Couple tells of coping with loss of their son in a new book

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 9, 2003

CENTREVILLE &045; Larry and Carol Vine say the power of God has sustained them in the 12 years since their son, Natchez native Danny Vine and his fiance, Della Thornton, were brutally murdered at Danny’s home near Camden, Tenn.

Now the Vines, who pastor a church in Camden, hope that a book they have written about the tragedy will help others who are coping with similar losses.

&uot;Once we went through this, we began to see there were so many people who have never healed,&uot; Carol Vine said.

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&uot;The Day Hell Knocked On Our Door&uot; relates the personal suffering of the Vine and Thornton families, their struggle for justice, and the victories their faith has yielded. But writing the book was not easy. &uot;At first, we thought it was too painful. But there were so many people telling us we needed to do it,

and we really felt like God wanted us to do it,&uot; Carol Vine said.

According to the book, which contains accounts of trial testimony, Danny was a successful buyer in the shell industry along the Tennessee River. On the night of Jan. 16, 1991, he and Della were killed by four men who robbed Danny of a trailer of shells at Danny’s home.

Danny and Della were shot, and their bodies were burned when the killers set fire to the house.

Even the family pet, a young Rottweiler, was left to die inside the house.

Carol and Larry have since relied on faith to help them endure their agony. &uot;We would not have made it without God’s help. It was too much to bear,&uot; she said.

In 1995 three brothers, Gary, Robert and Jerry Lee Bruce, and an associate, David Riales, were all convicted in federal court and received mandatory life sentences for the murders. The Bruces’ mother, Mary Kathleen Bruce, was also sentenced to eight years for conspiring to obstruct justice and intimidating a trial witness.

The book, published through the Vines’ non-profit ministry, will be available next week at the Flower Station on John R. Junkin Drive near the Natchez Mall and at Vine Brothers Restaurant in Centreville. Proceeds will benefit other non-profit church and school organizations.

The Vines, who lived in Natchez for about three years during the 1960’s and have many relatives in Wilkinson County, are considering a return trip for a booksigning.