Murder of Kimberly Cates

The murder of Kimberly Cates was a thrill killing that attracted national attention in the United States due to the crime’s brutality, the randomness by which the home was chosen with intent to murder (the victims and perpetrators did not know each other prior to the home invasion), the apparent lack of remorse, and the perpetrators’ ages.

On October 4, 2009, 17-year-old Steven Spader and 19-year-old Christopher Gribble murdered Kimberly Cates (age 42) and severely maimed her 11-year-old daughter, Jaimie, during a home invasion in Mont Vernon, New Hampshire. Both victims were assaulted with a machete. Spader admitted to hacking Kimberly Cates to death with 36 blows to the head and torso.

A former Boy Scout, Spader was a high school dropout who passed the GED high school equivalency exam.[1] Spader had formed a club he called "The Disciples of Destruction" shortly before the murder, from which he recruited his confederates. Spader designed a logo with the initials D.O.D. Spader told his recruits that the home invasion was to be a rite of "initiation" for club members.[2]

Both Spader and Gribble were sentenced to life in prison without parole.[3] Two accomplices who accompanied them, William Marks and Quinn Glover, were sentenced to 30-60 years and 20-40 years respectively.[4]

Because of the U.S. Supreme Court's Miller v. Alabama 2012 ruling that limited the sentencing of minors to mandatory life sentences, Spader was granted a new sentencing hearing. Apparently content with his life sentence, Spader informed his attorneys during an April 2013 resentencing hearing that he did not want a reduction in sentence, describing himself as "the most sick and twisted person you'll ever meet".[5] He did not appear at the hearing.

The State of New Hampshire claimed that Spader lacked remorse, considering it "unnecessary" and a form of weakness, and likely would commit more crimes upon release from prison.[6] His sentence of life plus 76 years was upheld. In May 2013, the New Hampshire Supreme Court allowed Spader to drop the appeal of his conviction.[7] His appellate attorney told the press that Spader did not want to appeal for "personal and moral reasons".[8] Spader was moved to New Jersey State Prison in February 2014[9] and subsequently sustained injuries in a prison fight.[10]

In October 2014, Gribble sought a reduction in his sentence for his non-murder charges based on his young age; the court did not rule immediately.[11]

The murder led to the New Hampshire legislature expanding the crimes punishable by the death penalty to include murder during a home invasion. The state later repealed the penalty on May 30, 2019, after state senators overrode a veto by Governor Chris Sununu.[12] Prisoners who had been convicted of capital murders committed before that date did not have their sentences commuted to life in prison, as the repeal was not retroactive.

See also



  1. ^ Washburn, Michael A. "Thrill Kill: The Murder of Kimberly Cates". TruTV: Crime Library. Archived from the original on December 5, 2011.
  2. ^ "State's Objection to Defendant's Motion in Limine #3: To Exclude Evidence of Other Bad Acts" (PDF). Courts of New Hampshire. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
  3. ^ "Mont Vernon murderer Steven Spader moved to prison in New Jersey". The Cabinet Press. Retrieved July 31, 2023.
  4. ^ "Two More Men Sentenced for Roles in Deadly NH Home Invasion". New England Cable News. March 21, 2014.
  5. ^ Hall, John (April 23, 2013). "'I'm the most sick and twisted person you'll ever meet': Murderer Steven Spader, who hacked Kimberly Cates to death with machete, 'insults' victim's family with apology". The Independent. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
  6. ^ Marchocki, Kathryn. "Spader won't contest life sentence for brutal Mont Vernon killing". New Hampshire Union Leader. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
  7. ^ "Home invasion leader drops Supreme Court appeal". New England Cable News. May 29, 2013. Archived from the original on August 11, 2013.
  8. ^ Marchocki, Kathryn (May 25, 2013). "Mont Vernon murder mastermind drops appeal, citing 'personal and moral' reasons". New Hampshire Union Leader. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
  9. ^ "NH Man Convicted of Murder in Home Invasion Moved to NJ Prison". NECN. Associated Press. April 27, 2014. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
  10. ^ Enstrom, Kirk (May 22, 2014). "Spader injured in altercation at NJ prison". WCVB-TV. Retrieved August 8, 2021.
  11. ^ "Christopher Gribble asks for sentence reduction for related charges". WMUR-TV. October 17, 2014. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
  12. ^ Chappell, Bill (May 30, 2019). "New Hampshire Abolishes Death Penalty As Lawmakers Override Governor's Veto". NPR. Retrieved March 26, 2021.