Donald Dillbeck

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Donald David Dillbeck
Donald Dillbeck.jpg
Mug shot of Donald Dillbeck.
Born (1963-05-24) May 24, 1963 (age 55)
El Paso, Texas, United States
Criminal penalty Sentenced to death
Criminal status Incarcerated
Conviction(s) First-degree murder, armed robbery, armed burglary

Donald David Dillbeck (born May 24, 1963) is a convicted murderer currently on Florida's Death Row for the stabbing and murder of a woman in a Tallahassee, Florida mall parking lot.

Life and crimes[edit]

At age six, his father walked out on him and Dillbeck's alcoholic mother and so he was placed in several foster homes until age 15.[1] On April 11, 1979, Dillbeck, a 15-year-old high school dropout and runaway,[2] was sitting inside a stolen car at a closed park at the beach in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. Someone made a suspicious person complaint about this and Lee County deputy Lynn Hall arrived and questioned Dillbeck. While being questioned by Deputy Lynn Hall, Dillbeck ran from the car. The deputy chased Dillbeck on foot and caught him. During the struggle that followed, Dillbeck, only 15 years old at the time, managed to get the deputy's gun and shot and fatally wounded him.[3] Dillbeck was arrested and, on June 6, 1979, sentenced to life imprisonment.

On February 7, 1983, Dillbeck attempted to escape from prison, but was re-captured the same day. For this, he was sentenced to one year and one day in prison. He was later given a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence and taken to a lower-security facility despite being disciplined multiple times including attempted assault in 1984 and drinking intoxicants the following year.[4]

On June 22, 1990, Dillbeck was working with other prison inmates at a catering function at Quincy Vocational Center in Quincy, Florida. During the event, Dillbeck walked away from the area and eventually ended up in nearby Tallahassee, Florida. Dillbeck purchased a paring knife and on June 24, 1990, less than 48 hours after his escape, he approached a woman named Faye Vann who was sitting in her vehicle in the parking lot of the Tallahassee Mall. Governor Bob Martinez criticized the incident, ordering tighter custody of inmates and fired the corrections officers involved.[4] According to a 1991 article, the case was "reminiscent" of Willie Horton being released in 1988 by Michael Dukakis's release programs.[5] Armed with the knife, Dillbeck attempted to carjack the vehicle entering it, but Vann resisted. He then stabbed Vann repeatedly, causing her death. The vehicle crashed in the Mall lot and Dillbeck fled on foot chased by a Mall Security Officer . First reports to 911 were of a vehicle crash then soon were relayed as a stabbing and a Security Officer in foot pursuit of the suspect.[6] Dillbeck was subsequently arrested by police a short time later still armed with the knife in a back yard of a nearby house.

According to a 1991 article, Dillbeck's name was the codeword for incompetence between Bob Martinez and Lawton Chiles during their political campaigns. His court-appointed lawyer later admitted to Dillbeck's crimes but tried to save him from the electric chair,[1] but to no avail, Dillbeck was sentenced to the electric chair in 1991 anyway. At the sentencing, he told the judge "I'm really sorry for what happened. I wish it didn't, not because I'm standing here, but because it happened. I'm asking for a life sentence, not for my sake, but for my parents' sake" to which his adoptive parents said Dillbeck "had been brain damaged and abused".[7] In 1993, the state appeals court awarded $150,000 to the Vann's family but later overturned it in 1995, saying "the state couldn't be held liable for failing to protect the public from prison escapees" and "the only duty which existed was a general duty owed to the public not to allow a prisoner escape"; the state court did not say, however, if it could be held liable for the acts of prison escapees.[8]


Dillbeck was convicted of first degree murder, armed robbery, and armed burglary and was sentenced to death on March 15, 1991.[9] In addition, he received two consecutive life sentences on top of the one he already had. He was not sentenced for his escape from Quincy Vocational Center. Dillbeck is currently on Death Row at the Union Correctional Institution located in Raiford, Florida. As of December 2016 all of his appeals have run out and he could be given a date for execution at any time.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Dillbeck illustrates prison crisis". Gainesville Sun. February 26, 1991. Retrieved July 8, 2015. 
  2. ^ Freeman, Robert M. (2000). Popular Culture and Corrections. American Correctional Association. p. 58. ISBN 1569911266. Retrieved July 8, 2015. 
  3. ^ "15-Year-Old Held On Murder Charge". Lakeland Ledger. April 12, 1979. Retrieved July 8, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "DOC officials fired in inmate's escape". Gainesville Sun. June 26, 1990. Retrieved July 8, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Criminal Justice Newsletter, Volume 21". 21. Pace Publications. 1991: 16–338. Retrieved 3 July 2015. 
  6. ^ Bobit, Bonnie (1999). Death Row. Bobit Publishing. p. 166. ISBN 0962485780. Retrieved July 8, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Escaped inmate gets death sentence for June stabbing". Gainesville Sun. March 17, 1991. Retrieved July 8, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Court:State not liable in murder". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. February 11, 1995. Retrieved July 8, 2015. 
  9. ^ Newton, Michael (2006). The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers. Infobase Publishing. p. 337. ISBN 0816069875. Retrieved July 8, 2015. 

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