Who is Anthony Shore? 'Tourniquet Killer' of Texas Scheduled To Be First Prisoner Executed in 2018

The execution chamber at the Arizona State Prison Complex is shown in the screen grab from a video provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections on March 4, 2015. Reuters

A Texas man known as the “Tourniquet Killer” is scheduled to become the first prisoner executed in 2018 if he is put to death as planned on Thursday.

The execution of Anthony Shore, 55, could bring comfort not only to the loved ones of his victims, but even to his own daughter, who said her father has haunted her for the 13 years he's spent on death row.

"I’ll be relieved because I feel like even though he’s in prison, even though he can’t physically harm anybody, his words can be damaging," his daughter Tiffany Hall told Newsweek. "He still has access to other people with his words and his mind and I don’t know, he’s just a very manipulative person. I think it will be a relief knowing he can’t inflict any kind of damage on anybody else ever again.”

Shore was convicted of murdering four girls between 1986 to 1995 in Harris County, Texas. He sexually assaulted and tortured all of his victims, who were between 9 and 21 years old, and then strangled them with homemade tourniquets that he strung around their necks and tightened with bamboo or a toothbrush.

After spending decades harboring his secret life as a serial killer, he confessed in 2003 to killing 21-year-old Maria del Carmen Estrada after police matched his DNA to body material found under her fingernails. Shore had previously been convicted of molesting Hall and his other daughter, Amber, and had had to submit his DNA to a database as part of the case. 

“We knew he was a terrible person but still weren’t prepared to know that he was raping and murdering for a hobby,” Hall said. “Knowing that I was at home living at my dad’s house and he was out there murdering people and then coming home while my sister and I were still living with him, I don’t think anything prepares you for that.”

SHORE 1 Anthony Shore is set to become the first prisoner to be executed in 2018. Harris County

Shore’s run of killings began in 1986, when he snatched 14-year-old Laurie Lee Tremblay on her way to the bus stop. In 1992, he murdered Estrada by “twisting a nylon cord around her neck and tightening it with a piece of wood,” leaving her nude body in a Dairy Queen drive-through, according to court documents. Two years later, he killed 9-year-old Diana Rebollar, leaving her battered body in nothing but a black Halloween t-shirt with a twisted ligature around her neck. Less than a year later, he killed 16-year-old Dana Sanchez, reportedly proceeding to call a local television station to alert it about a serial killer on the loose.

Shore was convicted of the crimes against Estrada in 2004, blaming the murder on voices inside his head telling him he was "going to have her, regardless."

"I didn't set out to kill her," Shore told police in a taped interview played during the trial. "That was not my intent. But it got out of hand."

Shore's confessions that he murdered the three other girls were not shared with the jury during the trial, and jurors were only told he was a serial killer before they decided his sentence. At that time, his attorney told the jury their client wanted to be put to death to "sacrifice his life for what he has done." 

Shore was originally scheduled to be put to death in October 2017, but the execution was called off after he falsely admitted to two more killings in the week prior.  Another death row inmate, Larry Swearingen, was already scheduled to be executed for one of the crimes Shore had admitted to and investigators ultimately concluded that Shore had given a fake confession in a ploy to save him.

Since landing on death row more than a decade ago, Shore's lawyers have argued that their client suffered from brain damage earlier in life, making him ineligible for execution in the same way that minors and intellectually disabled people are not put to death due to decreased cognitive ability. His legal team also claimed the injury affected his decision about wanting to be executed.

An appeal was turned down in early 2017, and in October, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the case. In July, Shore sent a hopeful letter to his father.

"I will likely get a stay, but ya' just never know," he wrote on the same day a judge greenlit prosecutors' request for the October execution, according to the Houston Chronicle. "I'd prefer to live a bit longer but am ready if it's God's will."

But now, with no unresolved appeals, Shore is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at 6 p.m. central time Thursday. The state uses a single drug protocol of the sedative Pentobarbital, a drug that is typically used for capital punishment within the United States when other pharmaceuticals are in short supply.

Hall, now 32, said she hasn’t spoken to her father since she was 12. She lives in Arizona, working for Maricopa County. At the time of her father’s execution, she’ll either be at home or at work, she said.

“I just hope it goes through so we can get it over with," Hall said. "We’ve all been sitting in limbo for 13 years now waiting, I just want it to be over with so we can all not have to think about it anymore really.”

Texas is currently scheduled to carry out at least four more executions this year before its stock of lethal injection drugs expires on July 20. Since 1976, the state has carried out the most executions in America, putting 545 people to death. Coming in second and third by a wide margin are Virginia and Oklahoma, with 113 and 112 executions respectively, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Harris County, where Shore will be put to death, is home to the most executions in the United States, with 115 taking place since 1976.

The county’s district attorney defended the decision to execute Shore, charging there is no looming uncertainty that he deserves to be put to death.

“Anytime a person is subject to government’s greatest sanction, it merits thoughtful review.  We have proceeded as the law directs and satisfied all doubts,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement to Newsweek. “Anthony Shore is the worst of the worst, a serial killer who took pleasure in his victims’ suffering. He raped, tortured and murdered young girls.”

Hall echoed Ogg’s assessment, and believes the death penalty should be applied in cases like her father’s, saying that all evidence has showed he was responsible for the crimes. 

“In cases like this there’s no doubt in my mind,” she said. “My only regret is it took them so long to put a date."

Editor's Pick