Executions · Famous Last Words · Virginia

Man executed for murder of family of 4

April 9, 2003
Jarratt, Virginia
Earl Bramblett is executed for the murder of the Hodges family, including their young daughters

In August 1994, the Hodges were murdered in their home before a fire was started to destroy evidence. Mr. Hodges and his 2 children, Anah (3) and Winter (11), were shot in the head while Mrs. Hodges was strangled. Mrs. Hodges was also doused in a flammable liquid and set on fire. Mr. Hodges had been preparing to face jail time after being convicted of embezzlement, and the revolver used in the shootings was found in his hand, so police initially suspected murder-suicide. However, during autopsy it was found he had died several hours before the rest of his family. Additionally, it was noted the revolver had been taken from his hand after he was shot, then placed in his hand again.

Bramblett became a suspect when he was told of the family’s deaths: he was told simply that they had died in a fire but he responded with “son of a bitch offed his family and killed himself,” alluding to a murder-suicide.

While investigating Bramblett, several pieces of evidence pointed to him as the potential killer, including one of his pubic hairs found on Winter’s bed, bullet casings matching those at the scene found in his truck, a drawing of stick figures corresponding to the Hodges with arrows indicating the areas where each victim was shot, and several audio tapes revealing his attraction for Winter as well as his belief the 11-year-old and her parents were conspiring to bring false child molestation charges against him.

Bramblett proclaimed his innocence until he was executed, claiming any circumstantial evidence had been planted. Also, the testimony of a fellow inmate stating Bramblett confessed to being “addicted to young girls” was later recanted, though Bramblett’s appeals based on this was denied. His last words were “I didn’t murder the Hodges family. I’ve never murdered anybody. I’m going to my death with a clear conscience. I am going to my death having had a great life because of my two great sons.”

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