Walter Moody

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Walter Moody
Born Walter Leroy Moody Jr.
(1935-03-24)March 24, 1935
Rex, Georgia, U.S.
Died (aged 83)
Holman Correctional Facility, Escambia County, Alabama
Cause of death Execution by lethal injection
Other names Roy Moody
Criminal status Executed
Spouse(s) Hazel Moody (unknown–1972)
Susan McBride
Criminal penalty 5 year-term (October 19, 1972)
Death (February 10, 1997)
Victims Judge Robert S. Vance Sr.
Robert E. Robinson
Date May 7, 1972
December 16–18, 1989
Date apprehended
July 13, 1990

Walter Leroy Moody Jr. (March 24, 1935 – April 19, 2018) was an American convicted murderer who was sentenced to death and executed in Alabama for the 1989 letter bomb murder of Robert S. Vance, a U.S. federal judge serving on the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

When Moody was executed by lethal injection in April 2018, he became the oldest death row inmate to be executed in modern United States history.[1][2]


Moody was born on March 24, 1935, in Rex, Georgia, and grew up in Fort Valley.[2] He grew up as the oldest of three children and spent much of his time "tinkering with machinery".[3] He graduated from high school in 1953, and held a multitude of military positions in the years to 1961.[3]

Following his departure from the military, Moody resumed his education.[4] After a psychiatric evaluation in 1967, he was characterized as harboring violent thoughts, and the doctor evaluating him, Thomas M. Hall, testified that he was ''constantly afraid'' that Moody might get into a situation that would end up in ''some sort of destruction toward society.''[3]

On May 7, 1972, Moody's wife at the time, Hazel, opened a package she found in their kitchen.[3] It turned out to be a homemade pipe bomb that exploded in front of her, tearing up her hand, thigh and shoulder, and sending scrap metal into her eye.[3] She required six operations to deal with all of her injuries.[3] Moody was tried for making the bomb with intent to send it to an auto dealer who had repossessed Moody's car, and on October 19, 1972, he was found not guilty of making the bomb, but was convicted of possessing it and sentenced to five years in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary.[3]

Moody and his wife were divorced shortly after his conviction.[2][4]

Vance's murder and connected bombings

On December 16, 1989, federal judge Robert Vance was assassinated at his home in Mountain Brook, Alabama, when he opened a package containing a makeshift pipe bomb.[5] Vance died instantly and his wife, Helen, was seriously injured.[1] After an extensive investigation, Moody and his second wife, Susan McBride, were arrested on July 13, 1990. McBride was released on $250,000 bail within a week and later testified against Moody.[2][5]

Moody was charged with the murders of Judge Vance and of Robert E. Robinson, a black civil-rights attorney based in Savannah, Georgia, who had been killed in a separate explosion at his office two days later on Monday, December 18.[1] Moody was also charged with mailing bombs that were defused at the Eleventh Circuit Court's headquarters in Atlanta and at the Jacksonville, Georgia office of Willye Dennis of the NAACP.[6]

It has been speculated[by whom?] that the bombings at the offices of both Robinson and the NAACP were meant to add a potential racial element to the killings to deflect attention away from Moody, who was described as being "anything but racist" by former associates and family members.[1] Moody's killing of Vance and his attempted bombing of the Eleventh Circuit were motivated by the Court's refusal to expunge Moody's conviction for the 1972 explosion in his home, despite the fact that Vance was neither on the panel that made that decision, nor was he responsible for its decision.[4][5]

Trial, death row, and execution

After an order was entered directing the recusal of all circuit and district judges within the Eleventh Circuit, Moody's trial for murder and related crimes was presided over by Judge Edward Devitt, of the District of Minnesota.[1][5] After a successful prosecution by special prosecutors Louis Freeh and Howard Shapiro, Moody was convicted of all counts.[7][8] He was sentenced to seven federal life terms.[1] An Alabama state-court jury later convicted Moody of Judge Vance's murder; Moody was sentenced to death by electrocution in 1997.[9] He stayed on death row at the Holman Correctional Facility near Atmore, Alabama from February 13, 1997.[10]

Moody was alleged to have attempted to run a Ponzi scheme from death row some time around 2015, according to an anonymous elderly Florida woman who claimed to have received a letter with a Holman Correctional Facility return address from Moody—although Moody was not known to have faced any disciplinary action as a result.[11]

On February 23, 2018, an execution date for Moody was set for April 19, 2018. He was subsequently executed on this date, at 8:42pm.[12][13] Aged 83 years and 26 days at execution, he was both the oldest death row inmate in Alabama since James Hubbard was executed in 2004,[1] and the oldest inmate executed in the United States in the post-Furman era, surpassing the previous record set by the execution of John B. Nixon, Sr., who was executed in Mississippi in December 2005 at the age of 77 years, 8 months and 13 days.[1][2]

Popular culture

The case was featured in the episode "Deadly Delivery" of Forensic Files which first aired on October 29, 1998.[1][5] It was also featured in the episode "Living in Terror" of The New Detectives, and in FBI Criminal Pursuit (Season 1, Episode 1 – "Murder By Mail").[citation needed]

See also

External links

  • Son of bombing victim speaks about his father's tragic end Video on YouTube (6:43)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Alabama Executes Mail Bomber, 83, the Oldest Inmate Put to Death in Modern Era". The New York Times. April 19, 2018. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e "83-year-old executed in Alabama is oldest inmate put to death in modern US history". CNN. April 19, 2018. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Applebome, Peter; Times, Special to The New York (1990-07-20). "Shadowy Bombing Case Is Focusing On Reclusive and Enigmatic Figure". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  4. ^ a b c "Alabama Executes Serial Bomber Walter Leroy Moody, 83". NPR. April 20, 2018. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e "83-Year-Old Man Convicted of Killing a Judge With a Mail Bomb Has Been Executed". Time. April 20, 2018. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  6. ^ Lieu, Amy (2018-02-24). "Execution date set for man who killed federal judge with package bomb". Fox News. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  7. ^ "Killer Who Sent Bombs Is Given Life Sentences". The New York Times. 21 August 1991. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  8. ^ Smothers, Ronald (14 July 1990). "Focus of Bombing Inquiry Is Held Without Bail on Separate Charge". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  9. ^ "Moody Lawyer Quits." Associated Press at The Gadsden Times. B2. March 13, 1997. Retrieved from Google News (5 of 22) on March 3, 2011. "Moody, now at Holman Prison near Atmore, is serving seven federal life prison terms and was sentenced to death last month after the state trial in Birmingham."
  10. ^ "Inmates on Deathrow". Retrieved 2007-05-21.
  11. ^ "Is an inmate running a get-rich scam from Alabama's Death Row?". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  12. ^ "Alabama Executes Mail Bomber, 83, the Oldest Inmate Put to Death in Modern Era". 19 April 2018. Retrieved 20 April 2018 – via
  13. ^ "Upcoming Executions – Death Penalty Information Center". Retrieved 20 April 2018.
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