If all goes as scheduled, Richard Rick Leavitts heart will stop beating around 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Barring the chance that he wins a last-minute appeal, Leavitt will die by lethal injection for the 1984 murder of Danette Elg, 31, of Blackfoot.
After more than a quarter-century, law enforcement, attorneys and family members vividly remember the trial, the victim and the man convicted of killing her. As the execution approaches, they say the events of 1984 and 85 resonate almost daily.
When Dennis Hall, a former Blackfoot police officer and coroner, arrived at Elgs split-level home, he said he found the most devastating killing site he had ever encountered.
Her naked body lay caked in blood on the deflated waterbed in her west-facing bedroom. The sun bore down on her, blistering her decomposing body. She had been dead for three days.
An inch of water, spilled from the punctured waterbed, covered the floor. Oppressive heat and a nauseating smell filled the North University Avenue home, Hall said.
The odor that burned your mouth forced some officers to wear fire department masks to muffle the smell while gathering evidence, Hall said
Elg had been stabbed 15 times. Her reproductive and sex organs, as well as her rectum, had been cut out of her body.
In miserable conditions, Hall and other officers gathered hundreds of blood samples and mounds of evidence. The scene left Hall with nightmares.
Her close family and friends called her Nettie, according to court records. She worked at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, now known as Idaho National Laboratory.
She was generally a likable, friendly, shy person who would help anyone with a problem, according to witness statements.
Elg graduated from Blackfoot High School in 1971 and Idaho State University in 1983. She enjoyed skiing, jogging, swimming, camping, hiking and photography.
Danette was a carefree, adventurous and to some degree restless (person), according to police records.
She was a dedicated worker, according to former employers, and enjoyed odd jobs that included chimney sweeping and fixing up the houses she lived in.
Danette didnt want to get married and have children, according to police records. She didnt want the stereotype life.
Members of Elgs family declined to comment.
Elgs murder was Stuart Robinsons first high-profile case, one he remembers clearly.
We all knew Rick and (knew) what kind of person he was, said Robinson, the lead investigator on the case.
Robinson said Leavitt was a suspect in two or three potential rape cases. But after he threatened the women, they never reported him, Robinson said.
Hes actually a very violent person, Robinson said.
Prior to the murder, Leavitt had a history of strange, violent behavior.
Tom Moss served as Bingham County prosecutor for 25 years. During the trial, Moss said Leavitts actions were not uncontrolled or acts of impulse. He had strangled small animals for no reason. He had been charged in Custer County with killing two cows with a bow and arrow, according to previous reports.
Leavitt himself reported Elg missing, Robinson said. Leavitt told police that he was concerned for Elgs safety.
Robinson believes that Leavitt could not stand to have his crime go undiscovered and craved the sensationalism of the attack.
Robinson said the police pretty well knew that it was Leavitt who killed Elg, but they waited to arrest him as they built their case.
It was a 2,000-hour investigation, according to previous reports, five months that terrorized Blackfoot.
The thing that bothered me the most, as a person, was having to deal with the people of Blackfoot every night when theyd hear a noise, Hall said. She was killed and mutilated, and they knew this persons still out there.
Leavitts case is one of four Moss prosecuted in which a judge sentenced the defendant to death.
Theres no doubt in my mind that he is guilty and the judge felt the evidence was convincing enough, Moss said.
The main thing that tied Leavitt to the scene was that his blood type was found on Elgs shorts, Hall said.
Police said Leavitt cut himself while stabbing Elg, whom Moss called a very athletic woman. He said that if Leavitt were to attempt to stab her, hed have a fight on his hands.
After the murder, Leavitt went to the emergency room to have a cut on his hand stitched. Leavitt said he cut it on a fan, but police later determined that the fan would not make that kind of cut, Moss said.
Moss also said Elg had reported to police that a male she thought to be Leavitt had tried to break into her home. She was killed the next day.
Testimony presented a stark portrait of Leavitt.
His ex-wife, Kelly Schofield, testified that she sometimes accompanied him on hunting trips. She discussed one occasion in which he shot a doe and dragged it back to the vehicle where she sat. She said he was unaware of her presence.
He was sticking the knife in (the does) genitalia, pulling and pushing and turning it, Schofield said.
When Leavitt became aware of her, Schofield testified, he told her that he wanted to see how the reproductive organs worked.
Prosecutors also said that within days of the murder, Leavitt contacted Jess Montague, an ambulance attendant, and asked how long it would take for a body to start smelling.
Psychologist David Groberg testified that Leavitt could not be rehabilitated and is liable to commit the same acts he committed before.
Leavitt was found guilty on Sept. 25, 1985, and then-7th District Judge H. Reynold George sentenced him to death on Dec. 19, 1985.
Atrocious and heinous are not strong enough words to describe the depravity of the crime, George said at the time. ... It is the solemn judgment of this court that you, Richard Leavitt, shall be sentenced to death.
For nearly 28 years, Leavitt, 53, has maintained his innocence. He has made several appeals. Each time, his death sentence and conviction were eventually upheld.
In 1989, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed Leavitts conviction but sent the case back to district court for resentencing. On Jan. 25, 1990, Judge George again sentenced him to death. The Supreme Court affirmed that sentence in 1991.
Leavitt filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court this year, but on May 14 the court declined to hear it.
In a May 25 plea for a clemency hearing, Leavitt wrote: I did not murder Danette Elg. I am deeply sorry that she is dead, that she died a violent death, and that her family and friends have also had to suffer her loss.
But I recently took and passed a polygraph test which found that I was being truthful when I said I did not stab her or mutilate her body, and that I was not present when someone else did.
Polygraphs cannot be accepted into evidence in Idaho. The Commission of Pardons and Parole denied Leavitts request for a commutation or a clemency hearing. He has an appeal pending with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Marjorie Leavitt believes her son is not guilty. The polygraph test proves it, she said.
She fears that Idaho officials will find out five years down the road that oh, gosh, we made a mistake.
She speaks with her son on the phone every day, sometimes several times.
Losing a child is the worst thing in the world, she said. Weve lived with it for 27 years, expecting it at any time. I sympathize with (Elgs family) so much.
Marjorie Leavitt said her son asked his family not to attend the execution.
COMING TO AN END
Those who put together the case against Leavitt wont lose any sleep over his death.
Leavitt is an evil person, said Hall. I have a heavy heart for the type of death (Elg) had and the terror that went through her mind.
Said Moss: The thing that stands out most about her is the brutality of the crime. She was a very beautiful young lady who lived by herself and was the victim of a very ugly crime.
Robinson said that without a doubt, Leavitt would have killed again.
The Elg family were really good people, he said. I remember the fact that Danettes dad wanted to see her and I wouldnt let him. I didnt want him to have that image of his daughter as the last time he saw her.