Arizona’s second execution so far this year took place onWednesday morning.
Frank Jarvis Atwood66, was put to death for the 1984 kidnapping and murder of 8-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson. His lethal injection comes less than a month after the May execution of Clarence Dixon — the state’s first since 2014.
Atwood is The 39th person executed in Arizona since 1992.
Debbie Carlson, Vicki’s mother, at Atwood’s clemency hearing in May said his execution would bring final justice for her daughter and mark a new beginning for her family.
“We chose the death penalty because we never wanted another child to have to be faced by this monster,” she said. “We wanted to make sure another family was spared and not have to live what we have lived for the last 37 1/2 years.”
Follow coverage from Republic reporters of the execution here.
Approximately 40 people were present during Atwood’s execution — among them, Debbie Carlson, Vicki Lynne’s mother, and Rachel Atwood, Frank Atwood’s wife.
According to media witnesses, Atwood was brought into the execution room and they watched as he was strapped in. He remained calm throughout the process and witnesses said he smiled at his wife several times.
At no point did he acknowledge Vicki Lynne’s family or for the crimes he was apologizing to death for, witnesses said.
He was sedated at 10:10 am and was pronounced dead at 10:16 am
According to media witness Bud Foster, Atwood’s priest was in the execution room with him — a first for the state. He added that this execution was “probably the most peaceful” he has witnessed.
— Chelsea Curtis
Frank Atwood chose to make a final statement. According to Frank Strada, Arizona Department of Corrections director, this was his final statement:
“Thank you, precious father, for coming today and shepherding me into faith. I want to thank my beautiful wife who has loved me with everything she has. I want to thank my friends and legal team, and most of all, Jesus Christ through this unfair judicial process that led to my salvation. I pray the Lord will have mercy on all of us and that the Lord will have mercy on me.”
— Chelsea Curtis
According to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Atwood was executed at 10:16 am
His lethal injection comes less than a month after the May execution of Clarence Dixon — the state’s first since 2014.
— Chelsea Curtis
Friends and neighbors of Vicki Lynne have gathered outside the prison to talk and reminisce about the old neighborhood in Flowing Wells in an northern area of Tucson, and of course, to remember Vicki Lynne.
“I feel like it will be a part of a closure for my childhood,” said Stacy Davis, a childhood friend of Vicki Lynne.
— Miguel Torres
Shortly after 9:30 am, a few dozen protesters and counterprotesters lined the barricade set up by police along the intersection of Butte and Pinal Parkway avenues, just outside of the Arizona State Prison where Atwood is scheduled to be executed at 10 am
Both parties stood at opposite sides of the barricade and were not engaging with one another. Protesters carried signs calling for an end to executions, while countering signs read “Justice for Vicki Lynne.”
— Miguel Torres
The United States Supreme Court on Wednesday denied Frank Atwood’s request for a stay of execution.
Atwood’s execution by lethal injection will proceed at 10 am Arizona time.
Initially, Frank Atwood denied a last meal, saying that he was fasting.
Tuesday night, he was again offered a final meal and accepted. The offer was the Department of Corrections protocol, according to information released to reporters at the execution media briefing.
This was his last meal:
- Peanut butter
- Wheat bread
- A snack bag of tortilla chips
- A water/juice packet
— P. Kim Bui and Chelsea Curtis
Carlson, Vicki’s mom, referred to Atwood’s death sentence in 1987 as “the right decision,” The Arizona Republic reported at the time.
“It’s wonderful to have this feeling of peace inside,” she said.
During the next 35 years, Atwood challenged his convictions and sentence, exhausting all of his appeals by 2018, Carlson wrote in an op-ed the following year published in The Arizona Republic.
However by then, Arizona paused executions following the state’s botched execution of Joseph Wood in 2014. Witnesses to the execution said they saw Wood gasp for air for two hours, leading to lawsuits from Wood’s lawyers.
The state then suspended all executions while it looked to adopt a new lethal injection cocktail and revise execution protocols in compliance with court orders.
Because Atwood was convicted before 1992, he was given the option to choose between death by gas chamber or lethal injection. His attorney, Joseph Perkovich, claimed the state had not provided enough information to say whether the new lethal injection was safe and effective.
Last month, the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency denied Atwood’s request for commutation of sentence, reprieve or pardon. The day before the scheduled execution, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals also rejected Atwood’s appeal of a district court ruling denying his request for an injunction to halt his pending execution.
At that May clemency hearing, Carlson said his execution would not bring her closure, but it would at least mark the end of a long and painful legal process, which she believed would bring her and her family some relief.
“It will end this inmate from harassing our family, filing frivolous appeals, and end him making a mockery of our criminal justice system,” she said. “It will end that black cloud that hangs over our heads.”
Carlson was not immediately available to speak with The Arizona Republic, but she told KOLD News 13 last month that her family planned to attend Atwood’s execution.
— Jimmy Jenkins, Raphael Romero Ruiz and Chelsea Curtis
Atwood was arrested on Sept. 20, 1984, in Kerrville, Texas, for kidnapping Vicki Lynne Hoskinson three days earlier. He was 28 years old at the time.
He was identified as the driver of a dark-colored Datsun bearing a license plate reported by a physical education teacher at Vicki’s elementary school.
Several people told authorities they also saw the car in the area on the day Vicki disappeared but the teacher, Sam Hall, was the only person to take note of its license plate.
“When I saw the guy, I could feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I could feel my skin get goosebumps,” Hall told the Tucson Citizen a few years later. “It was a lifetime standing there.”
Atwood was brought back to Tucson, where residents learned he was previously convicted in California for sexually assaulting a 7-year-old boy and paroled after serving three of his five-year prison sentence.
It sparked a protest outside the Tucson mall with about 2,500 people demanding change to state laws allowing convicted child molesters on parole. Less than a year later, the “dangerous crimes against children” statute was signed into law by then-Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt, creating tougher penalties for people who commit sex offenses against children.
About a month after Vicki’s remains were found, Atwood was indicted on a first-degree murder charge.
Atwood’s 1987 trial had to be moved to Phoenix to maintain an impartial jury and lasted about 10 weeks. He claimed he was innocent, stating Vicki’s murder was “probably the worst thing a person could do in this world.”
“I’m not going to admit anything I didn’t do,” he said. “I had no involvement in it whatsoever.”
Atwood was ultimately convicted of kidnapping and murdering Vicki, and death. He was 31 years old at the time.
— Chelsea Curtis
In 1984, Vicki Lynne Hoskinson stood about 4 feet tall, had short auburn hair and deep blue eyes. She lived in the Flowing Wells area of northern Tucson and had just begun third grade at Homer Davis Elementary School, about a mile from her home on Hadley Street.
Like many other 8-year-old girls at the time, Vicki liked playing with Barbies and her favorite foods were Spaghetti O’s and french fries, her mom, Debbie Carlson, said at Atwood’s clemency hearing last month.
But on the afternoon of Sept. 17, 1984, Vicki disappeared. She had been riding her pink bike home after mailing a birthday card to her aunt at a nearby corner mailbox.
About 30 minutes after Vicki left, her family found her bike lying in the middle of Pocito Place, less than a mile from their home.
Several witnesses told authorities they saw a man in a dark-colored Datsun driving slowly alongside Vicki before she disappeared.
Despite massive search efforts, Vicki’s skeletal remains weren’t found until April 12, 1985, when a man walking in desert land near Ina and Artesiano roads saw a small human skull.
She was buried the following month at Evergreen Mortuary and Cemetery in Tucson. About 500 people attended her funeral services.
“She’s here, she’s everywhere. … She’ll always be a part of us,” Carlson said at the clemency hearing. “The inmate worked very, very hard to try to destroy our family, but I would like to say that he didn’t win.”
— Chelsea Curtis