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Widow of Beech Grove police officer upset killer on death row gets TV exposure

An Indiana man sentenced to death for the murder of a Beech Grove police officer is about to make another appearance in a documentary airing on British TV.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – Indiana has ten men on death row at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. Some of those convicted killers are featured in a documentary about Indiana's death row that airs on ITV in the United Kingdom February 1.

Repeated television exposure upsets the widow of fallen Beech Grove police officer Bill Toney.

Credit: Beech Grove Police Department
Beech Grove Police Ofc. Bill Toney was shot and killed in the line of duty on September 29, 2000.

Dee Dee Horen was recently informed that her late husband's killer is going to be on TV again. She wants people to see the other side of death row, the side of the victim's family that has survived and thrived despite tragedy.

"It angers me, because he's still sitting there, and I know that his case is still sitting on a judge's desk somewhere," said Horen. "He doesn't have a date that I'm aware of. I don't sit around and think about, 'I can't wait until the day when Benjamin Ritchie is put to death.' I don't give him my time for that."

Horen is upset that ITV will air a follow-up program Thursday in the United Kingdom to a documentary that aired five years ago and featured the man who killed her husband.

"Gosh, there's so much more to this story. Why does this story have to keep going back to him? There's a family that survived this tragedy," she said.

Over 17 years have passed since Officer Toney was shot and killed during a foot pursuit of Ritchie. The officer was shot in the neck.

His daughters were just four and 18 months old when he died. Now both in college, Jess and Emily Toney have limited memories of their father.

"I thought by the time that the girls were old enough to start asking questions, I could say, 'The man that killed your dad was executed 10 years ago, five years ago.' Now I have to explain it to my 12-year-old son," said Horen.

Dee Dee married a family friend, Ryan Horen, who knew Bill. Dee Dee and Ryan have been married 15 years with a 12-year-old son together, Rylan.

Benjamin Ritchie was sentenced to death for shooting Ofc. Toney.

"Somebody stepped up when Benjamin Ritchie took my girls' dad and my husband," said Dee Dee. "Somebody else stood up and took on the responsibility of us."

Dee Dee remains close to Bill's family and they honor his memory with an annual cornhole tournament.

Meanwhile, his killer has exhausted his appeals while living on death row over 15 years.

"As a Christian, I have forgiven him," Dee Dee said. "It's not going to do me any good whatsoever to go and watch a man die. But I do want justice for him. I do believe in the death penalty. I do believe he deserves the death penalty."

Ritchie's eventual execution will bring Dee Dee no joy.

"I'm going to get a…" Dee took a deep sigh. "It's over. It's done. There's justice for Bill and my daughters. Bill's mom, little sister and brothers don't have to see his face again or hear about him again."

Dee Dee admits she will probably watch the new documentary eventually, but she does not believe inmates on death row should be allowed to give media interviews.

Indiana last carried out the death penalty by lethal injection in 2009. The execution of Matthew Eric Wrinkles came 14 years after his sentencing.

The Indiana Supreme Court denied Ritchie's appeal in 2014. The U.S. Supreme Court denied his appeal in April 2017. The Indiana Department of Correction says Ritchie has exhausted his appeals. The Indiana Supreme Court must issue the execution order.

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