HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A man who became known as Houston’s “Tourniquet Killer” because of his signature murder technique on four female victims was set for execution Wednesday evening.
Anthony Allen Shore confessed to the four slayings after a tiny particle collected from under the fingernail of a 21-year-old murder victim was matched to his DNA.
The lethal injection of Shore, 55, would be the seventh this year in Texas and the 21st execution nationally, one more than the total number carried out in the U.S. in 2016.
The 1992 slaying of Maria del Carmen Estrada, whose body was dumped in the drive-thru lane of a Houston Dairy Queen, went unsolved for more than a decade. Her killer had used a stick to cinch a cord around her neck and strangle her. A homicide detective said the cord was wound so tight, it wasn’t visible.
In 1998, Shore received eight years’ probation and became a registered sex offender for sexually assaulting two relatives, but it took five years before authorities made the DNA match tying him to Estrada’s death. She was walking to work about 6:30 a.m. on April 16, 1992, when he offered her a ride that she accepted.
“I didn’t set out to kill her,” he told police in a taped interview played at his 2004 trial for Estrada’s murder. “That was not my intent. But it got out of hand.”
The former tow truck driver, phone company repairman and part-time musician blamed “voices in my head that I was going to have her, regardless, to possess her in some way.”
He confessed to killing Estrada and three others, including a 9-year-old and two teenagers. All his victims were Hispanic. Three had been sexually assaulted.
“His crimes were predatory, and his victims the most vulnerable in society — women and children,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said, describing him as “a true serial killer” who terrorized Hispanic females in Houston for years.
“For his brutal acts, the death penalty is appropriate,” she said.
After jurors at his 2004 trial convicted him of capital murder, Shore’s lawyers told jurors that against their judgment and advice their client wanted it known he wanted the death penalty. Jurors then heard four days of prosecution evidence and testimony about the three other slayings and heard from three women who testified he raped them. He was sentenced to death.
In appeals, lawyers appointed for Shore argued he suffered from brain damage early in life that his trial attorneys didn’t discover and the brain injury affected his decision about wanting the death penalty. A federal appeals court earlier this year turned down his appeal and two weeks ago the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review his case.
The six-member Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously rejected a clemency petition Monday.
“If he had his preference, I think he would prefer to live out his life on death row rather than be executed,” Knox Nunnally, one of Shore’s attorneys, said.
Besides Estrada, Shore confessed to the slayings of Laurie Tremblay, 15, found beside a trash bin outside a Houston restaurant in 1986; Diana Rebollar, 9, abducted while walking to a neighbourhood grocery store in 1994; and Dana Sanchez, 16, who disappeared in 1995 while hitchhiking to her boyfriend’s home in Houston.
Sanchez was reported missing and her body was found after a caller to a Houston TV station provided directions to a field in north Harris County. Police believe Shore was the caller.