Listen to the episode here.
As promised, here are my episode notes for this week's podcast.
February 15, 1997 Michael Butterworth and Jason Carter two employees of Captain D’s are finishing up for the night. Around 10pm, right before closing. a man comes into the restaurant through the exit door and says he’s interested in applying for a part-time job and that he works at Shoney's which is just a couple of miles down the road.
They give him an employment application and tell him that the manager, Steve Hampton, would be working the next day. He asks if anyone would be at the restaurant on Sunday morning, Carter tells him that Steve would be there but would be busy and unable to talk until approximately 2:45 which is after the Sunday lunch rush.
The next morning, Sunday February 16, 1997, sixteen-year-old Sarah Jackson and twenty-five-year-old Steve Hampton are preparing for the day ahead and getting the restaurant ready.
Sarah’s making coleslaw, and Steve is getting everything in order to get the restaurant open. Steve was the manager of the restaurant; Sarah was a high school student working part-time at the restaurant. An area director for Captain D’s spoke with Steve on the telephone around 8:15 to 8:30 a.m. that morning.
A note on the victims here. All victims are of course innocent but Steve and Sarah seemed to be the sweetest people. The store was always immaculate, the employees happy and professional, and the books always balanced. Later he would become owner of several restaurants, “and I wish I had many Steve Hamptons to run them.” “I don’t know one person who didn’t like Steve,” Deanna his wife said. This included his employees, like Sarah Jackson.
Anyway, that morning the guy from the night before turns up at the door with a job application for Captain D’s.
Around 8:50 a.m., a woman was driving by Captain D’s on her way to church when she saw a man, who she later identified as Steve Hampton, standing inside the doorway of the restaurant talking to a man outside who was holding a piece of white paper in his hand. She described the unidentified man as dark-haired and approximately five inches taller than Steve.
Over an hour later, around 9:45 to 10 a.m., an employee arrived for work but was unable to enter the restaurant because the doors were locked. He telephoned the Captain D’s from a neighbouring restaurant and got a busy signal. When he called a second time a few minutes later, no one answered. Believing something was wrong, he contacted another Captain D’s employee whose father was a Metro police officer.
The employee’s father arrived at the scene and, after the assistant manager of Captain D’s unlocked the door, entered the restaurant between 11 a.m. and noon to find Steve Hampton and Sarah Jackson dead, lying face down on the floor inside the restaurant’s walk-in refrigerator.
The victims had been shot execution-style while lying on the floor. Steve had been shot twice in the back of the head and once in the back. Sarah had been shot four times in the head and once in the back. Weird detail. How do we know Sarah was making coleslaw that morning? Sarah was found still wearing prep gloves with coleslaw / mayonnaise on them, and there was a bowl of coleslaw on the side.
According to the medical examiner, two of Sarah’s head wounds were fatal, but the two other head wounds were superficial, and the shot to her back was not immediately incapacitating. If these less serious wounds were inflicted first, the medical examiner testified Sarah may have been able to move; and, in fact, a blood pattern of Sarah’s gloved hand on shelving near, but above, her body indicated that Sarah had attempted to pull herself up from the floor after she was shot.
The victims were shot with a .32 caliber weapon, probably a revolver.
$7140, including $250 in coins, was taken in the robbery. Steve’s wallet, which contained $600 that he intended to use to pay rent, also was missing.
Although no useable fingerprints were found at Captain D’s, several items belonging to Steven Hampton were discovered one day after the murders lying alongside Ellington Parkway, a four-lane highway in East Nashville by a litter picker about 11 miles from the crime scene and less than 2 from Paul Dennis Reid’s house. The litter picker found a wallet and some ID inside and called the number to let them know he’d found it. He got through to Steve’s widow who told him to call the police immediately. Among the items found was a movie rental card belonging to Steve. A clear right thumbprint was found on this card. About a month after the Captain D's murders on the evening of March 23
1997 Reid hit up a McDonald's on Lebanon Road in Hermitage, Tennessee. Reid approached four employees as they exited the store after closing taking out a the garbage.
At gunpoint, he forced them back inside the restaurant and into a store room. Reid shot three employees to death execution style in the storeroom: Andrea Brown, 17; Ronald Santiago, 27; and Robert A. Sewell, 23. Reid attempted to shoot José Antonio Ramirez Gonzalez, but his weapon failed.
Reid then stabbed Gonzalez 17 times and left him for dead. He stabbed him in the back of the head, neck and torso. Jose just lay dead, completely still and waited for Reid to leave before calling 911. Jose would eventually testify against Reid.
Reid had taken US$3000 from the cash registers and fled, and when emergency services arrived on the scene they pronounced Ronald and Robert dead at the scene before rushing Andrea and Jose to hospital, where only Jose survived. They ran tests on Andrea but she was brain dead due to the gunshots to her head so her parents made the heartbreaking decision to turn off life support.
A month after the McDonalds murder, on April 23rd 1997 Paul Reid is on the prowl again. Around 9:45pm he stops at the Clarksville Texaco store and buys 11 dollars worth of gasoline and a Pepsi, throws the receipt in the front seat of the car and heads off towards a Baskin Robbins.
Angela Holmes, 21, and Michelle Mace, 16, were finishing up their shift at Baskin Robins. Multiple witnesses that night described the girls, saw them cleaning up, mopping the floors and getting ready to leave for closing time at 10. Angie had recently had a baby and was anxious to get home to see her.
Around 10:10 Michelle’s brother arrived at the store to pick up his sister.
He noticed that Angela’s car was in the parking lot and that the lights inside the store were on. He entered the store through an unlocked door and found no one inside. He called 911. Officers were dispatched to the scene and searched the store.
They found the cash register drawer empty, except for some coins, and a safe in an office with the top removed. The girl’s purses were found at the store; no money had been taken from them. A mop and bucket was found in the customer area, and the freezer door was left open. The girl’s were nowhere to be seen.
Paul Reid now starts to escalate his crimes. He ties Angie’s hands behind her back using her apron, and kidnapps the girls. Forcing them into his car, which has child locks in the back and driving them out to Dunbar Cave State Park.
The park is 60 minutes northwest of Nashville and about one and a half miles northeast of downtown Clarksville. The 110-acre park is honeycombed by Dunbar Cave and numerous sinkholes. The cave has historical, natural, archaeological and geological significance. Excavations revealed that this cave has been used by man for thousands of years, drawn by its constant stream flow and natural air conditioning. These early inhabitants left drawings on the cave walls.
He held the girls at knifepoint and marched them through the park. Michelle was slightly ahead of Angie and realised she was fairly close to a friend’s house. She broke away and started running for it. Meanwhile Paul Reid cut Angie’s throat. To the neckbone… cutting her carotid artery.
Paul caught up to to Michelle and cut her throat too, before stabbing her in a frenzy. 14 times. She lay 100 feet away from Angie’s body, and around 300 yards from her friend’s house.
Dr Charles Harlan who performed the girl’s autopsies said it would have taken between 5 and 15 minutes for the girls to bleed to death, and that they would have been conscious for 80% of that time.
Reid received seven death sentences for his convictions, the first two coming on April 20, 1999. Reid's execution has been stayed several times since then, including an instance in 2003 just hours before the scheduled execution. Reid eventually waived his right to an appeal. Members of his family, along with anti-death penalty activists, claim he was mentally challenged and unable to make such a decision, and have filed multiple motions (both successful and unsuccessful) to stay his execution. However, the Tennessee Supreme Court has upheld all of Reid's sentences. Reid's case has received national attention among anti-death penalty activists.
His latest execution date was scheduled for January 3, 2008, but was stayed on December 26, 2007 by US District Judge Todd J. Campbell, pending an investigation into the constitutionality of Tennessee's lethal injection methods. The stay is part of a larger investigation, and not directly related to Reid's case.
On April 16, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in a Kentucky case upholding the legality of execution by lethal injection. The state of Tennessee immediately began appealing stays of execution to resume death penalty cases, including Reid's. Reid died of congenital heart failure on November 1st 2003.
The music used in this episode is provided by The Music Bakery & The Sound Of Picture.
Source material (and thank you to Judith for writing such a comprehensive book) is available to buy on Amazon.
The documentary I mentioned is on YouTube here.