Survivor has been waiting 11 years for execution of Cherokee Co. man

Richard Cobb September 2002
Richard Cobb September 2002

RUSK, TX (KTRE) - The state of Texas has set an execution date for an East Texas man. Richard Cobb of Rusk was convicted of kidnapping and murder in 2002. KTRE spoke to one of the victims who escaped the tragedy he caused.

Nikki Daniels escaped abduction, sexual assault, and death. She was and still is a brave woman who will be present for the execution of Cobb Thursday.

"I feel that I was put in a victims place that night but I came out a survivor," Nikki Daniels said.

She's a survivor who will never be the same emotionally or physically.

"I had a collapsed lung, and broken ribs, and the gunshot wound," Daniels said.

Through it all she was able to escape the night of September 2, 2002. Daniels, co-worker Candace, and customer Kenneth Vandever were robbed and kidnapped by Beunka Adams and Richard Cobb from a convenience store in Rusk.

They were taken from the convenience store to a pea patch where Daniels was raped. The trio was beaten and forced to kneel down on the ground.

"I still have the injury and I'll always have the injury; and I don't think my injury is going to get better," Daniels said.

The three were each shot with a 12-gauge shotgun and left for dead.

"I was smarter than them. I mean I played dead and my body went still," Daniels said.

Daniels and her co-worker survived, but Vandever was killed that night.

More than a decade later, she sits next to her family who is grateful for their daughter's life.

"I cannot comprehend any parent if something like this happened to their child and not want them dead," David Ansley, her father, said.

29-year-old Richard Cobb has spent the past nine years knowing his life would one day be taken from him.

"The only closure that I'm going to be getting on Thursday is that our system is going through a punishment that these guys deserve," Daniels said.

Years later she has forgiven the two men she knew in high school. Beunka Adams was executed April 26, 2012 and Richard Cobb will face his punishment Thursday; but there's still one question unanswered.

He went to school with her; he knew her. He was a year behind her and he made statements that she was the one that everybody went to," Melinda Ansley, Daniels' mother, said. "Why didn't you fight for her?"

Daniels and her family cope with the tragedy each day saying this will never go away. They are satisfied with Adam's execution but they're not satisfied they've had to wait 11 years for it. Her family is very thankful for the efforts of law enforcement in Cherokee County on the night that could've ended the then 19-year-old Nikki Daniels' life.

"It's a great feeling to go through what I went through and be able to forgive them," Daniels said.

Daniels said the support from her family has been wonderful and she's thankful for them being there with her every step of way.

"There is no closure. There's no such thing as closure. The people in Newtown will never have closure. The people in Boston will never have closure. No matter what you do there's never any closure," Troy Ansley, Daniels' brother, said. "What this does on Thursday for our family is it can open up that new chapter and not have to think about this and go over this over and over again,"

The execution of Richard Cobb is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Huntsville State Penitentiary. He has up until that day to file a stay of execution to defer the process. It's something Daniels is hoping will not happen.

"I'm keeping the awful thought in the back of my head if he still hasn't filed for an appeal," she said. "So, I think I'll be on the edge of the seat hoping that if he does it's going to be turned very quickly and he's not going to be granted it."

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