Robert Van Hook, Ohio


July 18, 2018

Robert J. Van Hook was executed by the state of Ohio on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. He was pronounced dead at 10:44 am EDT, inside the execution chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Mansfield, Ohio. He was 58 years of age. Robert was executed for the murder of 25-year-old David Self on February 18, 1985, in David’s Cincinnati apartment. Robert has spent the last 32 years of his life on death row in Ohio.

Robert’s parents were both heavy drinkers and Robert began drinking as a toddler. His father started taking him to bars at the age of 9. Robert began using drugs, provided by his father, at the age of 11, and continued using drugs and alcohol into adulthood. Robert’s father was violently abusive to his mother, and at least once towards him. Robert was kicked out of the military for his drug and alcohol abuse, to his great distress. Robert had also attempted suicide numerous times.

On February 18, 1985, Robert Van Hook went to a gay bar in an attempt to find someone whom he could rob. Van Hook approached David Self. The two men talked and drank for several hours before leaving the bar and going to David’s apartment. Van Hook maneuvered David into a “vulnerable position,” and strangled David until he was unconscious. Using a kitchen knife, Van Hook killed and mutilated David and then fled the apartment, taking several of David’s valuables with him.


Van Hook fled to Florida, where he was arrested by police six weeks later. Van Hook confessed to the crime. He was convicted and sentenced to death in August 1985.


This was not Van Hook’s first execution date. After the controversial January 2014 execution of Dennis McGuire, executions were halted in Ohio due to ongoing legal challenges to the execution protocol. Read more information here. As Ohio schedules its executions several years in advance, numerous execution dates were rescheduled, and sometimes multiples times for the same person. Executions resumed in Ohio on October 19, 2016, with the execution or Ronald Phillips.


Please pray for peace and healing for the family of David Self. Please pray for strength for the family of Robert.


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