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.





Author: IndianaInfamy.com

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

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

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  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?

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    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!

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