On April 3, 2001, Jason Eric Massey, 28, spoke his last words in the death chamber of the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville.
While awaiting execution, Massey had converted to Christianity. He apologized profusely to the families of the two teenagers he murdered in 1993, and he accepted his lethal-injection fate by declaring, “Tonight I dance on the streets of gold. Let those without sin cast the first stone.”
It was a dramatic departure from what Massey had spent most of his life talking about — and doing.
Born in 1973 to a pair of alcoholic, drug-addicted nightmare parents, Massey initially acted out by torturing and mutilating animals. He eventually took to beheading cats, dogs, and cows, and keeping their skulls as trophies.
In time, Massey grew fascinated with Satanism and serial killers, a not-uncommon trait among alienated youths in the 1980s and ’90s, particularly in punk, goth, and heavy-metal subcultures.
We can all relate to that, right ID Addicts? But Massey’s obsession exploded past reading true-crime books or putting up an Aleister Crowley poster in his bedroom, though. After all, he’d already long been getting off by inflicting agony on helpless animals. So, instead, Jason Massey actually idolized Charles Manson and he aspired to outpace the heinous homicidal records of notorious murderers on the order of Ted Bundy and Henry Lee Lucas.
For much of his life, in fact, Massey made no secret of his horrific passions. He talked about who he wanted to kill and how, and he repeatedly got arrested for stalking and animal cruelty. He even did a bit of jail time for the latter.
At one point, Massey’s mother happened upon what he called his “Slayer’s Book of Death.” This was a journal in which he specifically detailed how he would rape, torture, and kill his intended victims, and he mentioned many by name.
The journal also tracked how many animals Massey killed (41 cats, 32 dogs, 7 cows) and, in addition, he wrote: “My goal is [to murder] 700 people in 20 years.”
Massey’s mom the forced her son to visit a psychiatrist, who committed the young man to a state mental-health facility. It’s unknown how long Massey remained there, but he was free in 1993, when cops pulled him over for drunk driving and found a dead cat in his car.
Massey did some time behind bars, got out, and, 51 days, later, moved up from killing animals to killing humans.
On July 27, 1993, Massey, then 20, told an acquaintance, Christopher Nowlin, about his feelings for Christina Benjamin, a local 13-year-old girl with whom he had been flirting and talking about “sneaking out.” In short, Massey said wanted to sexually violate the child, rip the life from her body, and dismantle her corpse.
At first, Nowlin thought it was just another case of Massey pulling his creep act. Later, he’d say Massey “talked about killing girls all the time.” When Christina Benjamin and her 14-year-old stepbrother Brian King turned up missing the next day, Nowlin went to the police.
The previous evening, Jason Massey had picked up Benjamin and King from their home and drove them to a secluded field. Once they got outside his car, Massey promptly shot King twice in the head with a .22-caliber pistol. When Christina Benjamin fled in fear, Massey shot her in the back. He then approached her wounded body and shot her point blank in the skull.
Afterward, Massey cut off Benjamin’s head and hands, and tossed them into a nearby river. He sliced and diced her remains, leaving what prosecutors called “very long, delicate, intricate carvings” on her torso and genitals.
Arresting and convicting Massey did not prove especially difficult. In addition to his journals and the testimony of Nowick and others to whom Massey talked constantly about murder, numerous eyewitnesses saw him carrying a handgun and disposing of suspicious trash following the murders. A store clerk testified that he sold Massy .22-caliber bullets, two knives, and a set of handcuffs.
The jury took 15 minutes to declare Massey guilty of all charges. The judge promptly sentenced him to death.
While locked up, Massey spent time alongside notorious serial slayer Henry Lee Lucas, one of his all-time heroes. Despite that, or perhaps even because of it, Massey eventually experienced a jailhouse conversion over the course of the eight years it took him to finally be executed.
Clay Strange, the prosecutor who brought Massey down, later mused about the whole tragic saga:
“It’s impossible to assign a motive to a case like this…. He fancied himself a serial killer par excellence. He wanted to be ‘the greatest’ ever…. His favorite targets were 11- to 13-year-old girls. It’s almost a miracle we caught him as quickly in his career as we did. He’s as evil as anybody I’ve ever encountered. I’ve met a lot of people meaner, but no one more evil.”
Clay Strange spent his career working high-profile murder cases in Texas — so that final statement really is saying something.
Main photos: Jason Massey mug shots [Texas Department of Corrections]