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Arizona Executes Man for Killing Couple in 1973 Rampage

June 04, 1998| Associated Press

FLORENCE, Ariz. — A man who admitted killing 17 people during a rampage across Arizona and California was executed Wednesday for two of the murders.

Douglas Edward Gretzler, 47, had been on death row since Nov. 15, 1976, longer than any other Arizona inmate. He declined all interviews but reportedly wrote letters of apology to his victims' relatives with instructions that they be opened after his death.

He and Willie Luther Steelman, a mental hospital escapee who died in prison in 1987, were convicted in the Nov. 3, 1973, slayings of Marine Capt. Michael Sandberg and his wife, Patricia, at their Tucson condominium.

On Nov. 6, Gretzler and Steelman robbed grocery store owner Walter Parkin of $4,000 in cash and checks and killed all nine people inside Parkin's home outside Lodi, Calif.

Among the victims were a 9-year-old boy and 11-year-old girl, both shot in the head as they cowered in bed under the sheets.

The killers were arrested two days later in Sacramento. Among their possessions was "In Cold Blood," Truman Capote's book about a Kansas murder case.

Authorities say the two men later confessed to six other killings.

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