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Loved ones remember Jennifer Long following execution of her killer

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    KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — After a 17-year hiatus, the second federal execution since 2003 put to death convicted killer Wesley Purkey at 8:19 this morning.

Purkey was found guilty of the brutal rape and murder of Jennifer Long. He was also convicted of using a claw hammer to kill 80-year-old Mary Ruth Bales.

KCTV5’s Emily Rittman spoke to Jennifer Long’s family now that their long wait for justice is over.

Back in 1998, Purkey kidnapped and killed 16-year-old Long. He then dismembered, burned, and dumped her body in a septic pond.

Jennifer’s family and friends miss her. Her stepmother and childhood friend plan to live for Jennifer. They’ll visit her memorial bench and spend time remembering her while forgetting about Purkey.

“She was a shy, gentle tomboy,” said her childhood friend Michelle McDaniel.

“I worked with her and finally she came around and held her head up high, had a bunch of friends,” said Jennifer’s stepmother Marilyn Richards. “She loved music and art. She wanted to be a storm chaser. So, whenever a storm comes up, I always think of her.”

Purkey was originally scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, but last-minute legal maneuvers delayed the execution. His attorneys said he had dementia.

Before his execution, he said: “I deeply regret the pain and suffering I caused to Jennifer’s family. I am deeply sorry.”

Jennifer’s father William Long spoke to journalists in Indiana after the lethal injection. He said, “I didn’t give a —-. I hope he rots in he rots in hell.”

“It didn’t mean much to us. He’s not very genuine,” added Olivia Long, Jennifer’s stepmother.

“He’s had 22 years to apologize,” McDaniel said. “There is no place in society for Wesley Purkey.”

Back home in Kansas City, Richards and McDaniel think about all of life’s milestones Jennifer missed out on.

“Her nieces and nephews,” McDaniel said. “Her friend’s kids. Having her own career. Having her own life.”

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