44-year-old James McVay was found hanging by a bed sheet from his jail-cell bunk shortly before 7:00 this morning. McVay was on death row for murdering 75-year-old Maybelle Schein in 2011. McVay pleaded guilty but mentally ill for Schein's murder. Schein's best friend, Marge Anderson, said she found out about McVay's suicide Thursday morning.
"I was sad. I felt this strange sadness come over me, and I think I was surprised at my own reaction," Anderson said. "To think that his life has been so mixed up and so damaging. I just felt sad that anybody would have to have a life like this and have it end this way."
Anderson's friendship with Schein began in the fourth grade. Over the years, she said they became more like sisters.
"When something funny happens, I want to pick up the phone and say, 'You'll never believe what happened today,'" Anderson said.
Anderson has testified in Minnehaha County Court against McVay. She supported his death sentence, because she said she did not want to see him have the chance to hurt anyone else. However, she said she never looked forward to his execution.
"I decided that this guy had taken enough away from me already by taking my friend and my sister, that I wasn't going to let him take away more from my life by making me angry and making me sick over it," Anderson said.
Instead of letting anger consume her, Anderson said she focuses on fond memories of her friend and sister.
"Fortunately, those are the things that occupy my mind about her, rather than all the horrific stuff about her death," Anderson said.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A grammatical error was corrected in this story.