Murderer Once Freed Dies for Killing Again

<i> From Associated Press</i>

A murderer thought to be the only person ever freed from death row and then returned after killing again was executed by injection Tuesday for the 1992 abduction, rape and slaying of a young woman.

First imprisoned in 1965 for a string of burglaries, Kenneth Allen McDuff is blamed by authorities for as many as 14 slayings, all in Texas.

Before dying, the 52-year-old McDuff said, “I’m ready to be released; release me.”


McDuff, executed for the slaying of Melissa Ann Northrup, became the 17th Texas inmate put to death this year. Northrup’s body was found in a gravel pit weeks after her March 1, 1992, abduction from a convenience store. Her hands were tied behind her and she had been strangled with a rope.

Contemplating the execution, Brenda Solomon, Northrup’s mother, said, “I think my daughter will be at rest.”

McDuff also faced a second death sentence for the 1991 abduction and slaying of 28-year-old Austin accountant Colleen Reed, and authorities say he may have killed as many as a dozen other people, primarily in central Texas, between Austin and Waco.

McDuff went to death row in 1968 for fatally shooting two teenage boys in the face in Fort Worth and raping and strangling their 16-year-old female companion.

But while he awaited execution, the Supreme Court in 1972 struck down the death penalty as unconstitutional, and McDuff’s sentence was commuted to life in prison.

He won parole about 17 years later when parole board members, facing overcrowded Texas prisons, released him along with thousands of other inmates. Northrup and Reed were killed a short time later.