Richard Wade Cooey II (June 9, 1967 – October 14, 2008) was an American murderer. With Clinton Dickens, he was responsible for the murders of 21-year-old Wendy Offredo and 20-year-old Dawn McCreery in Akron, Ohio, on September 1, 1986. He became notable for his argument that, with his weight of over 275 lb (125 kg), he was too obese to be executed – an argument ultimately rejected by the courts.
Cooey was born in Akron, Ohio. He lived there with his grandmother until high school; he then began living with his father in Stow, an adjoining suburb, during the school year. Cooey graduated from Stow High School in 1985 and enlisted in the U.S. Army. The following summer, he returned on leave.
Early on the morning of September 1, 1986, Cooey, Dickens and Kenneth Horonetz, Jr. were throwing chunks of concrete off the Stoner Street Bridge onto U.S. Interstate 77 in Akron. One of the chunks thrown by Dickens struck the vehicle of a University of Akron student, 21-year-old Wendy Offredo. Also in the vehicle was another student, 20-year-old Dawn McCreery.
Pretending to rescue both students, the three men actually ended up kidnapping them. Cooey, then age 19, and Dickens, age 17, took the women to a field behind the Rolling Acres Mall where they raped, stabbed, and tortured them for three and one-half hours, eventually choking and bludgeoning them to death and abandoning the bodies. They also carved X's into the victims' abdomens. Cooey and Dickens each blamed the other for the actual murders, Horonetz having left the car before the violence began. Cooey bragged about the murders to close friends and was eventually turned in to authorities. He was convicted on November 14, 1986, and sentenced to death. Dickens, who was a minor at the time of the murders, could not be sentenced to death under Ohio laws, and as of 2010[update] is serving a life sentence in prison. Horonetz, then age 18, and another suspect, Terry Grant, age 19, were charged with obstruction of justice in the case for participating in the destruction of evidence. Grant was sentenced to two years' probation. Horonetz was released on parole after serving one year of a three-to-fifteen year prison sentence for felonious assault. Cooey later claimed that he did not kill or beat anyone. He admitted to raping the women, claiming he did "rape under duress". He also stated that he was under the influence of alcohol and illegal drugs, such as cocaine and opium, at the time. Court records showed that Cooey had a very difficult upbringing. His father, Richard Sr., would abuse him in gruesome fashion on a regular basis. He spent his teen years living with his grandmother, Audrey Cooey. Both of them would occasionally visit him while he was on death row.
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Cooey was confined at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. On July 24, 2003, he was scheduled to be executed. In an interview, Cooey said that he had not planned to make a final statement. The execution was stayed, to allow further investigation in the case. Cooey attempted to escape from prison in February 2005, along with another prisoner named Maxwell White. They were spotted by guards when attempting to climb over a series of barbed wire fences. Following additional appeals, requests for clemency, and stays of execution, Cooey's final appeal was rejected. He argued that his obesity rendered lethal injection an inhumane form of execution. He claimed that because his veins were clogged with cholesterol, the first drug administered in lethal injections, a drug intended to induce paralysis to ensure the prisoner feels no pain, would have only partial effect, which would cause him to suffer greatly when the lethal drugs were administered. He also claimed that prison food was responsible for his obesity. On the night of October 13, he chose to consume a last meal that consisted of T-bone steak with A-1 sauce, onion rings, French fries, four eggs over easy, toast with butter, hash browns, a pint of rocky road ice cream, a Mountain Dew soft drink and authentic bear claw pastries from the bakery. He ate until shortly after midnight while watching local television. Cooey spent most of the night sitting on his bed and pacing quietly in his cell. He fell asleep at 4:06 a.m. in the morning of October 14, then woke at 5:20 a.m. and did not eat breakfast. He later met with an attorney and a spiritual adviser. The McCreery family chose to witness the execution, and the Offredo family, as well as his own, chose not to attend. When asked if he had any final words, he angrily said "You (expletive) haven't paid any attention to anything I've said in the last 221⁄2 years, why would anyone pay any attention to anything I've had to say now?". At 10:20 a.m. the warden signaled the start of the flow of drugs. One put Cooey to sleep, a second paralyzed him, and a third stopped his heart. He tapped his fingers on the gurney as the process unfolded. He then died at 10:28. A black hearse parked in the courtyard then took his body to a mortuary. He was immediately cremated at the state's expense. According to his wishes, Cooey's ashes were taken to Ireland by his attorneys.
- Galloway, Barbara; Williams, Cristal; Cole, Patrick (September 4, 1986). "To neighbors, G.I. was both nice kid, 'pest' ". Akron Beacon Journal. p. A1 – Metro.
During the school year, he lived with his father in Stow and attended Stow High School.
- Cooey v. Coyle, 289 F.3d 282, p. 885 (6th Cir. 2002) ("On the night of August 31, 1986, Appellant, Richard Wade Cooey II, on leave from the army, and two of his friends, Clint Dickens and Kenneth Horonetz, threw a large chunk of concrete over the side of a bridge just as Wendy Offredo and Dawn McCreery passed below them on Interstate 77 in Akron, Ohio.").
- (Beyerlein 2008)
- Four Suspects Admit Roles in Slaying of Akron Co-eds, The Bryan Times, 1986-09-05
- (Mears 2008)
- Mother Of Murdered Woman Says She Wants Killer To Die, Cleveland/Akron NewsNet5, 2003-07-22, archived from the original on 2011-06-21
- On probation, The Bryan Times, 1986-12-23, p. 10
- Reed, Matt (2008-10-14), Ohio executes inmate who argued was too fat to die, Associated Press
- Mears, Bill (October 14, 2008), Inmate executed after Supreme Court rejects obese argument, CNN, retrieved May 22, 2010
- Beyerlein, Tom (2008-10-12), Inmate scheduled to die 22 years after murder, Dayton Daily News
- United States 6th Circuit Court of Appeals opinions regarding Cooey
- State of Ohio Adult Parole Authority report recommending against death sentence clemency
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