STARKE, Fla. – Twenty-seven years after his sister’s murder in Florida, Chris Crowley has finally found some relief.
William Happ, 51, the man convicted of raping and murdering 21-year-old Angie Crowley in 1986, was executed Tuesday night after receiving a lethal chemical injection at a Florida State Prison.
Happ spent more time on death row than the victim, a 1983 graduate of Oregon High School, spent alive.
Her brother, Chris, 56, now a Missouri resident, and her aunt, Janell Diehl, 76, of Oregon, along with other family members witnessed the execution.
“I feel relieved,” said Chris late Tuesday night. “No more worrying about appeals or whatever.”
Angie was involved in many school activities while at OHS including cheerleading, drill team, concert band, and marching band. She was also an honor student, sophomore class secretary, and served on the school’s newspaper staff.
She had moved to Florida in 1986 to pursue a career as a travel agent.
She was headed to a friend’s home on May 24, 1986, when she made a wrong turn and stopped at a gas station across from the Crystal River City Hall to call her friend for directions.
It was there that Happ, who had an extensive criminal background, kidnapped her and then raped and strangled her before leaving her body in a canal.
He was convicted in 1989 by a Florida jury and sentenced to death.
Chris and his late mother, Judy, were the main contacts for updates on the Happ case following Happ’s conviction in July 1989. They waited as Happ filed numerous appeals.
Chris set up an online petition asking Florida Governor Rick Scott to sign the death warrant and also emailed the governor and his staff asking for the declaration. He said it was something he promised his mother he would do at the time of her death 5 years ago.
“My mom told me to stay on top of this, and I did,” Chris said. “I still miss my sister a whole lot, but this was like an open wound. Now when I look at both their graves I can be at peace. Now it’s all over.”
Angie and her mother share a headstone at Daysville Cemetery, east of Oregon.
Happ expressed remorse for his actions before given the injection.
“To my agonizing shame, I must confess to the crime,” he said. “I wish to offer my most sincere, heartfelt apology. I have prayed for the good Lord to forgive me for my sins. But I understand why those here cannot.”
The words didn’t mean much to Chris.
“The apology, for what it’s worth, I personally think that’s more for himself than anything,” he said, adding that he doesn’t forgive Happ. “He needs to ask someone a lot more important than me for forgiveness.”
The Crowley family also gave a statement afterward.
“We have lost a vibrant young lady with dark blue eyes and an infectious smile. With this loss we will no longer experience her great sense of humor, her laughter and her loving and caring personality,” Chris said while surrounded by family and friends. “Our loss is also your loss. You have lost the possibility of meeting such a special person.”
The randomness of the crime has left questions in Crowley’s mind.
“The only thing I would like to know is why, and I don’t expect to find out,” Crowley said. “I have a lot of hatred for the man. A lot of hatred.”
After Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed Happ’s death warrant on Sept. 10, Happ told a judge he did not want any lawyers filing appeals for him.
Happ was calm Tuesday when he met with two spiritual advisers, including a Roman Catholic priest who administered last rites, according to Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jessica Cary.
For his last meal, Happ had a 12-ounce box of assorted chocolates and 1½ quarts of German chocolate ice cream.
Happ was the first person to be executed under a new mix of drugs Florida is using for lethal injections. It appeared Happ remained conscious longer and made more body movements after losing consciousness than other people executed recently by lethal injection under the old formula.