Bruce Charles Jacobs, 56, was executed by lethal injection on 15 May 2003 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of a teenage boy during a home burglary.
At approximately 6:30 a.m. on 22 July 1986, an intruder broke into the residence of Hugh Harris and Holly Kuper. Peering into their bedroom and seeing that they were asleep, the intruder went into the kitchen and picked up a butcher knife. He then entered the bedroom where Mr. Harris's 16-year-old son, Conrad, was sleeping. The intruder stabbed Conrad repeatedly. Hearing Conrad's screams, Hugh Harris went to his room and saw a man standing over him with the knife in his hand. The intruder pointed the knife at Mr. Harris, who backed away, and then he ran out the back door. Conrad died from more than 24 stab wounds.
Upon hearing Mr. Harris describe the suspect to the police, Kuper told police that a man matching that description had come to their house the previous day and tried to force his way into the back door, after she opened it to let the dog out. She said that she managed to close and lock the door, and the man ran away.
Kuper also told police that the intruder emptied her purse and that $100 was missing.
The murder weapon was recovered from outside the Harris home. It was covered in Conrad's blood, but had no useable fingerprints. However, police did take five fingerprints from a dinner knife in the kitchen.
Harris and Kuper independently made composite drawings for the police. They both said that the intruder wore a beard and a panama hat. The story of the murder and the suspect's description were broadcast by the local media. Three witnesses came forward and told police that they saw a man matching the description -- including the beard and panama hat -- in the area of the murder between 6:45 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. All three described the man's behavior as unusual and evasive. One of these witnesses was a cab driver who told police that he gave the man a ride that morning. Two days after the murder, while the police and the cabbie were on a drive together, retracing the suspect's route, the cab driver pointed to a man who looked like the suspect, including the Panama hat, except that the beard was missing. The police followed the man briefly, then arrested him. This man was Bruce Jacobs, 39.
In Jacobs' home, police found beard hairs and a pair of blue jeans with traces of blood. They also found $800 in cash. The fingerprints taken from the dinner knife were matched to Jacobs.
Jacobs had a history of assaulting teenagers with blades, going back to his own teens. He stabbed a 12-year-old girl in 1963 with a steak knife. He spent some time in a boys' reformatory school in 1965 and 1966 and was placed in maximum security twice for assaults. He robbed a teenage girl in 1967, using a razor blade as a weapon. Jacobs also had a conviction in Oregon for assault with intent to commit robbery and was in prison there from 1967 to 1972.
At his capital murder trial, Jacobs pleaded not guilty. He pointed out that the Harrises originally identified a different suspect, John Muldune, from a photographic lineup. He said that the Harrises did not identify him as the murderer until the police arrested him, told them that they caught the murderer, and showed them his picture.
Numerous relatives, co-workers, and strangers testified that Jacobs had stalked or harassed them, had loitered around their homes, and/or had entered their homes without their consent. Shirley Reynolds, Jacobs' aunt, testified that on the day after the murder, her estranged nephew had called her, asking where she worked, how old her daughters were, and what they did during the day. The following day, Jacobs was detained by police after Reynolds' 15-year-old daughter reported that someone was loitering around her house and ringing the doorbell. He had pried off two window screens and broken a window, but he told police that he only wanted to visit his aunt and cousins.
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