You should read the previous note about problems with RedHat installations. It is entirely likely that your installation has start/stop/restart scripts which were built for an earlier version of Apache. Versions earlier than 1.2.0 had various race conditions that made it necessary to use
kill -9 at times to take out all the httpd servers. But that should not be necessary any longer. You should follow the directions on how to stop and
As of Apache 1.3 there is a script
src/support/apachectl which, after a bit of customization, is suitable for starting, stopping, and restarting your server.