(WHTM) — Hanging on the wall of Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo’s office is a reminder of one of his most haunting cases.

“When you’ve got multiple victims, children as victims, it’s all the more impactful,” he said.

This weekend marks a somber milestone in that case. It’s been 20 years since a Middletown family was murdered inside their home. And all these years later, the man convicted of those killings is still sitting on death row.

It was Christmas Eve, 2002. People across the Midstate went to sleep dreaming of a white Christmas. Instead, they woke to a nightmare.

Jean Wholaver and her daughters, 20-year-old Victoria and 15-year-old Elizabeth were found shot to death inside their home on North Union Street.

“The scene, with all that snow, it being Christmas Eve, added to the horror of the murders,” Chardo said.

What’s more, Victoria’s 9-month-old daughter was found alone inside the house.

“It’s an awful case,” Chardo said. “Any time you have a family wiped out, children murdered, it’s horrifying. And it happened on Christmas Eve, and you had a 9-month-old placed in danger. But for the concerns of the extended family and the diligence of police, the 9-month-old would have died, too.”

Police quickly arrested Ernest Wholaver, the husband and father of the victims. His daughters had recently accused him of rape.

“And so he had the best motive in the world,” Chardo said. “He was eliminating the witnesses, the key witnesses, in a rape case against him.”

Chardo says once behind bars, Wholaver didn’t stop. He tried to hire a hitman to kill the father of Victoria’s baby to make it look like he was the one responsible for the Christmas Eve killings.

“What he didn’t know was the person he thought was the hitman was an undercover DEA agent,” Chardo said.

Wholaver was ultimately convicted and received three separate death sentences.

“But here we are 20 years later, and I’m not surprised because we haven’t had a death sentence carried out in a long time,” Chardo said.

Since 1999, in fact. And there’s been a moratorium on executions since Gov. Tom Wolf took office eight years ago.

Courtesy: PA Department of Corrections

The picture to the right shows Ernest Wholaver today. He’s grown old on death row.

Chardo says he’s never accepted responsibility and never expressed remorse.

Wholaver is currently on death row at SCI Phoenix outside of Philadelphia.

Josh Shapiro’s office says the governor-elect would support legislation that abolishes the death penalty in Pennsylvania and does not plan to sign any execution warrants that come before him.