He has revealed how he has watched in horror as TWICE flames shot out of inmates' heads as they sat in the electric chair


Other chilling Death Row memories include the time blood suddenly covered one prisoner's shirt after the switch was  flicked on "Old Sparky".

Particularly memorable was the execution of US serial killer Ted Bundy - and the celebratory fireworks which followed news of his death.

The 67-year-old had the unenviable role of being an official witness to 60 state executions while working for the Associated Press in America.

And it's those that went horribly wrong which have stuck in his mind - and have proved the inspiration for a new novel he is writing.


One was the particularly gruesome execution of cop killer Jesse Tafero, 43, in May 1990.

Things went horribly wrong as soon as the masked executioner pulled the switch.

Mr Word told Mirror Online: "Flames several feet high occurred from the top of his head during the electric chair execution.

"Smoke hovered at the top of the execution chamber and horrified looks were exchanged between prison guards and witnesses to the execution."

It later turned out "Old Sparky" had suffered a rare malfunction and eventually three jolts were needed to finish off Tafero.

Then there was the execution of Cuban refugee Pedro Medina, 39, who was accused of a killing a neighbour.

Medina uttered his last words - "I am still innocent" - moments before flames also shot from the top of his head.

Father-of-three Mr Word started his career at a small newspaper in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in 1972, before joining AP.

Covering the executions at Florida State Prison, near Starke, soon became one of his regular duties.

The most famous prisoner he saw die was the notorious serial killer and rapist Bundy.

The fiend was executed after admitting to murdering more than 30 young women in the 1970s.

Once "Old Sparky" ended his life there were celebrations outside the prison - with singing, dancing and fireworks.

Mr Word said: "The most striking thing about Ted Bundy’s execution was the circus atmosphere outside the prison.

"A sandwich shop and bar down the road displayed on its marque: 'Tuesday is Fry Day'."

Mr Word was also present when Florida executed its last death row prisoner by electric chair on July 8, 1999.

Brutal Allen Davis, 54, was sentenced to death over the killings of a pregnant woman and her two daughters.

His death was also a pretty horrific affair, revealed Mr Word.

He was still alive after the power to "Old Sparky" was turned off, according to witnesses.

Blood had poured from his nose, running down a leather strap across his mouth and onto his shirt.

He said: "Blood started appearing on the Davis’ white shirt, caking along the leather straps holding his chest.

"While it was gruesome, prison officials said it was caused by a nose bleed."

But in the aftermath, Florida's top court released graphic photos of Allen's execution.

"Old Sparky" was quickly put out of action and the state switched to executions by lethal injection.

Then the botched execution of Angel Diaz - who received two full doses of a lethal cocktail of drugs - temporarily halted all other executions.

Mr Word watched for over half an hour before Diaz took his final breath, writing it seemed like the 55-year-old would never die.

Posted Date : March 10, 2018
Ref : The Sun

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