PETERSBURG, Ind. (AP) — A man originally sentenced to death in the 1981 slayings of an elderly couple murdered shortly after they arrived home from church will be released from prison next month, while his partner in the crime is seeking another trial.

Richard Dillon was 18 when he was convicted of two counts of murder, burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary and sentenced to death in August 1981. A federal appeals court later overturned that sentence, and it was reduced to 60 years. Now 44, Dillon is set to be released Aug. 30 from the Indianapolis Men’s Work Release Center, where he works in the community by day. He will be set free after serving half his sentence, including credit for good behavior.

“He is doing very well here and works in the community,” said Jim Hendrix, the center’s superintendent. “There have been no problems here at all.”

Dillon turned down a request for an interview.

Jay R. Thompson, now 43, was only 17 at the time of the March 8, 1981, killings of William Hilborn, 72, and wife Mary, 65, in their home in southern Indiana’s Petersburg. Waived to adult court, he was convicted of two counts of murder and sentenced to death in March 1983. The Indiana Supreme Court later overturned that sentence, and he was sentenced to 120 years. Four years were later added for the murder of a fellow inmate while he was in prison.

Pike County Prosecutor Darrin McDonald was 9 years old when the Hilborns were murdered, and he still remembers hearing adults talk about it.

“I knew as a kid across town that the Hilborns got murdered brutally on their way back from church,” McDonald said. “This is such a small community, things like this resonate. Everyone knew that their killers got the death sentence, but I never knew they got remanded and sent back and turned into a 60- and 120-year sentence.”

According to Dillon’s taped confession, the teens had slipped into the Hilburns’ house to look for cash when the couple returned home from church. The teens hid in the bathroom for about 15 minutes before emerging with knives.

Dillon stabbed William Hilburn once as he went after a club he kept for security in his bedroom and stabbed Mary Hilburn once as she tried to phone police. Thompson then stabbed both to make sure they were dead, Dillon said.

Thompson never made a confession.

Thompson, who is not due to be released from prison until 2045, has filed a petition seeking a new trial. But Pike County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Walker doesn’t believe he will get one due to a lack of witnesses after the passing of two decades. Of 39 witnesses who testified at Thompson’s trial, 13 are dead and nine unaccounted for, Walker said. He also cannot find any relatives of the Hilborns.

“A lot of the most crucial witnesses are dead,” said Walker, who was assigned to the case about four months ago.

McDonald, the prosecutor, has asked state police to reprocess blood evidence from the original trial in light of advances in DNA technology since that time.

“It would be a nightmare to piece this case back together,” McDonald said. “The amount of my time and my staff’s time on this old of a case is extreme.”

React to this story:

0
0
0
1
0

Trending Video

Recommended for you