Execution set for man convicted of stabbing woman 37 times

Apr 3, 2023, 6:06 PM | Updated: 6:20 pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A man convicted of breaking into a woman’s Florida Panhandle apartment and fatally stabbing her 37 times in 1986 is set to be executed next month under a death warrant signed Monday by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Darryl B. Barwick’s execution is set for May 3 at 6 p.m. It’s the third execution scheduled in Florida this year after a break dating back to 2019. Louis Bernard Gaskin is set to be euthanized April 12.

The execution would be only the fifth under DeSantis, a far slower pace than recent Florida governors — and ahead of his widely expected presidential campaign.

According to court records, Rebecca Wendt, 24, was sunbathing at her Panama City apartment complex on March 31, 1986. When she eventually returned to her apartment, investigators said Barwick followed her inside and attacked her. Wendt’s sister, who also lived at the apartment, returned home later that night and found Wendt’s body wrapped in a blanket.

Investigators reported finding bloody footprints and fingerprints in the home. Wendt’s bathing suit appeared as though someone had tried unsuccessfully to remove it, officials said.

An autopsy determined that Wendt had been stabbed 37 times. There was no evidence of sexual assault, but medical examiners reported finding semen on the blanket she was wrapped in.

Barwick was arrested about two weeks after the slaying. He told investigators he meant to rob Wendt and only stabbed her after she resisted. Blood tests showed that Barwick was within 2% of the population that could have left the semen on the blanket.

Barwick, 56, was found guilty of first-degree murder in November 1986 and sentenced to death two months later following the jury’s 9-3 recommendation. He was also convicted of armed burglary, attempted sexual battery and armed robbery.

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Execution set for man convicted of stabbing woman 37 times