In late spring of 1991, a few months after David Hendricks was acquitted in his second trial in the murders of his wife and children, Hendricks and his second wife Pat moved from Illinois to Ohio.
Hendricks opened a new orthotic-prosthetic practice in Sylvania (a suburb of Toledo) with a partner and sent this letter to area physicians and therapists:
ORTHOTIC PROSTHETIC CENTER
4913 Harroun Road, Suite 3
Sylvania, Ohio 43560
LETTER OF INTRODUCTION
January 23, 1992
My partner and I believe it is important to write you about the horrible tragedy I suffered in 1983 and the subsequent events that brought me to an orthotic-prosthetic practice in Toledo, Ohio.
I attended Northwestern University Medical School and in 1973 I receive a degree in Prosthetics. During the next two years, I took courses in orthotics. In 1975 I was certified in prosthetics and the next year I was certified in orthotics.
I soon started a practice in Bloomington, Illinois. In 1978 I invented a brace that has came to be known as the “CASH Orthosis.” It sold so well that in 1981 I quit my practice and devoted myself exclusively to marketing the CASH Orthosis.
By then my wife and I had three children. In 1982 we moved into the new house we had built. My CASH Orthosis company was going splendidly. We had a happy family life. I flew where I wanted in my own airplane. I was the classic success story.
Then tragedy struck. One night I returned home from a business trip to a house surrounded by police. As I got out of my car, my wife’s family hugged me and sobbingly told me the horrible news. My family was gone. They had been brutally murdered.
The police interrogated me all that night, but it wasn’t until I was told the next day to get a lawyer that I realized I was a suspect. Soon the police started to follow me. They even watched through binoculars while I grieved at the graves.
A month later I was arrested and jailed without bond. Lawyers swooped in and took some $800,000 of my wealth. My trial took place a year later. With no motive and no evidence, the prosecution found professional experts who offered their opinions. The jury, who were kept from hearing all the evidence, preferred the opinions of the prosecution’s experts.
I went to prison. I was forced to sell my CASH Orthosis business, my home and my airplane. The lawyers got the proceeds. It was four years before a tireless investigator discovered evidence that proved both my innocence and the real murderer’s guilt. It took me three more years to get the courts to acquit me.
There is no way I could have made it through those seven awful years, but for the support of my late wife’s family and mine. I have become very close to my in-laws.
I was finally freed last May. In prison, through a support group, I met and married a lady from Toledo who had two children. I love them and am in the process of adopting them. Ryan is 10 and Rachel is five. We moved to Toledo where I started working for an orthotic-prosthetic company. It was there I met my partner, Ann Cole.
Back when I was convicted, my orthotic-prosthetic certification was revoked. I reapplied and was scheduled to retake the examinations last October. I passed both exams and, just this month, the bureaucratic process finally ended and my certification was reinstated.
The story of my tragedy has been widely publicized. A book was written about it. Another is in the works. TV shows like Inside Edition, Sally Jesse Raphael and Larry King Live have done the story. I recently turned down a six-figure offer from a movie company. I want to be a normal person again.
I would not send this letter out, but for the fact that my partner and I feel some explanation is necessary to you. And, with a story as sensational as mine, there are bound to be whispers. This letter is being sent to Toledo area MDs, DOs, DPMs and RPTs.
In the few months I have been here, I have come to value Toledo. I enjoy being back in the practice of prosthetics and orthotics. I appreciate the opportunity to start again. I want to thank those of you who have already helped me.
Just a few lines to introduce my partner, Ann Cole. Ann has been in orthotics for nine years in Toledo. Ann is excellent with her patients and she provides OPC with a female to fit females. She is also a certified mastectomy fitter.
Both Ann and I will be pleased to welcome you to our new state-of-the-art facility at our Open House, February 5, 1992. We will be here from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and will serve brunch, lunch, hor e-douerves (sic), wine and cocktails. We will have models demonstrating braces and will conduct thermoplastic vacuum-forming demonstrations throughout the day.
We hope to see you there.
David Hendricks, CPO
A few follow-up notes about the letter’s contents:
^A few months after this letter was written, David and Pat Hendricks divorced. (Pat had lived in Ohio earlier before moving to southern Illinois to be closer to the prison where Hendricks had been incarcerated. They married in a 1988 prison ceremony. Hendricks won a new trial in 1990, prompting Pat to move north to the Bloomington, Ill., area where that trial took place.)
^I don’t believe Hendricks ever adopted her children.
^At this writing, the Orthotic Prosthetic Center continues to operate under the leadership of Ann Cole with about a dozen employees in Toledo proper.
^The letter is factually incorrect when it says Hendricks was “freed last May.” It was in March.
^And it’s overstatement to say that an “investigator discovered evidence that proved both my innocence and the real murder’s guilt.” While documents submitted by Hendricks to the Illinois Supreme Court did identify another possible suspect, so far as the law is concerned, none of what Hendricks’s investigator uncovered established his innocence or another person’s guilt.