By Jay Brakefield and Barry Boesch Cuero It started out like any other hot summer day in this small Central Texas town. But before sundown on Aug. 16, 1973, Wendy Adams, the ten-year-old daughter of a popular Cuero police officer, would be abducted from a city park, strangled, and thrown into the Guadalupe River to drown. Jerry Lane Jurek, then 22, son of a local cotton mill worker, was in custody before the child’s body was found the next day. He confessed to the murder not once, but twice, in a marathon session of interrogation and travel that took him to Austin and Victoria. A few days after DeWitt County authorities obtained the written confessions, they got around to appointing Jurek an attorney. Tried and convicted of capital murder the following February, Jurek was sentenced to death by Judge Joe E. Kelly of the 24th District Court in the county courthouse here. The sentence was upheld last October in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found the Texas death penalty and those of Georgia and Florida constitutional. There doesn’t seem to be much doubt Jerry Jurek took Wendy Adams’ life. The issue left to us is whether he should die at the hands of the state. The murder day began typically for Jurek, who had just been fired from his job sweeping up at the Guadalupe Valley Cotton Mill in Cuero. He cruised the The Cuero Record 4 The Texas Observer Jerry Lane Jurek The case of Jerry Lane Jurek DEATH IN TEXAS The 13-year moratorium on capital punishment in Texas seems certain to be lifted soon. For a while last week, it looked like Jerry Lane Jurek would keep his Jan. 19 date with the Huntsville electric chair, but on the afternoon of Jan. 17 U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell ordered a two-month stay of execution for the 25-year-old grade-school dropout and child killer. The distinction of being the flat Texan executed since July 30, 1974, now may fall to one of the other 52 inmates on Death Row. Ed. town in his family’s old blue-and-white pickup with two younger male friends, drinking beer and ogling the girls. One of their stops was the city park, where Wendy Adams was taking part in the DeWitt County 4-H Play Day. Later, three girls would recall that three men in a blue-and-white pickup tried to run them down. Jurek dropped off his companions at a downtown pool hall and, according to testimony, told them he was going back to the park to find himself a girl. Sometime early in the evening, Wendy Adams was strangled and thrown into the Guadalupe at Hell’s Gate Bridge. Later, Jurek met his two friends again and drove them to the bridge, where he got out of the truck, looked down at the water, and wondered aloud if the banks were muddy. There aren’t likely to be any books or songs or movies or silkscreened T-shirts memorializing Jerry Jurek. He’s a loser if there ever was one, and a manifestly uninteresting figure. He was born in Gonzalez in 1951, the youngest boy and second youngest of Charlie and Frances Jurek’s seven children. Early on, he exhibited what Victoria psychiatrist William McKinney would call a “failure pattern” at a pretrial examination. When Jerry was eight, the Jureks moved from Gonzales to Cuero. Over the next seven years, they would live in Hillsboro, Cuero, the New Braunfels area, Winnfield, La., and Houston. The sequence is not clear. The family resettled in Cuero only a few months before the murder, and both Jerry and his father got work in the mill. Jerry’s job didn’t last long. Jurek had repeated three grades by the time he dropped out of school at 16. He justified his attentuated grammar school career by saying he was waiting for his younger sister to catch up, a rationalization typical of what was called in his psychological profile “a history of denial.” After leaving school in the seventh grade, Jurek worked at a number of menial jobs, holding none for very long. He pumped gas in Houston, built houses, and worked on an oil crew around New Braunfels and at a Louisiana sawmill. He told Dr. McKinney he was fired from his Cuero mill job for “taking off too much time.” Somewhere along the way he acquired a wife, with whom he lived only three days, and a child. He was adamant about keeping his wife out of his legal problems. She wasn’t at the trial, and his attorney says no attempt was made to contact her. \(Jurek could not spell her name Jurek told a court physician he had tried to join the army and navy but failed
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