Mass. carjacking killer of 2 dies in prison hospital


FILE – Gary Lee Sampson, center, is escorted into Hillsborough County Superior Court on June, 1 2004, in Nashua, N.H. The Federal Bureau of Prisons says Sampson, 62, a drifter convicted of killing two Massachusetts men in carjackings in 2001 and sentenced to death, died Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A drifter convicted of killing two Massachusetts men in carjackings in 2001 and sentenced to death has died, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The bureau said Gary Lee Sampson, 62, died Tuesday at the medical center for federal prisoners in Springfield, Missouri.

Sampson was first condemned to die in 2003. A judge later granted him a new sentencing trial after finding that a juror at his first trial had lied about her background. A new federal jury sentenced him to death in 2017 for the killing of Jonathan Rizzo, 19.

Jurors were unable to reach a unanimous decision on Sampson’s penalty for the killing of Philip McCloskey, 69, so Sampson was sentenced to life for that crime.

Sampson’s lawyers said he was brain damaged and mentally ill when he separately carjacked Rizzo, a college student from Kingston, and McCloskey, a retired pipefitter from Taunton, stabbed them each more than a dozen times, slit their throats and left them to die.

Sampson received a separate life sentence for killing a third man, Robert “Eli” Whitney, in New Hampshire.

Sampson pleaded guilty to the killings, so the jury was asked only to decide whether he should get life in prison or the death penalty.

“Our thoughts are with the Rizzo, McCloskey and Whitney families today,” Nathaniel Mendell, acting U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, said in a statement. “Their resilience is extraordinary.”

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