Career criminal Frank Duane Welch was executed Tuesday for the rape and death of a young mother. The death of Jo Talley Cooper, 28, a Mississippi native who earned a master's degree in communication at the University of Oklahoma, went unsolved for nearly a decade. Welch, 46, was serving time in prison for a kidnapping charge in 1997 when he was linked by DNA to the killings of Cooper and Grady County resident Debra Stevens, whose nude body was discovered in her family's home outside Tuttle less than three months after Cooper's death. No appeals were pending and the lethal injection was scheduled for 6 p.m. Cooper, who was three months pregnant at the time of her death, was tied up, raped and strangled while her infant son slept in the next room. Prosecutors believe Welch, who worked as a cable repairman in Norman for a short time in 1987, used his old uniform to get inside the women's homes.
‘No getting over it'Cooper's family planned to witness Welch's execution. "Closure is sort of a cliche, but there is a finality in the sense that the legal system is done and the dragging it out is over with,” said Jeb Anderson, Cooper's younger brother, who lives in Franklin, Tenn. "There's no getting over it. You just learn to live with it, and that's where we're focused now,” he said. Cooper's son, Travis, who was in a room down the hallway from where his mother was killed, is now 21 and lives in Madison, Wis., with his father. In a letter to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board last month, he urged the board to deny clemency for Welch and wrote of the pain of growing up without his mother. "It would be different if my mother would have died of natural causes,” he wrote. "It would be different if it was God's will, but the truth is that an evil man named Frank Welch took her life. "And the unspeakable things he did to her, my mother, is what fills me with anger, the pain, and the loneliness that I feel to this day.” The state Corrections Department said Tuesday that Welch had requested pizza and Coke for his last meal.