Daniel Rolle has spoken much about the fact that his father Donald Rolle murdered his girlfriend Jennifer Randel in 2007. Now, he’s sitting down on the Investigation Discovery show Evil Lives Here to discuss the terrible reality of having a murderer father.
“You feel like somehow, that is sleeping somewhere in you,” Daniel reveals. Daniel says he fears that his father’s actions are genetically inside of him.
At his father’s trial, Daniel Rolle begged the jury to spare his father’s life and not give him the death sentence. He finds it hard to explain the huge difference between what his father did, and how he still loves his father. Daniel worries that caring for his father makes him a bad person. He says he never would have imagined he could have done something like this.
Early signs of violence and abuse
Although Daniel says he can’t comprehend how his father was capable of murder, his childhood was full of red flags warning that his father was violent and dangerous.
When Daniel was young he lived with his father, mother, and brother in Wyoming. The children’s grandparents were in North Dakota. They would take a long road trip to visit grandma’s house every few months. They would stay there for several weeks each time. It always seemed spur of the moment and unplanned, and they would miss school. Looking back, Daniel now thinks it’s odd that their dad never came with them for these trips.
His mom later revealed to Daniel that the trips were to keep the kids safe from their dad as his behavior continued to escalate into violence.
Finding cocaine in the bathroom
One time as a child Daniel found a hand mirror with lines of cocaine on it. The young boy didn’t want his parents to go to jail, so he flushed the drugs down the toilet. His mother came in and started yelling at him. He had never seen her act this way before.
Now, he interprets his mom’s behavior as being afraid of his dad because some of his drugs were now gone.
Daniel first saw how dangerous his father could be during a camping trip. All of a sudden Daniel heard a loud noise and then his dad erupted into a whirl of anger and violence, throwing and punching things. At some point, he picked up a hatchet and slammed it into a tree, which stuck in Daniel’s memory.
Donald continued to destroy the entire campsite, and then just walked away like nothing had happened. His mom then got to work cleaning up the mess. Two hours later Donald was in a completely different mood and then asked Daniel if he wanted to go fishing. Daniel started to notice these intense swings between violence and kindness.
On another occasion, Daniel witnessed his father brutally beat their dog because he had run away. After he was done, he poured himself a drink, which was a common ritual after a rage.
One day Daniel found his mother, who looked injured, cleaning up glass.
Donald handled repairs for large hydraulic equipment that is used in oil fields. He traveled a lot and would bring back souvenirs from all over the world. One time he brought back a ceremonial knife from Syria that Daniel thought was the coolest thing ever.
One day Daniel decides to throw the knife at a frying pan to see how tough it was. He ended up marking up the knife, which terrified him. His instinct was to hide the knife, which only delayed his father’s anger. Eventually, Donald did find the knife, which sent him into a rage.
His punishment was to be beaten with a belt, and he had never felt hurt like that before. He only recently found out that it was his mom who had hit him. She took the belt because she was afraid Donald could have killed him with the belt.
Daniel often wondered why his mother didn’t leave Donald with the kids to protect them from potential violence. Now, he knows that Donald had threatened to kill them all if they ever left him.
Daniel has blocked out a lot of incidents, but his brother remembers a time where their father locked them and their mom in a room and threatened to burn the house down with them locked inside.
Their dad, who was a mechanic, changed their tires one time before one of their trips to North Dakota. The tire blew while they were driving, which was odd. Their mom even said at the time “This was not an accident.”
The marriage ended during a really violent night where Donald destroyed the house and pushed Daniel’s brother. The police showed up that night and tackled Donald in front of Daniel. He fought the police. He remembers feeling that ambivalence of feeling bad for his dad for being arrested but also being afraid of him.
He saw anger in his father’s face as he was taken away, which helped Daniel feel safe in that moment because he felt like the threat was finally being dealt with. After that, Daniel’s mom moved them out of his house. They saw less of Donald, but they knew that Donald’s behavior was getting worse.
Donald got a new girlfriend, and Daniel witnesses him push, shove, and smack her. Every woman that he was with was physically abused, according to Daniel.
The murder of Jennifer Randall
When Daniel met Jennifer Randall, he was grateful for her because his dad’s life had been such a mess. He knew his dad was abusive but had no idea how bad it would be.
On November 3, 2007, Jennifer Randall made a frantic 911 call for help. They were unable to get to Jennifer in time to save her. They had gotten into a fight at a bar. He left with her, threatening her life. He drove her into the woods, where he brutally beat her to death while she was on the phone with 911.
Donald Rolle pled not guilty and tried to claim that Jennifer had killed herself. He was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Jennifer and faced the death penalty.
Daniel testified to the jury to spare his father’s life. He remembers his father not even looking at him. He remembers asking them to “stop the cycle of violence.” Even though Daniel fought for his dad, Donald chose to hurt his son when speaking to the jury. He admitted to killing Jennifer, then tells the jury to put him to death. Daniel took that as an act of cruelty against him because he had put so much on the line to testify to the jury and argue to not give Donald the death penalty.
Daniel’s life was a wreck after Jennifer’s murder. He lost his job and constantly worry about people finding out. He worries that the capacity of murder is “genetically inside” of him, and is something he can pass to his children.
He has gotten a letter from Donald but hasn’t decided when he wants to write back or go see him. Daniel doesn’t want to give Donald power of him or his family anymore.