As part of an ongoing project, we've written letters to U.S. death row inmates who are scheduled for execution this year. We asked them about their lives and about their thoughts on various issues. Today, we received a reply from Britt Ripkowski, who is awaiting execution in Texas for multiple murders.
In December of 1997, Ripkowski, then 26, killed Monica Frome, a woman he had dated, in Salt Lake City, Utah. He kidnapped Frome's two year-old daughter and drove to Houston. On Christmas day, he suffocated the child to death, and later buried her in a shallow grave outside of Houston. After spending more than 15 years on death row, Ripkowski was scheduled for execution on February 20. But a Texas court put his execution on hold last month, ruling that he is incompetent due to bipolar disorder, which his attorney says he has suffered from since the age of 16. For now, Ripkowski will remain on death row, until (and if) his mental condition changes.
In his reply to us, which covered the front and back of a single sheet of paper, Ripkowski did not answer any of our questions. We sent copies of letter to his attorney, Anthony Haughton, who told us that Ripkowski "is presently incompetent, and his letters are indecipherable." We present his letter only as an example of the mental state of one inmate on Texas's death row.
[Previous letters from death row can be found here. Image by Jim Cooke.]