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Man Who Confessed to Many Slayings Executed in Missouri

November 29, 1995

POTOSI, Mo. (AP) _ A drifter who confessed to more than a dozen slayings was executed by injection early Wednesday for fatally slashing a teen-ager during a burglary.

Anthony Joe LaRette was put to death at the Potosi Correctional Center after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal.

In his final statement, LaRette apologized to his family and loved ones. ``I’m sorry it had to come this way,″ he said.

On death row for 14 years, LaRette, 44, tantalized authorities with unsolicited details on killings in Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Texas, Virginia and Arkansas. He also confessed to slayings in Florida and Kansas in the 1970s.

``Tony was a serial murderer-rapist who basically traveled all over the U.S. by bus, and killed and raped women,″ said Investigator Richard Lee of the Cole County prosecutor’s office.

A Florida investigator who spoke on condition of anonymity said Tuesday that LaRette helped authorities solve at least three murders in that state, and was interviewed about other cases just three weeks ago.

``He said he would cooperate in clearing up these cases so long as he remained on death row in Missouri,″ Lee said.

Lee said, however, that most cases were too old and ``there was nothing they could do to investigate.″

LaRette was convicted only for the July 25, 1980, murder of 18-year-old Mary Fleming, whose throat was slashed after she caught him burglarizing her apartment.

LaRette was charged in two of the more than a dozen slayings he confessed to in 1988. Neither Kansas nor Florida sought LaRette’s extradition since he was on death row in Missouri.

In his appeals, LaRette claimed he had ineffective legal help during his trial and that because of mental illness caused by head injuries, he couldn’t form the intent necessary to commit capital murder.

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