BONNE TERRE, MO (KTVI) - Relatives of Eva Washington and her two-year-old daughter Zandrea Thomas say their lives were changed forever when Richard Strong fatally stabbed their loved ones. Detectives said the crime scene was so horrific it took an emotional toll on them.
The mother and daughter were stabbed repeatedly in their Edmundson apartment in October of 2000. Strong was put to death Tuesday by the state of Missouri. He was given a lethal injection a few minutes before 7 pm and was pronounced dead at 6:58pm.
“We have waited a long time,” said Willie Mae McCoy, Thomas’ grandmother. “This has been 15 years too long, and I thank god he allowed me to live, and my son to live to see this day come."
Friends and relatives of the victims say Strong abused Washington for some time.
"I dread the day that my sister met this man,” said Virgil Samant. “He’s in hell now and my sister and niece are in heaven."
Petrina Thomas, aunt of Zandrea Thomas said Strong needed to pay for what he did
"We are at peace now, and so glad this is finally over," said Thomas.
Missouri Department of Corrections statement:
Richard Strong was executed by lethal injection at 6:49 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri for the murders of Eva Washington and Zandrea Thomas in 2000 in St. Louis County. He was pronounced dead at 6:58 p.m.
His last meal was fried chicken, a cheeseburger and doughnuts.
Department of Corrections Director George A. Lombardi read the following statement from Gov. Jay Nixon:
Tonight, I ask the people of Missouri to remember Eva Washington and her two-year-old daughter, Zandrea Thomas, both of whom were brutally murdered in their own home 15 years ago by Richard Strong, whose sentence was carried out tonight. There have been many lives deeply affected by these crimes, and our thoughts and prayers go out on their behalf this evening.
Willie Mae McCoy, grandmother of Zandrea Thomas, and Virgil Sammant, sister of Eva Washington and aunt of Zandrea Thomas, witnessed the execution and spoke to media during the press briefing.
Petrina Thomas, aunt of Zandrea Thomas, also witnessed the execution and read a statement during the press briefing. Here is her statement as written:
On behalf of the Thomas family, we would like to thank the state of Missouri for finally providing our family with closure of the horrific death of my niece and her mom. For 14 years, we have impatiently waited for this day to come. It has been said that time heals all wounds. I do not agree; the wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone. The reality is we will grieve forever. We will not get over the loss of our loved ones, and we will learn to live with it. We will heal, and we will rebuild around the loss that we have suffered. We will never be the same again. He had a chance to watch his daughter grow up and laugh and smile with her. We never got a chance to see her first day of school, graduations, or watch her go on prom. My brother will never get a chance to walk his daughter down the aisle for her wedding day. Human life has dignity at any age. Nothing can justify the shedding of innocent blood or the taking of lives. You must take 100 percent responsibility for your choices and your actions, and pay with your own life. Revelation 21:4 reads: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
We are at peace now and so glad that it is finally over. Thank you
Richard Strong provided a final statement:
Jehovah-jireh, you’re my provider. Your grace is sufficient for me. Forgive me for my sin. Abba-Abba, take my soul in your hands.