While some last minute appeals delayed Charles Rhines’s execution for about six hours Monday night, the family of the man he murdered say they’ve been waiting 27 years for justice.
Donnivan Schaeffer’s parents and fiancée witnessed Rhines’s lethal injection. A jury convicted Rhines of murdering Schaeffer in 1992 during a botched donut shop robbery.
It was well into the night before the state executed convicted murderer Charles Rhines. The family of Donnivan Schaeffer hopes this can mark the beginning of a new day.
“These two young people are my sons. The oldest one is Stephen. The youngest one was Donnivan,” Peggy Schaeffer said, holding up a childhood photo of her sons.
Peggy described the loss she and her family have felt for nearly 30 years.
“We were so blessed to have this young man in our family and in our life,” Peggy said.
When he died, Donnivan was engaged to Sheila Jackson. Decades later, Jackson, who also witnessed the execution, says she hasn’t stopped missing Donnivan.
“This closes the books on Rhines, but we will forever feel the pain and the emotions Rhines has caused us,” Jackson said.
“Everybody else who has been behind us and just, thank you for everything you’ve done and the support from the community and family that have gotten us through this program,” Ed Schaeffer said.
“I am hopeful this day is an opportunity for the family to move forward. Now this phase is over, they can continue to heal,” Jason Ravnsborg, South Dakota Attorney General, said.
The day the Schaeffers had waited for for 27 years is over, but they know the memories of their son Donnivan will never fade away.
“Today is the day we talk about Donnivan. The boy who loved his family, fiancee and friends,” Peggy said. “Today, do something kind for someone in honor (of Donnivan) because life is just too short and this world needs more love and kindness. Remember him today. Talk about Donnivan. He is missed and he is loved and he will never be forgotten.”