Man convicted of killing Jessica Lunsford is dead

John Couey died of natural causes Wednesday. He was serving a life sentence.

John Couey died at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital. He had been hospitalized since Aug. 12, prison officials said. Couey was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Jessica Lunsford in 2007.

Published: Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 8:05 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 8:05 a.m.

The registered sex offender convicted of murdering Jessica Lunsford has died in prison.

John Evander Couey, 51, was pronounced dead at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital. Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jo Ellyn Rackleff said Couey died of natural causes, but she would not elaborate.

Others inside the department said the convicted murderer had been ill with cancer for several months.

Couey was sentenced to life in prison for the 2005 kidnapping, rape and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford of Homosassa.

During Couey's 2007 trial for the crimes, prosecutors presented evidence that Couey broke into the Lunsford home on Feb. 23, 2005, kidnapped Jessica, raped her and then buried her alive in a black garbage bag.

Jessica's body was recovered on March 19, 2005, where it had been buried in a shallow grave behind Couey's sister's mobile home, which was about 100 yards away from the Lunsford home.

The search for Jessica focused on the mobile home after investigators determined that Couey, a registered sex offender, wasn't living at his registered home and concluded that he had been living at his sister's home.

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