Massachusetts

Carjacking Killer Gary Lee Sampson Dies in Federal Prison

Sampson killed three men in a spree across Massachusetts and New Hampshire in 2001

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A drifter who killed three men in a spree across New England in 2001 has died in prison, federal records show.

Gary Lee Sampson died on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. He was 62.

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He was was convicted of killing 19-year-old college student Jonathan Rizzo and 69-year-old retiree Philip McCloskey. He also pleaded guilty in New Hampshire to killing Robert Whitney, 58, later in the spree.

His attorney confirmed Sampson's death, at the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri.

The acting U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, Nathaniel Mendell, prosecutors released a statement Thursday: "Our thoughts are with the Rizzo, McCloskey and Whitney families today. Their resilience is extraordinary."

Gary Lee Sampson was formally sentenced to death after his January re-trial.

Sampson was sentenced to death for the murder of Rizzo. A federal judge wrote in 2017 that there was evidence permitting jurors to conclude that Sampson "intented to kill" him "from the time they met."

Sampson's lawyers said he was brain damaged when he carjacked and fatally stabbed Rizzo and McCloskey.

The killing spree began in July 2001, after Sampson had robbed several banks in North Carolina. Upon returning to Massachusetts, he met McCloskey in Weymouth and convinced the man to drive him to another town, where he tied the retiree up and stabbed him to death, prosecutors have said.

Then, Sampson hitchhiked to Plymouth, where Rizzo picked him up. The killer made the teenager drive to a remote area, led him to the woods, tied him to a tree and stabbed him to death as well.

Sampson took Rizzo's car to a lake house in New Hampshire. After he broke in, the home's caretaker, Whitney, found him inside; Sampson tied him to a chair and strangled him to death.

Sampson was eventually arrested in Vermont.

His 2003 death sentence was overturned by a federal judge, then reimposed by a federal jury after the sentencing phase was retried.

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