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  1. #1
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    William E. Vandiver - Indiana - October 16, 1985




    Summary of Offense: Paul Komyatti, Sr. on occasion drank to excess and became loud and violent. He was disliked by members of his immediate family, which included his wife, Rosemary, his son Paul Jr., and his daughter, Mariann. Paul Sr. had demanded that Mariann divorce Vandiver because of his criminal past., and threatened to inform the police on him. Vandiver joined with the family in a conspiracy to kill Paul Sr. Pursuant to their agreement, several attempts to poison him were made without success. Finally, they decided to put him under with ether and inject air into his veins.

    One evening, Vandiver and Mariann waited outside the home for a signal from Paul Jr. that Paul Sr. was asleep. Upon seeing the signal, they entered the house and changed the plan at the last moment for lack of ether. Instead they entered the bedroom intending to smother Paul Sr., and sprang on him in his bed. Paul Sr. fought hard for his life and yet another attempt at murder was bungled. Vandiver, however, terminated the resistance by stabbing him in the back with a fish filet knife "at least 100 times."

    34 deep knife wounds were later discovered on the body. He hit him in the head 5 or 6 times with his gun, but he was still breathing. By Vandiver's own admission, decapitation was the immediate cause of death. Vandiver and the other family members then sectioned up the body while making jokes. Evidence was also presented that Vandiver had gotten a "loan" of $5000 from Paul Jr., as well as $1700 and Paul Sr.'s truck from Rosemary. At trial, Vandiver recanted his prior confessions and placed the entire blame on Paul Jr. for the murder and dissection. Vandiver waived all appeals.

    Victim: Paul Komyatti, Sr.

    Time of Death: 12:20 a.m.

    Manner of execution: Electric Chair

    Last Meal: A soda and a pizza with everything -- except anchovies

    Final Statement: : "No comment."

  2. #2
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    Vandiver electrocution: ‘It didn’t go well, to say the least’

    Of 20 executions since 1975 in Indiana, the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center lists two as botched — William E. Vandiver in 1985 and Tommie J. Smith in 1996. The organization opposes capital punishment.

    Vandiver’s electric chair death drew national attention after Indiana State Prison workers needed 17 minutes and three jolts of electricity to kill him.

    Vandiver, of Hammond’s Hessville section, was tried and found guilty by a jury in the gruesome 1983 killing of Paul Komyatti Sr., his father-in-law.

    Komyatti was stabbed 34 times, smothered, then cut up and buried on a Hammond beach. A Lake Superior Court judge sentenced him to death in 1984 in the family murder scheme.

    Merrillville attorney Herbert Shaps defended Vandiver and was picked by the condemned man to watch the execution.

    “It didn’t work very well, to say the least,” said Shaps, who thinks the attempts to kill Vandiver, who had waived all appeals, caused a partial blackout in Michigan City, as well.

    Shaps said Vandiver’s face was covered by a hoodlike shield. “But you could see from the top that his head was burning. They had a doctor who periodically checked him.”

    Following the execution, Shaps testified before state lawmakers about his experience. “It never really went very far for five or six years,” he said of Indiana’s shift to lethal injection.

    “If we’re going to have it, we should have a much more reasonable way of doing it,” he said.

    Shaps served as the only witness selected by Vandiver when he was executed.

    Shaps said state lawmakers asked him to testify periodically about the execution in the ensuing years.

    In 1995, the Indiana General Assembly changed the method of execution to lethal injection.

    http://posttrib.suntimes.com/news/la...the-least.html

  3. #3
    October 17, 1985

    Indiana Execution Wasn`t `As Planned`

    By Andrew Fegelman

    About a half-hour after William Vandiver was executed for murdering and dismembering his father-in-law, his attorney walked into a conference room Wednesday to talk about witnessing an execution. He was shaken.

    ``If any legislator in Indiana would like me to testify with regard to our mode of death in Indiana, I would be glad to,`` said Herbert Schaps, who defended Vandiver in the 1983 murder trial. ``I think it was outrageous . . . a gruesome procedure to watch.``

    Three series of electrical jolts were administered to the 37-year-old killer. The doctor who pronounced him dead said Vandiver should have died after the first jolts.

    ``It did not go according to plan,`` said Dr. Rodger Saylors of Michigan City.

    Vandiver was strapped into the wooden electric chair at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City at 12:02 a.m. Wednesday, his head covered by a hood. After the first electricity was administered, his brain was dead, but he was breathing and his heart was beating, said Nancy Broglin, a prison spokeswoman. He stopped breathing after the second shocks and his heart stopped after the third. He was pronounced dead at 12:20 a.m.

    The execution was the 49th since the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976 lifted a moratorium on capital punishment. It was only the second execution in a Northern state and the first since Steven Judy died in the same electric chair in March, 1981.

    Telephone lines were kept open between the prison and Lake County Superior Court and U.S. District Court in South Bend up to the time of the execution in case Vandiver tried to delay the death sentence. He did not.

    Vandiver, of Hammond, had fought attempts to appeal his conviction and the execution order since Judge James Letsinger of Lake County Superior Court imposed the death sentence in January, 1984. Before the Indiana Supreme Court, where the death sentence was appealed automatically under Indiana law, Vandiver said that he no longer wanted to live in a prison cell and that being executed ``would be less than getting a tooth pulled.``

    For nine hours Tuesday, Vandiver played cards and visited with his wife, Mariann, who was brought from the Westville Correctional Center, where she is serving eight years for the 1983 murder.

    Vandiver called family members and had pizza and soft drinks at 4 p.m., his last meal. At 7:30 p.m., he met with a minister from Michigan City. At 8 p.m., he was placed in a holding cell about 15 feet from the electric chair.

    As prison officials opened his cell a minute before midnight to carry out the sentence, they asked Vandiver whether he had any final comments or requests. He only shook his head.

    If Vandiver`s attorney found the execution gruesome, so too was the crime that put him on death row, according to prosecutors.

    Vandiver; his wife; his mother-in-law, Rosemary Komyatti; and his brother-in-law, Paul Komyatti Jr., plotted for 1 1/2 months to kill Paul Komyatti Sr., 62, a retired construction worker, to get his life savings of $50,000 to $100,000, authorities said.

    After several attempts failed, Paul Jr. smothered Komyatti while Vandiver stabbed him 34 times.

    The two then cut up the body, placed it in plastic bags and buried it on a Hammond beach.

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1...-supreme-court

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