By | January 27, 2012 13 Comments

Convicted murderer taunts the public

Danny Robbie Hembree Jr. was convicted of murdering a 17-year-old North Carolina girl last year and sentenced to death. He sent a letter to The Gaston Gazette, boasting about his “life of leisure” in prison, and daring the state to carry out his sentence.

Read the story on, and be sure to read Hembree’s letter, which is reproduced at the end.

Death Row inmate’s life of ‘leisure’: Danny Robbie Hembree writes shocking letter.


Hembree’s sister says he is “mentally ill,” and actually bored in prison.

Read Hembree’s sister speaks on taunts, on

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The only reason for continuing to keep Mr. Hembree in prison is that he has confessed to two other murders, of Randi Dean Saldana and Deborah Ratchford, for which he has not yet been tried. In the interests of justice for these victims and their families it’s only fair to hold a trial to find Hembree formally guilty of these murders. However, since he is already under sentence of death for murdering Heather Catterton, the outcome of any other trial is purely academic and there’s no cause to put a lot of time and effort or a lot of taxpayers’ money into them.

I don’t see any reason why those trials shouldn’t be streamlined and expedited. I’m sure Hembree could be tried, found guilty and sentenced for those crimes within a matter of weeks if the authorities really made an effort. It need not cost another half million dollars.

In past generations trials were held far more speedily than they are today. Killers could be tried, found guilty, sentenced and strung up, zapped, gassed, shot, beheaded or dispatched by whatever means within a matter of weeks. Even in a celebrated case, taking a random example from a century ago, Leon Czolgosz shot President William McKinley on 6 September 1901. The President died on 14 September. Czolgosz was found guilty on 24 September after a trial lasting two days, sentenced on 26 September, and electrocuted at Auburn Prison on 29 October, just six and a half weeks after his victim died.

It is an absurdity of modern life that while we can do almost anything far faster today than we could in the past, trials and executions have become much slower. Up until the mid-19th century a letter might take a couple of months to get from Europe to America by sailing ship. By the late 19th century the steamship had cut this time to a couple of weeks. In the 20th century, airmail cut it further to a few days, most of that time spent in sorting offices. In the 21st century we can communicate almost instantly by e-mail, at minuscule cost.

Yet in 18th century London a murder trial at the Old Bailey was routinely completed within a day. The defendant, once convicted, could often be dangling from Tyburn’s “three-legged mare” within days. By McKinley’s era, trials and executions on both sides of the Atlantic were taking a little longer, but not all that much. Half a century later, to pick another random example, the notorious spree killer Charles Starkweather was arrested at the end of January 1958. After extradition to Nebraska his trial began in early May, he was sentenced to death in late June, and went to the Hot Squat in January of the following year. The process was slowing noticeably, but not yet unreasonably.

The year after that saw the execution of Caryl Chessman for kidnapping and multiple rapes. Chessman had been sentenced in 1948, but managed to postpone his execution for nearly twelve years by filing appeal after appeal. He gained worldwide fame at the time because nobody had ever been on Death Row for so long.

Deplorably, delays of that kind that so astonished everyone 52 years ago have now become routine. Many brutal killers have manipulated the system to stay alive even longer at taxpayers’ expense, while depriving their victims’ families of closure. Often family members are dead themselves before the killers of their loved ones are sent to hell where they belong.

This killer Danny Hembree not only wrote this taunting letter, but wrote another to the NAACP. One of his victims, Deborah Ratchford, was black, while the other two were white. As it happened, Hembree was tried first for killing Miss Catterton, and the Gaston County DA, Locke Bell, plans to try him next for Randi Dean Saldana’s murder, leaving Miss Ratchford until last. The reason for this is obvious. Two of these murders were in 2009, while the Ratchford murder was in 1992. That evidence will be stale and take more work to get a conviction. But Hembree wants the NAACP to get involved because he claims the DA is “racist” in putting Deborah Ratchford at the “back of the bus” and doesn’t plan to get justice for her at all. (See the Gaston Gazette.)

Clearly there’s no merit whatever in such a claim, not even for Hembree himself. He’s just one more murdering psychopath who not only hasn’t one ounce of remorse for his crimes, but is indulging in the typically psychopathic pastime of stirring up whatever trouble he can at the expense of other people’s pain and anguish, purely in order to entertain himself.

However, I do have to give Mr. Hembree credit for one thing. He was absolutely right to point out the following in his taunting letter:

The Great State of North Carolinas Dept. of Corr. was ordered to carry out my murder, or was it, or is it just another piece of the politition[s’] political money pie. I wonder if the public is aware that the cost of my first trial was a half a million dollars. Are they aware that the State has in place a system that automatically delays my lawful murder for years so that pieces of the money pie can continue to be passed around.

It’s perfectly true. This absurd process of delaying executions for years with appeal after appeal, mostly on petty technical grounds, does not serve the interests of society. Whom then does it serve? Cui bono?

– The criminal for one, keeping killers like Hembree entertained at our expense.

– A minority of bleeding-heart death penalty opponents for another, who are enabled to FLOUT the will of the majority by manipulating the legal system to keep these killers alive, again at our expense. When two thirds of Americans support the death penalty, this is plain undemocratic. These same obstructionists then argue that it’s “more expensive to execute someone than to keep them in prison for life”—but that’s entirely the fault of their OWN maneuverings. If these interfering busybodies could be booted out of the way, executions themselves are cheap enough and justice could be done more speedily at more modest cost.

– And lastly, the “system” and the LAWYERS WHO MAKE MONEY out of it all, millions of dollars just as Hembree said—bleeding every one of us in order to DEFY the will of the majority. Where’s the justice in that?

Hembree is right to point this out, and I’m glad his letter got the publicity it did. Is it too much to hope that if enough people are outraged by it, we might see a political movement to EXPEDITE the dispatch of these vicious killers?

Meanwhile I don’t think justice is served by keeping Mr. Hembree in prison under these conditions. To save taxpayers’ money, I think he should be freed on bail. The date, time and place of his release should be conveyed to the families and friends of his victims, and announced publicly for the benefit of anyone else who might be interested.

Baseball bats will be handed out at the door thirty minutes beforehand.


I’m a bleeding heart death penalty opponent. And the many innocents that have been executed, certainly in speedy trials of no more than a day at the Old Bailey, are argument enough to be cautious about sentencing someone to death.

As for the letter: it doesn’t mention things not already known and debated in the US. The newspaper printed it for sensation, giving the man the power trip he craved for, and hurt the victim’s family doubly over it.

Is it questionable that inmates have services for free that many free US citizens cannot afford (such as health care)? Absolutely. Begs the question on which side the issue needs to be fixed.

It’s not an issue where I live, since we don’t have death penalty and services are affordable outside of prison. Do spaths get an easy life to parasite on society inside? I think they do. They’d parasite on the outside as well. At least society is out of harm’s way from them.



I would go one step further from sensationalism. They printed the story to sell their paper.

Shame on the sad, sick individuals who “enjoy” reading this sort of detritus. I certainly do not agree that this evil piece of s?-t should have been allowed to have his say.
WTF? Aren’t letters from prisoners censored? I can only assume it was smuggled out and sent to the paper by a friend of “Mr. H”


It costs about $100 to euthanize a cat. Why does it cost so much to execute a sociopath? Can’t they just make the injection a little bigger, say, for another $50?

Ox Drover

I have changed my mind about the death penalty in the last couple of years, due to the number of inmates who have been proven INNOCENT and freed by DNA sometimes from Death row after 30+ years.

The man’s “bragging letter” I think is simply an expression of his psychopathy. His family, in another article I read on this (can’t remember from where or I’d post the link) his sister quoted his usual letters telling his family how bored out of his skull he his and how all he sees are the 4 walls of his cell, etc. not how happy he is in prison.

Though I have never been a prisoner myself I’ve spentcountless hours inside prisons and jails and I don’t thiink he is enjoying himself because he is essentially in solitary confinement and regardless how much TV he is allowed to watch and that might be none, or how much radio he listens to (they usually do allow that if his family sends him money to buy a small radio) The 3 meals a day are not something I would brag about if I were eating them, and as far as the free medical care goes, it is the legally lowest amount they can get by with, not the best. So I think the whole letter was for ATTENTION, and therefore I say it is nothing but the rantings of a psychopath who is also narcissistic enough that he wants to be noticed, and to hurt the family of his victim some more. I personally hope that this man never gets the “release” of death but spends the rest of his life inside that small cell alone and bored to death with his own company.


This just goes to show you how dumb the death penalty is. He is using it to manipulate emotions while the family holds their breath waiting through all the appeals.

If he got life, with no parole, there would be closure. it would be done. He could go on watching tv, but that’s all he would ever do.

Spaths use our own emotions against us. As we wait hoping for one outcome, he taunts the possibility of another outcome. Even if nobody falls for it, it is irritating that he believes his own lies of being a man of leisure.

I think the best response to this spath, would have been to send him a TV Guide.


Sky: “I think the best response to this spath, would have been to send him a TV Guide.”

ROTFLOL… I loved that one!

Yup, without a death penalty all we ever really are being annoyed with is length of sentencing and parole. There are death penalty proponents of course, but it has been permanently scrapped out of our law: not reversable. It’s been particularly written in the basic law that it cannot be brought back. If we’d ever want to reinstall it, we’d have to separate, and then create a new country that isn’t a member of the EU.


yeah, it is funny, but not a joke.
The point is to make sure the spath does not benefit from the emotional attack he made. The TV guide speaks volumes: “this is all the enjoyment you will ever have in life and it’s pathetic. So pathetic, that I don’t begrudge you the TV at all. In fact, by watching TV you can watch what normal people are doing and you will never do. Be my guest, and let me know if you’d like a monthly subscription.”

This is how you play chicken with a spath.


It’s immensely funny… but it’s not joke, true. I’d be willing to send him a TV magazine… but might take a while before arriving, and it would be in Dutch. I’d love to be a fly on his wall if and when he gets a TV magazine sent to him.

Ox Drover

You know thinking about his “bragging letter” to the newspaper to taunt the family, makes me think of the fact that my son Patrick thinks he is such a WINNER..when of course he is nothing but a petty criminal (never got away with much) and a murderer and didn’t get away with that either. Yet he sits in prison and wants to think and wants others to think what a WINNER he is and HOW SMART he is to put cons over on the guards who have GEDs—well, he has a GED too because he dropped out of high school, but his records say he has a BS in computer science—which is a BS all right, because he’s been INSIDE A PRISON since he was 17 except for about 12 months he spent out in various pieces of time…not enough time to get a BS in anything even if he is so smart…it is JUST BS THAT HE HAS A BS, but he sure wants folks to think he is smart, which he is, his IQ is off the charts, but what has he DONE with it? Went to Juvy at age 17, went to big boy prison at 18, turned 21 in prison waiting to be tried for the cold blooded murder of a 17 year old girl, who was, of course, unarmed and alone. Yep, a real winner, just like this guy.

I’m for LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE, NO CHANCE OF GETTING OUT. I do know prison is miserable for most of them, so put them in solitary and let them “enjoy their 3 meals and a cot” without working. No heat, no AC…no TV let them stare at the walls.


Oxy, when I read that letter I thought of your son and how you described how he feels he’s such a winner.

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