DEATH PENALTY

Gov. Rick Scott orders execution of mass killer in Miami-Dade

 

A Miami man convicted of eight murders in the 1970s will finally face execution next month, after Gov. Rick Scott signed his death warrant.

Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

Gov. Rick Scott signed a death warrant Tuesday for John Errol Ferguson, who was convicted of eight murders in two separate incidents in South Florida in the 1970s.

Ferguson’s signed death warrant comes after three decades of appeals and pleas for clemency, all which were denied.

“He’s the most vicious, dangerous and violent murderer in Dade County, if not in many years, ever,” former Assistant State Attorney Leonard Glick said during a clemency hearing in 1987. “Nothing warrants mercy on his behalf before the board of clemency.”

Ferguson, 64, is scheduled to die on October 16 at 6 p.m. He is currently housed at Florida State Prison in Raiford.

The Miami man was convicted in 1978 of the murders of six Carol City residents during a home invasion robbery. At the time, it was the worst mass murder in Miami-Dade history. Prosecutors said Ferguson and three accomplices invaded the home looking for drugs and money. Separately, Ferguson was convicted in the same year of killing two Hialeah teenagers.

Ferguson killed the two teens, Belinda Worley, a 17-year-old Hialeah High School senior, and Brian Glenfeldt, 17, in January 1978. He raped, robbed and murdered Worley, and took her class ring. He shot to death Glenfeldt.

The teenagers had gone out for ice cream when they were abducted and slain, according to police, who said Ferguson accosted the young couple by pretending to be a policeman.

In six other July 1977 murders, he pretended to be a Florida Power and Light inspector. Eight people were shot, execution style, in Carol City. Two survived.

The same gun Ferguson used in those slayings, known as the Carol City Six, was used to kill an elderly St. Petersburg, Fla., couple during a robbery in their Biscayne Boulevard motel room. But Ferguson was never prosecuted in that case.

When captured by the FBI and Metro police, he had a loaded gun in his hand, according to a Miami Herald story about his arrest.

The mother of the murdered Worley girl, who was an only daughter, has called in the past for Ferguson’s execution. "I’d like to be the one to pull the switch," the unidentified woman told the Herald in 1979.

Ferguson’s appeals included expert testimony that he suffered from paranoia and delusions and had other mental deficiencies. Other experts, however, said he was faking mental illness. On June 1, 2010, the Supreme Court denied to take up his case.

His stay on Florida’s death row — 34 years —far exceeds the average stay of 12.7 years. Two of the accomplices in the Carol City murders, Marvin Francois and Beauford White, were executed in the 1980s.

“The signing of a death warrant is one of the governor’s most solemn duties, and one that he does not take lightly,” Scott’s spokesperson said in a statement. “His foremost concerns are the consideration for the families of the victims and to make sure justice prevails.”

Scott has signed five death warrants since he was sworn in as governor in January 2011, his spokesman said. There were 399 people on death row in Florida as of June 30, 2011.

“Most inmates choose lethal injection,” said Misty Cash, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections. “Although, they do have the option to choose the electric chair.”

Brittany Alana Davis can be reached at bdavis@tampabay.com and on Twitter at @Britt_Alana. Toluse Olorunnipa can be reached at tolorunnipa@MiamiHerald.com and on Twitter @ToluseO.

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