STARKE, Fla. — The ex-cop who became a serial killer was executed Tuesday evening at Florida State Prison.
Following a late delay to the scheduled 6 p.m. execution, Tim Cannon, assistant secretary of institutions, proclaimed Manuel Pardo Jr., 56, dead at 7:47 p.m. The sentence was carried out by lethal injection.
The execution process began at 7:31 p.m., following last-minute attempts to appeal and requests for a stay.
At 7:33 p.m., Pardo yawned and appeared to fall asleep. He made no major movements after that.
A doctor checked his pupils at 7:46 p.m., and for a heartbeat at 7:47 p.m. That’s when Cannon announced Pardo was deceased.
Pardo was convicted of murdering nine people in 1986 in Miami-Dade County while stealing cocaine and other items from the victims. He claimed to have killed drug dealers, “the scum of the earth,” he said at the time. Not all of his victims, however, were drug dealers. Accomplice Rolando Garcia also was arrested on murder charges, but he was released from prison in 2002.
Pardo’s victims included: Mario Amador, Roberto Alonso, Luis Robledo, Ulpiano Ledo, Sara Musa, Fara Quintero, Ramon Alvero Cruz, Daisy Ricard and Michael Millot.
“I’m not a criminal. I’m a soldier,” he told jurors in 1988. “As a soldier, I ask to be given the death penalty ... I accomplished my mission, and I hope you will give me the glory to at least end my days in a proper fashion.”
Pardo issued a lengthy final, handwritten statement, in which he accepts responsibility for killing six men, but not women. There also is an odd chunk of the letter in which he talks about the Yankees, the Giants and the Jets.
His final words from the execution chamber were: “Airborne forever. I love you, Michi (his child) baby.”
Pardo had been one of 406 inmates on Death Row, including seven from Sarasota County and five from Charlotte County. No inmates from DeSoto are on Death Row. James “Jimbo” Ford resided in DeSoto County, however he committed his two murders in Charlotte.
While on Death Row in the 1990s, Pardo became known as “Death Row Romeo” when he placed personal ads, seeking female pen pals and manipulating them into sending him money.
Gov. Rick Scott signed Pardo’s death warrant Oct. 31. Last-minute appellate issues and requests for a stay of execution failed.
Pardo’s final meal consisted of white rice and red beans, roasted pork chunks and pork chops, fried plantains, avocado and tomato slices with olive oil, pumpkin pie and eggnog.
He visited with eight people, although it was not known immediately how many were relatives. Pardo also met with a prison priest and a bishop.
Pardo served in the U.S. Navy from 1974 to 1978. He enrolled in the Florida Highway Patrol academy, graduating as class valedictorian. But the rising law-enforcement officer quickly developed a tarnished reputation. He resigned in 1980, while being investigated for falsifying traffic warnings. He then joined the Sweetwater Police Department, where, once again, he seemed to be on the right track, until 1985, when he flew to the Bahamas and testified for a fellow Sweetwater officer accused of drug smuggling. Pardo was fired after testifying that they had been working as undercover drug agents.
Within about a year, he would begin his killing spree.
Pardo took photos of his crime scenes and saved newspaper stories. He also had a large collection of Nazi memorabilia, along with a photo of Hitler.
His dog even had a tattoo of a swastika.
Archived stories from the Miami Herald were used in this report.