Condemned killer says depression over financial problems led him to murder his family

Monday, March 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A Tulsa man scheduled to die in two days says depression about financial problems led him to murder his wife and daughters.

Ronald Dunaway Fluke, who is set to die by lethal injection Tuesday night, says his ``deluded mind made the worst possible decision.''

Fluke pleaded guilty to the Oct. 17, 1997, murderers and said he believes he deserves to die for what he did.

Court records show he wanted to spare his family from the embarrassment of financial downfall so he struck his wife, Ginger Lou Fluke, with a hatchet while she slept. Then he went to his daughters' bedrooms and shot them each once in the head.

``My financial crisis was not as severe as my deluded mind perceived,'' Fluke wrote in a letter to the Tulsa World. ``Yes, now, looking back, I should have sought out psychological guidance ... I hadn't filed taxes for three years and that laid heavy on my mind.''

Fluke said he hopes his story will help others who are severely depressed.

``When you are in the depth of depression, your only thoughts are of death and of how to take your own life,'' he wrote. ``When you return to somewhat normalcy, you think you're OK and don't need help and would also be too embarrassed and proud to seek help.''

Ginger Fluke's sister also believes he was depressed when he killed Ginger, 13-year-old Susanne Michelle Fluke and 11-year-old Kathryn Lee Fluke.

``Most people would be depressed if they would have squandered away thousands of dollars in a matter of months,'' said Betty Hightower. ``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 needs and well-being of his family.''

Hightower said the family never suspected Fluke's gambling problem or depression, but that neither is an excuse for what he did.

``I just call it the work of an evil man,'' she said.

The family said they hope Tuesday's execution will be the final chapter of this part of their lives.

``Ginger was the most caring, sweet and loving person you would ever want to meet,'' Hightower said. ``She was a devoted wife and mother and a wonderful sister and friend.

``Susanne and Kathryn couldn't help but be the light of anyone's eyes. They were both so sweet and cared deeply about other people's feelings.''