Family, friends keep focus on victim after inmate execution

RAPID CITY, S.D. – A  death row inmate was executed, 27 years after the murdering of a 22-year-old man at a Rapid City donut shop but the focus of a media briefing at the state penitentiary following that execution, stayed on the victim and the life he was known for.

Donnivan Schaeffer saw 22 years of life while Charles Rhines, 63,  saw 27 more until Monday night when he was put to death by lethal injection at 6:39 p.m. MT.

The execution was delayed six hours while the United State Supreme Court considered Rhines’ final three appeals.

Now that justice has been served, those closest to the case focused their thoughts on their loved on, Donnivan.

“He was taken from us at 22 years, two months, and 15 days,” said Donnivan’s mother, Peggy Schaeffer.

Peggy says the day is marked with sadness and grief but also relief and justice “but above all, [Monday] is a day we talk about Donnivan, the boy who loved his family, fiance and friends.”

Donnivan died at 22 years of age, engaged and set to graduate from Western Dakota Tech.

His parents and fiance at the time spoke of the man they knew him to be – an award winning archer, a person who was there when he was needed, kind, and caring.

“If he was with us today, he’d be looking forward to his 50th birthday and looking at all the things his life had produced,” said South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.

But his life was taken away from him before he could see the next chapter of his life. The case, spanned over a quarter of a century and touched many lives. The family offered thanks to everyone who worked the case from day one to the day it came to a close.

Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo worked on the case from the beginning, seeing the Schaeffers seek justice for more than 26 years.

Through the appeals and petitions, he says Ed and Peggy Schaeffer have always looked for the good.

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

On the day they do get justice for their son, they still hope for more good to pass throughout the world, just as her son did during his 22 years, two months, and 15 days.

“Today, do something kind for someone in honor because life is just too short and this world needs more love and kindness,” said Peggy.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News