Man executed for murdering his family


Wednesday, March 28th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


McALESTER, Okla. (AP) _ Family members remembered the cheerful moments of Susanne and Kathryn Fluke's lives _ of them posing in their cheerleader uniforms, sitting for studio portraits, and holding hands with their mother, Ginger, in a snapshot when they looked barely old enough to walk.

``We will never close our hearts to the love, happiness and companionship we shared with Ginger, Susanne and Kathryn,'' Lori Adams, Ginger Fluke's niece, read from a statement for the family after the execution of Ronald Fluke Tuesday night.

More than three years ago, Fluke fatally shot his wife and two daughters during a moment in which he said his ``deluded mind made the worst possible decision.''

At 9:34 p.m. Tuesday, Fluke's life ended while he was strapped to a death row gurney at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. A lethal dose of drugs began coursing through his veins at 9:29 p.m. and eventually stilled his heart.

``We do not begin to understand why tragedies such as these are allowed to happen, but we are a family of faith and know that God is in control of everything and will be the ultimate judge of everyone,'' Adams said.

Just before his death, Fluke also invoked faith and asked for prayer for his wife's family and his.

``I did a terrible thing and I am sorry and I wish I could take it back,'' Fluke said. ``I've been through a fiery trial that has increased my faith.''

He said the blood of Christ saved him from his sin.

A compulsive gambler, the former safety consultant said he killed his family to spare them the embarrassment of experiencing what he viewed as his impending financial ruin.

A court-appointed psychiatrist said in an evaluation of Fluke that he reasoned his family would be happier in heaven, where Fluke was certain they would go after death.

He believed he would be reunited with them after his execution and requested a last meal of the Lord's Supper: some grape juice and a cracker.

Fluke was the 123rd inmate executed in Oklahoma since statehood and the 10th this year.

He spent his last hours in isolation on death row under a suicide watch, which Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson said was a typical procedure with condemned inmates.

The Flukes had apparently been having marital difficulties and Ginger Fluke, 44, had been sleeping on the sofa, according to Tulsa police. About 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 17, 1997, Fluke attacked her with a hatchet.

Police said evidence showed Mrs. Fluke was alive and screaming at the time. Fluke eventually shot her in the head with a .38-caliber pistol and made his way to his daughters' bedroom.

Police said both daughters _ Kathryn 11, and Susanne, 13 _ were awake when their father shot them. One thought he was joking when he pointed the handgun at her.

At first, the gun jammed, but Fluke managed to fire it, killing Kathryn and Susanne.

Fluke surrendered to authorities at 8 a.m. that morning. He later pleaded guilty during jury selection at his trial and was sentenced to death for each murder. He waived his appeals and asked the execution to be carried out.

Adams read from a family statement released earlier in the evening that said Mrs. Fluke and her daughters were killed by someone who supposed to love them the most.

``Most people lock their doors at night to keep the bad guys out, little did they know that dreadful night they were locking the bad guy in. He not only took the lives of three very precious people, he also took a part of many others who loved Ginger, Susanne and Kathryn very, very much,'' Adams said.

Seven of the 12 members of Mrs. Fluke's family who traveled to the penitentiary witnessed the execution.

Several people, including a friend of Fluke's and a minister, watched his execution on Fluke's behalf.