MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Gov. Rick Scott signed a death warrant Wednesday for a career criminal convicted of what was, at the time, the worst mass murder in Miami-Dade history.
“He’s the most vicious, dangerous and violent murderer in Dade County, if not in many years, ever,” said former Assistant State Attorney Leonard Glick of John Errol Ferguson during a clemency hearing in 1987, recalled in a Miami Herald article. “Nothing warrants mercy on his behalf before the board of clemency.”
Ferguson, 64, is slated to die by lethal injection at Florida State Prison near Raiford at 6 p.m., Oct. 16.
Read the death warrant signed by Gov. Scott.
Ferguson’s career as a criminal includes shooting 14 people – eight of which died — plus multiple rapes and robberies.
In 1975, Ferguson was diagnosed as homicidal and dangerous by court psychiatrists when he was acquitted of six robberies and two assault charges on a plea of insanity.
He was given 18 months prison and two years probation and released in May 1977.
That same month, he robbed, savagely beat and shot an elderly couple in a motel.
On July 27, 1977, posing as Florida Power & Light inspector, Ferguson forced his way into a Carol City home looking for drugs and money. With the help of three accomplices, Ferguson tied the hands of eight people behind their backs. He then shot them in the back of the head (execution style), killing six of them.
The six who died were Henry Clayton, Randolph Holmes, Michael Miller, Charles Stinson, Livingston Stocker and Gilbert Williams.
One of the two shooting survivors testified in those executions, and two of the accomplices in the murders, Marvin Francois and Beauford White, were executed in the 1980s.
Ferguson was suspected of rapes on October 14 and October 30, 1977. On the later date, he shot and wounded two teenagers parked in a car when they refused to unlock the door. The youngsters drove off, wounded but alive.
He raped a woman the next day, on Halloween.
On January 8, 1978, Ferguson shot to death two Hialeah 17-year-olds, Belinda Worley and Brian Glenfeldt. Ferguson pretended to be a policeman. According to the Miami Herald, he raped, robbed and murdered Worley then took her class ring. The teens were on their way to a church meeting. He was arrested on April 5, 1978 and taken to trial.
John was the fourth to the oldest in a family of eight kids. He dropped out of school in the ninth grade after repeating three grades. His repeated problems with the law began after the death of his dad when the boy was 13. At 21, he tried to kill a police officer.
Friends and kin describe Ferguson as gentle as a lamb. A court-appointed psychiatrist diagnosed him in 1975 as “dangerous to himself and others, homicidal, and should not be released under any circumstances.” He had been acquitted of six robberies and two assault charges on a plea of insanity and sent to the Florida mental hospital, from which he later escaped.
According to the Miami Herald, Ferguson’s 30 years of appeals included expert testimony that he suffered from paranoia and delusions and had other mental deficiencies. Other experts, however, said he was faking mental illness. On June 1, 2010, the Supreme Court denied to take up his case.
His stay on Florida’s death row — 34 years —far exceeds the average stay of 12.7 years, wrote The Miami Herald.
The Miami Herald cites Gov. Scott’s spokesman as saying Scott has signed five death warrants since he was sworn in as governor in January 2011. There were 399 people on death row in Florida as of June 30, 2011.
The Miami Herald contributed material for this report.