Executions · Famous Last Words · Texas

FLW: Child Killer finally confesses to murdering sisters

Famous Last Words
Dennis Thurl Dowthitt
March 7, 2001

“I am so sorry for what y’all had to go through. I am so sorry for what all of you had to go through. I can’t imagine losing two children. If I was y’all I would have killed me. You know? I am really so sorry about it, I really am. I got to go sister, I love you. Y’all take care and God bless you. Gracie was a beautiful and Tiffany was beautiful. You had some lovely girls and I am sorry. I don’t know what to say. All right Warden let’s do it.”

Dowthitt was executed for the murder of Gracie Purnhagen (16), his son’s girlfriend. On June 13, 1990, Dowthitt and his son picked up Gracie and her 9-year-old sister Tiffany from a bowling alley to take them home. Delton Dowthitt and Gracie began kissing in the back of the pick-up truck and Dowthitt touched Tiffany inappropriately in the front of the truck.

Tiffany went to her sister looking scared and whispered to Gracie about the touching. Dowthitt came from the front of the truck with a knife saying he had made a mistake and “we’ve got to get rid of them.” Delton refused and Dowthitt slashed Gracie’s throat. He told his son repeatedly to “do it,” indicating Delton should kill Tiffany. Delton reluctantly complied, strangling the 9-year-old with a rope. Dowthitt sexually assaulted Gracie with a beer bottle and sliced her throat again before the two brought the girls’ bodies into the woods.

Attention quickly turned onto the Dowthitts as they were the last to be seen with the sisters. Also, police received a tip that Delton had mentioned to a friend he was involved in the crime. He and his father were tried and convicted with the elder receiving a death sentence and the younger sentenced to 45 years.

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