Hope Rivenburg: Jason’s killer ‘can’t hurt anybody else’

| 12/7/2009

It took a South Carolina jury only four hours to find Willie Pelzer, 23, guilty of murder after he admitted in open court that he killed 35-year-old Jason Rivenburg for the $7 he found on him.

On Friday, Dec. 4, before sentencing Pelzer, the judge said, “I can’t find any reason to show you mercy,” to which Pelzer responded, “I don’t deserve it.”

Photo by Suzanne Stempinski

Hope Rivenburg and children at GATS in August

The judge then sentenced Pelzer to life in prison without parole.

While Jason’s widow, Hope Rivenburg, admits she’s “extremely happy with the verdict,” she admits nothing can replace the loss she and her family have experienced.

“Now, we know where Jason’s killer is and we know that he can’t hurt anybody else,” Rivenburg told Land Line Now on Monday, Dec. 7. “We’re glad he got life without parole. He got what he deserved. He took Jason’s life away, and now he’s lost the rest of his as well.”

Pelzer admitted to fatally shooting Jason Rivenburg on March 5 as he sat in his cab. Rivenburg was parked at an abandoned gas station off of Interstate 26 near St. Matthews, SC. He was scheduled to deliver a load of organic milk the following morning to the Food Lion distribution center in Elloree, SC. Rivenburg’s body was not found until two days later on March 7.

Since Jason’s death, Hope has been working tirelessly to bring awareness to the need for more safe truck parking. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-NY, has introduced HR2156, titled Jason’s Law, in the House.

“We do have 30 sponsors for the bill now. The most notable recent sign-on is Rep. Don Young from Alaska. He’s a Republican and helps add to the bipartisan support we are working to build,” Tonko told Land Line recently.

On the Senate side, Charles Schumer, D-NY, has introduced his own Jason’s Law bill – S971. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, has signed on as a co-sponsor to the bill.

Tonko said he will continue to work with his colleagues in the House and Senate “to push Jason’s Law forward.”

“This bill is critical to providing safe and adequate parking for our nation’s truckers. I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure that Jason’s tragic death will not be in vain,” Tonko said.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer
Reed Black contributed to this report.