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Geronimo bank robber put to death

Updated:

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) _ Jay Wesley Neill, who killed four people in one of Oklahoma's deadliest bank robberies, became Oklahoma's sixth inmate put to death in Oklahoma this year on Thursday.

Neill, 37, was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

Neill was executed for fatally stabbing three employees and fatally shooting a customer of the First Chattanooga Bank branch in Geronimo.

He wounded three others before the Dec. 14, 1984, robbery was over.

For Janie Bowles, whose 19-year-old daughter, Jeri, was killed that day, justice can't come soon enough.

``It's about damn time,'' Bowles said. ``They die so easily and it's not fair.''

Bowles' daughter was one of three women who were stabbed more than 15 times each and their throats cut during the robbery.

``This is how my grandchildren will remember their aunt,'' Bowles said.

Jeri Bowles, described by her mother as caring and nurturing, was called into work early the day of the robbery. Her father Calvin Bowles, had just dropped her off when Neill entered the bank and herded the three female employees into the back room of the bank.

He then stabbed them with a hunting knife, cutting so deep that Neill severed the ribs of his victims, court documents show.

Jeri Bowles was stabbed 14 times and her throat was cut. Kay Bruno, 42, the manager of the bank, was stabbed 34 times and her throat was cut. Joyce Mullenix, 25, who was six months pregnant, was stabbed 27 times and nearly decapitated.

Neill forced customers who trickled in after the robbery to get down on the floor next to the women and then he shot at them. He killed Robert Zeller, 33, but Bellen Robles, 15, Ruben Robles, 20, and Marilyn Roach 24, recovered from their wounds.

The crime rocked Geronimo, a town of about 960 near Lawton in southwestern Oklahoma. More than 1,700 people attended Jeri Bowles' funeral, which was held in the town's high school gym.

In March 1986, Neill appeared on the religious program ``The 700 Club,'' confessing to the crime and asking for forgiveness.

``I've yet to come up with something that I know will make it easier for any of you,'' Neill told victim's family members as he testified in his 1992 trial. ``I am sorry. It's eating me and I believe that's been part of my punishment. I just wish there was something I could say to make it better but there's not.''

Two more men are scheduled to die later this month.

Earnest Marvin Carter Jr., is scheduled to die Dec. 17 for the January 1990 slaying of a night security guard at an auto auction in northwest Oklahoma City.

John Duty, who is scheduled to be executed Dec. 19, asked to be put to death for the murder of his cellmate. He was already serving life sentences for rape and robbery.

Earlier this month, the state Pardon and Parole Board recommended clemency for Carter. Gov. Frank Keating is considering that recommendation.
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