Charles Rhines saved his last words to insult his victim’s family before he was executed in South Dakota for a shocking murder in 1992.
Charles Rhines, 63, stabbed his former work colleague, 22-year-old Donnivan Schaeffer to death, as he tried to rob the doughnut shop where he was fired from weeks earlier.
“Ed and Peggy Schaeffer, I forgive you for your anger and hatred toward me,” Rhines said calmly and confidently into a boom microphone as he lay strapped to a table, the Rapid City Journal reported.
“I pray to God that he forgives you for your anger and hatred towards me. Thanks to my team. I love you all, goodbye. Let’s go. That’s all I have to say. Goodbye.”
Charles Rhines was executed by lethal injection at South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls on Monday at 7.39pm local time, after the US Supreme Court declined to halt the execution despite three late appeals. Observers said it took only about a minute for the pentobarbital used by the state to take effect. When Rhines finished speaking, he closed his eyes, then blinked, breathed heavily, rolled his head to the right and passed out. He was pronounced dead about five minutes later.
Schaeffer was delivering supplies to Dig ‘Em Donuts where he worked in Rapid City, South Dakota, when Rhines ambushed him, stabbing him in the stomach.
Bleeding from his wound, Schaeffer begged to be taken to a hospital, vowing to keep silent about the crime but he was instead forced into a storeroom, tied up and stabbed to death.
Steve Allender, a Rapid City police detective at the time of the killing who is now the city’s mayor, said Rhines’ jury sentenced him to death partly because of Rhines’ “chilling laughter” as he described Schaeffer’s death spasms.
“I watched the jury as they listened to the confession of Charles Rhines on audiotape and their reaction to his confession was appropriate. Any human being would be repulsed by the things he said and the way he said them,” Allender told KELO.
The victim’s parents, who watched the execution, refused to focus on their son’s killer, instead talking about the young son they treasured and whom they called a blessing.
“We were so blessed to have this young man in our family and in our life,” Peggy Schaeffer said. “Today is the day that we talk about Donnivan, the guy who loved his family, his fiancée, and his friends.”
Asked about Rhines’ final insult, Peggy Schaeffer said that she felt no anger towards Rhines and had already forgiven him.
“If I started hating, I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be who I am,” she said.
The last meal request of Charles Rhines was fried chicken, strawberry and cherry yoghurt, black liquorice, cookies and cream ice cream, a root beer and a coffee with cream and sugar.