Along with many of you, I just viewed the ID (Investigation Discovery) Network’s season debut of “Homicide,” a retelling of what is obviously a compelling story of the murders and subsequent investigation and trials in the Hendricks family murders. It was a very credible job, and it brought back many memories.
It’s impossible, of course, to sensationalize a case that is all too horrific to begin with. I am grateful they chose not to show photos of the victims’ bodies, save for one distant shot of Susan Hendricks as she lay under the covers in the couple’s bedroom. The repeated showings of the ax and butcher knife were more than adequate to convey the scene’s brutality.
The producers did an excellent job of using archival video and newspaper clippings to help tell the story. The only real quarrel I have with the production is that in reporting about the young women David Hendricks had hired to model the back brace he invented, they showed him shirtless, implying there was a whole lot more going on between Hendricks and the models than there really was. It was essentially limited to some rather awkward groping. Hendricks never stripped down in the models’ presence.
I detected one factual error. They reported six months elapsed between Hendricks’s arrest and the beginning of his trial. It was closer to 10 months.
I know an hour-long program minus commercials can’t include everything. Nevertheless I was a little surprised and, frankly, disappointed they didn’t include something first reported in my book, that McLean County State’s Attorney Ron Dozier and Hendricks met for an off-the- record discussion on the eve of the trial. Dozier left the meeting very conflicted, believing he may very well be about to prosecute an innocent man.
It’s also interesting that the program steered away from discussion about other possible suspects, even though one (as reported in my book) was named in court documents and his ex-wife has been trying to gin up media and police interest in the matter.
All-in- all, a good job by the TV folks in telling a complex story. There’s a comments section below. I’d be happy to be part of any further discussion about the program and the case.
One question brought up on Facebook. Is Half Jennings married to one of the models(Cathy)? Also when did they get married? It seems odd that he was the attorney for David and married to one of the models testifying against David. I assume if they are married it probably happen after the trials.
Yes. Hal Jennings married Cathy Harper, the model he had cross-examined in the first trial seven years earlier. They’re in their 27th year of marriage. One of those interesting “intersections” I write about in the updated edition.
Colleen Reynolds says
Someone asked about an unexplained footprint when I posted about the tv documentary. I am hazy about that so I’m wondering if you could shed any light.
Yes, there was an unexplained footprint on the kitchen floor–not real visible, as I recall–problem was there was no way to determine (at least back then) how long it had been there. It was discussed at the trial.
Steve, have you spoken to either of his ex-wives?
Have you spoken to his ex-wives?
Hi, Ann…I’ve talked with one of the two ex-wives but learned information about marriage no. 3 as well (never could track her down or (maybe) get her to return a phone call), and my gleanings are included in the new edition of the book. The “prison bride” marriage lasted about 13 months after Hendricks was freed. A couple years later he married again. That marriage lasted less than a year. His current marriage is now in year number 15. How they met is an interesting story.
Several years ago there was a press conference held on the steps of the McLean County History Mussium steps by the ex-wife of a family member claiming she thought he committed the acts. Did the police ever investigating this lead.
Not to my knowledge, except when he was a person of interest during the initial investigation. When he passed a lie detector test then, police moved on. He was named by Hendricks in one of the supreme court filings (it’s in the book), and I think I was the one who told the person of interest about it. He calmly answered my questions. But his ex turned on him after their marriage ended. Interesting question, Jackie.
What happened to his love for his religion? Obviously after several marriages and now he’s active on social media etc… I’m assuming he is no longer active in his past religion/beliefs as his life doesn’t correlate with what they believed? What took him away from it?
And one more question… is he still in contact with Susan’s family? Do they still believe he wasn’t involved?
Today he is a non-believer. A quick Google will take you to his website (where he occasionally blogs and promotes his book about his former cellmate). I think you’ll find he’s discussed the religion issue. Yes, he’s in contact with his dead wife’s family. Her parents are both alive and still live in the area. So far as I know, they do remain believers–in him.
How did he meet his current wife? She appears substantially younger.
Via the Internet; much younger, from Phillipines. Very interesting story.
Do you tell the story in your updated book??
Daniel F Doran says
I have reread your book. Fascinating, you take us right into the courtroom, the scene of the crime and the police
interogation room. It’s like we are walking with you. The postscripts are equally fascinating. I think you should
rethink the audio book idea. They are so popular today and as WJBC listeners know, you have the voice.
Thanks, Dan. One of the frequent responses I’ve had from readers is that they do feel like they’re in the jury box, and with each turn of the page, they find their opinion shifting.
Well, Dan, as you can see in the “In the News” section of this site, an audio book will be available Oct. 16. But I’m not the narrator. A real pro has done, in my judgment, an excellent job.
I just finished listening to the book on Audible and now my husband is listening. I love true crime and this one of the best if not the best I’ve ever experienced. I, like you, do believe they got the verdict correct the second trial. I’m glad he chose to have the judge decide the issue of the sentence. No way to predict what that jury would have done. Quite scary! I applaud your writing.
Thank you very much. Didn’t Keith do a great job of narrating? I hope you’ll watch for news of my new true crime book…an announcement in a week or so!
Regarding this comment in your opening: “Dozier left the meeting very conflicted, believing he may very well be about to prosecute an innocent man.”
David is an intelligent person and a superior salesperson. He was able to plant some seeds of doubt during that meeting, but those were quickly nipped when Ron pulled his team together and reviewed the evidence. To this day, Ron believes David got away with murder. He would never have gone through with the trial unless he himself was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of David’s guilt.
I believe that to be true. The evidence, of course, was all circumstantial. There was no physical evidence that implicated Hendricks. Nor anyone else.
JANE HOOBLER says
Have the police ever questioned that “family member” who was a “person of interest”?
Yes. As reported in Chapter 8 of “Reasonable Doubt,” Jon Lewis was questioned by police and passed a polygraph exam. Nevertheless, in a hand-written supplement to a supreme court filing in the fall of 1989, Hendricks directly accused Lewis of killing his family.
Steve, do you have any idea where Jonathan Lewis is today?
I do not. Last I heard he was in the San Francisco area, but that was quite some time ago.
Paula Litarowich says
Where is the ID documentary? I can’t find it anywhere
Hi, Paula. So far as I know, the program is unavailable at this point on an on-demand basis. I was told when they interviewed me that the program (originally aired 11 months ago) would be re-run on the ID Network, and later on OWN (the Oprah Network) and on TLC. So far as I know, it hasn’t re-appeared. If I spot it on a future programming schedule, I’ll be sure to post it here and on my web page: http://www.stevevogelauthor.com. In the meantime, if anyone else has information about future programming plans, please let us know!
gail s says
I came to this site because I just watched the ID program to which you refer. I saw it on OWN from 5 pm to 6 pm on Feb. 13, 2020. I do not know if that will put make it available OnDemand or not.
Hi, Gail. The program originally appeared on the Investigation Discovery (ID) Network and is in re-runs there, on the OWN (Oprah) Network and TLC (The Learning Channel). So far as I know, the program is not (yet) available on-demand.
shawn wolfe says
I’ve just become aware of this case and have nearly finished your great book. I’m not sure if you have gone public with a view? Guilty or innocent? In reading your book, I have wavered but, on balance, think guilty. Not sure that I could make the “beyond reasonable doubt” test.
Shawn Wolfe, Melbourne, Australia
Happy to hear from someone from so far away (I visited Melbourne many years ago).
Assuming your opinion hasn’t changed since you’ve now finished the book (I presume), you’ll find me in your camp. If I had been on the original jury, I believe I would likely have been a holdout, unwilling to find Hendricks guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, believing that the prosecution had not, as required in a completely circumstantial case, ruled out every reasonable theory of innocence.
In recent years, I’ve also expressed a more foundational opinion concerning actual innocence or guilt. I believe Hendricks probably did not commit the crime.
I’m glad you liked the book and hope you’ll find time to do a review on Amazon, Goodreads or similar sites. I also invite you to read my more recent effort, “The Unforgiven.”
Can’t they do DNA testing you hear them doing that all the time now solving cases from years back and solving them I would think that would put an end to everyone’s doubts on who actually did it or didn’t do it
Margaret Stevens says
I’m not sure whether David Hendricks murdered his family or not. I’m leaning towards not guilty. Assuming not guilty, I wonder if his success in business and his resulting spending habits may have led to this tragedy. Paying cash for a house, buying two planes and several cars draws attention to you. Jealousy may have been a motive. If David didn’t murder his family, whoever did must have known that he was going to be out of town. Of course, maybe the killer(s) planned on wiping out the entire family. The murders as described were vicious, especially the attack on his son. Also, the funeral director didn’t believe the murder could have been committed during the timeline put forth by the prosecution. He based this on his years of experience and the conditions of the bodies. I’m not sure why this information was never presented in trial. Did the funeral director keep this information to himself? Was he under any legal obligation to provide this information? Would his opinion in this matter be listened too?