Convicted Tucson child-killer Frank Atwood put to death
Atwood kidnapped and killed 8-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson in 1984
FLORENCE, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Convicted Tucson child-killer Frank Atwood was executed by lethal injection Wednesday, June 8.
Atwood, 66, was declared dead at 10:16 a.m.
The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for Atwood’s execution after rejecting a final appeal by his lawyers earlier in the morning. Two other appeals were rejected Tuesday night.
Atwood was convicted of kidnapping and murdering 8-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson in Tucson in 1984.
Vicki’s mother Debbie Carlson was at the execution and spoke afterward.
“Vicki was a vibrant little girl with an infectious laugh and a smile that melted your heart,” Debbie said. “Her royal blue eyes reflected an old soul full of wisdom and her freckled nose was unique and we are blessed to see it in our grandchildren today. Vicki was a feisty little one that always kept you on your toes and will forever be known as Dennis the Menace, giggling all the way.”
Debbie said the execution marked final justice for her daughter.
“Vicki, I want you to be free little one,” she said. “Rest easy our precious little girl, may your spirit soar as it continues to live with us, in us and through us forever.”
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich was there to support the family.
“To an innocent child whose life was brutally taken and a family that has had to endure decades of suffering, Arizonans will never forget,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “Today, we remember Vicki Lynne and stand together with her loved ones and the Tucson community as their unwavering quest for justice is finally realized.”
Hoskinson was riding her bike home after mailing a birthday card to her aunt when Atwood kidnapped and killed her before dumping her body in a desert area off Ina Road.
Debbie said the day her daughter disappeared has haunted this family for nearly four decades.
“To my sister Lori, I know you have carried a burden all these years since Vicki was taken on your birthday,” she said. “Please know Vicki would want you to fully celebrate your birthday and not look back, I hope now you can finally fully feel the joy of that day now that it’s set free.”
Atwood fled to Texas, but was arrested days later on a kidnapping charge. Hoskinson’s body was found by a hiker in April 1985 and Atwood was charged with murder.
Investigators were able to secure a conviction in the case by matching pink paint from Hoskinson’s bike to Atwood’s vehicle. They also found nickel plating from Atwood’s car on the bike.
Officials believe Atwood ran Hoskinson over with his vehicle before kidnapping her.
For the first time during a state execution, a priest stood in the chamber, with his hand on Atwood.
KOLD News 13′s Bud Foster was selected as a witness to the execution.
KOLD News 13′s Bud Foster was there and said Atwood appeared calm and on several occasions looked at his wife. He said the only sound that came from that witness room was that of Atwood’s wife crying.
“He would look over at her and smile,” Foster said of Atwood. “He seemed to accept his fate. He did not apologize in his final words.”
Foster, who has witnessed other executions, said the process of setting up IVs into Atwood for the lethal injection went smoothly and that “it was probably the most peaceful of any of the executions that I witnessed in the past.”
Before Hoskinson’s death, Atwood was convicted of kidnapping and lewd and lascivious acts in California. Both victims were children. In May 1984, he was paroled and moved to Tucson, which was a violation of his parole.
According to the Arizona Department of Corrections, Atwood’s last meal was served Tuesday night. It consisted of salami, mustard, peanut butter, jelly, bread, a bag of chips and water.
Atwood, who has maintained his innocence, did not apologize to Hoskinson’s family. His final statement is below.
“Thank you precious father for coming today, and shepherding me into the faith,” he said. “I want to thank my beautiful wife, who has loved me with everything she has. I want to thank my friends, and legal team, and most of all Jesus Christ, through this unfair judicial process that led to my salvation. I pray the Lord will have mercy on all of us, and that the Lord will have mercy on me.”
Joseph Perkovich, one of Atwood’s attorneys, said in a statement that the execution doesn’t resolve what he said were unanswered questions about the case.
“The state of Arizona executed Frank Atwood despite lingering doubts about his guilt,” Perkovich said. “The case against Frank was purely circumstantial and significant evidence pointed to another suspect.”
Atwood’s execution was the second carried out by Arizona in less than a month. Clarence Dixon, convicted of killing an Arizona State University student in 1978, died by lethal injection on May 11.
Before Dixon, Arizona had not carried out an execution in almost a decade.
A big reason for that gap was the botched execution of Joseph Wood in 2004. It took Wood nearly two hours to be pronounced dead after being injected with a lethal dose of drugs.
There are 111 inmates remaining on Arizona’s death row.
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