102
Dearborn566175
Henry5554100
Noble535583
Jackson490769
Shelby476095
Lawrence4322118
Gibson426188
Harrison425770
Montgomery415586
Clinton414753
DeKalb404883
Huntington375180
Whitley373939
Miami370865
Knox364689
Steuben360757
Putnam351460
Wabash345777
Jasper343746
Adams337452
Ripley332868
Jefferson307479
White306654
Daviess288299
Wells284480
Decatur278592
Fayette276962
Greene269385
Posey268033
Scott259053
Clay251544
LaGrange250170
Randolph234179
Washington229629
Spencer227331
Jennings224247
Fountain207445
Sullivan207341
Starke200352
Owen191056
Fulton190039
Jay185329
Carroll184820
Perry178936
Orange176152
Rush169824
Vermillion165643
Franklin165135
Tipton160843
Parke143616
Blackford132431
Pike129834
Pulaski112845
Newton102834
Brown99340
Crawford96914
Benton95313
Martin82215
Warren78815
Switzerland7698
Union69510
Ohio55511
Unassigned0405