RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ A man was executed by injection early Friday for doing what he said was God's work: killing four elderly people he saw as devils with red eyes, horns and tails.

Phillip Ingle, 34, was pronounced dead at 2:14 a.m. at Central Prison in Raleigh. He made no final statement.

Ingle, who had a history of mental illness and had said he wanted to die, was convicted for the 1991 murders of two elderly couples.

William and Margaret Davis were beaten with an ax handle, and E.Z. and Sarah Willis, were bludgeoned with a tire iron. Before he was caught, Ingle admitted the slayings to a friend and said he enjoyed watching people die in agony, authorities said.

Once imprisoned, Ingle told counselor Jimmy Creech he thought the victims were devils and he was doing God's work by killing them, Creech has said.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday night rejected a petition for a stay.

Earlier in the day, Superior Court Judge Peter McHugh denied a similar request by Ingle's sister, Tina Thompson, who had called her brother's decision to stop his appeals ``another in a long line of suicide attempts.''

Judges had ruled that Ingle was competent to stand trial and to stop his appeals.

Ingle was the 42nd convict put to death nationally this year, extending a record for most executions in a year. The previous record was 38 in 1993.

Ingle was the eighth convict executed in North Carolina and the 299th in the United States since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.