TAMPA, Fla. — Lawrence Singleton, who chopped off a teenage hitchhiker's forearms in California and was later sent to death row in Florida for killing a prostitute, has died of cancer behind bars. He was 74.
Singleton died Friday at the North Florida Reception Center in Starke. He had been on death row since 1998, but no execution date had been set.
In 1978, Singleton raped 15-year-old Mary Vincent, cut off her forearms and left her naked in a ditch near Modesto to die. In a decision that caused a furor in California, he was paroled in 1987 after serving eight years of a 14-year term.
Outraged California communities refused to accept him, and authorities ended up housing him in a mobile home at San Quentin State Prison until his parole was up in 1988.
Singleton eventually moved to Tampa, where he had spent his childhood. Residents protested and a car dealer offered him $5,000 to leave the state. A homemade bomb was detonated near the Singleton home, but nobody was injured.
A jury in Florida convicted Singleton of murder for stabbing to death Roxanne Hayes, 31, at his Tampa home in 1997.
Vincent testified during Singleton's penalty hearing in Florida, pointing him out with an artificial limb.
The retired merchant marine seaman denied raping and mutilating Vincent, but admitted stabbing Hayes.
"I'm sorry about the death in this case," he told the judge as he was sentenced to die. "I'll have to carry it on my conscience the rest of my life."