John Couey ((September 19th, 1958 – September 30th, 2009)) was the kidnapper, rapist and murderer of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford in 2005. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 2007, but he died in September 2009 of anal cancer before the sentence could be given.
Charges and Convictions
Couey had a vast criminal record, being arrested 24 times within a 30 year period. His crimes include burglary, possessing a concealed weapon unpermited, and indecent exposure. In 1978 he burglarized a house, and kissed a girl against her will. A 10-year prison sentence was made, but was later paroled two years later. He was arrested and charged in Kissimmee, FL for fondling a child five years of age. Lenient laws at the time allowed him to be released early.
Kidnapping, rape, and murder of Jessica Lunsford
On the morning of February 24, 2005, Jessica Lunsford is noticed missing from the trailer she occupied, with her father and grandparents. At 3 a.m. , John Couey made entrance to the home from an unlocked door. He awakened Jessica and said "Don't yell or nothing." Then instructed her to follow him out of the house.
He brought her to his bedroom at his half-sister's residence. He admitted to then raping her, and keeping her in bed with him for the rest of the night. He proceeded to rape her again the next morning. She was told to remain in his closet, while he went to his job at "Billy's Truck Lot." Three days after the abduction, Couey restrained Lunsford's wrists with speaker wire. She was placed in a couple garbage bags, and layed in a shallow grave, where she suffocated and died.
Lunsford's body was found by authorities on March 18, 2005. She was buried under the front porch, her grave covered with leaves. Her body endured moderate to severe decompisition. Before she suffocated to death, Lunsford protruded two fingers through the bags. The two fingers were found decomposed. The coroner mandated that death had occured within three to five minutes, due to lack of oxygen.
Couey was sentenced to death by Circuit Judge, Richard Howard, on August 24, 2007. He was additionally given three consecutive life terms. The death sentence was soon dropped in accordination with Florida state law.
Couey died of anal cancer, before a court sentence could be made. He was pronounced dead on Septemeber 30, 2009, around 11:15 a.m. EST, at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital.