Steven Timothy Judy’s childhood was nothing short of horrific. It was a nightmare of violence, sex, pornography, incest, alcohol and crime. “That’s all he’s known since the day he was born,” said his defence attorney, Steven L. Harris.1 His father, Vernon, was frequently arrested for abusing and beating his mother, Myrtle. One afternoon, Vernon found Myrtle in bed with another man and responded to the affair by butchering the family sheepdog. “There’s times when I can remember my mother pulling gun out on my dad and trying to shoot him,” Judy recalled.2
He had a troubled upbringing, to say the very least.
As a child, Judy burned down a neighbour’s garage and stabbed a classmate with a compass. When he was 10-years-old, Judy started to push high-school girls to the ground and molest them. He was caught during the act several times but would always be released back into the custody of his parents. As he grew older, his attacks became more vicious.
When he was 13-years-old, he knocked on a woman’s door pretending he was a Boy Scout. Once inside, he pulled out a knife and raped the young woman, Carol Emig. After he was finished, he stabbed Emig numerous times with such force the knife broke in her sternum. Judy then rushed to the kitchen in search of another weapon. Emig stumbled to a drawer in her bedroom and grabbed a hatchet that she and her husband used for camping trips. As Judy came back with a butcher knife that he retrieved from the kitchen drawer, he decided instead to grab the hatchet from the young woman. He crashed it down over her head, fracturing her skull. As she attempted to defend herself from the blows, Judy chopped off her thumb. Emig suffered over 40 and underwent brain surgery. Miraculously, she survived.
As a result of this attack, Judy was held for six months at a juvenile detention centre before being transferred to Central State Hospital where he was diagnosed as a sexual psychopath.3
He remained there for two years before being released into the custody of a new foster family. His foster parents were Robert and Mary Carr. They were never informed about his savage past. While he never acted violent towards his new family, his violent behaviour continued elsewhere and he was steadily in and out of trouble with the law.
In July of 1975, Judy randomly grabbed a woman from her car and began to beat her up. The attack only stopped when a passer-by intervened. He was charged with aggravated battery and served 20 months in prison. Just one month after his release, he forced his way inside another woman’s car and sexually assaulted her at knife point. He spent a year in jail before his trial ended in a hung jury. Two months later, Judy entered a local market brandishing a gun and robbed the terrified cashier. He was released on bond.
Soon, his brutality would reach new heights and ultimately land him on Death Row.
On the 28th of April, 1979, Judy saw 21-year-old Terry Chasteen driving south on I-465 in Indiana. In the car with the young mother were her three children: 5-year-old Misty, 4-year-old Steven and 2-year-old Mark. Chasteen was driving her children to her babysitter’s house before reporting to work in the produce department at a Marsh grocery store.
Judy motioned Chasteen to the side of the road, indicating that her rear tire looked faulty. He offered to tighten it and she got a lug wrench out of the trunk to hand to the seemingly-helpful stranger. Instead of helping, however, Judy went to the front of the car, opened the hood, and removed a coil write from the engine without Chasteen noticing. As a result, the car would not start. Judy told Chasteen that he would drive her to her job and drive her children to the babysitter. She agreed and they all clambered into his car.
Judy, however, had something much more sinister in mind.
Judy drove to a deserted countryside spot next to Whitelick Creek where Chasteen’s children played down on the creek bed. As they were alone, Judy turned on Chasteen and bound her with material ripped from her own dress. He then raped and strangled Chasteen. Moments later, her children returned to the scene. As they saw the nude and lifeless body of their mother, they started to scream and cry. Judy picked them up one by one and threw them into the 7-feet deep icy creek where they drowned.
He threw Chasteen in after them.
Morgan County Sheriff’s Department officer Robert Williams and Sheriff Dick Allen were the first on the scene that morning. Mushroom hunters had stumbled across Chasteen’s body along the creek bank. Her legs rested on the creek bank while the rest of her body was submerged.
Those on scene were still absorbing this horrendous discovery when a shout from downstream echoed: “We have found two more…”
By mid-afternoon, all four bodies had been retrieved from the creek.
Numerous witnesses had seen Chasteen and her children with Judy and he was apprehended within 36 hours.
Unlike most killers, Judy wanted to die. He had told his defence attorney, Steven L. Harris, that he wanted to take some kind of action to ascertain that he be sentenced to death. “He said he was going to jump over the table and choke Tom Gray and I told him that no, he shouldn’t do that, that someone might shoot him and that it might be me.”
During his trial, Judy asked if he could address the jurors. Harris agreed and Judy stood up and chillingly stated: “You better vote for the death penalty because if you don’t, I will get out and it may be one of you next, or your family.”
After just thirty minutes deliberation, the jury granted Judy his wish and sentenced him to death.
“Actually, I’m really calm about it. It’s something I look forward to,” said Judy the night before his execution. His lawyer had attempted to get a last minute reprieve to which Judy responded: “Don’t screw me out of it now. You know this is what I want. You know I’m dangerous. You know I might do it again… Don’t interfere, not at this point.”4
In fact, Judy halted his appeal process. There was no delay, no stay of execution and no prolonged years on Death Row.
Harris said that Judy cried on his last day. First when his foster parents left and again when Harris left his cell moments before his execution. Judy was given a 10-milligram injection of Valium and bid farewell to Harris. “We shook hands, he said ‘Thanks, this is the right thing, don’t feel bad about it,’ and that was it.” Seemingly having somewhat of a last-minute change of heart, he had a piece of advice Harris: “If you have any other clients who want to do this, talk them out of it.”
The next time Harris saw Judy, he was being strapped to the electric chair.
As Judy was led to the electric chair on the 9th of March, 1981, he told the guards: “I don’t hold no grudges. This is my doing. I’m sorry it happened.” The first time he showed any form of remorse or apologised for his crime. He also handed his watch to a guard and told him to give it to his fellow Death Row inmate, Jim Lowery. 5
Judy’s foster father, Robert Carr, and Harris were the only witnesses at the execution. “He reared up and his fingers clenched and tightened up. He gripped real hard. And when the voltage stopped, he just relaxed,” said Carr. Judy’s foster mother, Mary, didn’t want to witness the execution. Before he was led to the electric chair, she tried one final time to try and talk him into resisting the execution. “I told him not to let his pride stand in his way. He said, ‘Mary, you know me better than that. Nothing’s going to change my mind.’”6
Judy’s birth father, Vernon Judy, sent a last-minute message to his son, whom he had not seen for over a decade. “Give Steve a message goodbye. I love him,” was the message. “Isn’t that nice of him? Just a little late,” said Mary.
Judy was the fourth person to be executed in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated.
“Steven Judy was not the ice person he has been portrayed,” said Harris. After the execution, Harris decided to never again defend somebody facing the death penalty.
- Evening Star, 8 March, 1981 – “Killer Calmly Awaits Death in Electric Chair”
- Evening Star, 9 March, 1981 – “Foster Father Tells of Judy’s Final Moments”
- The Herald-Times, 21 October, 2001 – “Steven Judy Case Still Resonates 20 Years Later”
- Evening Star, 8 March, 1991 – “Killer Calmly Awaits Death in Electric Chair”
- UPI News Track, 9 March, 1981 – “Steven T. Judy Says He’s Sorry Before Dying”
- Evening Star, 9 March, 1981 – “Foster Father Tells of Judy’s Final Moments”