What to know about the pending Idaho execution of serial killer Thomas Creech

The condemned prisoner claims he has been rehabilitated.

February 26, 2024, 2:50 PM

Idaho's longest-serving death row inmate, 73-year-old serial killer Thomas Eugene Creech, is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday barring a last-minute grant of clemency and despite pleas to spare him from the most unlikely advocates -- prison staffers who have cared for him behind bars and the judge who sentenced him to death.

Creech is set to die by lethal injection at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution near Boise, officials said.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little said he has "zero intention" of halting the execution.

"Thomas Creech is a convicted serial killer responsible for acts of extreme violence," Little said in a statement issued on Jan. 29. "His lawful and just sentence must be carried out as ordered by the court. Justice has been delayed long enough."

PHOTO: This image provided by the Idaho Department of Correction shows Thomas Eugene Creech on Jan. 9, 2009. Creech, Idaho's longest-serving death row inmate, is scheduled to be executed Feb. 28, 2024 in Idaho.
This image provided by the Idaho Department of Correction shows Thomas Eugene Creech on Jan. 9, 2009. Creech, Idaho's longest-serving death row inmate, is scheduled to be executed Feb. 28, 2024 in Idaho.
AP

But in his latest appeal for mercy, Creech claimed he had been rehabilitated while on death row and his attorneys argued he had gone the last 28 years without being written up for a disciplinary offense.

A former prison nurse, a former prosecutor, prison guards and even the judge who sentenced Creech to death all filed declarations backing his request for clemency, which was denied in a 3-3 vote on Jan. 29 by the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole.

Judge Robert Newhouse of the Fourth Judicial District Court in Boise, who sentenced Creech to death in 1983, said in his declaration to the commission that Creech should serve the rest of his life in prison and that executing him would "just be an act of vengeance."

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco also denied Creech's latest appeal in a ruling issued Saturday.

PHOTO: Thomas Creech, Idaho's longest-serving death row prisoner, remains at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution as he awaits his clemency hearing on Jan. 19.
Thomas Creech, Idaho's longest-serving death row prisoner, remains at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution as he awaits his clemency hearing on Jan. 19.
Idaho Statesman/TNS/Getty Images, FILE

Creech, according to prosecutors, has been convicted of five murders in three states, including three committed in Idaho.

In a 1993 opinion issued by the U.S. Supreme Court denying an appeal filed by Creech, late Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote that "Creech admitted to killing or participating in the killing of at least 26 people."

"The bodies of 11 of his victims -- who were shot, stabbed, beaten, or strangled to death -- have been recovered in seven states," she said.

The last murder Creech pleaded guilty to occurred in 1981 at an Idaho maximum security prison when he killed 23-year-old David Dale Jensen, a disabled fellow inmate, by beating him to death with a sock filled with batteries, according to prosecutors. At the time of Jensen's slaying, Creech was serving two life sentences for a double murder he committed in Idaho and had been convicted of murders in California and Oregon.

Creech argued in his recent appeal rejected by the Ninth Circuit Court that his due process rights were violated by the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole and the Ada County, Idaho, Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

At the commutation hearing in October, Ada County deputy prosecutor Jill Longhurst told the commission that Creech is a "sociopath" who has "utter disregard for human life."

"Mr. Creech is a serial killer, and in 1981 said he would kill again, and he did," Longhurst told the commission. "Thomas Creech is the most prolific serial killer in Idaho."