The Lying Deadly Stepdad: Danny Joe Bradley

When Danny had to watch the children, it turned deadly one night for Rhonda Hardin. Learn more about how she lost her life and how her stepdad lied the whole way through.
Rhonda Gwin Hardin

Danny Joe Bradley was born on September 7, 1959. Bradley would soon be known in his adult life as a rapist and murderer of his 12-year-old stepdaughter, Rhonda Hardin. Rhonda Hardin would be raped and strangled to death on January 24, 1983.

Summary

Rhonda Hardin, 12 along with her brother who was younger, Bubba, would be left with their stepfather Danny Joe Bradley while Judy Bradley, was hospitalized for over a week.

Around 8 pm, Rhonda along with her brother, Bubba, and stepfather, Bradley were all watching television. Rhonda would be lying on the couch. Rhonda would ask Bubba to wake her up, if she fell asleep on the couch, so she could go in her room to sleep afterward.

When Bubba was ready to go to bed, he was going to wake up his sister like his sister asked, but Bradley told him not to and let her sleep on the couch. But, before Bubba could go up to his room, Bradley told him to go into his room (Bradley’s) room instead of going into his own (Bubba’s) room.

Bradley would later tell investigators that he fell asleep on the couch and when he woke up the next morning, Rhonda was missing.

Rhonda’s body would be located the very next day in the woods that was nearby where the Bradley’s lived. Rhonda appears to have been sodomized, raped, and even strangled to death.

Bradley would run off to in-laws house, when he woke up after Rhonda was missing. Then Bradley would go to his next-door neighbor’s apartment, before he made his way down to see his wife in the hospital. Bradley would tell police that he did not leave their home prior to finding out that Rhonda was missing, but a police officer witnessed that Bradley was near Rhonda’s body at the time of the discovery.

Rhonda’s brother, Bubba would later testify in court that Bradley would squeeze his and his sister’s necks until they became unconscious.

The investigators also found fiber evidence from the home and even trunk that was consistent with the bedding and clothing that Rhonda was wearing.

Final/Special Meal

Right before Bradley’s execution, he was asked if he had any final meal requests that they can fulfill. Bradley did not have any requests. So, Bradley’s final meal was a fried egg sandwich for breakfast along with a snack a little bit later.

Final Words

When Bradley was asked if he had any final words by the prison officials, Bradley would say nothing. All Bradley did was shake his head no. Bradley had nothing to get off his chest as he was going to leave this Earth.

Crime & Trial

On the evening of January 24, 1983, Rhonda Hardin, 12 alongside her young brother, Gary Bubba Hardin would be left in the care of their stepdad Danny Joe Bradley, while Judy Bradley was in the hospital for longer than a week.

The children, Bubba and Rhonda would typically share a room in their apartment while Judy and Danny would share the other bedroom.

But, during that night of January 24, 1983, Dianne Mobley, Johnny Bishop, and Jimmy Isaack would go over to the Bradley residence where they saw the children along with Danny.

When the three left that evening, it was around 8 pm. Rhonda Bradley, and Bubba were all in the living room watching television with one another. Rhonda would ask her brother, Bubba to wake her up when he was going to bed, if she fell asleep on the couch.

When Bubba was ready to go to bed, he was going to wake up his sister like his sister asked, but Bradley told him not to and let her sleep on the couch. But, before Bubba could go up to his room, Bradley told him to go into his room (Bradley’s) room instead of going into his own (Bubba’s) room.

Around 11:30 pm that evening, Bradley would go to Robert Roland, his brothers-in-law’s home. Roland would testify in court that Bradley was driving his vehicle and when he came in, he acted kind of funny, but also acted upset as well.

Roland would further testify that Bradley was talking loudly, and he was acting awfully nervous, which he never seen him do prior to this incident. Then, Ed Bennett, Bradley’s father-in-law would testify that Bradly would come to his residence around midnight to tell him that his granddaughter, Rhonda was missing.

Phillip Manus, Bradley’s neighbor next door would testify in court that around 1 am Bradley would come to his residence. Manus would further state that Bradley would tell him that Rhonda and he had an argument about some medication that Rhonda was required to take.

Bradley would claim that he fell asleep on the couch and when he woke up a few hours later, Rhonda was gone.

Then Manus stated that Bradley rushed out the door stating that he had to go to Rhonda’s grandmothers’ home and that he’ll come back in a little bit.

Manus stated that Bradley came back to him home about 10 to 15 minutes later. Manus is set to believe that Bradley walked down to the hospital to let his wife Judy know that Rhonda was gone.

Manus would further testify that Bradley would have rather went to the hospital than phone the police to report that Rhonda was missing.

Both Bradley and Manus would be at the hospital for an hour to an hour and a half before they were able to see Judy.

With them waiting all that time, Manus tried to tell Bradley that they should go straight to the police station instead, so they can properly report Rhonda as a missing person.

When Bradley and Manus finally saw Judy, Judy told them they need to report this to the police. Then the two went down to the local police station, where Bradley would talk to Ricky Doyle and tell him that Rhonda was a missing child.

Bradley would also tell Ricky Doyle that Rhonda and he had an argument about some medication that Rhonda was required to take, and it appeared she left their home between 11 pm to 11:30 pm.

Bradley claimed that during that time he was asleep, but when he woke up around 11:30 pm she was gone and that he went to his neighbor’s apartment to go find Rhonda. Bradley would be adamant about not leaving the home until he went out to go look for Rhonda and that he went to his neighbor’s house first.

After Bradley and Manus talked with Ricky Doyle, they would return to Manus houses.

January 25, 1983, around 7:30 am, Rhonda’s lifeless body would be in a wooded area less than half a mile away from her home.

Rhonda would be dressed in her favorite red knit shirt, maroon-colored corduroy pants, along with her colorful leg warmers, her blue windbreaker, and her bra. Rhonda’s sneakers were tied in single knots. This causes concern for her family members, as Rhonda would always tie her shoes in double knots.

Within an hour and a half of her body being located, two officers with the Piedmont Police Department would be knocking on the Bradley’s door. These officers did not have probable cause or an arrest warrant. Even though these officers would state that he was not under arrest for anything, Bradley would state that he was told by these officers he was indeed under arrest for the murder of Rhonda and placed in handcuffs while being brought to a police cruiser where he would be taken down to the local police station where he would be interrogated at 9:30 am that morning.

Bradley would be at the Piedmont Police Station from 9:30 am to about 4 am the next morning. During these 19 hours of being at the police station, the officers here would read Bradley his Miranda rights prior to questioning him.

Bradley would then tell the police officers that he found Rhona missing between 11:20 pm to about 11:25 pm that evening and went to his neighbor’s house to find her. He would also tell officers that he never left his house until he started to search for his stepdaughter.

In addition to talking to the police, Bradley would also sign a consent to search warrant that would allow the local police to search not only his home, but his vehicle, along with giving fingernail scraping samples.

Bradley would then be sent to and from Birmingham, Alabama. While Bradley was in Birmingham, he would also take a polygraph test along with giving saliva and blood samples and give his clothes he is wearing to officials as well.

Even though Bradley was cooperating with the authorities in their investigation, he also claimed that he would be in the custody of the authorities if he chose to cooperate.

After the police got their consent to search form signed, the police would soon after search the Bradley’s home along with his vehicle. They would seize a few items for physical evidence as well. Some of the seized items that the police took for evidence was a damp blue towel, a pillow case, one of the living room light switch plates, a sheet from the children’s room, and a sheet from the washing machine, along with getting some fiber samples from his vehicle’s trunk.

Before the trial began, the court would deny both motions that Bradley inputted to suppress all the evidence.

When the trial started, the state would display the testimony that happened on January 24 and January 25 that an officer saw Bradley near his car around 9:30 pm close to the area where Rhonda’s lifeless body would be found soon after.

The state would also display the evidence that they collected when they did Bradley’s fingernail scrapings, which would then match the sheet that they took from the children’s room along with the leg warmers that Rhonda was wearing as well.

The state would also show that the fibers that were in the Bradley trunk also came from Rhonda’s clothing as well.

Then the state had a pathologist to the witness stand. The pathologist would state that Rhonda endured much trauma that lead to these abrasions and bruises on and around her neck. The pathologists would state that Rhonda had about seven wounds on and around her neck and the biggest wound was over Rhonda’s Adam’s apple.

The pathologist would also testify that when he took a swab and the substance smears from Rhonda’s vagina, rectum, and mouth. He would also remove all her stomach contents and send them over to the toxicologist as well.

Then the state would have an expert with the forensic serology on the witness stand to state that Rhonda and Danny both had the same type O blood. However, Danny had what is known as non-secretor of the H-antigen, while Rhonda was the opposite and was a secretor.

However, the serology expert would tell the courtroom that the H-antigen was not present in the semen sample they took from the rectal swab. The rectum would not produce any secretions or the H-antigens for that matter.

However, on Rhonda’s pants, there was a stain that contained semen-fecal matter that also had spermatozoa as well present as well as on the sheet that was taken from the washer.

However, an all stains where semen-fecal matter was present, you could find spermatozoa, but no H-antigens.

Overall, Bradley would testify in his own defense, but that did not matter. The jury did not believe he was an innocent man. The jury would not only convict him on all counts, but Bradley would also receive the death penalty in the murder and rape of Rhonda Hardin.

Bradley would be executed in 2009 by lethal injection.