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Man convicted of 1977 Sandy Creek murders granted parole after 40 years in prison

April 22, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Man convicted of 1977 Sandy Creek murders granted parole after 40 years in prison

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A woman who has waited 32 years in the hopes that her fiancé’ would be released from a life prison sentence for the 1977 Sandy Creek murders is ecstatic that he’s about to be released.

On Wednesday, David Monroe Goodwin, 70, was awarded parole from the life sentence he’s serving in Miami for engaging in a notorious drug smuggling and murder conspiracy known as the Sandy Creek Murders. His release is scheduled for May 2nd.

His fiancée, 82-year-old Wanda Pate, met Goodwin through her daughter, who is married to the prisoner’s brother. The two traded letters for two years before she went to meet him in person, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

“I felt sorry for him, and we fell in love,” Pate told the Tallahassee Democrat. “I never dreamed that I would have fallen in love with somebody that was in prison.”

Goodwin was one of 17 individuals charged in the Sandy Creek Murders and is the last living criminal in the case behind bars.

The victims George Sims, 39, Douglas Gene Hood, 21, and sisters Sheila and Sandy McAdams, 16 and 14 were shot and thrown into a water-filled sinkhole with their bodies weighed down

On January 23, 1977, Goodwin was helping offload 20 tons of Colombian pot from an infamous drug-smuggling shrimp trawler, The Gunsmoke, in Sandy Creek Bay located near Panama City.

Two ex-cons happened to be driving two teen sisters out to the beach that night, and they stumbled across the smuggling attempt.

Walter Steinhorst, armed with a rifle and pistol, was guarding the smugglers and shot and killed one of the ex-cons. Steinhorst tied up the teens and the other man and drove them more than 100 miles away to a hunting lodge.

Steinhorst made the victims get on their knees and killed them execution style. He weighed them down with cement blocks, tossed their bodies in a 55-foot deep sinkhole.

Eight months later, divers looking for Native American artifacts found the remains of George Sims, 39, Douglas Gene Hood, 21, and sisters Sheila, 16, and Sandy McAdams, 14.

The evidence in the case came together when detectives found packages of marijuana floating in Sandy Creek Bay the same night that the four victims went missing.

Steinhorst was convicted of the killings and died in prison while awaiting the death penalty in 1999.

Goodwin wasn’t armed and never pulled a trigger. He contended that Steinhorst was on a rampage and that his role was limited to bringing the killer rope under threat of death.

However, Goodwin was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder after prosecutors claimed that he assisted with tying up the victims.

A judge sentenced him to the death penalty, but it was overturned on appeal, and he got life behind bars in 1978.

His fiancée said Goodwin has become very religious, and they talk on the phone four times a week. However, she hasn’t seen him in six years.

“He sounded happy. Happy, happy,” she said after talking with him on Wednesday after his parole was awarded. “After 40 years it’s time.”

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