Ohio prepares to execute man for 1985 murder

Local News

His final meal: a double-cheeseburger, fries and strawberry cheesecake.  His final night: spent at the Ohio Death House at the Lucasville Penitentiary.  Robert Van Hook was said to be in good spirits when his veins were checked  Tuesday morning, in preparation for lethal injection on Wednesday. 

Van Hook is to die for the brutal stabbing and strangulation death of David Self, of Cincinnati, in 1985.

Self’s brother, sister and brother-in-law are expected to witness the execution. 

Van Hook has been on Ohio’s death row since 1986.  Few have been there longer.  Back in 1997, I went to death row for a series of reports on the long and costly appeals process, and Robert Van Hook was one of the inmates who agreed to an interview.

I asked if he ever thinks about David Self.

“Every day,” he said. “Every day of my life. I pray for him every day, and I pray for a lot of things.” 

Van Hook told me he regretted his life of violence and chaos.  I asked what he might think of when he is being led to his death.  “I’m going to be thinking about my brothers here on death row, how they’re going to be feeling you know, losing me.  So, that’s probably what I’m going to be thinking because I have no fear of death.  In a way I kind of look forward to it, because for me, it will be like starting a new life again.” 

But, Van Hook also acknowledged his violent past.  Prosecutors say he would lure gay men to a secluded place to assault and rob them.  He admitted he loved to fight, and his violence was usually fueled by drugs and alcohol.  

Van Hook told addiction ruled his life, and he knew it would lead ultimately to his death.  “You think you might be able to stop in the future, you think you might be able to measure it and just do a little bit here and a little bit there, but you are looking at a bonafide alcoholic and drug fanatic and I can tell you that its not. Its going to get worse and its going to lead to violence and chaos. You can jeopardize losing your whole family, you can jeopardize your life. You can end up like me.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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