Death row inmate Frank Atwood who was executed in Arizona by lethal injection on June 8th had become a Greek Orthodox monk prior to his execution.
The 66-year-old convict, who was sentenced in 1987 for the kidnapping and murder of 8-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson in 1984, had converted to Greek Orthodox Christianity two decades ago.
The Vicki Lynne Hoskinson murder case
Eight-year-old Vicki Lynne Hoskinson went missing after leaving her home in Tucson to place a birthday card in a nearby mailbox in September 1984, and her body was found in the desert in April 1985.
Frank Atwood was traced down as her abductor through witness testimony and physical evidence, which the convict alleged in a later appeal was planted on his car.
He was arrested ten days after the girl’s disappearance and seven months before her remains were discovered in a condition which made it impossible to determine her cause of death.
While no physical evidence in Atwood’s car—seen outside her school on the day of her disappearance—could be linked to Vicki’s person, accident reconstruction experts matched pink paint on a bumper of Atwood’s vehicle to the color of the paint on Vicki’s bike, as well as other evidence of the collision on the bike.
Throughout his time in jail, Atwood contended that police had tampered with the evidence found on his car, but his appeals for judicial review of his case were denied.
Atwood had been charged with and convicted for lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under 14 in 1975, just a few years before Vicki’s murder.
By April 2021, Atwood was one of twenty Arizona death row inmates who had exhausted all their appeals. At the time of his execution, he was in a wheelchair, suffering from a spinal condition.
“Today marks final justice for our daughter Vicki Lynne. Our family has waited 37 years, eight months and 22 days for this day to come,” Debbie Carlson, Vicki Lynne’s mother, was reported saying as she attended Atwood’s execution.
After her daughter’s murder, Carlson became a victims’ rights activist.
Atwood’s attorney, Joseph Perkovich, said in a statement that his client’s execution doesn’t resolve what he said were unanswered questions about the case.
Atwood was tonsured a monk hours before execution
Following his correspondence and eventual marriage to a Protestant Christian woman in 1991, Atwood was baptized a Greek Orthodox Christian in 2000.
His spiritual adviser, Elder Paisios, from the nearby Saint Anthony’s Monastery, told the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency in May that he was certain Atwood had experienced “a complete transformation of life.”
Paisios said the authenticity of Atwood’s faith was to such a degree that he had never before witnessed among hundreds of others who had come to him, adding that Atwood unfailingly followed his instructions and kept to a daily routine of prayer.
Atwood’s last address to the public and the victim’s family was published online on May 25th.
According to Frank Strada, Arizona Department of Corrections director, Atwood’s final statement before he died was the following—first addressing Elder Paisios, who accompanied him to his execution:
“Thank you, precious Father, for coming today and shepherding me into faith. I want to thank my beautiful wife who has loved me with everything she has. I want to thank my friends and legal team, and most of all, Jesus Christ through this unfair judicial process that led to my salvation. I pray the Lord will have mercy on all of us and that the Lord will have mercy on me.”
Atwood had been tonsured a monk with the name Ephraim hours before the execution.