Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Thursday, January 31, 2013


Click here to learn more about Officer James D. Mitchell, but first hear the quotes from his loved ones.

Officer James D. Mitchell
Summary: James D. Mitchell Jr., 42, an Amarillo police officer, had just finished his shift and was driving home, still in uniform. Mitchell saw Hafdahl's car swerve around his truck and watched as it veered off the road. He stopped to investigate. When he saw Hafdahl running away, he ordered him to stop. With his revolver drawn, Mitchell pursued Hafdahl through the yard until Hafdahl was stopped by a locked gate. Hafdahl then turned and killed Mitchell at close range with four shots from his 9 mm semi-automatic pistol. Mitchell never returned fire. After shooting Mitchell, Hafdahl fled the scene, only to turn himself in later that night. Shawn David Terry, 22, was arrested near the scene of the shooting. Daniel Louis Helgan, 24, was arrested later in New Mexico. Dr. Ralph Erdmann, a forensic pathologist, reconstructed the crime scene at trial and testified that based on the distance and angle from which each shot was fired, only one shot (the one in Mitchell's wrist) could have been fired when Mitchell was standing. Daniel Helgran received a sentence of one year's probation for failure to stop and render aid. After Hafdahl's trial, Dr. Ralph Erdmann pleaded guilty to perjury and tampering with government records in other cases he testified in.

The widow and daughters of slain policeman James Mitchell came to Canyon to see a judge set the execution date for the killer of their husband and father. "After 16 years it's about time. We have been through it every step of the way, and I'm looking forward to reaching a conclusion. It has taken a toll on my family," said Ellen Mitchell Stone, the widow of Amarillo Police Department Sgt. James Mitchell. "My girls were 8 and 9 when their father was killed. Now, they have graduated from college, are married and have jobs."

After Thursday's execution, the husband of Mitchell's daughter, Dean Clapper, read from a prepared statement. "Tonight's execution cannot begin to erase the years of heartache, grief and emotional loss that Hafdahl's actions have caused our family," Clapper said. "Never to be regained is the innocence of two children, the loss of childhood memories or recover the loss of a loving husband and father.”In conclusion, our family has stood together facing the most evil of individuals. Tonight, we have finally obtained peace."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Richard Eugene Dinkins

Summary: Dinkins was a 27 year old Air Force veteran who went to Thompson's Massage Therapy Clinic to discuss a bad check he had written earlier. Dinkins came armed with a .25 caliber handgun and a .357 he had purchased the day before. A heated argument ensued between Dinkins and the owner, 46 year old Katherine Thompson, and when Thompson attempted to push him out the door, both guns dropped to the floor. Dinkins picked up the .25, pointed and fired, but it jammed. He then picked up the .357 and shot Thompson dead. Cutler, a 32 year old customer and also nurse, ran and locked herself in an office, but Dinkins shot through a reception window and the bullet hit her in the head, killing her. Dinkins name was found in an appointment book and upon arrest, confessed to the crime. Blood was found on his clothing and the .357 murder weapon was found at his home.

Richard Eugene Dinkins
ProDeathPenalty.com: Richard Dinkins killed Katherine Thompson, 46, and Shelly Cutler, 32, on Sept. 12, 1990, at Thompson's massage therapy clinic in Beaumont. Both Dinkins and Cutler were clients of Thompson's at Therapeutic Massage, and Dinkins had an appointment that evening to discuss a bad check he had written to her. Prior to his appointment with Thompson, Dinkins placed a .357 Magnum revolver and a .25-caliber automatic handgun in a shoulder sling he wore due to an old injury. He had purchased the .357 handgun and ammunition a day prior to the offense. Following a brief discussion about the bad check, a heated argument took place. Thompson pushed Dinkins toward the door into the waiting room where Cutler sat. Dinkins stated that Thompson struck his injured arm, hurting him. At some point during the altercation, both handguns fell from Dinkins' sling to the floor. He picked up the .25 and fired at Thompson but missed. While attempting to fire again, the gun jammed. Dinkins then picked up the .357 and shot Thompson in the upper abdomen and then in the head. Both shots were at close range. Cutler, who was in the waiting room when the shooting started, tried to lock herself in Thompson's office. Dinkins fired through a reception window at Cutler, striking her once in the top of the head. Dinkins then fled in his vehicle as the fire alarm sounded. Thompson suffered two fatal gunshot wounds, one to her head and one to her abdomen. She died at a hospital shortly after the shooting. Cutler, a registered nurse, died the next morning of a single gunshot wound to the head. 

Dinkins was arrested after his name was found in an appointment book at the business. He confessed to the murders after the murder weapon was found in his truck and blood was spotted on his jeans. A firearms expert testified that slugs recovered at the crime scene were fired from Dinkins' .357 revolver. An FBI forensic serologist testified that blood found on Dinkins' blue jeans was consistent with Thompson's blood type. Dinkins had no juvenile criminal history and no adult incarcerations. He was convicted of theft by a check in 1986, in Abilene, Texas. He was fined for issuance of bad checks in July 1990, in Lumberton, Texas. 

If Kitty Thompson and Shelly Cutler still were alive, their work likely would continue to revolve around helping people, friends and family members said. The 2 women, both nurses, had known each other only briefly when together they became victims of Richard Dinkins' bullets. Dinkins, now 40, is scheduled to be executed Wednesday for shooting the 2 women to death in Thompson's Therapeutic Massage offices at 3420 Fannin St. on Sept. 12, 1990. "I was so angry for so long because she helped so many people," said Diane Shaffer, a friend of Thompson, who was 46 when she died. That anger has since been replaced by sadness. "Knowing what Kitty was all about, it's a little difficult to stay angry at something she wouldn't have stayed angry about," Shaffer said. "...There's a person who's now gone who could still be helping people." In addition to nursing, Thompson worked as a substance-abuse counselor and massage therapist. The night she died, Thompson left Shaffer's offices on Fannin Street after a private substance-abuse counseling session and headed to her massage offices a block away. "The last thing I remember her saying is 'Lock your doors because there's crazies around,'" Shaffer said. But, despite the comment, Thompson was not a person who lived in fear. "She was an extremely aware person," Shaffer said. "She was built like a little bulldog." To succeed in her jobs, Thompson needed, and had, both physical and mental strength, Shaffer said. "I know when this happened down there she was given no opportunity to try to diffuse the situation because she was very confident she could do that with just about anyone," Shaffer said. 

Dinkins was a 27-year-old assemblies specialist at American Valve & Hydrant at the time who lived in Sour Lake and had served in the U.S. Air Force. He had a 6:30 p.m. appointment with Thompson under a false name. When he arrived at her office, they began arguing then physically fighting about money he owed her for bounced checks from prior appointments, testimony in Dinkins' 1992 trial showed. Hidden in a shoulder sling, Dinkins had a .25-caliber pistol and a .357 Magnum that he bought the day before. When the smaller weapon jammed, he used the .357 Magnum to shoot Thompson in the head and abdomen and Cutler in the head. Firefighters found the two injured women around 8 p.m. when they responded to a smoke alarm at the office probably tripped by the gun's discharge. Thompson died before reaching the hospital, and Cutler died the next morning. Cutler, a 32-year-old traveling nurse who had been in Beaumont only 9 days, was in the office filling out an application for her 1st appointment with Thompson at 7:30 p.m. Cutler planned to work in Beaumont for 3 months, then return to Idaho. Cutler loved snow skiing and worked part-time as a ski instructor, her parents, Marcille and Larry Cutler of Willow Springs, Mo., said in a telephone interview this past week. She planned to buy a condo in Idaho to live in half and rent out the other half, her parents said. As a traveling nurse, Cutler had worked in Hawaii and South Padre Island, where she could pursue scuba diving and windsurfing, other hobbies she loved, while earning more money than she could staying in one place. When she left her parents' home for the last time, "she turned around and said, 'I'll see you guys Christmas,'" her mother said. "No matter where she was, she'd always be home Christmas," her father said. "That's probably one of the hardest times for us." Dinkins has a clemency petition pending with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles but has exhausted all other appeals, said his attorney, J.D. Hamm of Beaumont. Hamm said he has requested a stay of execution to explore possible jury misconduct and a change from the death penalty to a life sentence. During his post-trial investigation, Hamm said, two jurors admitted to him that they considered Dinkins' silence at trial in determining punishment. Hamm argues that the possible constitutional violation has not been fully explored during the appeals process. The board is expected to vote on the clemency petition early this week. After 12 years of waiting, Cutler's family members are ready to see the sentence carried out. "None of us feel resentful," Marcille Cutler said. "We just feel like justice will be served because we're confident that the trial was a fair trial. The evidence was so overwhelming. We felt like he was guilty and the jury did too. We just feel like this is justice." Pollie Dean, who supervised Thompson in her substance-abuse counseling at Beaumont Neurological Hospital, said the approaching execution date has revived some of the tension and fear that those who worked near Thompson's offices felt immediately after the murders. "I believe he deserves it, and I've never been real for or against the death penalty," Dean said. "But when it hits you personally and you see the devastation it causes for the entire family and the entire community ... I wouldn't feel safe with him being turned back out into the community. It is, I think, what prisons are made for and the death penalty is made for." 

UPDATE: Before he was executed, Richard Dinkins declined to make a final statement, responding to the warden, "No sir" when asked if he wanted to say anything. In a written statement, however, he asked for forgiveness and expressed regrets. "I am sorry for what happened and that it was because of me that they are gone," he said. "If there were any way I could change things and bring them back I would. But I can't." Dinkins accepted responsibility for the damage his actions caused but said he had made peace with God and hoped that "soon everyone will be able to have closure in their hearts and lives." Last week Dinkins said, "It was my fault. I guess you just say -- stupidity. I can't be bitter," he said. "I'm the one who put myself in this situation." 

QUOTE 1: At a press conference after the execution, Mike Thompson, Katherine Thompson's son, said he was pleased Dinkins' sentence had been carried out. "I never hated the man, (but) he took my mother," he said. "I just wanted to make sure the same happened to him ... justice was done."

QUOTE 2: Thompson said it made no difference how his mother died and how Dinkins' sentence was carried out. "Death is death," he said. "The punishment fit the crime. I came here to make sure he got what was coming to him."

AUTHOR: Mike Thompson is the son of Katherine Thompson. She and Shelly Cutler were murdered by Richard Eugene Dinkins on 12 September 1990. Richard Eugene Dinkins were executed by lethal injection in Texas on 29 January 2003.