This Day in Infamy: The Hollandsburg Murders

Just after midnight on February 14, 1977, Roger Drollinger (23), Michael Wright (21), Daniel Stonebraker (20), and David Smith (17) forced their way into a remote trailer near Raccoon Lake in Parke County. Within an hour, they had robbed, tortured, and brutally shot five people inside. What they didn’t realize was that someone had survived.

Betty Jane Spencer was watching television with her son Gregory Brooks (22) and stepson Ralph Spencer (14) when four men cut the mobile home’s electricity and kicked in the door. The intruders pulled Reeve Spencer (16) out of bed then ordered everyone to “get down, noses to the ground.” Forcing the family to lay down shoulder-to-shoulder on the living room floor, the armed men ransacked the mobile home. When Raymond Spencer (17) arrived home from work, he was also forced to line up on the ground. The men demanded money and were given everything the blended family had — roughly $30. Then, Betty said, “I heard some clicking noises behind me. Suddenly a shot was fired and a piece of Greg’s head fell right beside my face.”

The home invaders fired a total of eleven shots into their victims. Yet somehow, Betty was still alive. Realizing her attackers believed they’d succeeded in killing her, she remained as still as possible, helplessly playing dead and listening as blood gushed from her sons’ wounds. Once the killers left, she walked through the snow to her neighbor’s house to report the murders of her sons. The detailed eyewitness information she was able to give police eventually led to the convictions of all four men.


Writer, photographer, book hoarder, rabble-rouser Contact me on Twitter (@IndianaInfamy) or by email (

25 thoughts on “This Day in Infamy: The Hollandsburg Murders”

  1. I blog often and I seriously thank you for your information. This great article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to take a note of your site and keep checking for new details about once per week. I opted in for your Feed too.


  2. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service? Thanks a lot!


    1. Hi, Elwood… I can’t change the notifications from my end, but if you click on your profile pic > notification settings > comments, you should be able to change your preferences. I hope that works for you, and thanks so much for supporting the site!


  3. Greetings from Colorado! I’m bored to death at work so I decided to browse your site on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the info you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m shocked at how quick your blog loaded on my phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, awesome site!


    1. I really appreciate your encouraging comments! I hope to have several new articles posted soon, so please come back again. And of course, if you have any requests or suggestions for future posts, please let me know. Thanks!


  4. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently.
    I am quite sure I will learn many new stuff right here!
    Best of luck for the next!


  5. Have you ever thought about publishing an ebook or guest authoring
    on other sites? I have a blog based on the same
    topics you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my subscribers would
    enjoy your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free
    to shoot me an e-mail.


  6. I was 11 when this happened, and we used to travel to my grandmothers house from Terre Haute up to Rockville. My parents told me of the story when it happened, and it was so horrific to think about. Looking around, I don’t see anyone really reporting things like motive. Did the deceased know the criminals? Or was this some random thing?


    1. Thanks for your question… As far as I can tell, the only motive was the twisted thrill of killing someone. There were rumors for years that the murdres were drug-related, but everyone including Drollinger’s attorney denied it, and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence to point in that direction. According to a statement by one of the victims’ surviving family members, Drollinger was an admirer of Charles Manson, and he “recruited” the others for a random killing.

      I have a copy of statement Drollinger’s attorney wrote. I’ll dig it out for you later today in case you’re interested.

      All the best!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: