Martin Link died at the Bonne Terre prison at 12:15 a.m.
“The state says killing is wrong,” he said in his final statement. “So why do they do it? For revenge. Where is the closure? There is none. The death penalty is a act of revenge. Many men sit on death row. Some innocent and some not. So what happens when a man is executed and it’s later learned he was in fact innocent. He can’t be brought back.”
Before the execution, three reporters, the man who prosecuted Link for the crimes against Elissa Self-Braun in 1991, the detectives, sheriff and officer who handled the case waited to be taken to the execution chamber.
Detective Mike Flaherty talks about how it all started: “When the car was recovered, it was impounded by Kirkwood Police, for whatever reason, they removed a jar of vaseline from his car and put it in a ziploc bag. There was this 11-year-old girl, the implications were pretty obvious. We were looking at them right after the incident with the little girl. He had checked into a hotel at DeLoge, got his muffler fixed the next day. We were talking to his dad and he said they used to put in (on family float trips) right where we found her body.”
Detective Jim Roach says it’s common criminal behavior to do that — take the bodies to their comfort zone. “They’re scared and panicked, they rely on muscle memory and things and places that comfort them.”
The officers talk about Ted Bundy, and how he dumped his bodies where he used to camp as a boy near Seattle. He was charismatic, intelligent.
Is Link charismatic and intelligent, I ask. No, they say. Talk shifts to his physical discription, how he’s tall, thin, and has been referred to both as a dark skinned white man and a light-skinned black man.
Henry “Bud” Snyder was the Sheriff of Wayne County, where Self-Braun was found, for 16 years.
“She would have ended up in Wappapello if he’d put her in the channel,” he said. “I think about it every time I cross the Black Bridge.”
“It wasn’t the biggest shake up, no, but it was one of the worst,” he says. “Tonight I got to see a photo of her. That’s the first time I saw what she looked like alive. It still bears in my mind, I told the prosecutor at the time, when this guy’s put to death, I’d like to be there. And aside from the family, I think tonight will provide some closure for me too.”
The victim’s family, the investigators, and perhaps Link, waited 20 years for the execution. In the end, it took less than 15 minutes for his to die.
Just after midnight, it began — “We’re beginning Phase One. The offender is being administered pentophol, which renders him unconcious,” Corrections staff announces. At 12:18, we get the statement: Execution complete. Close outside curtain. W-2 closed.”
Statement from Pamela Braun, Elissa’s mother:
Elissa’s family and I would like to thank everyone who has loved us and supported us throughout the past 20 years as we have waited for the final piece of this tragedy to occur.
We want to thank all the law enforcement officers who worked on this case, specifically Detectives Miek Flaherty and Bill Roach who worked diligently to solve the case and gather the necessary evidence to convict him; the labs for all the work that they did in processing the evidence, particularly Harold Messler; the courts and attorneys who handled the legal aspects of prosecuting him; particulary Joe Warzycki adn Jeff Hillard.
We have been truly blessed that the justice system has worked for Elissa, whereas there are still many homicide survivors and victims still waiting for justice.
I’m looking forward to being reunited with Elissa when this time on earth is through.