A death row inmate who stabbed a former co-worker to death in a botched burglary used his last words to taunt his victim’s parents.
Charles Rhines, 63, was killed by lethal injection at South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls last night, November 4, after being found guilty of murdering 22-year-old Donnivan Schaeffer in 1992.
Rhines had ambushed and stabbed Schaeffer when the latter caught him robbing a doughnut shop where he worked. Rhines had been fired a few weeks earlier.
22-year-old Schaeffer begged his killer to take him to a hospital and vowed to keep silent about the crime, but he was instead forced into a storeroom where he was tied up and stabbed to death.
Rhines was sentenced to death partly because of the ‘chilling laughter’ he exhibited as he described Schaeffer’s death in his confession to police, according to Steve Allender, a Rapid City police detective at the time of the killing – who told KELO the jury were ‘repulsed’ when they listened to the killer’s confession.
Rhines’ last words before he was executed addressed Schaeffer’s parents directly:
Ed and Peggy Schaeffer, I forgive you for your anger and hatred toward me. I pray to God that he forgives you for your anger and hatred toward me. Thanks to my team. I love you all, goodbye. Let’s go. That’s all I have to say. Goodbye.
Witnesses to the execution said Rhines appeared calm, adding that it took approximately one minute for the pentobarbital used by the state to take effect. He was pronounced dead around five minutes later.
The victim’s parents remained dignified in spite of Rhines’ final insult, making it clear they didn’t want to talk about the killer and instead focusing on their ‘loving’ son.
Patty Schaeffer told reporters:
We were so blessed to have this young man in our family and in our life. Today is the day that we talk about Donnivan, the guy who loved his family, his fiancée, and his friends.
According to South Dakota Attorney General Jason R. Ravnsborg, Schaeffer was set to graduate Western Dakota Tech at the time of his death and was engaged to be married.
The attorney general described Donnivan as ‘funny, kind and a hard worker’, adding ‘words cannot express the sorrow I feel’ but he was glad they were ‘finally able to get justice for him’.
Rest in peace, Donnivan.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence, contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677
A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).