David Hendricks

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David Hendricks is an American businessman convicted of killing his wife and three children in 1984 but acquitted in a retrial in 1991.


Hendricks was a member of the Exclusive branch of the Plymouth Brethren, a conservative Christian sect. He ran a business in Bloomington, Illinois, selling a back-brace he had patented.[1]

On November 7, 1983, while Hendricks was out of state on a business trip, his wife and three children were found murdered in their home. An axe and a butcher's knife were the murder weapons.


Hendricks was tried the following year — the trial was moved to Rockford, Illinois, 133 miles away from Bloomington and he was found guilty. Doubts were raised as to his guilt, however, due to the prosecution's reliance on circumstantial evidence and anti-religious bias.[citation needed]

Among other factors, the prosecution attempted to link the murders to Hendricks's belief that divorce was a sin.[citation needed] The prosecution argued that since Hendricks did not believe in divorce, his only way out of his marriage was to kill his wife and children.[citation needed]

Although two weapons were found and the blood spatters pointed to two perpetrators, the prosecution argued for Hendricks's sole guilt and his lawyers missed some key pieces of evidence (one was the proposed order of killings). There were also some clear signs of bungled evidence, such as the containers of the children's stomach contents (one of the children's "stomach content" vials contained food that she disliked).

Despite the inconsistencies and the prosecution's circumstantial case, Hendricks was found guilty and was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences. He served seven years in Menard Correctional Center in Illinois. He remarried while in prison.

In 1991, he was acquitted and released after a retrial at the McLean County Law and Justice Center in Bloomington.

He is on his fourth marriage, and currently lives in Orlando, Florida and sold his last business within the last three years.

In popular culture[edit]



See also[edit]

  • Roger Panes - Brethren member who killed his wife and three children with an axe in 1974.