Fluke Set To Die Tonight

Tuesday, March 27th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -Stressed out over impending financial doom, Ronald Fluke wanted to protect his wife and two daughters. His solution: shoot them to death in the middle of the night.

Fluke, 52, faced a Tuesday execution at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester for killing his family in his Tulsa home in 1997.

Over objections of public defenders, the former safety consultant and compulsive gambler was deemed mentally competent to plead guilty and not fight his death sentence.

In the days leading up to the execution, he declined interviews.

But Fluke once told a court-appointed psychiatrist that he was certain he faced financial collapse, saw no way out and wanted to spare his family ``further embarrassment of his financial difficulties.''

``He reasoned that his family would be happier in heaven where he was sure they would go,'' Dr. Thomas Goodman said in his evaluation of Fluke. He awaits execution and hopes for a reunion with his family in heaven, the psychiatrist said.

The Flukes had apparently been having marital difficulties and Ginger Lou Fluke, 44, had been sleeping on the sofa, according to Tulsa police.

The night of Oct. 17, 1997, Fluke took a hatchet to her.

Tulsa 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.

He then made his way to his daughters' bedroom. Both were awake. 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 Lee Fluke, 11, and Susanne Michelle Fluke, 13.

He turned himself in, 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.

``I don't have a death wish, but I did a terrible thing and I feel sorry for what I did and I'm ready to pay the price,'' he told a judge last summer.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson said Fluke deserved the death penalty because the crime was especially heinous.

Fluke's sister-in-law, Betty Hightower of Lawton, said he borrowed thousands from his family and gambled it away.

``The only reason he was having financial difficulty, if he was, was because of his own greed for money, his compulsion for gambling and total disregard for the well-being of his family,'' Hightower told the Tulsa World. She declined an interview request.

Fluke told the newspaper in a written response to questions that he should have sought psychological help and that his failure to file income taxes for three years weighed on him.

Medical personnel examined Fluke after his arrest and said his mental state did not support any claim of an acquittal by reason of insanity.

Twelve members of Mrs. Fluke's family planned to be present at the penitentiary Tuesday, although plans had not been finalized on which of them would witness the execution, said Gerald Adams, a spokesman for Edmondson.

For a last meal, Fluke requested the Lord's Supper: grape juice and a cracker.