ON THE EVENING of November 8, 1983, friends and relatives of Susan Hendricks were reeling from the news that police had found the soft-spoken woman and her three young children hacked to death in their beds. What could they say to David, the affectionate husband and doting father, who had just arrived home from an out-of-town business trip to find squad cars swarming around his home in the suburbs of Bloomington, Illinois? Their shock was only compounded when police let it be known that David Hendricks was their prime suspect.
"There's just no way David could kill those children or Susie," the children's stunned grandmother told a reporter as she watched two hearses pull out of the family driveway, orange body bags visible through the long, tinted windows. "He loves them. They're a perfect family."
In the sensational murder trial that followed, relatives on both sides of the Hendricks family as well as members of their close- knit Christian fellowship rallied behind the accused. They described a considerate husband and charitable businessman who had recently thrilled his wife with a romantic tenth wedding anniversary trip to England and who funneled tens of thousands of dollars to the needy from the sales of his patented orthopedic braces. Neighbors described how, the evening before the mur