Vance and Eve Dingman
Robert Dingman of Rochester NH shot his parents dead when he was at the age of 17. Dingman was aided by his younger brother, Jeffrey, who was 14 at the time of the killings.
Jeffrey Dingman later took the stand against his brother, telling a Strafford County Superior Court jury both siblings shot their parents, Vance and Eve Dingman, with a .22-caliber handgun.
Police found the bodies of the boys’ parents in the attic and basement of the house on Old Dover Road three days after the Feb. 9, 1996, homicides. They were wrapped in garbage bags and tape, which were connected via fingerprint evidence to Robert Dingman.
Jeffrey Dingman pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder as part of a plea agreement with the state that required him to testify against his brother.
Robert’s friends from Spaulding High School were also called to the stand by then Assistant Attorney General John Kacavas, who now serves as the U.S. Attorney in New Hampshire. They testified that Dingman had expressed a desire his kill his parents before they were murdered.
After a trial that lasted nine days, Robert Dingman was found guilty of first degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.
“You will spend the remainder of your natural life in prison, a sentence which is wholly justified by the brutality of your acts,” Superior Court Judge Bruce Mohl said before imposing the mandatory lifetime prison sentence.
Robert and Jeffrey Dingman worked quickly to hide their parents’ bodies and clean their blood-spattered home last year, prosecutors say. When they had finished, the night was still young.
Jeffrey, 14, had some Doritos and went to play basketball with a friend. Robert, 17, peeled off his rubber gloves and went to his girlfriend’s house.
Robert is on trial in a case in which the boys have been portrayed as killers who committed the deed with chillingly good humor.
“Why do you get all the fun?” Jeffrey supposedly asked Robert when told that Robert would be the one to shoot their mother.
Prosecutors say the boys, fed up with rules and curfews, took turns shooting Eve and Vance Dingman, both 40, wrapped their bodies in garbage bags and hid them – their father in the attic, their mother in the basement.
The Dingmans – he was an electrician, she a customer-service representative at a fabric plant – had drawn up wills leaving a little over $200,000 in cash and life insurance to their children.
Jeffrey pleaded guilty to the Feb. 9, 1996, killings. He agreed to testify against his brother and could get an 18-year sentence.
Robert’s lawyers insist Jeffrey fired all the shots, and Robert only helped cover up. If convicted, Robert will get life in prison without parole.
Before Jeffrey’s plea, his lawyers said their defense might focus on “battered-child syndrome,” because he testified that his father sometimes punched him in the chest over bad grades and once hit Robert in the face.
Taking the stand as the star witness against his brother, Jeffrey testified that he felt a twinge of regret when he fired the first shot at his father, and the elder Dingman said: “I can’t believe my own son did this.”
“It kind of hurt, what he said,” Jeffrey admitted on the stand earlier this week. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
Then Robert took the gun, stood over their father, and said, “How about another one?” before firing, Jeffrey said. Jeffrey said he fired again when they noticed their father’s arm move as they tried to fit him into a garbage bag.
Their mother arrived home a few minutes later. She yelled about the stereo the boys had turned up to drown out the gunshots. Jeffrey then fired two or three quick shots at her, he testified.
Jeffrey said Robert then fired a few shots and finished her off by saying, “Die, bitch” and shooting her in the head.
The night before the shootings, Robert said Jeffrey could shoot their father, but he wanted to shoot their mother to watch the look on her face, Jeffrey testified.
The shootings happened on a Friday. Afterward, the boys told friends that their parents had gone on a spur-of-the-moment vacation. But the parents were reliable workers, and when they didn’t show up Monday, co-workers called police. Robert agreed to allow police to search the home, and detectives found the bodies.