Donald Ray Wallace (Donald Ray Wallace)

Donald Ray Wallace

On January 14, 1980, Indiana State Trooper Thomas Snyder was called to the Evansville home of Ralph Hendricks as it had been reportedly burglarized. Snyder went to the home of Patrick and Theresa Gilligan, which was next door to Hendricks’s house, to inquire whether the Gilligans might have seen or heard anything unusual. Snyder, discovering that the window to the Gilligans’ back door was broken, checked inside the house and discovered four dead bodies in the family room—Patrick and Theresa and their two children, Gregory and Lisa. Theresa had her hands tied behind her, and the two children were tied together. Dr. David Wilson, the coroner, testified that the cause of all four deaths was brain damage from gunshot wounds.  The evidence also showed that on the 14th Wallace was seen driving a blue Plymouth automobile that belonged to Richard Milligan. And while Milligan and Wallace’s girlfriend, Debbie Durham, were known to have committed several prior burglaries using this same automobile, Milligan was in jail on burglary charges this particular night. Witnesses recalled seeing the Plymouth in the Evansville neighborhood about the time the murders occurred. A neighbor and his family were out walking, stopped to talk to Mrs. Gilligan and the children before they left for Mrs. Gilligan’s parents house. Patrick was already there waiting, as he had been helping his father in law chop firewood. Wallace was driving by, casing the home, and nearly ran the family over. Later this neighbor man would give the State Police a description for the composit sketch that was used to help find him. Wallace drove to a gas station at Oak Hill Road and Lynch Road, where he used the payphone to call the Gilligan’s home phone to see if they had left yet.

Wallace was at the home of her sister, Debbie Durham, the night of the 14th when earlier that evening she witnessed Wallace driving the blue Plymouth. Between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Wallace returned to Durham’s home, and Madison heard him ask for matches. He found a cigarette lighter, and Madison saw him in the backyard burning the jacket he had been carrying over his shoulder upon arrival.  Neighbor Sherry Grayson saw a fire at the same time and saw a man with shoulder length hair that was characteristic of Wallace, standing by it. Officer John Crosser recovered the remains of the jacket and other items found on the ground. Among these items was a set of wedding rings without stones in them and some fragments of glass. State Police Specialist Oliver examined the glass and found the pieces fit into a pattern matching the hole in Gilligans’ window.  On the evening of the 14th Wallace and Durham had a Carl Durham take pictures of them with many of the items taken from the Gilligan and Hendrick residences. The pictures also showed money and pistols connected with these burglaries, and were later admitted into evidence.

Durham gave William Kune, a serologist, the blue jeans worn by Wallace the night of the crime, upon which Kune found type AB blood. Wallace had blood type O, but Teresa Gilligan and one of the children had blood type AB. Kune also found type B blood on a brown cotton glove, identified as one of a set Wallace wore while burglarizing homes. Patrick Gilligan had type B blood.  William Madison, the brother of Durham and Madison, came to the Durham’s home the evening of the 14th and saw Wallace come in wearing a gun in a holster to show William a briefcase with a couple of guns in it. Wallace also had in his possession a CB, a police scanner, and some rings. That same night Wallace attempted to sell to Randy Rhinehart some guns, a CB, and a scanner. Several witnesses testified that Durham displayed to them pieces of jewelry that were later traced to the Gilligans. Durham gave one of the rings to Officer O’Risky that was identified by Dorothy Sahm, Theresa’s mother, as belonging to Theresa. A jeweler that had sized the ring and kept pictures of it also identified it as belonging to Theresa.

Friends of Wallace, Mark Boyles and Anita Hoeche, testified they received a phone call on January 15 from Wallace who said he was in trouble and in need of a ride. While riding in the car, Wallace told them he had gotten too greedy the night before. He said he had broken into one house and never should have gone to the next house because he got caught there and that after he got caught a man in the house was giving him trouble, and he had to tie up the entire family. He said the little girl was crying and screaming, and it was bothering him. He felt he could not let the children grow up with the trauma of not having parents, and he did not “want to see the kids to go through life with tragedy of seeing their parents being killed,” so he killed them also. He said the woman was screaming, and he had to shut her up. Later that night Wallace, while hiding in the attic of Hoeche’s house, was arrested.

Debbie Durham, Wallace’s girlfriend testified that when Wallace visited her around 9:30 p.m on January 14 he immediately took his clothes off and gave them to her so he could change. On his blue jeans there was a piece of fleshy-whitish-red matter. Durham asked what it was, and Wallace stated it had to be a piece of brain because he had shot the residents, who had caught him, in the head. He told her a man had come in from the garage and surprised him. They struggled, and Wallace made him bring in the rest of the family. He said he tied up the man, made the woman tie up the children, and then Wallace tied her up. He shot the man in the head after possibly breaking the man’s neck in the struggle. He said he then shot the woman twice and because the children were crying for the mother, he shot each one of them once. Wallace, who was out on parole for a prior felony, said he shot the adults because they could identify him.

Wallace raised several issues concerning his mental competency to stand trial and four hearings were held before the trial judge found Wallace was competent to understand the proceedings and assist his counsel in his defense.  A first hearing was instituted by the trial judge who detected reasonable grounds that Wallace lacked competency to proceed. The court then appointed two psychiatrists, Dr. Larry Davis and Dr. John Kooiker, to examine Wallace. In their reports they opined that Wallace was incompetent to proceed with trial because he was suffering from acute paranoid schizophrenia.  At a hearing held in May 1980 Davis and Kooiker described elaborate delusions expressed by Wallace of plots against him. He had told the doctors about his belief that the CIA and Masons were attempting to place him before a firing squad to prevent his release of secret matters including information on the Iranian hostage situation. He expressed concern about others plotting against him including his attorney and court personnel, he imagined radio-listening devices were planted in his cell and in the room where the psychiatrists interviewed him, and he expressed suspicion of the psychiatrists and of all those with whom he came in contact.

Davis and Kooiker concluded Wallace was unable to assist counsel at the time or to participate in and understand the trial proceedings. Each stated Wallace’s apparent condition would be very difficult to feign. The State’s two witnesses, Wallace’s cellmate and a member of the Sheriff’s department, testified Wallace displayed these mannerisms only at selective times, the implication being Wallace was feigning the psychosis. After taking the matter under advisement the judge found in May 1980 that Wallace was incompetent to stand trial, stating that despite evidence to the contrary, his decision was based on an overwhelming evidence of incompetency given by the doctors.  The Superintendent of Logansport State Hospital later certified to the court that Wallace had now attained competency to stand trial based upon a Dr. Matheu’s opinion. However, the hearing scheduled pursuant to this certification was continued when Davis and Kooiker opined that Wallace needed further evaluation and treatment. After that Wallace had become oriented with time, place, and person, and now both psychiatrists considered Wallace competent to stand trial.

At the second hearing Wallace appeared too heavily sedated from the medication. The psychiatrists testified that Wallace’s dosage of psychotic medication could be modified such that he would maintain competency but not experience the sedative side effects. Over Wallace’s objection the court ruled that his competency depended upon an adjustment in his medication and ordered him back to Wishard Hospital for further treatment.  At the next and third hearing on January 16, 1981, Kooiker, Davis, and Moore opined that Wallace was incompetent to proceed with trial. All three psychiatrists testified that he was again suffering from symptoms of schizophrenia and that the suggested modified treatment from the previous hearing had failed. The general consensus was that Wallace was not feigning the psychosis. Moore testified that if Wallace was faking, he was “one of the best damn actors he had ever seen.” Once again the court found Wallace incompetent to stand trial and ordered him committed.

In February 1982 the State moved for another competency hearing informing the court it could produce evidence that Wallace had been faking his psychosis to which the court so ordered. At the June 16 hearing the State introduced letters Wallace had written to Durham, during the time between his arrest and the first pretrial court appearance, at which his competency was put at issue. These letters indicated a full understanding of what he was doing and were intended to show he purposefully feigned incompetency to delay his trial and frustrate the State’s attempt to have him sentenced to death. In the letters he discussed Durham’s loyalty to him, their sex lives, and his feelings toward his attorney. He wrote he had a higher I.Q. than his attorney and so was planning to hire an attorney from San Francisco with the assistance of his uncle. His uncle would furnish the money for an attorney with the reputation for gaining acquittals for persons charged with murder. He said he was studying from materials furnished to him by a friend who was a professor from a local law school. His studies concentrated on suppression of evidence and the art of cross-examination. He indicated he was becoming very well informed on these subjects so that he would be in a position to attack the State in court and frustrate their case. Wallace also told Durham, who was in jail on a burglary charge herself, that she would not have to worry if she went to the Women’s Prison because he had connections in the prison that would get her special consideration.

A former jailmate of Wallace testified that sometime in February or March 1980 Wallace told him he was using the Masons’ story to get out of going to trial and stated that he would act psychotic only when non-prisoners were present. Two jailmates from Vigo County, Lofston and St. John, testified that during 1980 Wallace would act perfectly normal unless the doctors were around. Wallace told them he was fooling the psychiatrist by telling them he was collaborating with the Germans. Lofston testified that sometimes Wallace would give his medication to him and other inmates and that it would make them drowsy. St. John testified that Wallace told him he was pretending to be crazy to evade trial. Wallace told St. John he saved up his medication for a hearing so he would be extremely drowsy in the courtroom.

Several of the staff members from Logansport State Hospital, where Wallace had been for most of the preceding two years, testified in the same manner. Robert Cosgray testified that when Wallace first came to the hospital he acted psychotic but shortly thereafter admitted to Cosgray that he was feigning his mental illness. Wallace later denied this statement and told Cosgray that it was Cosgray’s word against his. He said he would rather spend his life in the hospital than go to the electric chair. William Hardesty testified Wallace exhibited his psychosis early in 1980, but later Wallace told Hardesty that he liked to “beat people at their own game.” Further, Wallace told Hardesty that the longer he drags this out the less chance the state had of convicting him.  Others at Logansport, James Campbell, Deborah Illes, Wilma McLaughlin, Richard Younce, and William Conn, each testified that during the two years of Wallace’s hospitalization they saw his alleged psychotic delusions manifested very rarely. He appeared to have psychotic delusions perhaps once or twice, and then only when Dr. Keating was present or about to enter the room. Several of the staff members stated that Wallace gave them a contrasting impression and he was a pool sharp and card player.

After hearing all of this evidence the trial court concluded that Wallace was faking his psychosis and that he was in fact competent to stand trial. Wallace later asked the trial court to order that all of his medication be withdrawn from him but the trial court found this to be a medical matter and denied the motion. Following trial the jury recommended the death penalty.  He was executed in Indiana on March 10, 2005, at 12:23 a.m. by lethal injection.

More Images

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  • September, 03, 1957


  • March, 10, 2005
  • USA
  • Indiana State Prison, Michigan City, Indiana

Cause of Death

  • execution by lethal injection

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