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Lethal Injection

Missouri Man Executed for Deaths of Girlfriend, Her Daughter

A Missouri man who killed his girlfriend and her 2-year-old daughter with a butcher knife was put to death Tuesday.

Richard Strong, 48, was executed at the state prison in Bonne Terre for the deaths of Eva Washington and her daughter, Zandrea Thomas, more than 14 years ago. He was the fourth man to die by injection in Missouri this year and the 16th since November 2013. Only Texas has executed more inmates over that span.

IMAGE: Richard Strong
Richard Strong, seen here in 2014, was executed June 9 for the murders of his girlfriend and her 2-year-old daughter 15 years ago in suburban St. Louis. Missouri Department of Corrections / AP

"Jehovah-Jireh, you're my provider. Your grace is sufficient for me. Forgive me for my sin," Strong said in his final statement, according to corrections officials.

During the execution, he breathed deeply several times and briefly raised his head from the gurney pillow before becoming motionless. He was pronounced dead at 6:58 p.m. local time (7:58 p.m. ET).

No family members or other witnesses attended the execution on Strong's behalf. Strong met earlier Tuesday with his mother, brother, sister-in-law and two daughters, but none of them witnessed his punishment.

Washington's sister, Virgil Samant, who witnessed the execution, said she might feel compassion for Strong someday, "but for now I don't give a damn. He can rot in hell."

The bodies of Washington and her daughter were found in October 2000 in Washington's apartment in the St. Louis suburb of St. Ann. A large butcher knife was found on a bed next to a pool of blood. Strong and Washington's daughter together, 3-month-old Alyshia Strong, was also on the bed, but wasn't harmed.

St. Ann police received a 911 call from Washington's apartment on Oct. 23, 2000, and heard a scream during it. Officers headed to the apartment, where Strong met them outside. He initially told them Washington was sleeping, then said she had gone to work.

Officers saw blood stains on his hand, and Strong tried to run. When they caught him, he admitted to the killings. "Just shoot me, just shoot me," he said, according to court records. "I killed them."

Inside, police found the bodies and the unharmed 3-month-old. Strong's attorney, Jennifer Herndon, said both Strong and Washington suffered from mental illness and frequently argued.