Death row inmate who killed Atascadero couple dies

December 15, 2016
Dennis Webb

Dennis Webb

A longtime death row inmate who was convicted of a 1988 brutal double murder in Atascadero died in a hospital near San Quentin State Prison Tuesday evening. San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow said Dennis Duane Webb’s death came years too late.

The cause of Webb’s death is not yet know, and an autopsy is due to take place. He was 65-years-old.

On Feb. 5, 1987, a San Luis Obispo County jury sentenced Webb to death for the murders of John Rainwater, 25, and Lori Rainwater, 22. Webb, then a parolee from the Utah prison system, broke into the couple’s home; bound the man and woman; and savagely beat and raped them.

The Rainwaters’ two young children, ages 15 months and seven days, were home at the time of the break in. The Rainwaters tried to escape the home with their children, but Webb chased them and murdered them in the parking lot of the 16-room lodge the couple was managing.

Authorities found the toddler and the infant alive under their mother’s body.

Webb had been on death row since Aug. 1988. Following Webb’s death, Dow released a statement.

“Our hearts and prayers still remain with the children and family of John and Lori Rainwater,” Dow said. “This horrific and evil crime profoundly affected the citizens of our county and justice was delayed for the past 30 years. It is my hope that with the recent passage of Proposition 66, it will no longer take a lifetime for the death penalty to be implemented in cases like this where it is, sadly, a deserved punishment.”

Since California reinstated capital punishment in 1978, 71 condemned inmates have died of natural causes, 25 have committed suicide and 15 have been executed, according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. One of those condemned inmates was executed in Missouri, and one was executed in Virginia.

Another eight condemned inmates have died of what prison officials call other causes. Webb’s death has yet to be categorized.

A total of 749 offenders remain on death row in California.

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DPINC-John and Lori Rainwater were a wonderful loving couple starting a family. That you would say “word on the street” and “allegedly” regarding their being involved in drugs is despicable. I knew this couple and know their families. Please do not cause them any more pain by your ignorant remarks. What possible reason could you have for spreading vicious lies about victims of this horrendous crime. They have been dead for 30 years. Let them rest in peace. You owe their families and the many friends who loved them an apology. What kind of a pathetic person are you that you would attack the character of beautiful people who tragically perished at the hands of a drugged up evil person. John and Lori, you were an inspiration to all who knew you. You were wonderful parents and sweet and loyal friends. You have been missed for 30 years and, you will never be forgotten.

In reply to pelican1 , why would webbs atty walk into court and announce his client knew them and a drug deal was involved , that would be pleading guilty to pre meditated murder . So i would say webbs attys angle was that it was a random killing . So his client would walk on a lesser charge , the victims were not able to tell their side of the story, so only story would have to come from webb , . How come no pliable explanation was given how a guy from utah shows up in a-town and kills 2 people ???

This is why I stay away from affordable housing and “shelters” in San Luis Obispo county. People should not be subjected.

Are either of those place you sighted as places you’d stay away from anywhere in this article? No? Then why bring them up? Just to scare folks, hu?!

Wow! Again, it’s the “dirt bag” homeless and poor we need to afraid of, right? Jeez! No wonder folks like CAPSLO thrive while really never getting anything done with any real long term effect on homelessness and low income housing, how could they? We all need to have something to be afraid of after all, right? And why not the voiceless? No one there who is worth listening to anyway, right? Besides, if we ever actually listened to them the empowerment they’d feel would threaten all of our misconceptions and prejudices and give us LESS to be afraid of! Hell no! That’s not the American Way!

F***in’ “dirt bag” homeless and poor tryin’ to live! Tryin’ to take away our fear! Arrest the bastards, I say!

Just more evidence of how stupid the Calif. death penalty is. I’m sure he appealed the verdict numerous times at tax payer expense with the same quilty verdict and Ca. still fed and housed him for 28 yrs.You never hear about the status of the families that the murders affected after the trials are over. Ca. doesn’t help them out or care how they are doing but we must make sure the murderers get all the help and benefits they can. If you give the death penalty it should be carried out in a timely matter without waiting for years .

The “timely manner” in which you speak of would have cost some 153 innocent people their lives if followed the way you imply. 153 is the current number of people convicted of murder, sentenced to death and then exonerated since just 1973. Just the cost of doin’ business though, right?

You want to hear about the “status of families” but won’t listen to those families of victims that don’t want the convicted put to death because it just perpetuates the notion that killing at any level is okay and won’t make them feel any better or bring back their loved ones. We don’t want to listen to them then but want to know their status now? Hypocracy is a swell thing, isn’t it?

Now we have Prop 66, and when that fails it’s just more “Bitch, Bitch, Bitch”. It will fail by-the-way, the law suit against it has already been filed and the Federal Courts at some level will find it unconstitutional and then you’ll “Bitch, Bitch, Bitch” some more.

The death penalty has proved not to be a deterant, costs the tax payer twice as much as a person sentenced to life without and HAS cost innocent people thier lives and is still the current voge in 30 states? And now you want to speed the process up? And what’s next when that doesn’t work? Sharia law?

“Bitch, Bitch, Bitch”

I am not defending webbs actions but back when this occurred word had it , that it was a drug deal gone bad . The rainwaters were allegedly hauling drugs back from church sponsored trips to mexico and that they didnt uphold their part of the deal

Sounds like a pretty big “allegedly”. It didn’t come up at all in the trail and sentencing in the court record, if anything the killer claimed he had killed many times before for no particular reasons.

The” lodge ” where this occurred was thee worst place in atascadero , a drug haven , if webb didnt know them then how did he just end up there? That never came out in trial either . It was known for years as Murder Motel , now torn down a tire shop is located there. H and meth – crystal were big commodities at the LODGE .

DPINC……You sound very familiar with what goes on at the lodge, maybe you know how Webb ended up there? Oh wait, take that back for assuming things I know not.

In NONE of the court documents is any reference to your allegations that the Rainwater’s were trafficking drugs.How do you explain that?

Court documents as you call them are better known to us “dirt bags” as the first place you look to for lies, ommissions and police “fluff” (embellishments). You’d have to look farther than those documents for “the facts”, especially if those “facts” hindered the proscution’s case in any way.

More than likely he had a weak ass public defender or court appointed attorney with little or no death penalty defense experience that failed to bring these things up and get them on the record. That would be my bet.

Beside, he asked to be killed, and now that he’s dead you hold him in contempt because it happened naturally. The real truth somehow always rears the often “inconvienant truth” of what people really want; this time it shows the fact you didn’t want him to just die, no! You wanted him killed! Revenge and Justice are oxymorons don’t you know?

NO, the fact that he was allowed to live 30 years longer than the young couple (parents) he viciously, and brutally he murdered…is Cruel and Unusual punishment unnecessarily foisted upon the family and loved ones.

It is an outrage!!!!!

So, are you speaking for the family or just about them? Have you spoke with them and gained their consent to post their opinion? I don’t think so…

Speak for yourself and don’t presume to speak for those who you don’t even know…

“spoke?” Ask the family…I’m sure you won”t like or appreciate their response despite the horrors they have had to obviously have more sympathy for the KILLER than you do the victims and their loved ones. God forbid such a brutal act of cruelty ever happen to you.

I have absolutely no sympathy for the killer, none! But that being said I will not presume to talk for the family either.

No, I wouldn’t try and speak with the family and not because I’m afraid of what they may say but rather as not to bring them any undo emotional BS. They’ve probably had enough of that as it is.

I don’t believe in the death penalty as it is now administered and that would’nt change if it became personal, not one f***in’ bit! Unlike some folks my standards don’t change because of who’s involved, not even family.

The death penalty’s stated objective(s) have not come to pass and we should look at it as a failure and look for another way…

I was living here at the time and remember this sad case. My understanding was the murderer got the wrong house. It was a drug deal gone bad but the Rainwaters were not the dealers, Webb went to the wrong door.

To think these orphaned children are now older than their parents were when they were senselessly murdered should spotlight the obsurd laws surrounding the death penalty and bureaucratic red tape while our political leaders do nothing.

They, the political leaders you speak of, have spoken! They’ve given you Prop 66…

Bitch, bitch, bitch…

Good riddance.

May he rot in hell for eternity for the anguish he caused so many.

You believe in hell? Then you must believe in heaven, right? I read somewhere that this guy eventually turned his life over to “Jesus”, was “saved”. In the afterworlds you obvisously believe in he’s not in hell, no, he’s in heaven and probably singin’ kumbaya with his victims.

You can’t have it one way without the other…


That he got to live so long.

And to think that at trial he SAID he would rather be put to death….sad indeed that he was allowed to live and breathe for 30 more years.