Parole denied for Ind. 'Valentine's Day Massacre' killer

David Smith is one of four convicted in the infamous murder of four young Indiana men


By Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — By unanimous decision of the Indiana Parole Board, one of the four men convicted of murder in the infamous Hollandsburg Valentine's Day Massacre will remain in prison.

David Smith, 57, made his first appearance before the five-member parole board this week, nearly 39 years after he was convicted of the 1977 shotgun slayings of four young Parke County men.

David Smith. (Photo/Pendleton Correctional Facility)
David Smith. (Photo/Pendleton Correctional Facility)

The nature and circumstances of the crimes were cited by all five parole board members as reason for the denial of parole. Two members also cited the "best interest of society."

Smith will not be eligible to seek parole again until August 2021. He remains at Pendleton Correctional Facility.

Smith, who was 17 years old when the homicides occurred, was sentenced to four life sentences on Oct. 27, 1977. At that time, Smith had no parole eligibility.

The Supreme Court this year, however, held that a mandatory life sentence with no parole should not apply to juveniles convicted of murder, opening the door for a parole hearing for Smith.

Smith was one of four young men found guilty of the Feb. 14, 1977, shotgun slayings of Gregory Brooks, 22, Raymond Spencer, 17, Reeve Spencer, 16, and Ralph Spencer, 13.

The four boys — along with Brooks' mother, Betty Jane Spencer -- were shot while lying face down on the floor of their Hollandsburg home by four intruders wielding sawed-off shotguns.

The brutality of the murders shocked the rural Parke County community of Hollandsburg, a tiny village eight miles east of Rockville on U.S. 36 at Raccoon Lake State Park.

Betty Jane Spencer survived the shooting and gave police descriptions of the four suspects who broke into her home and killed her son and three stepsons.

She later testified against the four suspects and was a vocal opponent to clemency for the convicted killers whenever they sought release from prison. Spencer died in 2004.

The ringleader of the violent thrill killings, Roger Clay Drollinger, died at age 60 in January 2014 at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility.

The other two convicted killers — Michael W. Wright, now 61, and Daniel R. Stonebraker, now 60 — are both housed at Pendleton Correctional Facility serving life sentences.

The Supreme Court decision does not present an opportunity for parole for Wright or Stonebraker.

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