Tag Archive for Missouri

Mercy for the Merciless?

William Rousan

Update: April 23, 2014.
The state has carried out the execution of 57-year-old William Rousan today. Because the first part of the article — whether or not Missouri would be able to find a lethal cocktail to kill Rousan — is irrelevant, I’ve deleted that part and cut to the chase.

This is an article about the heinous, atrocious, and cruel crimes of William Rousan, his son, Brent, and William’s kid brother, Robert, who started out one night in 1993 as cattle rustlers and ended up as murderers. …
On September 21, 1993, William Rousan and his co-conspirators set out from the farm where Rousan, a convicted rapist who was 37 years old at the time and his 16-year-old son, Brent, lived with William’s girlfriend. Earlier in the day the three men (by his own admission, despite his tender years Brent said he was “man enough to do whatever had to be done”) decided to rustle some cattle from the Washington County farm of 62-year-old Charles Lewis and his wife Grace, 62.
William had known the Lewises since 1975 and once sought refuge at their farm after escaping from prison in Washington state. Not only did Charles give William food, clothing, and shelter at that time, when the fugitive was leaving the farm the Lewises gave him $20.
Charles and Grace were not home when the three men parked William’s truck a mile or so away from the farm and walked through some woods to the farm. William pointed out some of the cattle they planned to steal.
William brought a .22-caliber rifle with him. The trio had already discussed killing the Lewises, agreeing — according to testimony at the trial — that “if it had to be done (then) it had to be done.”
William and Brent argued about who should carry the rifle, with William claiming that his son was not man enough. It was then that Brent countered that he was man enough to do what had to be done.
While cattle rustling was no longer a capital crime in Missouri, murder was, and William warned Brent that if they were caught they would “fry.” He was correct if speaking figuratively, but incorrect if he thought the state would sentence him to the electric chair — at the time Missouri was one of several states that used the gas chamber.
It is clear from the get-go that the Rousans came to the Lewis farm intent on murder. Charles and Grace were not home when the men arrived, and instead of rustling a few head of cattle and leaving, the trio lay in wait for their return.
The couple arrived home sometime between 3 and 4 p.m. and while Grace, who was in ill health, spoke with her daughter on the telephone, Charles went outside and started mowing the lawn.
According to testimony, Brent became impatient and urged his father and uncle to “do it.” William told his son to wait until he and Robert secured the home.
Robert took the back door while William prepared to enter the front. Before they could reach the house Charles saw Brent and called out. Brent showed he was a crack shot and fired a half-dozen rounds, hitting Charles each time.
Grace told her daughter she heard gunfire and was going outside to check. She hung up the phone and that was the last time anyone spoke with her.
Brent proved his “manhood” by shooting Grace several times, breaking both of her arms. Seriously, but not fatally, wounded, Grace ran back into the house where she was met by William. He covered her head and torso with a garment bag, picked her up, and carried her outside.
“Finish her,” he reportedly said to Brent, throwing the wounded grandmother to the ground.
Brent complied, firing a single bullet into the left side of her head.
They wrapped the bodies in a tarp, picked up the shell casings, and wiped down the blood inside the house. Then they put the bodies near a shed and left, planning to return later to dispose of them and pick up a few head of cattle.
The three men, along with Jerry Rousan, another brother, returned to the Lewis farm that night. There, they loaded the bodies into Charles’s truck. They took two cows, a VCR, jewelry, soda, two gas cans, and a saddle. The four men then returned to the farm where William lived. On the return trip, Brent bragged about the murders, testimony at the trial revealed.
At that farm, owned by William’s girlfried, the men buried their victims in a shallow grave by the barn. The grave may have been shallow, but it was well-concealed. After digging the grave and placing the bodies in it, they poured concrete over the bodies. Then the grave was covered with a pile of manure.
The murderers disposed of the stolen property in various ways over the next year: The cows were sold at auction; Robert gave the VCR to his sister and brother-in-law, Barbara and Bruce Williams, on the day following the murders. They pawned the VCR approximately eight months later. William buried the couple’s personal items and on special occasions throughout the year, gave the jewelry to his girlfriend. The conspirators burned the stolen truck.When the Lewis’s daughter could not reach her parents by phone she contacted the sheriff’s office, which began an investigation into the disappearance.
But there was little the authorities could do and the case went cold for almost a year until Bruce Williams, for reasons that were not brought out at the trial, dropped a dime on his brother-in-law. Robert was quickly arrested and began cooperating once the offer was made to not only take the death penalty off the table, but to serve a pretty short sentence considering the brutality of the crime.
On September 20, 1994, William contacted Bruce Williams to ask for a ride to a barn in Washington County. Williams took him to the barn, then notified the police. William, armed with a .22 caliber rifle, was arrested at the barn without incident.
The badly decomposed bodies of Charles and Grace, still wrapped in the tarp, were unearthed soon after.
He was taken to Washington County Sheriff’s Department. There, the officers advised him of his Miranda rights and questioned him. William, probably thinking he was smarter than the cops, decided to talk. He spun a story that only an idiot would believe.
Recounting how me met the met the Lewises in 1975 and the misguided kindness of Charles shortly after, William told investigators that he returned to the farm in June 1993 only to find Grace in poor health. Charles asked that William “put Grace out of her misery” and kill him as well because he could not bear to live without his wife. When the detectives refused to believe him, William said that one of the Lewises’ sons promised him $50,000 if he killed his parents.
The self-admitted ringleader, William was convicted of two counts of first degree murder.
Brent, 16 at the time of the murders, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and is serving consecutive life sentences without the possibility for parole.
Robert, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The plea agreement for the lesser charge and sentence was in return for Robert Rousan’s testimony at his brother’s trial.
William was one of six inmates on Missouri’s death row who claimed that the state’s new method of execution is cruel and unconstitutional. The state announced its intention to return to the gas chamber if the condemned prisoners’ suit was successful. If that’s the case, Rousan may find that at his own expense he won the battle but lost the war.
Update: Rousan lost the battle. He was executed by a lethal injection of Propofol.

Killing Spree

Eric Elliott sits in an Oklahoma prison, far away from his family in Ohio. He will spend the rest of his life behind bars, thanks to a two-week odyssey of death and mayhem that began on August 15, 1994 when he met Louis E. Gilbert.
Elliott was a troubled young man, but until he met Gilbert, he wasn’t violent. Interestingly, the same could be said about Gilbert. He was a petty thief and ex-con, but had never been trigger-happy until he hooked up with Elliott.
The 16-year-old Elliott and the 22-year-old Gilbert met in Newcomerstown, Ohio, birthplace of astronaut Neil Armstrong, but while Armstrong would go on to explore the heavens, Elliott and Gilbert managed only to create a bit of hell on earth.
Few people in Newcomerstown liked Gilbert, and few were surprised when he was arrested after his killing spree. They speculated that Elliott tolerated Gilbert because he could buy alcohol.
It all started the day Gilbert was released from an Ohio prison for stealing a boat. For some reason, they decided to steal a car and it was all downhill from there.
Their first victim was 79-year-old Ruth Lucille Loader of Newcomerstown, who had the car the two men needed to get out of town. Gilbert admitted later on that he shot and killed the 82-pound cancer survivor, whose body was never found despite a massive search by friends and the law enforcement community.
Lucy and her late husband had lived in the 12-room farm house on the outskirts of Newcomerstown for more than 50 years and had raised four children there.
Her Buick turned up two weeks later, stuck in the mud in Calloway County, Missouri. Like so many other killers, they had followed America’s sewer pipe — I-70 — westward, stopping to wreak havoc and bringing senseless death along for the ride.
Elliott and Gilbert abandoned Lucy’s Buick and started walking, eventually stopping at the home of William F. Brewer, age 86, and Flossie Mae Brewer, age 75. After talking with the couple for a half-hour, they forced the couple into the basement of their farmhouse, shot both of them three times in the head, and stole their car, cash, and rifles.
The murderers left behind the children of the Brewers, who wondered why two able-bodied young men had to kill when it was just as easy to steal from the elderly couple. William’s cane was found next to his body. A walker was waiting upstairs where he left it. Flossie’s hands had been tied with a phone cord.
“They had no reason for what they done,” the son who discovered his parents dead in their basement told a reporter. “It was just plain orneriness. They just had no pity.”
With California as their goal, the killers headed out again, turning south toward Oklahoma and another date with death.
They ended up at Lake Stanley Draper near Norman, Oklahoma where they met Roxy Lynn Ruddell, a 37-year-old unarmed security guard who watched over a marina and whose job perks included all the fishing she wanted to do. She had been married a little over two years when she was murdered, and was working the night-time security guard job to help realize a lifelong dream.
Roxy wanted to own a horse ranch one day, and she had a pickup truck the killers wanted. They took it and kidnapped her as they continued their spree. She was shot and her body was dumped a short time later. A motocross rider waiting for his friends to catch up with him found Roxy’s body alongside a trail near the lake.
After finding the body, the bikers headed toward the ranger station, but the Brewers’ abandoned car blocked the trail’s exit.
louisgilbertGilbert and Elliott were headed further west with police from three states now on their trail.
Two days after Roxy was killed, Gilbert and Elliott were sleeping in a culvert outside Santa Fe, N.M., when state police acting on a tip found them. Two rifles, a shotgun and a pistol were found at their campsite.
Family, friends and police from Ohio, Missouri and Oklahoma all wanted a piece of the pair. If it was up to Elliott and Gilbert, they would have opted to head back to Ohio, where they had the best chance of staying alive.
In the end, Oklahoma got the first shot at them. Gilbert received the death penalty and Elliott was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Gilbert’s 73 IQ wasn’t low enough to save him from a date with the needle, nor was the fact that his father liked to beat him with a two-by-four. He was executed in 2003.
Elliott has never offered any assistance in locating Lucy’s body.