By Brendan Farrington

The Associated Press

STARKE, Fla. — Gary Ray Bowles, a serial killer who preyed on older gay men during an eight-month spree that left six dead, was executed by lethal injection Thursday at Florida State Prison.

The sentence was carried out at 10:58 p.m., according to the office of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Bowles received the death penalty for the November 1994 murder of Walter Hinton in Jacksonville Beach. Hinton was Bowles’ sixth and final known victim in a series of killings in an eight-month span in 1994 that terrorized the Interstate 95 corridor and gave him the nickname the “I-95 killer.”

It began in Daytona Beach with the murder of John Hardy Roberts. In between, there were victims in Rockville, Maryland; Savannah, Georgia; Atlanta; and Nassau County, Florida. In each case, Bowles had a signature: He stuffed the victims’ throats with objects — towels, rags, toilet paper, dirt, leaves and even a sex toy.

Bowles did not say anything before his execution, but said in a handwritten statement dated Thursday that he was sorry for his actions.

“I’m sorry for all the pain and suffering I have caused. I hope my death eases your pain,” Bowles wrote. “I want to tell my mother that I am also sorry for my actions. Having to deal with your son being called a monster is terrible. I’m so very sorry. I never wanted this to be my life. You don’t wake up one day and decide to become a serial killer.”

The execution proceeded with nothing unusual happening, other than Bowles speaking to himself perhaps in prayer before the procedure was carried out.

Investigators say if he hadn’t been caught, he would have kept on killing.

“He probably enjoyed it after a while,” said Thomas Youngman, a Daytona Beach detective assigned to the Roberts murder. “Why do you kill people after the first one? The first one could be a mistake, maybe. But then the second, all right, I’ll maybe give you that. But the third, fourth fifth and sixth? When do you stop?”

23894607