1759: Catharine Knowland, the last to hang on the Tyburn Tree 1375: Niccolo di Toldo, in the arms of St. Catherine of Siena

1996: Daren Lee Bolton

June 19th, 2016 Meaghan

(Thanks to Meaghan Good of the Charley Project for the guest post. -ed.)

On this date in 1996, 29­-year­-old Daren Lee Bolton was executed in Arizona for the 1986 kidnapping, rape and murder of a Tucson toddler. Bolton had taken two­-year­-old Zosha Lee Pickett from her bedroom at night, stabbed her to death and left her body in an abandoned taxi in a storage lot two blocks from her home. It was found a couple of days later.

The medical examiner would testify that the toddler may have suffered “excruciating” pain for up to half an hour before she bled out.

After little Zosha’s death, the police lifted some fingerprints but couldn’t match them to any suspect, so in 1987 they sent them out to other states for them to have a try. Bolton had some convictions in Illinois, and so his prints were in the computerized system there. (Arizona didn’t have such a system in place at the time.) In 1990, during a training exercise, Illinois police officers found a match between Bolton’s fingerprints and a print on Zosha’s window screen. At the time, he was already serving time in Arizona for unrelated charges.

At his trial, Bolton admitted he’d been to Zosha’s home and to the cab where her body was found, but denied any part in her murder. Instead, he said he’d planned to break into the Pickett residence with an accomplice named “Phil” but was scared away. Phil, he said, had come back later and taken and killed the little girl. Bolton had then murdered the man and buried his body in the desert.

The jury saw through this wild story and convicted him of burglary, kidnapping and first-degree murder in 1991.

Bolton had the kind of childhood you might expect: shuttled back and forth between his divorced parents and his grandmother, the victim of physical abuse and possibly also sexual abuse, he was designated “severely emotionally handicapped” and had a long string of assaults to his name by the time he dropped out of school.

He was also charged in the 1982 murder of seven-­year­-old Cathy Barbara Fritz, also of Tucson, but he was executed before he could be tried in that case. The child had been abducted walking home from a friend’s home, sexually assaulted and then beaten and stabbed to death, all while a “Take Back The Night” demonstration was going on nearby. Bolton was sixteen years old at the time, and he knew the Cathy’s brother. DNA evidence later tied to him to the crime.

He maintained his innocence in both murders, but fired his lawyers and dropped his appeals after less than four years; he said he’d rather die than spend the rest of his life in prison.

His last meal consisted of lasagna, cheesecake and Pepsi.

Zosha Pickett’s parents and Cathy Fritz’s father and brothers were among the thirty witnesses who got to watch him die. He had no last words and, while he glanced at the Picketts once, he refused to acknowledge the Fritz family before he breathed his last, a few minutes past midnight.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Arizona,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Guest Writers,Lethal Injection,Murder,Other Voices,Rape,USA

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2 thoughts on “1996: Daren Lee Bolton”

  1. Kevin Sullivan says:

    I’m glad he was killed. It was both right and just to execute this vile killer. His victims cannot take a breath and neither can he. They are equal in death now, and good riddance to this worthless human being.

    1. Meaghan says:

      Bolton was a garden-variety scumbag, but I think this story is a great example of how inter-agency cooperation can help solve cases. I know sometimes various police departments don’t want to cooperate with each other, or with the feds, or whatever. But if the state of Arizona had never sent the fingerprints to other states, Bolton would have been loose much longer and might have had a the chance to grab another victim.

      I’m sure the cops in that “how to use the fingerprint system” training session in IL never forgot that day. It reminds them of why they became cops in the first place.

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