Carol Angelbeck, 74, thinks of her daughter Mindy when she gets up in the morning and when she goes to bed at night. She doesn't think about Michael Shane Worthington very much any more.
She thought of him often during the first five years after he raped and murdered Mindy on Sept. 30, 1995. He used a razor to cut a screen in the kitchen window of Mindy's first-floor condo in Lake Saint Louis.
He strangled Mindy until she passed out. But she came to while he was raping her. She screamed, put up a fight and he strangled again, until death.
Mindy was 24. She was about to receive a bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She was working two hostess jobs and loved Clydesdale horses.
Worthington was 24, too. He'd had a troubled life. After his arrest, he told authorities that when he was a boy he set fire to his own home twice and at age 8 burglarized houses with his father. He had a job bagging groceries. He loved drugs.
On Nov. 4, 1998, St. Charles County Circuit Judge Grace Nichols sentenced Worthington to death.
In 2004, Carol and her husband, Jack, Mindy's stepfather, moved to Ocala, Fla.
"I do call every once in a while to make sure he is still sitting in prison," Carol says.
It's OK, Carol assures me, for her to talk about her daughter's murder and it's OK to talk about Worthington and her frustration that Missouri and other states are having a tough time executing prisoners because of a shortage of a drug called sodium thiopental.
We talked last week and at one point she told me: "You are probably thinking, 'Wow! She really sounds angry. I am really not. Only when I am thinking about it. And now I'm thinking about it."
CAUGHT NEXT DAY
Mindy had been at a horse show on Friday, Sept. 29. She returned to her condo, which she had bought 10 months earlier. Carol and Jack lived 14 miles away in Troy, where they kept 25 Clydesdales, including two that were Mindy's.
Worthington, according to court records, was in his fourth day of drinking and drugging when he killed Mindy. He was staying with a friend who owned a condo in that subdivision.
About 4 p.m., Worthington and a female friend went to the supermarket where they worked to get their paychecks. They returned to the condo, had dinner and drinks and went to a nightclub for more drinks and then to Jennings so Worthington could buy drugs. They returned to the condo.
Worthington, who did not have a car, left the condo, and after 45 minutes the female friend left. He later told police he noticed Mindy had left a window open. He said he had seen her in the neighborhood. Carol says Mindy had a 5-month-old Newfoundland dog that she walked.
Mindy had just showered when she confronted Worthington in her bedroom. He attacked her. According to court records, he tore open a part of Mindy's body. He left behind DNA evidence.
He stole her jewelry, credit cards, mobile phone, keys and her 1994 Ford Taurus. He was arrested the next day.
BEGGING TO DIE
For Carol, the five years after Mindy's death were unbearable.
"I begged God to let me die," she says. "I could not live with the pain.
"When it first started to get dark I would panic. I could feel his hands on my throat.
"I am sure she begged for her life. I am sure she begged and begged and begged."
What helped most was that she and Jack formed a St. Charles County chapter of Parents of Murdered Children. She has found solace in helping others. Some of those Carol and Jack have helped say the couple saved their lives.
Carol and Jack are grateful for support from the victims' advocate offices in St. Charles County and within the Missouri Attorney General's office, as well as to Tim Braun, the St. Charles County prosecuting attorney at the time.
Carol still talks to Lake Saint Louis Police Chief Mike Force, who has visited Carol and Jack in Florida.
In 2010, Carol says, Worthington lost his final appeal in federal court in St. Louis. He has challenged the death-penalty sentence, not his conviction.
Seated next to Carol and Jack in federal court were Force and Jack Banas, the current St. Charles County prosecuting attorney.
WON'T MOVE FROM SEAT
Carol and her husband Jack attended all legal proceedings. One time in circuit court, she says, she could not hear a soft-spoken prosecutor, so she moved to the front bench, which court bailiffs keep empty for security reasons. They told her to move.
"I am not moving," she told them. "This is about my daughter. You can let me sit here peacefully. Or you can carry a screaming and kicking mother out of the courtroom. With TV stations and newspapers downstairs we'll both be on the 6 o'clock news."
She was allowed to stay where she was.
The only time she had to leave the courtroom was when Worthington, after pleading guilty, described Mindy's rape and murder.
"I only listened to so much and then I had to leave," she says.
But Jack, her rock and husband of 34 years, stayed.
Carol was insistent on the death penalty. When she learned the case was transferred to Judge Nichols, her first thought was, "Oh my God. A woman! She'll never give the death penalty."
Thirteen years after that sentence, Worthington is in the Potosi Correctional Center. Missouri does not have a special unit, or death row, for condemned prisoners. He is one of 46 prisoners in the state facing execution.
There hasn't been an execution in Missouri since Martin Link a year ago. He killed an 11-year-old St. Louis girl in 1991.
For the past year, state corrections officials across the nation have been trying to obtain sodium thiopental. A year ago, 34 of the 35 states that execute prisoners used it.
Missouri's lethal injection protocol calls for three drugs. Sodium thiopental is administered first; it prevents pain. A second drug inhibits muscle movement and a third stops the heart.
States must have an execution protocol not considered "cruel and unusual punishment."
Texas, on the other hand, has switched to pentobarbital, a drug often used by veterinarians to euthanize animals.
Hospira Inc., the only U.S. maker of the sodium thiopental, announced in January 2011 it would no longer make it. The drug became even harder to get once it was learned some states, including California, had obtained supplies from England, where capital punishment is banned, as it is throughout Europe.
European nations have since banded together to ensure that sodium thiopental sold to the United States is not used for execution.
A spokesman for the Missouri Department of Corrections did not respond before the Journal's deadline. I had asked for the latest information on the state's supply of sodium thiopental, when lethal executions will resume and I had requested an interview with Worthington.
Missouri has executed 107 prisoners since 1989, but only two since 2005.
TIME TO MEET MAKER
Over the years, Carol has publicly debated those who seek to abolish capital punishment. She supports lethal execution because she believes it is the only surefire way to make certain a murderer does not kill again, even in prison.
She also believes death is what men like Worthington fear most.
"The only thing they are afraid of is to die and meet their maker," she says.
Most importantly, she says, capital punishment is the law in Missouri and it should never take this long to carry out a sentence.
"I will never have any peace until he has been executed," she says. "Then it is over."
From Carol's perspective, there's no need to wait for the right drug. If need be, she says, Missouri should use a firing squad, like in Utah.
And there's certainly no reason to wait for a drug that takes away the pain of execution, she says.
"We don't need to put them to sleep. We just need to get them from this world to the next. I wish he would have given Mindy some sodium thiopental before he raped her and sodomized her."
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect date for Worthington's sentencing.