Rapid City mayor was a lead investigator in the Rhines case

Local News

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Rapid City mayor Steve Allender was a lead investigator in the Rhines case. He says it’s the only case he ever investigated that gave him a nightmare.

KELOLAND News spoke with Allender last week via Skype. He explains how this case left the community of Rapid City shaken.

Donnivan Schaeffer was found stabbed to death inside a donut shop back in 1992. As a lead investigator on the case, now Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender says this murder was different.

“Typically on a murder case around here we would have some common facts between cases where it’s a domestic violence or it’s one thug shooting another one, there was kind of this common theme, and this one was way outside of those boundaries because it was a completely innocent victim,” Rapid City Mayor, Steve Allender said.

Allender says Schaeffer was just doing his job, when he stumbled upon Charles Rhines at the donut shop.

“Minding his own business, just doing his job and he surprised a burglar who murdered him to avoid being detected,” Allender said. “He had wounded Donnivan Schaeffer and tied him up, tied his hands behind his back and tied him up in the storage room and then executed him.”

Allender interviewed Rhines multiple times during the murder investigation, including the night of the killing.

“As the case progressed, I went back and listened to the recording and read the transcript of the initial interview. I said something like ‘thanks for talking to us, are you going to be around if we need something more?’ And he said ‘oh yeah I will be around, I’m not going to Seattle’, and it was just bizarre so I didn’t realize that, it didn’t mean anything, I just wanted him to quit talking because we had work to do,” Allender said.

Rhines left for Seattle, Washington. Allender says he went to Seattle to interview Rhines.

“We made two trips to Seattle, one in April to really gather more intelligence, we interviewed him as a follow up interview,” Allender said.

Rhines eventually returned to Rapid City to stand trial for Schaeffer’s murder.

The trial eventually led to Rhines being sentenced to death in 1993. Allender says he was also invited to be a witness to Rhines’ execution but doesn’t want to attend. He said he doesn’t want to spend any more time with the killer.

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