Saturday, October 3, 2009


Jessica Lunsford, age 9, victim of John Couey (AP)
Jessica Lunsford's murder prompted Florida and other states to pass new laws to improve tracking of sex offenders through databases and satellite positioning devices.

[AP Photo/Larry W. Smith]
Mark Lunsford speaks about the abduction and killing of his daughter, Jessica, during a S.A.F.E. Kansas Task Force panel discussion at Wichita State University.

John Couey: convicted rapist and killer of Jessica Lunsford (AP)
Records show that John Couey had no visitors while in prison.

Convicted child killer Couey dies in prison, Florida officials say
Wed September 30, 2009 /
CNN's Rich Phillips and Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.

(CNN) -- A Florida death-row inmate convicted of abducting and murdering 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford in 2005 has died, prison officials said Wednesday. John Evander Couey, 51, died at 11:15 a.m. ET of natural causes, a Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman told CNN. He had been taken to a Jacksonville, Florida, hospital from Florida State Prison in Starke, Florida.

Because of privacy laws, no further information could be released by the Department of Corrections.

A source close to the case told CNN that Couey's death was not unexpected and he had been ill for some time.

"I never dreamed it would happen like this," Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, told CNN. He said he never thought he would live long enough to see Couey put to death because of the lengthy appeals process.

He said he was sad when he heard the news of Couey's death. "To me, death is sad," he said. "But her death, Jessie's death, has been redeemed ... I'm relieved. I'm glad it's over with."

"I am not shedding any tears," the girl's grandmother, Ruth Lunsford, said on Wednesday. "I don't feel sorry for him. I think God said, 'John Couey, it's time to go.' "

"I don't feel sorry for him that he had to suffer," she said. "He didn't have any mercy on my granddaughter when he murdered her. I'm glad we didn't have to wait years and years for his appeals and execution, and the taxpayers no longer have to pay for him. I'm glad that God took a hand in it."

Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy, who led the investigation into the girl's death, told reporters he wished Couey could have faced the death sentence handed down by the jury.


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