Man released by mistake from 20-year sentence kills three people

Lawrence Paul Anderson, 44, was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Wednesday after pleading guilty to three counts of murder, one count of maiming, and one count of assault and battery.

The heinous crimes, committed in February 2021, shocked and devastated the victims’ families as well as the community at large.

Anderson’s release from a 20-year sentence for drug-related offenses less than a month prior had been enabled by an official decision from Oklahoma’s Governor Kevin Stitt, who had heeded the recommendation from the state Pardon and Parole Board.

The victims of the attack were 41-year-old Andrea Lynn Blankenship, as well as Leon Pye, 67, and his granddaughter Kaeos Yates, 4.

In a display of gruesome savagery, Anderson forced his way into Blankenship’s home, stabbing her to death before cutting out her heart. The menacing killer then carted the still-beating organ to the home of his aunt and uncle, Leon and Delsie Pye. In an act of insanity, Anderson cooked and attempted to serve the heart to his relatives before going on to fatally murder Leon and Kaeos, with his aunt, Delsie, somehow surviving the carnage.

At the sentencing, Delsie Pye expressed her sorrow and disbelief that a family member could commit such an atrocity. Tasha Yates, mother of Kaeos, berated Anderson before fleeing the courtroom in anguish. “Who kills a baby … who does that?” Yates bellowed.

In light of the immense suffering Anderson had inflicted, the prosecutor opted to forgo pursuing the death penalty at the request of the victims’ families, who wanted to avoid the agonizing experience of reliving the terror scenario in shocking detail.

The tragedy only deepened with later revelations about the man’s 2018 commutation request. A grand jury investigation revealed Anderson had been wrongly placed on the docket and that the Pardon and Parole Board had rejected his appeal in July 2019, meaning he should only have been eligible to reapply for commutation after three years.

The aching grief of Delsie Pye and the families of the victims has since inspired a federal civil rights lawsuit against Stitt, the Pardon and Parole Board and other relevant parties, though no resolution has yet been reached.