‘I’ve earned it’: Man in prison for murdering 2 young women says he’s remorseful
Danny Hembree - dubbed Gaston County's most notorious killer - knows he will never be a free man again.
He is in prison for the gruesome murders of two young women more than a decade ago. He also confessed to three other murders, although he never stood trial for them.
[RELATED COVERAGE: Convicted Gaston Co. Killer Tells Channel 9 'I'm Already Dead']
Channel 9 reporter Ken Lemon recently spoke to Hembree in prison, where the convicted killer shared things he'd never shared before.
The man who once feared he was dying of health problems now appeared to be in good shape. His eyes reflected the seriousness of Lemon's conversation. You can't see them, however, as Lemon was only allowed to bring one dictaphone into Warren Correctional Institution. It captured Hembree's admission that he belonged there, but insisted he wasn't a killer.
Danny Hembree was exactly the character he was when he last spoke to Lemon 10 years ago when he was being sentenced to death for the murder of 17-year-old Heather Catterton.
"You want to go ahead and die now?" Lemon asked.
"I'd like to get it out of the way because I have to anyway," Hembree replied.
He sat across from Lemon at a small table - a few feet apart - in a room with a guard, a Dictaphone, and a stern admission.
"I would describe myself as a person who is deeply remorseful for the wasted life he has led and lived," Hembree said.
[RELATED COVERAGE: Murder Victim's Sister Reads Killer's Letter]
Hembree was arrested in 2009 for a series of robberies. At that time he confessed to five murders. He said he killed two women out of state and Deborah Ratchford in Gastonia in 1992. He also admitted what were then the recent murders of Heather Catterton and Randi Saldana.
Catterton was killed after heavy drug use in the basement of Hembree's mother's house where Hembree lived. Her body was later dumped on a country road. The same happened to Saldana days later - her body was also cremated in a failed attempt to cover up the crime.
Hembree explained at length how he choked and beat her to death in three taped police interviews.
"Killed Randi for the same reason, just wanted it," Hembree said.
And later, "If those girls hadn't been with me that night, they wouldn't have been dead," Hembree said.
Ken Lemon interviews Danny Hembree in prison.
"I didn't kill these girls on purpose and if I could bring them back I would, but I can't," he said in his police interviews.
Speaking to Lemon, Hembree claimed those confessions -- all of them -- were lies. He said he hoped to confuse investigators with claims he said could not be proven.
"Back then, I just wanted to make it seem like there was a monster walking around, a serial killer, and it wasn't me," Hembree said.
He has not been charged in the two out-of-state murders he confessed to. No bodies were reportedly found.
Prosecutors charged him with the murder of Deborah Ratchford but did not bring that case to trial. Her body was found in a cemetery in Gastonia.
[Previous Coverage: Jurors hear opening statement in second man's murder trial]
Hembree claimed that Catterton and Saldana died of a drug overdose because of him and that he only disposed of their bodies but did not kill them on purpose.
The story goes on
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