Stephen Stanko

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Stephen Stanko
Born Stephen Christopher Stanko
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba[1]

Stephen Stanko (born 1968), is a convicted murderer, who killed two people and raped a teenage girl in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina in 2005.[2]

Stanko's book

Prior to the murders[edit]

Prior to his murder conviction, Stanko had been incarcerated for assault & kidnapping in 1996. Stanko was released from prison in 2004 after serving 812 years of the 10-year sentence. While in prison, he co-authored a book titled "Living in Prison: A History of the Correctional System With an Insider's View". (The book was written during his first incarceration.)

Stephen Stanko has been described as "a highly intelligent, polished ex-convict who didn't mind talking about his life in prison or the book he'd written about it."[3] The book is about prison life and Stanko's fear of being labeled "a convicted felon" after his release. Stanko wrote: "What I fear most now is that I may carry some of this total institution back into society with me."

After his release in 2004 Stanko moved to Myrtle Beach, renting a room in the home of a Socastee widow for almost a year. His Parole Office visited the home, ensuring that his landlady was aware of his background, which he had disclosed when applying for the rental. His relationship with his landlady was uneventful other than his occasional being late with the rent. He often complained about his difficulty in getting a job because of his background, although he did have one or two brief employments. He abruptly moved out after almost a year, moving to the home of a friend in exchange for keeping an eye on her elderly mother for a very short time, moving for the last time to the home of a local librarian.

The murders[edit]

About one year after being released from prison, Stephen began doing library research, supposedly for a second book. While doing this research he befriended Laura Ling, and eventually moved in with her as her boyfriend. He also had developed a seemingly friendly relationship with a library patron, Henry Turner.

Shortly thereafter, however, something went terribly wrong with both of these relationships. Stanko was convicted, after a failed insanity defense, of strangling his girlfriend Laura Ling, 43, the librarian who lived with him outside Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, shooting Henry Lee Turner, 74, and sexually assaulting and stabbing Ling's teenage daughter, who survived and made the 911 call for help.[4] Following the conviction, he was sentenced to death.[5]

Articles on Jeffrey Dahmer, Green River killer Gary Ridgway and other serial killers were found in Stanko's home. According to a police spokesperson: "He either was just interested in serial killers or he was becoming a serial killer."[6]

After a nationwide manhunt,[7] based on tips received after the posting of a $10,000 reward for information leading to his capture,[8] Stanko was arrested without incident by the U.S. Marshals Service in Augusta, Georgia on April 12, 2005.

Awaiting execution[edit]

Stephen Stanko is currently on death row at Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville, South Carolina. A date of execution had been set for October 2007, but is currently stayed for appeals. If the execution does take place, he will have a choice of the electric chair or lethal injection.[9] He is the first person to be sentenced to death in Georgetown County in nearly 11 years.[10]

The first phase of Stanko's appeals process began on 23 September 2007, when he appeared before the S.C. Supreme Court in a bid to overturn his death penalty conviction. His attorney said that errors in the original trial resulted in his conviction, in that the trial judge did not allow the defense to ask potential jurors how they felt about the insanity defense and did not allow the defense to present Stanko's age/mentality as aggravating or mitigating factors.[10]

Court officials said that Stanko will not be put to death on his set execution date Oct. 17, 2007, because the appeals process takes years to complete. Stanko faced another trial for the murder of 74-year-old Henry Turner, which was set to begin in the week of November 9, 2009.[10]

Stanko was sentenced to death in 2007 for the murder of Laura Ling.[11] Stanko was sentenced to death in 2009 for the murder of Henry Turner.

In February 2013, Stanko lost his appeal (in the Henry Turner murder case); the Supreme Court affirmed the Stanko's conviction and sentence.[12]

In 2015, the court heard testimony from Bill Diggs, Stanko's trial attorney, that Stanko suffered from a brain defect. On May 24, 2016, the court reaffirmed his conviction.[13]

Stephen Stanko is charged with forgery and obtaining goods through false pretense, in the case of Connie Price.[clarification needed] Stanko was pretending to be Ms. Price's attorney. Ms. Price testified at Stanko's first murder trial.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Archived 2013-07-25 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Fox News April 13, 2005
  3. ^ Fox News April 12, 2005
  4. ^ CBS NEWS
  5. ^ Myrtle Beach Online
  6. ^ CNN
  7. ^ America's Most Wanted
  8. ^ America's Most Wanted
  9. ^ CBS NEWS
  10. ^ a b c Georgetown Times
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^

not in Gitmo Bay