Three hundred and twenty four: the number of months since Angela Crowley was abducted from a parking lot in Crystal River.
On May 24, 1986, 24-year-old William Frederick Happ brutally beat, sexually battered, and strangled Crowley to death with her own pants. He then dumped her body into along the Cross Florida Barge Canal. Crowley was driving from the southern part of Florida to Yankeetown, and had stopped in Citrus County at a pay phone.
She wanted to call a friend to check on driving directions. She was parked in a store parking lot when Happ smashed her car window and kidnapped her.
Twenty-seven years later, moments before William Happ’s death sentence was carried out at Florida State Prison, he surprised the room with a confession.
“For 27 years, the horrible murder of Angela Crowley, has been clouded by circumstantial evidence and uncertainty. For the sake of her family, loved ones, and all concerned, it is to my agonizing shame that I must confess to this terrible crime,” Happ said. ” I wish to offer my most sincere and heartfelt apologies, not only to those concerned for Angela Crowley, but also to those I deceived and allowed to believe in my innocence.”
Seventeen of Crowley’s loved ones sat together in a room ready to witness the execution of the man who took away the life of a “vibrant young lady with dark-blue eyes and an infectious smile” as Chris Crowley, her older brother, described her.
“I truly didn’t expect him to say anything. The fact that he admitted it, apologized for it; it was a shock. It was quite a shock for everybody,” he said.
But he said it wasn’t enough for him to forgive Happ for what he did.
“He needs to ask someone a lot more important than me for forgiveness… That’s not going to come from me.”
Happ was the state’s sixth execution of 2013 and the 80th person executed in Florida since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. He was the first to die by a controversial new lethal injection that included a sedative called midazolam hydrochloride that had never been used until Tuesday night.
Death penalty opponents claim the new lethal injection, administered in three stages, can cause inhumane levels of pain if not administered correctly.
“The danger is if the first drug wears off and the person is paralyzed, you can never tell if they’re feeling the burning gasoline of all their organs being burned up by the third drug,” said death penalty protester Mark Elliot.
Possible complications of the injection didn’t change the view of death penalty supporter Ron Thomas.
“Somebody has to show some support for it; if not, it’s just going to go away. It’s bad but someone did something horrible, he’s got to pay for it,” said Thomas.
Happ chose dessert for his final meal. He had a 12-ounce box of assorted chocolates and a quart and a half of German Chocolate ice cream at 10 a.m.