Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

New Hampshire ‘Thrill Killer’ Convicted in Machete Murder Apologizes to Victim’s Family

Kimberly Cates, 42. Family photo.

It was one of the most heinous and unexpected murders ever to hit New Hampshire. On October 4, 2009, wo young men entered the home where Kimberly Cates, 42, and her 11-year-old daughter were sleeping. Kimberly heard a noise but assumed it was her daughter. Before she could investigate further, the intruders began hacking away at Kimberly and Jamie with machetes. Kimberly died and Jamie survived with severe injuries. The two assailants were both in their teens: Steven Spader was 17 and his accomplice Christopher Gribble was 19. They had seemingly picked their victims at random and committed the heinous attack just for thrills. While in jail, Spader would write in a note, “I am probably the most sick and twisted person you will ever meet.”

Now Spader has written a very different note, one in which he accepts responsibility for his actions. Sentenced, like Gribble, to life behind bars, Spader resides at New Hampshire State Prison. On Monday, while his attorney was in court arguing for a reduced sentence, Spader chose to remain in his cell, and instead sent along a prepared statement to be read to the court:

My reasoning for my absence in court and my decision not to go forward with any attempt to fight for a new sentence is this: I choose not to try and slip by on some technicality. Instead I choose to accept responsibility for my actions and for the decisions I have made. Through my impulsive actions I have harmed numerous individuals both physically and mentally, torn apart families and ruined lives.

No amount of words of regret can fix the damage I have caused, but still I must beg forgiveness from everyone I have wronged. To the Cates family, I know my words hold no meaning. But I am truly sorry for the pain I have caused you. Also, the Glover, Marks, Gribbles, Savoys and the families of everyone I have involved and hurt. And finally to my own family, I am sorry.

I do not expect forgiveness nor am I deserving of any, but my apologies are true.

David Cates was away in Maryland when his wife and daughter were attacked. In court Monday, he reportedly found Spader’s apology “insulting.” Spader will be re-sentenced Friday and it is unlikely that he will receive a reduced term. At his 2010 sentencing, the same judge who will issue a ruling Friday told him, ”you will stay in that cage for the rest of your pointless life.”

Thrill Kill: The Murder of Kimberly Cates

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