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Thomas Loden, Jr. executed Wednesday night after rape and murder of teenage girl

Thomas Loden
Photo courtesy of MDOC

Mississippi’s second execution in the last decade took place Wednesday night with Thomas Loden, Jr. being pronounced dead at 6:12 p.m. CT.

Loden, a former Marine Corps recruiter, had been on death row since 2001 after being found guilty of capital murder, rape, and four counts of sexual battery for kidnapping, repeatedly raping, and strangling 16-year-old Leesa Marie Gray. Gray, at the time, was stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire.

He used his last words to apologize to the Gray family:

“I’d like a brief moment to express to the Gray family and anyone else I hurt how deeply remorseful I am for everything I did. I know these are mere words and cannot erase the damage I did… For the last 20 years, I’ve tried to do a good deed every single day to make up for the life I took from this world.”

Loden ended his statement with “ai shiteru,” which means “I love you” in Japanese. According to officials with the Mississippi Department of Corrections, Loden told them beforehand that the memo would be directed to his loved ones.

Loden, who was killed by lethal injection, was the 18th and last execution of 2022. Two others – in Idaho and Oklahoma – were also scheduled for Wednesday but canceled.

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