Execution of Thomas Creech, 73, halted due to IV line issue

BOISE, Idaho — The controversial execution of alleged serial killer Thomas Creech was halted Wednesday after medical workers failed to establish a reliable IV line.

The 73-year-old murderer, who’s spent nearly 50 years in prison, continued appealing his death sentence hours before his scheduled lethal injection. The Supreme Court declined to intervene in Creech’s execution at noon Wednesday. Idaho’s governor also declined to interfere. It’d been 12 years since Idaho last executed an inmate.

The Idaho Department of Corrections said shortly after 10 a.m. local time that witnesses had been seated and the execution process would begin, according to WITI-TV. But KMTV reported roughly an hour later that officials were unable to establish a line through which a lethal injection could be administered. Creech was reportedly returned to his cell and witnesses were dismissed pending further notice. The state is now set to determine what happens next.

Creech was convicted of five murders in three states. Three of those killings happened in Idaho, including the 1981 murder of a 23-year-old fellow inmate whom prosecutors said he beat to death with a sock containing batteries.

He was first sentenced to death in 1974 after shooting two men who picked him up while he was hitchhiking. A court changed that death sentence to life in prison. Creech was later convicted of killing people in California and Oregon.

Creech, at one point, claimed to have murdered nearly 50 people, though authorities never confirmed that figure. Investigators focused on fewer than a dozen killings they believed were tied to the Ohio native.

Protesters opposed to Creech’s execution argued that the man being executed Wednesday had been softened by spending nearly a half-century in prison and no longer posed a threat to anyone. Idaho station KTVB showed demonstrators outside the Idaho Maximum Security Institution near Boise before Creech’s scheduled execution.

Creech spent Tuesday night visiting with his wife — the mother of a corrections officer — whom he married while incarcerated. His last meal was fried chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy and corn, followed by an ice cream dessert.