State News

NC killer's taunt: Death row means leisure

Posted January 24, 2012 10:08 a.m. EST
Updated January 24, 2012 3:01 p.m. EST

— A death row inmate accused of killing three women and dumping two of them in South Carolina says in a letter to his hometown newspaper that he will spend many years getting decent care and enjoying frequent naps before he meets his end.

"Kill me if you can, suckers," Danny Robbie Hembree Jr. wrote in a letter to The Gaston Gazette. "Ha! Ha! Ha!"

The 50-year-old is on death row at Central Prison in Raleigh for suffocating Heather Catterton, 17, in 2009. He's also accused of the 2009 killing of Randi Dean Saldana, 30, whose burned remains were found near Blacksburg, S.C.

Hembree admitted to taking drugs and having sex with Catterton and Saldana the day they died, but he told jurors he did not kill them or dump their bodies. He is scheduled to go on trial in March for Saldana's killing.

"Is the public aware that the chances of my lawful murder taking place in the next 20 years if ever are very slim?" Hembree asked. "Is the public aware that I am a gentleman of leisure, watching color TV in the A.C., reading, taking naps at will, eating three well-balanced meals a day?"

"The state of North Carolina has sentenced me to death, but it's not real," he wrote. "You citizens of Gaston Co. should petition the state and force them to carry out my murder sentence."

Hembree also is charged with killing Deborah Ratchford, 30, whose body was found in a Gastonia cemetery in 1992.

No one has been executed in North Carolina since 2006.