It had been nine years.
Bob Dhoore had long forgotten about the letter he wrote in 2002 asking a judge to spare a convicted triple murderer the death penalty.
But the name on the envelope Dhoore pulled out of his mailbox as he headed to breakfast one August morning rang a familiar bell.
Phillip Stroud ... #932249.
“I grabbed the letter and took it to breakfast so I could read it,” Dhoore says.
“Sure enough, it was the Phillip Stroud I knew as the killer of three men. I about fell over. I couldn’t imagine how he got my name and address.”
Stroud wrote that he came across Dhoore’s letter asking the sentencing judge to spare the convicted triple-killer from a death sentence while going through legal papers from his case in prison.
“I do accept responsibility for what I’ve done
and I deeply regret it,” Stroud penned. “I am trying to repair the damage I’ve done, especially in our community.”
A second letter was also attached - an open message to the young people of South Bend, his hometown.
“Dear Young Brothers and Sisters,” the letter began.
“If you want to be
successful then you have
to make better choices than the ones that I made while you still have a life, while you still have your freedom.”
The words proclaimed an extraordinary turnaround for the ruthless killer who gunned down three construction workers execution-style near Lakeville in September 2000.
“Because I grew up in that cycle, I lost a lot of family, a lot of friends, a lot of peers to that life, and I contributed to that cycle of death,” Stroud, 32, explains in a calm, articulate voice over the phone from Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle, where he is serving three consecutive life terms without the possibility of release plus 150 additional years in robbery, burglary and drug convictions.
“I’ve got nothing to lose or nothing to gain,” Stroud says.
“I felt like it was worth it to use whatever street credibility that I have left to do what I can to save somebody’s life ... to use that platform to tell them that prison isn’t where they want to end up.”
Not that everybody is buying Stroud’s platform.