South Dakota Executes Inmate Charles Rhines for Fatal 1992 Stabbing

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – South Dakota has executed 63-year-old death row inmate Charles Rhines. In 1992, he fatally stabbed 22-year-old Donnivan Schaeffer, a doughnut shop employee in Rapid City. 

Rhines was supposed to be executed by lethal injection Monday at 1:30 p.m. However, due to three appeals that time was pushed back. He was executed 6 hours later after the U.S. Supreme Court denied all three appeals.

At 7:31 p.m. Rhines gave his last statement and the lethal injection began. It was completed at 7:36 p.m. and he was pronounced dead at 7:39 p.m. Witnesses say in Rhines last words before his execution, he addressed Donnivan’s parents. “Ed and Peggy Schaeffer, I forgive you for your anger and hatred towards me. I pray to God that he forgives you for your anger and hatred towards me,” said Rhines. He went on to say, “Thanks to my team, I love you all. Goodbye, let’s go.”

Earlier in the day, Rhines had his final meal at the prison. According to the South Dakota Department of Corrections, his last meal request included: Fried chicken, cantaloupe, Lefsa, strawberry and cherry yogurt, butter, black licorice, cookies and cream ice cream, root beer and coffee with cream and sugar. 

Witnesses say Rhines had a calm demeanor throughout the entire execution.

Current Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo has worked on Rhines case as an assistant state’s attorney and says after multiple appeals it’s finally over.

“They’ve [Schaffer family] been put through hoops that have nothing to do with protecting the integrity of the process or ensuring justice, but are just mechanisms of delay,” said Vargo. 

“And at every step of the way, their focus has been on Donnivan and on seeking a just result.”

Donnivan’s parents, Ed and Peggy, his brother and aunt along with Donnivan’s fiancé at the time of the murder, Sheila Pond Jackson and Sheila’s parents joined several media members in witnessing the execution. They spoke with media after the execution saying today was a day they’ve waited for for 27 years. 27 years too long. 

“Today was justice served for Donnivan,” said Jackson. 

“Donnivan firmly believed in the death penalty and I am very happy that this has taken place. Donnivan really believed in an eye for an eye.”

During the media briefing, Donnivan’s family spent most of their time talking about and remembering him. They said he loved to fish, play practical jokes and lend a helping hand.

“Remember him today. Talk about Donnivan. He is missed and he is loved and he will never be forgotten,” said Peggy Schaffer, Donnivan’s Mother.

Donnivan’s family says this closes the books on Rhines, but they will forever feel the pain he has caused.


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – South Dakota Death Row Inmate Charles Russell Rhines has died by lethal injection.

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg confirmed that at approximately 7:35 p.m., Charles Russell Rhines was given lethal injections to end his life.

Rhines’ time of death was marked at 7:39 p.m.

Attorney General Ravnsborg released the following statement:

Today I would like to remember Donnivan Scahefer, the victim who was brutally murdered by the killer who met justice earlier. Donnivan was an intelligent man set to graduate from Western Dakota Tech Donnivan was an award-winning archer who loved hunting and fishing Donnivan was funny, kind and a hard worker, prepared to start a career with a telephone installation company. Donnivan was engaged to be married with a great life ahead of him and, if he was with us today, he would be looking forward to his 50th birthday and looking at all the things his life had produced. Words cannot express the sorrow I feel for the fact that Donnivan was killed but I am glad we were finally able to get justice for him today. I am hopeful that this day is an opportunity for the family to move forward and now, that this phase is over, they can continue to heal. May God Bless Donnivan and his family.


The U.S. Supreme Court has denied all three of South Dakota Death Row Inmate Charles Rhines’ appeals, clearing the way for his execution.

Rhines asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block his execution. He argued that the jury that sentenced him to death had an anti-gay bias. He also argued that the state hasn’t allowed him to be examined for cognitive and psychiatric impairments.

Rhines argued that the pentobarbital to be used in his execution doesn’t meet the “ultra-short-acting” standard for lethal injection drugs in effect at the time of his conviction.

Rhines was to die by lethal injection at 1:30 p.m. Monday at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls.

Rhines, 63, was sentenced to the death penalty in 1993. He was convicted of killing a 22-year-old doughnut shop employee who interrupted him during a burglary in 1992.

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