Family of murdered 1-year-old starts petition to deny killer's parole



WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. - The family of a 1-year-old boy who was fatally shot while sitting in his car seat at a gas station parking lot is fighting to keep his killer in jail.

Ryan Hacke’s family has started a petition to deny the man who killed Ryan, Vaughn Mathis, parole.

Ryan’s mother, Mary Beth, described her son as precious and beautiful before he was killed in 1997.

“He looked me square in the eyes, pulled a semi-automatic handgun out of his pocket and opened fire. I watched helplessly in fear out of the rear view mirror at the car behind me carrying my husband and two babies,” Mary Beth Hacke wrote online.

A bullet from Mathis’ gun hit 14-month-old Ryan, and he died a few days later.

Mathis was sentenced to 17½ to 43 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter. He’s tentatively scheduled to be interviewed in March for parole.

That’s something the Hackes don’t want to see happen, so they created the online petition to give to the Board of Probation and Parole.

Channel 11’s Jennifer Tomazic spoke with the board on Thursday and they said they take into account the nature of the crime, the history of family violence and input from the victim’s family when deciding whether an inmate should be given parole.

The Hackes are asking for letters, emails, Facebook messages and petition signatures. They said they’ll take them to Harrisburg in February when they address the board.

Mary Beth and Tom Hackes close the petition by saying, “Ryan Hacke was given a death sentence on January 11, 1997. We are asking for justice and for Ryan’s murderer to serve his full sentence.”