Charles Rodman Campbell
|Charles Rodman Campbell|
|Born||October 21, 1954
|Died||May 27, 1994
Walla Walla, Washington
Cause of death
|Date||April 14, 1982|
Campbell was born in Hawaii in 1954, but his parents soon moved to Washington. They later abandoned him and his congenitally-retarded sister to their grandparents, who were little-interested in raising the two. Often ridiculed by schoolmates for his sister's disability and his Hawaiian origins, he was large for his age and developed a bad temper early on. Frequently fighting and running away, Campbell began to get in trouble with the law as a teenager. He dropped out of high school and married a 22-year old woman, but they got divorced in six months (she gave birth to a son soon afterwards).
In December 1974, Campbell attacked 23-year old Renae Wicklund while she was doing yard work outside her Clearview, Washington home. He demanded that she perform oral sex on him at knife point while threatening to kill her infant daughter Shannah if she didn't comply. Wicklund submitted to his demands and then called police after he left. Campbell was not apprehended until 1976 when she picked him out of a police lineup. At the subsequent trial, Wicklund and her neighbor Barbara Hendrickson testified in detail about the assault. Campbell was sentenced to 40 years in prison for first-degree rape. However, due to an oversight, in 1981 he was paroled to work release for "good conduct" after only five years behind bars. His victims were not informed of his release.
On April 12, 1982, Barbara Hendrickson's husband Don walked over to Renae Wicklund's house and discovered her, 9-year old Shannah, and his wife dead, all with their throats cut. Charles Campbell (then residing at a halfway house) was arrested the following week and charged with first-degree murder and second-degree theft (he had attempted to sell some of Renae Wicklund's jewelry only hours after the killings). Wicklund had been severely beaten and raped with a blunt instrument in addition to having had her throat slit (the murder weapon and the object used to rape her were never found). Barbara Hendrickson had been attacked and her throat cut after going over to the house to check on Wicklund, who had been ill with the flu that week. Shannah suffered the same fate when she came home from school. Police were told by a neighbor girl that she saw Campbell sneaking around Renae Wicklund's yard with a knife that morning.
At Campbell's November 1982 trial, he refused to testify in his defense or discuss the murders at all. Numerous citizens of Clearview had signed a petition demanding the death penalty for him, and the jury agreed, arguing that he showed no signs whatsoever of remorse for killing the Wicklunds and Barbara Hendrickson. Renae Wicklund's mother and sister, who lived in North Dakota, were particularly shocked by the murders because she had never told them about being raped 8 years earlier.
During the trial, Campbell's attorneys argued that he could not be charged with rape since the wound in Renae Wicklund's vagina was a postmortem injury that had not bled. Snohomish County Coroner Dr. Clayton Haberman (who performed the autopsies) pointed out that brain death does not occur until a few minutes after circulation ceases and she could technically have still been alive when the assault happened, but it may just as easily have been hours later. He also noted that Shannah lost so much blood that it was difficult to collect a sample from her. Judge Dennis Britt thus ordered the jury to disregard the rape allegations. The defense also protested the prosecution's decision to display graphic autopsy photos of the Wicklunds and Barbara Hendrickson. Judge Britt allowed this, but said that the jurors could decide for themselves whether they wanted to see their blood-splattered clothing.
Incarceration and Appeals
Campbell's prison record showed that he had not committed anything more than relatively minor offenses there, but one inmate (who was fearful of being labeled a prison snitch and so had his identity hidden) testified that Campbell had terrorized fellow prisoners into submitting to sodomy and to get him drugs. Campbell's ex-wife told police that he went to her house and raped his ex-wife on Christmas Day 1981, and two subsequent occasions. Prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to charge Campbell with anything.
Campbell's mother claimed that he had sex with a pet dog that he adopted. As a condition of his parole, he was also required to attend rape counseling sessions, but he ended up becoming romantically involved with his counselor which led to the therapy being terminated (she became pregnant and gave birth to Campbell's second child).
The trial Judge sentenced Campbell to death on December 17, 1984. By 1984 the case had gone through the entire state court system. Campbell's lawyers appealed his conviction and sentence for 12 years (a total of three appeals). The Washington Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence.
The state offered inmates the choice of execution by lethal injection or hanging. If the inmate did not choose, execution would be by hanging. Campbell declined to choose how he would be executed, arguing that participating in the decision on how he would die was akin to his committing suicide, which Campbell's lawyers argued violated Washington public policy. While his case was at various stages of appeal he remained a much-feared figure in Walla-Walla's death row for the next decade, even spitting at then-Governor Booth Gardner when he peered into his cell.
On November 7, 1988, Campbell petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review his case. The Supreme Court denied his petition, but that did not end the appeals. There was now debate over whether hanging was cruel and unusual punishment and thus unconstitutional. This time it was Washington state appealing to the Supreme Court in 1993, because the state wanted the case concluded instead of dragging on for years.
On April 14, 1994, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit lifted the stay of execution. On May 3, 1994, Campbell asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put another stay on his execution and rule on his claim that hanging was unconstitutional, but his request went unanswered. His execution was set for May 27. Then-governor Mike Lowry was an opponent of the death penalty, but upon hearing the details of Campbell's crimes refused to commute Campbell's sentence to life in prison.
Twenty-four hours before the execution Campbell was given his last shower. His last meal was served two hours before the hanging took place, and he refused to eat most of it. Wicklund family members requested to view the execution, but the state refused permission.
Campbell spent his final hours talking to friends and relatives, including his ex-counselor and son. Campbell’s was the second hanging in 2 years, after serial child killer Westley Allen Dodd. When the time for his execution arrived, Campbell refused to cooperate and resorted to passive resistance, refusing to get up off the floor of his cell when instructed, finally having to be removed from his cell using pepper spray.
On the execution platform Campbell refused to stand. Corrections officers had to forcefully strap Campbell to a board. Campbell then repeatedly moved his head so that neither the cloak nor noose could be put on easily. It took prison officials 90 seconds to place a hood on his head and to fix the noose before the trap was opened. The execution took place, Campbell dead at age 39.
Later while cleaning out Campbell's holding cell authorities found a four-inch piece of metal that Campbell had been sharpening into a knife.
- Washington Hangs Murderer; Texas Executes Officer-Killer May 28, 1994
- Federal Court Upholds Execution by Hanging February 9, 1994
- Inmate Faces 1st Hanging in U.S. Since 1965 March 27, 1989
- The State of Washington, Respondent, v. Charles R. Campbell, Appellant.
- Charles' son, Jacob Campbell's experiences regarding father