6 August 2004
In 1997, 32-year-old Celeste Beard hit the jackpot. That year, the thrice-divorced Austin housekeeper married her 75-year-old millionaire employer, Steven Beard. Suddenly, Celeste had it all: a Texas mansion, plenty of money, and a stable life for her two daughters. But on October 2, 1999, Celeste's picture-perfect life came crashing down with one blast from a 20-guage shotgun. That night, an armed intruder slipped into Steven's bedroom and fired a point-blank shot directly into his chest. Steven survived the initial shot, but five months later, died from complications related to his injury. By then, however, Texas authorities had a suspect in custody--Celeste's lesbian best friend, Tracey Tarlton. The former bookstore manager eventually implicated Celeste in the plot to kill her husband. At the trial, defense attorneys alleged Tarlton was simply a jealous woman with a terrifying and deadly love interest in Celeste. Prosecutors, on the other hand, claimed the Celeste had manipulated her fiend into perpetrating the shooting in order to inherit Steven's vast fortune. To support their claim, prosecutors even called Celeste's own daughters to the stand. Both girls testified that their mother had sought a hit man to silence Tracey before her arrest. The jury found Celeste guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced her to 20 years in prison.
6 August 2004
Virginia Larzelere was well off, even by coastal Florida's relatively high standards. Her husband Norman was a successful Daytona Beach dentist, and Virginia enjoyed a beautiful home, expensive cars, a yacht and an airplane. But the good times came to an abrupt end on March 8, 1991, when a masked gunman broke into Norman's office and killed him with a shotgun blast to the chest. In the murder investigation that ensued, police quickly discovered that the Larzelere family was anything but ordinary. It appeared that the couple financed their lavish lifestyle by funneling narcotics through Norman's dental practice, and both engaged in numerous extramarital affairs. Digging deeper, the cops also uncovered a two-million dollar life insurance policy that Virginia had taken out on her husband. Then, the Larzelere's live-in help, Steve Heidel, came forward with the exact location of the murder weapon. Heidel told police that Virginia and her son, Jason, had asked him to dispose of the weapon following the shooting. On May 5, 1991, both Virginia and Jason were charged with first-degree murder in the death of Norman Larzelere. At her trial, prosecutors described Virginia as an opportunist looking to cash in on her husband's hefty life insurance policy. The defense, however, argued that Steve Heidel was the actual mastermind behind the murder. In the end, the jury sided with prosecutors and sentenced Virginia to death. In a separate trial seven months later, Jason Larzelere was acquitted on all charges.
13 August 2004
Few smiles were brighter than those of Clara and David Harris. Both dentists, they shared a thriving practice and a seemingly perfect marriage. But that changed in July of 2003, when Clara began to suspect her husband was having an affair with his secretary. Intent on catching them in the act, Clara hired a private detective to tail the couple around town. A few days later, the detective called Clara to tell her that he had followed David and his secretary to a hotel rendezvous - the same hotel that Clara and David had been married in. Enraged over the news, Clara grabbed her stepdaughter and drove to the hotel to confront David. When Clara saw him exit the building, she gunned her Mercedes and ran over him - several times. At her trial, Clara's attorneys said she had been pushed to the limit by her difficult-to-please husband. According to the defense, Clara had quit her practice, hired a personal trainer and undergone plastic surgery in an effort to make David happy. But the jury showed her little sympathy, especially after watching a videotape of the vehicular homicide that had been taped by, ironically, the detective Clara had hired to tail David. Convicted of 2nd degree murder, she's currently serving a 20-year sentence.
20 August 2004
Russian émigré Elena Kiejliches was living the American dream. At 36, she had two beautiful children, a millionaire husband, and a sprawling mansion in Staten Island's upscale Toldt Hill neighborhood. But Elena's fairytale life came crashing down in March of 2000, when her husband, Borys, went missing. A month later, Borys turned back up - dead and dismembered in a cardboard barrel found floating in a marsh in Queens. Police first suspected the Russian mob in Borys' death. But the focus of their investigation soon shifted to Elena after they learned she had been having an affair with a man named Messiah Justice, an aspiring rapper and con artist. Following an interrogation with Justice, police charged the Russian housewife with murder. At trial, Justice testified that he had helped Elena dispose of Borys' body, but that the Russian housewife had pulled the trigger herself. The prosecution contended that Elena had shot Borys after he had threatened to divorce her and leave her destitute. The defense, however, painted Justice as an opportunist looking to cut a deal with the DA. The jury found Elena guilty of second-degree murder. She was sentenced to 22 years to life in prison.
27 August 2004
A bright and bubbly surgical technician, Kim Hricko led a comfortable middle-class existence with her husband, Steven. But the Hricko's sunny, suburban image vanished in smoke and flame on Valentine's weekend of 1998 when Steve and Kim went on a romantic getaway at a golf resort on Maryland's Eastern Shore. As part of the special Valentine's package, the resort staged a murder mystery play where guests watched the staged whodunit and then attempted to solve the puzzle. But after the play, the plot thickened when the couple's room caught fire and Stephen's charred body was discovered on the hotel room floor. Though Kim claimed her husband had gotten drunk and died from smoke inhalation, the resulting autopsy showed no signs of either alcohol or carbon monoxide anywhere in his body. At Kim's trial, the prosecution argued that she had knocked Stephen out with Succinylcholine - a nearly untraceable muscle paralyzer used in surgery - in order to collect on his $400,000 life insurance policy. Found guilty on both charges, she's currently serving life plus 30 years for arson and murder.
3 September 2004
Lee Ann Reidel always had a thing for hunky men. So when she married Long Island gym owner Paul Reidel in 1998, everyone thought it was the perfect match. Lee Ann just had one small problem with her new husband - his crack cocaine addiction. In July of 2000, Lee Ann took the couple's infant son and moved in with her mom in Florida. After being separated for six months, the couple reconciled when Paul agreed to go into rehab. But just when things were starting to look up for the Reidel family, tragedy struck. On January 17, 2001, a gunman shot someone fitting Paul's description outside his gym in Long Island. When the police arrived at the scene, it wasn't Paul that lay dead on the asphalt, it was his partner and best friend, Alex Algeri. Detectives made their first break in the case when they arrested a drug-abusing bodybuilder named Scott Pagett. In his interrogation, Pagett fingered a Florida strip-club bouncer named Ralph "Rocco" Salierno as the actual triggerman. Pressing Pagett more, investigators discovered that Rocco and Lee Ann were having an affair. With the information in hand, authorities immediately charged the two for the murder of Alex Algeri. At their trial, prosecutors alleged that Algeri was the unintended victim of a scheme to murder Paul Reidel for his insurance money. Though Lee Ann and Rocco each tried to pin the murder on each other, the jury found them both guilty and sentenced the former lovers to life in prison.
10 September 2004
Ruthann Aron was an overachiever. The wife of a respected urologist in the upscale D.C. suburb of Potomac, Maryland, Ruthann was a successful real estate developer and aspiring politician. In 1994, she made a run to be the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, but lost, partly due to a local attorney who dogged the campaign with allegations of shady business deals. Ruthann, however, was undeterred. In 1997, she was gearing up to run for a Montgomery County commission seat. But her political ambitions were thwarted yet again when a local landfill operator went to the police claiming she'd approached him about finding a hit man. After an elaborate sting operation, Ruthann was arrested for soliciting the murders of, not just her old political nemesis, but her husband as well. At trial, prosecutors claimed Ruthann feared her marriage was heading for a divorce, which might hurt her political career. In addition to the testimony of the landfill operator and the undercover cops, the prosecution had Ruthann's own voice on surveillance tapes literally spelling out the names of her intended victims. Faced with overwhelming evidence, Ruthann's attorneys argued that Ruthann was mentally ill. The trial resulted in a hung jury. Ruthann then pled no contest and served three years in the county jail.
17 September 2004
24-year-old Joyce Cohen went from rags to riches when she met and married Miami construction millionaire Stan Cohen in 1981. Together, the couple lived lavishly in an exclusive Coconut Grove mansion, went skiing at their Steamboat Springs ranch, and partied all night long at Stan's Miami nightclub. But Joyce's party came to an abrupt end on March 7, 1986, when she frantically called 911 claiming that Stan had been murdered by three intruders that had broken into their mansion. To cops, the story seemed plausible. At the time, Miami was plagued with home invasion robberies and, like many Miami real estate developers in the 1980s, there were rumors that Stan was involved with some shady characters. But when a convicted felon already serving jail time came forward with information that Joyce had hired him and his friends to do Stan in, cops swept in and arrested her. At trial, prosecutors painted Joyce as a gold-digging murderess who killed Stan after he had threatened divorce. Faced with losing the luxurious life-style she had grown accustomed to, Joyce had plotted her husband's murder with three men she had met on the Miami club scene. The jury found her guilty of murder but was unable to reach a unanimous decision at her sentencing. With the jury deadlocked, the judge sentenced her to 25 years to life. Joyce will be eligible for parole in 2014.
24 September 2004
To everyone who knew her, Susan Wright seemed like she had everything. Married to successful salesman Jeff Wright, she was a stay-at-home mom raising two adorable young children in their suburban Houston home. But, then, in January of 2003, Jeff mysteriously disappeared. Susan told others that Jeff had walked out after striking their five-year-old son. But, one of Jeff's co-workers became suspicious and called the cops. With police closing in, Susan eventually told local authorities that she had killed Jeff - in self-defense - and buried his body in the backyard. At her trial, the prosecution claimed Susan had killed Jeff not in self-defense, but for insurance money. Her lawyers, on the other hand, painted Jeff as an abusive husband and claimed that Susan killed him after he attacked her with a knife. But there were plenty of holes in Susan's story; 192 to be exact. That's how many times Susan had stabbed Jeff in "self-defense." The jury convicted Susan of first-degree murder and sentenced her to 25 years in prison.
1 October 2004
Diane Zamora and her fiancé, David Graham, had a bright future ahead of them. High school sweethearts, the couple had met in 1991 as volunteers in the Texas Civil Air Patrol. She was an honor roll student bound for Annapolis, and he was a track star with an appointment to the Air Force Academy. But their ambitions to serve their country were derailed on December 4th, 1995, when a farmer discovered the battered body of Adrianne Jones, a sophomore member of David's high school track team, laying in a field. Brutally beaten, she had been shot in the head. After nine months of dead ends, investigators got a tip from one of Diane's Annapolis classmates. According to the informant, Diane had admitted that she and David had murdered Adrianne after David had confessed that he'd had sex with the girl. In September of 1996, both Zamora and Graham were arrested for the murder. Given separate trials, the young lovers turned on each other and said that the killing had been the other's idea. Neither defense worked. Both were found guilty and given life sentences.
8 October 2004
Blond, spunky, and ambitious, Kristin Rossum seemed to be going places. A summa cum laude graduate of San Diego State University, she worked as a toxicologist at the San Diego medical examiner's office. Her husband, Greg, worked for an up-and-coming biotech firm. Well-educated, highly intelligent, and good-looking, their future seemed limitless. But Kristin's picture-perfect life came to an end on November 6, 2000, when she returned home from work and found Greg dead of an apparent suicide, his body covered in rose petals. At autopsy, police discovered Greg had died from an overdose of the drug, Fentanyl. Fentanyl, cops soon found out, was a drug Kristin had a lot of contact with at her toxicology job. When police learned that a large amount of the drug had been reported missing from the lab where Kristin worked, they hauled her in for Greg's murder. At her trial, prosecutors said that Kristin had poisoned Greg with the drug and then covered his body with rose petals mimicking a scene from her favorite movie, "American Beauty" in an effort to make the cops believe the death was a suicide. As for motive, prosecutors asserted that Kristin had developed a secret addiction to crystal methamphetamine. When Greg threatened to expose Kristin's drug habits, she plotted his death with a co-worker she'd been having an affair with. Portrayed as a lying and manipulative druggie, the jury found Kristin guilty of Greg's murder and sentenced her to life in prison.
15 October 2004
By most accounts, Debra Baker had the perfect job. She was the bookkeeper and business manager of Jerry Sternadel, a millionaire Texan entrepreneur. She was also a close confidant of Sternadel's wife, Lou Ann. They were so close that many, including Lou Ann's husband, began to suspect that the pair were more than just friends. In 1990, Jerry fell deathly ill. As he lay in his hospital bed, he told anyone who would listen that he thought Debra and Lou Ann had poisoned him. He died shortly afterward. A follow-up autopsy revealed that Jerry had ingested a lethal dose of arsenic. When a trace of the poison was found in a storage shed rented to Debra, she was immediately arrested and charged with Jerry's murder. At trial, prosecutors painted a picture not of a love triangle, but of a hate triangle. Jerry hated his wife and wanted to divorce her. Debra hated her boss. And Lou Ann hated the thought of losing her lavish lifestyle. Prosecutors argued that Debra had poisoned Jerry before he could divorce her beloved friend, Lou Ann. Based on the evidence of the arsenic found in Debra's storage shed, the jury found her guilty of murder. But in a surprising legal twist, the same jury that had convicted her sentenced her to only10-years probation and fined her $10,000. In 2003, Debra Baker was arrested for parole violations. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
22 October 2004
The daughter of a wealthy Michigan businessman, Carolyn Warmus enjoyed a life of privilege that included a swanky apartment on New York's Upper East Side and an all-expenses-paid education at exclusive Columbia University. After earning a Masters degree in elementary education, Carolyn landed a job teaching computer science at Greenville Elementary in Scarsdale, New York. There, she met and began dating a popular sixth grade teacher named Paul Solomon. Paul, however, just happened to be a married man. Their torrid affair continued until Paul made a gruesome discovery on the evening of January 15, 1989. That day, he found his wife, Betty Jean, shot to death in the couple's condo. The focus of the subsequent investigation quickly centered on Paul's obsessed lover, Carolyn Warmus. Sorting through Carolyn's phone records, investigators discovered that the blond bombshell had made a few calls to a P.I. named Vinnie Parco. Parco admitted to police that he had sold Carolyn a .25-caliber automatic - the exact weapon used to kill Betty Jean Solomon. There was also evidence that Carolyn had purchased ammunition from a New Jersey gun dealer on the exact day of the murder. Though it took two trials, Carolyn Warmus was eventually found guilty of murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
20 February 2005
Adele and Steven Craven were the perfect suburban couple. Adele was a trained mortician; Steven was a high-flying Delta Airlines pilot with a sky-high salary. They had a beautiful home in upscale Covington, Kentucky; their two young sons loved their school; and Steven could reach the Delta hub at Cincinnati in minutes. Being close to the airport was also convenient for Adele. Unbeknownst to Steven, she was having an affair with Delta baggage handler Rusty McIntyre. But the lovers needed more space-the cops had already caught them having sex in a car in a church parking lot-and they wanted Steven's $500,000 life insurance payoff. So Adele got Rusty to hire a hit man. For $15,000, small-time crook Ronald Pryor agreed to bludgeon Steven to death with a crow bar. On the morning of July 12, 2000, the three attacked Steven in the Craven's basement. When twelve blows of the crow bar didn't kill her husband, Adele gave Pryor a loaded pistol to finish the job. Within days, all three were arrested and charged with murder. Tried together in June 2001, McIntyre and Pryor were convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Adele cried at her trial in November 2002, swearing she was innocent and dearly loved Steven, a good man and a good father. Steven's murder was McIntyre's idea, she said. He stalked her, spied on her, seduced her, and when she tried to break up, he hired Pryor to kill her husband. To escape the death penalty, McIntyre turned State's witness, but Pryor refused to testify. The jury couldn't decide who to believe and on December 6 the judge declared a mistrial. In a second trial scheduled to begin in January 2004, both McIntyre and Pryor agreed to testify against Adele. Feeling the noose tighten around her neck, she pleaded guilty to masterminding the murder-for-hire plot. She received a life sentence without the possibility of parole for twenty years. All three are currently serving time in the Kentucky prison system.
3 March 2005
10 March 2005
20 March 2005
17 March 2005
When a long-suffering wife shoots an intruder in the dark and he turns out to be her no-count husband, the cops suspect it's murder. When they find out she shot her first husband, they know it's murder. But an Albuquerque jury doesn't agree and the 'two-time, self defense' widow goes free.
20 March 2005
27 March 2005
A flirty Oklahoma City Baptist Sunday school teacher and her insurance salesman lover are looking a t a cool $800,000. The only hitch is it's the payoff on her husband's like insurance policy. To get the money, they have to murder him--and that gets them the death penalty.
3 April 2005
An L.A. police detective turns suspect when DNA cracks a 23-year murder mystery.
10 April 2005
A sexy little Las Vegas siren with a taste for rich men snares a wealthy sports bookie, kills him for his ready cash, dumps him in the desert, blames it on the mob, and gets away with it
24 April 2005
On the evening of Nov. 7, 1995, three men broke into the home of Jack and Linda Jones. They tied up Linda while she watched helplessly as the thugs beat her husband to death with a bat. But when one of the assailants was later arrested, he fingers Linda Jones as the mastermind in the brutal murder.
Outraged that her multi-millionaire boyfriend wants to end their affair, a cheating wife bashes his head in and nearly gets away with it.
Dante Sutorius had lived an unusual life. She's been married and divorces four times. She met her fifth husband, Darryl, through a dating service. He was a recently divorced doctor, and petite, vivacious Dante was just what he needed. Darryl lavished her with gifts and soon proposed marriage. The couple enjoyed the finer things and spent money with abandon. But soon, money was running thin, and tensions were growing. Dante had begun fighting with Darryl's oldest daughter. The couple began seeing a marriage counselor. Then, in February of 1996, Dr. Sutorius didn't sow up for work. When police stopped by the house, the found the doctor shot dead in a downstairs den. Dante said she didn't even know he was home and suspected he had shot himself. Bu the medical examiner saw a different scene. And when news of the doctor's death hit the front page, faces from Dante's past came forward to incriminate her. Dante's ex-husbands alleged that she was violent and had often threatened them. Date was charge with murder. Despite the claims of innocence, a jury convicted her and sentenced her to 24 years in prison.
Season 2, Episode 13: Pam Smart2005
At 22, Pam Smart had a devoted husband and a good job. Though she had ambitions of being on television, she enjoyed working with teenagers as the media director at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, New Hampshire. Then in May of 1990, Pam's life took a tragic turn when her husband, Gregg, was found shot to death in their home after an apparent robbery. Pam was devastated and appeared on numerous news programs asking for help in solving her husband's murder. A tip led police to the high school where Pam worked, where they arrested two teen-aged boys. One of them was Billy Flynn, a 15-year-old student who claimed Pam was his lover. Flynn told the authorities he had killed Greg Smart at Pam's request. Another teen, Cecelia Pierce, agreed to help police record conversations with Pam about the murder. Caught on tape coaching the girl on what to say, one-time media darling Pam Smart was arrested and charged with murder. Prosecutors claimed she was bored with her husband and had him killed so she could collect his life insurance money. The defense insisted the teenager had acted on his own, executing Pam's husband so the he could be with her. After hearing the wiretaps, the jury found Pam guilty of murder. She is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.
At 31, Donna Yaklich was married to a Pueblo Colorado narcotics detective, and raising a son and four stepchildren on the family's farm. One December evening in 1985, shots rang out, killing her husband Dennis. The authorities struggled to find clues to the execution style shooting. They suspected it was linked to Dennis' work as a narcotics detective. After months of dead ends, a tip led them to two teenage gunmen... and eventually back to Donna Yaklich, herself. But Donna had another surprise for the authorities. Her attorneys argued she was a battered woman and the murder was her last desperate attempt to end the abuse. It was a controversial legal move, claiming that she hired the hit men in self-defense. After one mistrial, and a grueling second trial, Donna Yaklich was acquitted of first-degree murder. But she was convicted on the charge of conspiracy. She was sentenced to forty years in prison. Now eligible for parole, Donna says she is sorry for her crime.
Yesenia Patino was the other woman. The exotic 34-year-old brunette was living very comfortably, thanks to her generous, and married, lover Daniel Willoughby. In February of 1991, Dan's wealthy wife was brutally murdered while on vacation in Mexico. Arizona authorities opened their own investigation, suspicious of husband Dan and his mistress. While delving into the murder, cops uncovered Yesenia's big secret: she was a transsexual. Not even her lover knew that she had been born a man. When Yesenia was arrested, she admitted that she had helped Dan kill his wife so she could start a new life with him. Yesenia delivered the testimony that put Dan on death row. For her involvement, Yesenia was sentenced to 35 years in a Mexican prison. Five years later, Yesenia claimed that she had committed the murder on her own. At Dan's retrial, however, Yesenia reverted to her original story, landing Dan behind bars for two life sentences. Yesenia remains in prison.
German native Manuela Garcia had fallen in love with an American serviceman and moved to Colorado. But 15 years into her marriage, the mother of three wanted to return home. Instead, in July of 1996, Manuela landed in a Colorado police station, after hacking her husband to death with an axe. She told officers her husband had forced himself on her and she had grabbed the axe to protect herself. Investigators found flaws in Manuela's story, most notably evidence that her husband had been drugged and unable to fend off the deadly axe attack. Prosecutors say she planned the attack in an attempt to free herself from her husband and return to Germany. Defense attorneys, however, described her as a battered woman, driven to kill after more than a decade of abuse. The jury found Manuela guilty of second-degree murder, but the conviction was overturned on appeal. Facing a second trial, Manuela pled guilty and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
Season 3, Episode 4: Jeena Han2005
Jeena Han had overcome a difficult childhood to become co-valedictorian at her high school, just like her twin sister Sunny. The South Korean native seemed headed for success. Then, 23-year-old Jeena developed a gambling habit and began stealing and forging checks to pay her debts. When she needed help, her sister Sunny took her in. But sibling rivalry and close quarters proved too much. Their volatile relationship drove them apart. In November of 1996, two assailants bound and gagged Sunny and her roommate, but police intervened before they were harmed. Cops quickly traced the murder attempt back to Sunny's twin sister, Jeena. Prosecutors say it was part of a devious plan to assume Sunny's identity and leave the country. Jeena and her two accomplices were tried and convicted. She is serving 26 years to life in prison.
A doctor's wife and mother of five, Dora Cisneros led an ordinary suburban life in Brownsville, Texas. She lavished attention on her youngest daughter, Christina. So when Christina's heart was broken, Dora took matters into her own hands. In 1993, Christina's ex-boyfriend was gunned down outside his home. A clue at the scene led police to a fortuneteller and Mexican faith healer named Maria Martinez. She had hired the gunmen, at the request of her longtime client, Dora Cisneros. The city of Brownsville was shocked to see what the obsessed mother was willing to do to avenge her daughter. Dora was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. A successful appeal set her free, but persistent prosecutors won a second conviction in federal court. Dora Cisneros is currently serving a life sentence in federal penitentiary.
Kimberley Kondejewski had married her high school sweetheart. But, John, a Canadian Army instructor, soon became an abusive, controlling husband. After two children and 17 years of abuse, Kim decided to end the marriage. On May 14th, waiting with a loaded shotgun, she killed John and turned the gun on herself. Her suicide attempt failed. Investigators soon discovered that Kim's husband had given Kim a deadly ultimatum. John had threatened to kill her and the children, if she did not kill herself by the time he returned that fateful night. Faced with no other options, Kim killed him to protect her children. She was charged with murder under Canadian law. At the trial, jurors listened, horrified by Kim's story. They found her not guilty and sent her home to take care of her children.
Mary Thompson was a prominent figure in the Eugene community. She was outspoken about her son's struggle to stay out of gangs and about the dangers other children in the community faced. She even teamed up with a popular high school senior, Aaron Iturra, to educate other students on gang violence. But when Aaron was executed in his home, police began to suspect that Mary wasn't leveling with them. Two teenagers were convicted of the shooting, but wiretaps on Mary's phone revealed a startling secret. Eugene's anti-gang activist was actually running a street gang out of her living room. And as police had suspected, Mary had ordered the hit on Aaron. She was tried and convicted of aggravated murder and hindering prosecution. Mary was sentenced to life in prison, but on appeal that sentence was reduced to 25 years.
Laura Rogers was trapped in an unhappy marriage. Her husband, Walter, was controlling and abusive and had used his contracting work to move the family often and isolate them from friends and relatives. Then, in April of 2004, Walter was killed by a single shotgun blast. Laura claimed it was suicide, but police saw through her story. When her pregnant 16-year-old daughter tried to take the rap for Walter's murder, Laura confessed. She had killed Walter and she had a reason. Laura's daughter had told her a shocking story. Walter had been raping the 16-year-old and was the father of her baby. Even worse, there was a video tape to prove it. After watching the graphic images of her husband raping her own daughter, Laura was devastated. That night, she walked into the bedroom and shot Walter as he slept. Under a deal with the state's attorney, Laura pled guilty, facing up to 10 years in prison. The judge sentenced her to the maximum, and then reduced the sentence to time served, saying Laura had rid the world of a horrible human being. Laura Rogers was free to return home to her children and move on with her life.
Stella Nickell was settled into a comfortable life with her husband, Bruce. They lived together in a trailer on a few acres with a view of Washington's Mt. Rainer. But Stella wanted more. Then, in June of 1986, Bruce dropped dead on the deck of the trailer. Doctors said it was emphysema; Stella swore it was the Excedrin he'd taken just moments before his collapse. Six days later, a local woman died of cyanide poisoning from tainted Excedrin capsules. More tainted pills were found on a drugstore shelf, which led to a nationwide recall. That's when Stella Nickell called police. She said she had some of the recalled Excedrin and believed that tainted capsules had killed her husband, too. A test confirmed cyanide in his system, making Stella eligible for an extra hundred thousand dollars from Bruce's life insurance. But that money, coupled with flecks of algae found in the tainted capsules, also made her the prime suspect. The blockbuster testimony of Stella's own daughter, who claimed Stella had been trying to get rid of Bruce for years, sealed Stella's fate. Stella was arrested and charged with federal product tampering. A jury convicted her and sentenced her to 90 years in a federal penitentiary.
Blonde, beautiful and ambitious, Kim Anderson never had any trouble finding success or successful men. In fact, by the time she was 34, Kim had been married to two of them, and had given birth to two children by each. Her second husband, Brent Anderson, was a successful divorce attorney from the nearby town of Celina. Shortly after the birth of her fourth child, Kim's marriage to Brent began to falter. Brent filed for divorce in October of 2000, and a bitter custody battled ensued. Just a few days before the divorce was to be final, Kim called 911 and told police that she had shot her husband. Cops found Brent lying dead in a bedroom closet with eight bullets in him. According to Kim, when she confronted her husband about his alleged molestation of their son, he became enraged and lunged at her. She claimed she instinctively picked up her handgun and shot. At trial, her attorneys argued she had acted in self-defense. But, prosecutors argued that the shooting was premeditated, pointing out that Kim had never claimed spousal abuse during the divorce proceedings. In a controversial verdict, the jury acquitted Kim of all charges in the killing. Brent's family sued her in civil court and the civil jury didn't believe she was in imminent danger at the time of the shooting. They ordered her to pay $540,000 to her husband's family.
Gail Bennett had led a life of hard choices. Raised on a Texas farm, she had spent her childhood taking care of her siblings. When she left home, she began a string of bad marriages. By 1990, she was filing for her third divorce. With one daughter grown, and a son living with her second ex-husband, Gail was at a crossroads in her life. That's when ex-husband number three, Tony, convinced her to come back to him. She did, and immediately regretted it. During a drunken rage, Tony brandished a rifle and threatened Gail. She pulled her pistol and shot him, wounding him. But that wouldn't be the worst part of the night. Sheriff Presley Lamar Pippin decided to let her go and even gave her a ride home. He offered to stand guard, in case Tony came back. Later that night, Pippin came into Gail's bedroom and forced himself on her. Fearing the Sheriff's power, and the pending charges in the shooting of her husband, Gail kept quiet about the rape. But when a grand jury decided not to indict Gail for shooting Tony, she went to the Austin Police about the rape. The case went before a grand jury, but Sheriff Pippin claimed the sex was consensual. Pippin wasn't indicted, and was soon re-elected. But Gail wasn't finished. She filed a civil suit, claiming the Sheriff had violated her civil rights. The federal judge didn't buy Sheriff Pippin's claim of consensual sex and admonished him for his abuse of police authority. The Sheriff and Archer County were ordered to pay $2 million in damages, though the award was reduced on appeal.
It looked like Sandy Murphy had hit the jackpot when she started dating wealthy casino heir Ted Binion. But, Sandy's luck took a turn for the worse when Binion was found dead in his home, and she became a key suspect.
Season 4, Episode 2: Carol Carr2006
12 November 2006
19 November 2006
5 November 2006
It started out as fun and games when Sheila Davalloo and her husband played "guess what I'm touching you with." But, the fun ended when Sheila touched her husband with the blade of a knife.
17 December 2006
3 December 2006
A mother-son relationship is tested when a murder comes between them.
Season 4, Episode 8: Erin Dukes15 October 2006
29 October 2006
In 2002, quiet Iowa wife Dixie Shanahan shot her husband in their bedroom, then left the room and shut the door. It stayed shut for more than a year. When police finally discovered the body, they learned the truth behind a terrible crime and an unlikely killer.
17 December 2006
10 December 2006
Martha Freeman led a seemingly normal life in an upscale Brentwood, TN neighborhood. She was married and had started a successful business. But, Martha's relationship with her husband, Jeffrey, was troubled. She became depressed and started taking a cocktail of anti-depressants and painkillers. She also started looking elsewhere for companionship. In 2004, she met three younger Hispanic men after a fireworks display in downtown Nashville and took them to a hotel where they continued the "party." Martha began a relationship with one of them, Rafael de Jesus Rocha-Perez. She separated from Jeffrey and moved into an extended stay hotel with Rafael. But, Jeffrey was determined to patch things up and convinced her to move back. She agreed, but she didn't return alone. Rafael secretly took up residence in the guest bedroom closet and managed to go unnoticed by Jeffrey, who worked long hours and rarely went into that part of the house. But, on Sunday April 10, 2005, Jeffery heard snoring coming from the closet and found the unwanted houseguest. Almost 24 hours later, Martha called police to report a murder. When police arrived at the scene, they found Jeffrey's corpse soaking wet on the bathroom floor with a black plastic bag tied around his head. Martha and Rafael were tried together, and each pointed the finger at the other. But, neither convinced the jury. They were both convicted of first-degree murder in September 2006 and sentenced to life in prison.
Season 5, Episode 3: Amy Bosley2007
Amy Bosley and her husband, Robert, were making a name for themselves in their small Kentucky community. Together they ran a successful roofing and chimney sweep business. But, tragedy struck on the night of May 17, 2005. Police received a frantic call from Amy claiming an intruder had shot Bob and was still in the house. Police launched a manhunt for the intruder, but the lead investigator immediately suspected something was wrong with Amy's story. Bob had been shot seven times while sleeping, and his gun was missing. Also missing were the shell casings, which should have littered the crime scene. When police found the missing casings in the Bosley's washing machine, they placed Amy under arrest. Police also discovered a motive: the Bosleys were deep in debt, and, unknown to Bob, the IRS was literally knocking at their door over a $1.5 million tax bill. Amy first pleaded not guilty, but her case didn't hold up well during a dramatic four-hour pretrial hearing, and she reconsidered. In September of 2006, she pled guilty in a deal strongly influenced by Bob's family. His parents, now raising the couple's two children, wanted to spare the kids from having to testify against their mother.
Kimberly Cunningham had known Coy Hundley for 18 years, and she trusted him. As her sister's longtime boyfriend, Coy was practically an uncle to Kimberly's three children, and he often had them over to his home. He was the farthest thing from Kimberly's mind when she tried to discover why her 16-year-old daughter was depressed. The teenager told her mom that she had a terrible secret that she had been keeping from her mom for seven years: Coy Hundley and his son - her cousin -- had been sexually molesting her since she was nine years old. Furious, Kimberly drove to Hundley's workplace the next morning to confront him. When Hundley laughed and asked her what she was going to do about it, Kimberly pulled out a gun and shot him eight times. She then drove herself to the sheriff's office and turned herself in. When she went to trial, the jury deadlocked. At a second trial, the jury found her guilty of voluntary manslaughter, killing in the heat of passion. The judge sentenced Kimberly to four years in prison. She's still out on bond, pending the outcome of an appeal.
In 1987, four-time divorcee Margaret Frost married Las Vegas real-estate mogul, Ron Rudin. With Ron's $11 million dollar fortune to draw from, Margaret was thrilled to be able to pursue her passion for buying and selling antique furniture. By 1994, however, Ron's penchant for women and alcohol had put some serious cracks in the Rudin's once rock-solid marriage. Things only got worse when 64-year-old Ron mysteriously disappeared on December 18, 1994. A month later, Ron's burnt body was discovered by three fishermen near Lake Mojave, Nevada. Found with him were pieces of an antique trunk that authorities were able to trace back to Margaret. Police built their case against Ron's widow and, by April of 1997, authorities finally had enough evidence for a murder indictment against 52-year-old Margaret. But by that time, she had gone on the lam. In 1999, Margaret was discovered living in Revere, Massachusetts with retired firefighter Joseph Lundergan. She'd been telling people her husband was killed by a terrorist. On May 2, 2001, seven years after Ron was killed, Margaret was found guilty of murder. She received a sentence of 20 years in prison.
Season 5, Episode 7: Susan Polk2007
When 15-year-old Susan Bolling's parents sent her to respected therapist Felix Polk, they had no way of seeing the future, no way of knowing that almost 30 years later, Susan would be would be Felix's wife, the mother of his children - and his murderer. Less than a year after Susan's therapy began, the middle-aged psychologist had fallen in love with his young patient. They married when Susan was 25, and over the next 20 years Susan raised their three sons while Felix's career as a therapist, lecturer and teacher flourished. To the outside world, they were a perfect family; inside, Susan and Felix were waging a violent battle of wills, each at times threatening to kill the other, and forcing their sons to choose sides. The war of the Polks reached its climax in October of 2002, after Susan moved out, and a judge granted Felix custody of their son and the house. Days later, on Monday, October 14, their youngest son came home to find his father's dead body. He had been knocked unconscious and stabbed 27 times in the chest, sides, arms, legs, and feet. Susan claimed she killed Felix in self-defense. During her trial, Susan fired a series of court appointed attorneys and represented herself. She was convicted of 2nd degree murder and sentenced to serve 16 years to life in prison.
12 August 2007
15 July 2007
5 August 2007
22 July 2007
29 July 2007
7 October 2007
Matthew and Mary Winkler were well known in the small town of Selmer, Tennessee. Matthew was the popular young pastor of the Fourth Street Church of Christ, and Mary was his cheerful wife, a stay-at-home mom who kept busy caring for the couple's three young daughters. But, the Winkler's 10-year marriage would come to a quick and violent end in March, 2006. When Matthew didn't show up for a Wednesday night service, several congregants went to the Winkler home to check on him. They found Matthew dead in the bedroom, shot in the back. Mary and the girls were nowhere to be found. An Amber alert for the girls led police to Alabama, where they found Mary and her daughters safe. Then, authorities promptly arrested Mary for Matthew's murder. She confessed, telling police that she and Matthew had argued the evening of March 20th, and the next morning, she retrieved a shotgun from the closet and shot Matthew in the back while he lay in bed. Mary said that between Matthew's constant criticism and arguments over money, she had finally "snapped." Police later learned that, unknown to Matthew, Mary had deposited more than $17,000 worth of bad checks into the family's account. At trial, her attorneys claimed she was an innocent victim of a notorious check scam operation. Prosecutors contended that she knew exactly what she was doing, since she had withdrawn most of the money before the checks cleared and deposited the cash into a private account. In April 2007, Mary was acquitted of murder but convicted on the charge of manslaughter. She served 60 days in a mental health facility, and was released on August 14, 2007.
14 October 2007
Jessica McCord and her ex-husband Alan Bates had a bitter divorce, and an even more bitter custody battle over their two young daughters. Both Jessica and Alan had remarried: Jessica to a police officer she met while working as a secretary for the Birmingham Police Department, Alan to a co-worker in a Maryland theater company. In the seven years following their divorce, Jessica had repeatedly tried to deny Alan visitation and contact with his daughters, moving frequently and having her phone number changed so he couldn't call. When Alan flew to Birmingham from Maryland in February of 2002, he and Jessica would have their final showdown over their daughters. They met in a lawyer's office to hammer out a new custody agreement. Later that afternoon, Alan and his wife went to the McCord's home to pick up the girls, but Jessica had a different plan. She lured them into the back of the house, where her police officer husband shot them both multiple times. The McCords then set out to create an alibi, buying theater tickets and visiting Home Depot. Afterwards, they drove the Bates' rental car several hours into Georgia, with the bodies in the trunk, and torched it. When police discovered the bodies, it didn't take long to trace the Bates' movements back to the McCord home. Crime scene techs found traces of blood, a bullet that matched a bullet found in one of the bodies, and evidence of a cleanup. At her trial, prosecutors claimed that Jessica was a vindictive woman with a history of violence against her ex. The defense could only find one character witness to speak in Jessica's favor: her mother. The jury found her guilty and sentenced her to life.
21 October 2007
Pretty, ambitious, 24-year-old law student Adrienne Hickson was looking forward to a career in criminal law, and to spending her life with her college sweetheart, Shawn Washington. After college, she got into a prestigious law school in Washington, D.C. while Shawn got a full-time job in Atlanta. They stayed together despite the 600 miles separating them. But, after a year apart, the long-distance relationship was showing signs of strain. When Adrienne went to Atlanta to visit Shawn in December, 2005, they fought constantly. She began to time him when he went out and called constantly to keep tabs on him. On December 21, after a loud argument in the parking lot of Shawn's apartment, the two decided to take the fight inside. Ten minutes later, Shawn stumbled back out, covered in blood and clutching his shoulder. While friends rushed him to the hospital, Adrienne got in her car and went home to her family in South Carolina. She came back on Christmas night to visit Shawn in the hospital but discovered he was dead -- and there was a warrant out for her arrest. In June, 2007, the former law student found herself in a courtroom, not as an attorney, but as a defendant. Her defense claimed she was a battered woman; the prosecutor said that Adrienne was the one with a history of violence. When the jury deadlocked, Adrienne took an Alford plea, which meant she accepted punishment, without admitting guilt. She was sentenced to five years in prison.
28 October 2007
4 November 2007
After nine years of marriage to a Navy man, Elizabeth Reynolds had settled back in the small Texas neighborhood where she and her husband both grew up. While he finished his tour of duty, Elizabeth stayed in Texas, working on the couple's home and finishing her bachelor's degree in psychology at Texas A&M. But the lonely Elizabeth soon became infatuated with a local man, Albert Benitez. Benitez was a former police officer who was teaching law enforcement at a nearly community college. Elizabeth signed up for Albert's class, and it wasn't long before she became interested in more than what her professor had to say. They began dating, and Elizabeth not only initiated divorce proceedings against her husband, she began to change herself to please Albert; she had a tummy tuck, got braces and died her hair blonde. But after all the time and money spent to please him, she discovered Albert was still seeing other women. On the night of August 8, 2003, Elizabeth brought pizza and a movie to Albert's house, and spent the night. The next morning at 7:30am, as they were getting ready to leave the house, a strange man knocked on the door, and when Albert answered, the man opened fire on him. When the shooter drove away with Elizabeth in the car, Albert managed to call 911 to report that he was shot and his girlfriend kidnapped by the shooter. Although he has pronounced dead five times during surgery, Albert survived. When Elizabeth mysteriously turned up unharmed and without a good explanation of how she escaped, the local police became suspicious. Eventually they found Albert's would-be assassin - and a money trail that lead right back to Elizabeth. She was arrested and tried for criminal solicitation. She was sentenced to life, and won't be eligible for parole for 60 years.
11 November 2007
Lynn Womack was a 911 operator when she met and married Atlanta police officer Glenn Turner in 1993. But it wasn't long before the two began to have serious problems: Lynn spent Glenn's money as fast as he could make it, and she also spent frequent weekends away from home. In March of 1995, Glenn went to the emergency room, complaining of vomiting, diarrhea and nosebleeds. By the next day, he was dead. The official cause of death was an irregular heartbeat. Four days after his funeral, Lynn moved in with another man, firefighter Randy Thompson. She spent Glenn's insurance money on a cruise and expensive presents for Randy. Over the next few years, they had two children together, but their relationship, too, was turbulent. In January of 2001, Randy visited the emergency room. Like Glenn, he was suffering from vomiting and diarrhea. Like Glenn, he was dead within 24 hours. Again, the cause of death was listed as heart disease. Glenn and Randy's mothers convinced police that it was not mere coincidence that their sons died similar deaths while involved with Lynn. Both men were exhumed, and new autopsies revealed crystallized ethylene glycol - a toxin found in antifreeze -- in their kidneys. Lynn was arrested for Glenn's murder, and a jury found her guilty in 2004. Shortly after she was sentenced to spend life in prison for Glenn's death, she was charged with Randy's murder. In 2007, she was tried and convicted for his murder, as well.
Kathleen Denson was a self-made woman living the good life in one of the wealthiest resort towns in America. A successful furrier with stores in both Vail and Aspen, she had a home in Vail and a ranch in the mountains to retreat to when she wanted a little more privacy. And that came in handy when Denson began dating local playboy Gerald "Cody" Boyd - a hard-livin' and lovin' Texan who'd had a string of rich Aspen lovers. Boyd and Denson spent the next several months at the ranch house doing cocaine and videotaping themselves having sex. But the relationship took an even kinkier turn when Cody also started dating Monica Seebacher, an employee at Denson's Aspen store. In May, the threesome went to Cancun together - on Denson's tab. But, it soon became clear that three was a crowd. One fall evening in 2002, Aspen police responded to a 911 call placed from Denson's ranch. There they found Cody Boyd, shot to death with an antique black-powder pistol that was part of his extensive collection. Kathleen Denson told police she had shot him in self-defense. Police weren't so sure. They charged her with 2nd degree murder. Each day of her trial Denson showed up in a different Armani pants suit. She may have looked good, but her case didn't. Cody was unarmed when he was shot and there was no sign of a prior struggle. Denson's lawyers painted Cody as an out-of-control drug addict, using, as proof, an earlier restraining order taken out by his ex-wife, and an autopsy report that showed Boyd was high on coke when he was shot. The jury believed it. In August of 2003, Denson was acquitted.
25 November 2007
In 2005, Misty Witherspoon accidentally shot her police officer husband, Quinn, with his service weapon. But, when police learned the grieving widow had also embezzled money from her church to cover the family's debt, it wasn't long before they saw Quinn's life insurance as a motive to kill.
2 December 2007
Former beauty queen and Akron socialite Cynthia George's life seemed charmed. She met and married wealthy restaurateur Ed George in 1984, raised seven healthy children, and lived in a sprawling 8000-foot mansion. Locally, the wealthy couple wielded power and exuded glamor. In 2000, Cynthia came in fourth in the Mrs. Ohio beauty pageant. But behind her glamorous exterior, Cynthia hid a secret second life. Her secrets would be opened for the world to see when 44-year-old Jeff Zack was shot and killed by a man on a motorcycle in June, 2001. The police investigating Jeff's murder discovered that he had been Cynthia George's lover, and was the father of one of her children - which could be a motive for Cynthia's husband to want Jeff dead. Still, there was no physical evidence to tie either of the Georges to the crime. Police got their break when a woman called police and said she believed her ex-husband, John Zaffino, had killed Jeff. Police were stunned - it seemed their investigation had been completely off base. They turned their attention to Zaffino and discovered he had bought a gun and a motorcycle just weeks before Jeff's murder. But the investigation soon led detectives right back where they started: Cynthia George. Cynthia had also been having an affair with Zaffino, and had told Zaffino that Jeff was abusing her. She had given Zaffino the money used to buy the gun and motorcycle. Police arrested both Cynthia and Zaffino and charged them with Jeff's murder. During Zaffino's trial - and as she awaited her own trial -- Cynthia continued to write him letters. Cynthia's attorneys convinced Cynthia to have her case tried before a judge instead of a jury. Ed George stood loyally by his wife and testified on her behalf. But the judge found her guilty of complicity in the murder and sentenced her to life in prison. A year later, the District Court of Appeals overturned the decision, claiming the state failed to provide the evidence to support the judge's decision. Cynthia was released from prison in March, 2007.
20 January 2008
A man awakens alone to find a knife-wielding man in his bedroom -- but is his absent wife a victim or an accomplice?
6 January 2008
Erika Elaine Grace was an ideal child with an idyllic childhood. A well-liked honor student and a gifted basketball player, she was the center of her parents' world. After high school, she went to a prestigious private college on a partial basketball scholarship, and graduated with a Bachelor degree in history. She surprised her parents by coming home with more than a degree - she brought a new husband, a 23-year-old ex-Navy SEAL named Benjamin Sifrit, known to his family and friends by the nickname B.J. Her wealthy parents were not happy with her new husband, but tried to support their daughter. They helped the young couple open a business, assembling scrapbooks for customers. In May, 2002, Erika and B.J. took a break from the business to go on vacation in Ocean City, Maryland. But, on May 31, the couple found themselves in trouble. They were arrested for trying to steal over $5000 worth of merchandise from a Hooter's store. When police interrogated Erika, they got a lot more than they bargained for. Erika admitted that she and B.J. were behind the disappearance of another couple, Martha Crutchley and Joshua Ford. The couple had been reported missing earlier in the week, but police had no leads until the Sifrits' arrest. Erika said she and B.J. had met the couple in a bar and asked them back to their condominium, where B.J. had shot them and dismembered the bodies. The Sifrits had then taken the bodies to a dumpster in Delaware. Police charged Erika and B.J. with murder. Searching the Sifrits' vehicle and condo, police found that Erika didn't just help her scrapbooking customers preserve memories -- she also compulsively preserved her own. She had kept photographs of the murdered couple, the couple's ID cards, and spent bullets casings. She also wore Joshua Ford's blood-flecked ring around her neck on a chain. B.J. Sifrit went to trial before his wife, and blamed the murders on her. He claimed he had been asleep in their Jeep, and Erika woke him up to say she had killed Crutchley and Ford and needed his help disposing of the bodies. The jury believed him, only finding him guilty of the second-degree murder of Crutchley, and not guilty of Ford's murder. Erika was not so lucky. The jury found the woman prosecutors called "Little Miss Scrapbook" guilty of first-degree murder on both counts and sentenced her to life in prison.
A woman eludes police for six years after a confrontation with her neighbor turns deadly.
10 February 2008
6 April 2008
In 1999, the hot gossip in small Morgantown, West Virginia was 27-year-old pediatric nurse Shelley Angus. Shelley was recently separated from her husband of five years and had taken up with a married man, local businessman Jimmy Michael. After a year of dating on the sly, Jimmy divorced his wife and married Shelley in May of 2000. She and Jimmy bought a big house in an upscale suburb, and were active in the community. But, five years into their marriage, Shelley would once again be the talk of the town, and, once again, the rumor was she was having an affair with a married man. There were also rumors that she had an abortion, even though it was common knowledge that Jimmy had had a vasectomy. She was also one violation away from getting fired from her nursing job. Still, the town rallied around Shelley when tragedy struck. On the morning of November 29, 2005, a neighbor called Shelley at work with news that her house was burning; when she got to the house, she discovered Jimmy had died in the fire. In the months that followed, Shelley collected almost $600,000 in insurance money. But, while she was collecting insurance, the police were collecting evidence. On an anonymous tip, the coroner tested Jimmy for rocuronium -- a drug used to induce paralysis during surgery - and determined Jimmy had the drug in his system when the fire started. Fire investigators also determined the house fire had been deliberately set. When authorities discovered Shelley had been seen pulling out of her driveway right before the fire, and that, as a nurse, she had free access to rocuronium, they charged her with first-degree murder. At her trial, the prosecution claimed Shelley was motivated by infidelity, boredom with her job, and the idea of a big insurance payout. Shelley took the stand and denied it all. After three days of deliberation, the jury found her guilty and she received a mandatory life sentence. But the jury also recommended mercy: Shelley will be eligible for parole in 15 years.
13 April 2008
Linda Henning was a mild mannered fashion designer sewing a comfortable life for herself in the Southwest fashion circuit. The 48-year-old was romantically involved with a married man, the charismatic Daizien Hossencofft. In September of 1999, Hossencofft's estranged wife Girly Chew disappeared. Co-workers of the Malaysian woman feared for her life, citing her recent break-up with Daizien. Police found evidence of a struggle in Girly's apartment, but her body was never found. Blood at the scene led them to Linda Henning. She was arrested and charged with murder. Daizien was arrested for masterminding the plot to kill his wife. As investigators delved into the case, they discovered Linda's strange beliefs about UFO's and that the government is run by reptilian aliens. Daizien made a plea agreement to avoid the death penalty in the killing. He admitted to ordering the killing and swore Linda was not involved, claiming Linda's blood was at the scene because he spilled a vial of it in an attempt to confuse the police. Linda's attorney's say she was Daizien's victim, that the conman had brainwashed her into being his alibi. But prosecutors say Henning killed Girly Chew in an attempt to prove her love for Daizien. Despite the strange tales of brainwashing and aliens, the jury convicted Henning of murder. She was sentenced to 73 years in prison.
20 April 2008
Pretty, petite Darlene Doskocil and handsome, outgoing Keith Gentry met at their small Texas college. They started dating when they discovered a mutual love of beer, dancing, and deer hunting. When she finished up her nursing degree, she moved to Dallas for work, but Keith charmed her back into the small town life in Robinson, Texas. They got married and had three boys, but their marriage soon began to show signs of strain. With Keith working long hours, Darlene frequently left the kids with Keith's parents while she went out with friends. Concerned, Keith quit his high-paying job so he could be home for the kids when Darlene was away. Then, just after 6 a.m. on November 9, 2005, Darlene called 911 to say her house had been broken into and her husband had been shot. Paramedics found Keith lying in bed unconscious; he died a few hours later. Friends and family rushed to console Darlene over the death of her husband. She and the kids moved in with Keith's parents. But as police investigated Keith's murder, the evidence began to mount against Darlene. First, there was the murder scene. Investigators claimed it looked staged. Then, police found rubber gloves at the bottom of the kitchen trashcan, which contained shell casings, gunshot residue, and only two DNA profiles: Keith's and Darlene's. Police also found it suspicious that although Darlene was a nurse, she had made no apparent effort to save her husband. But, the most damning evidence was a secret video made by Texas Rangers. The video captured Darlene as she systematically searched the bottom of a pond-in the exact spot where the murder weapon had been found two days earlier. It took a jury only 5 hours to convict Darlene of first-degree murder. She was sentenced to 60 years.
27 April 2008
A military wife is caught in deadly love triangle.
4 May 2008
A popular professor's death looks like an accident, but turns into a murder mystery with his widow at the center.
11 May 2008
When grandmother Ann Trexler relocated to Florida, it wasn't just to spend her retirement years in the sun. Ann wanted to spend more time with her oldest daughter, Tina, and her six-year-old granddaughter. Tina shared custody of the child with her ex-husband Ron, an arrangement that worked well until "Moms" Ann moved to town. Ann threw herself into her role as grandmother, and resented the child's closeness with Ron and, especially, Ron's new wife. In August of 1998, Ron petitioned the court to give him primary custody, telling the court that his ex-wife and her mother were disrupting his daughter's school and social life, cursing his new wife in front of the child, and their hostility was affecting the girl's physical and mental health. But the court never had a chance to rule on Ron's petition. On the morning of October 6, when Ron opened the door to leave for work, a shot rang out. As Ron ran back into the house the shooter followed, shooting him eight times, while his panicked wife called 911 from the bedroom. Before he fled, Ron's wife heard the shooter say, "This is for her." Ron bled to dead on the kitchen floor, curled up in the fetal position. Investigators believed Ron had been targeted for execution, but when the alibis of the usual suspects - his current wife and his ex - checked out, the investigation stalled. The break in the case came when police found the murder weapon, and traced it back to local hairdresser, Kim MIller - Ann Trexler's hairdresser. Faced with a murder charge, the Kim confessed that Ann had frequently wished aloud that Ron was out of the picture, so Kim hooked her up with someone who could make that wish come true. Using Kim as a go-between, Ann paid a man $10,000 to take Ron out. At her trial, prosecutors used Kim's confession, bank records showing the money trail, and cell phone records to prove Ann was behind Ron's murder. The defense claimed Ann was an innocent, church-going grandmother who was being framed by a drug addict working the system to get out of a murder charge. But the jury didn't buy the innocent grandmother act - they took just two hours to find Ann guilty and sentence her to life in prison.
18 May 2008
In April, 2001, 38-year-old Kerri Faye Brown had just given birth to a baby girl, fathered by her on-again, off-again boyfriend. He was a tribal police officer working in Arizona, and, after their latest breakup, Kerri had moved to Orem, Utah to live with her sister. She found a job as an activities director at an upscale retirement center owned by Mina Pajela. Mina was so impressed with Kerri that she promoted her to administrator. With her own daughter living in California, Mina came to view Kerri as a surrogate daughter, and Keri frequently stayed at Mina's home. When Kerri discovered she was pregnant, Mina was supportive. Then, on April 25, 2001, Mina was found shot to death in her car. Witnesses reported seeing a woman trying to set the car on fire. Police began investigating, and while at first they didn't come up with any suspects, they did discover that someone had embezzled close to $40,000 from the retirement center. Further investigation revealed the identity of the embezzler - Kerri Faye Brown. Kerri, in the meantime, had moved back to Arizona with her boyfriend and their baby. In November, 2001 Kerri was charged with multiple financial crimes. When forensic tests proved that the murder weapon belonged to Kerri's boyfriend, she was also charged with Mina's murder. But, in 2002, the charges were dropped; prosecutors felt they needed more time to built their case. Two years later, they refiled charges against Kerri. In August, 2005, before she was scheduled to go to trial, Kerri pleaded no contest to manslaughter and theft by deception. She told the judge that she took the plea, not because she was guilty, but because she was tired of fighting. She was sent to serve up to 30 years for manslaughter and theft.
6 July 2008
After three years of marriage, college sweethearts Ann and Eric Miller had a young daughter, a beautiful home, and two successful careers. She was a research scientist at a major pharmaceutical company. He was a pediatric AIDS researcher at the University of North Carolina. But on the night of November 15, 2000, Eric Miller developed a mysterious illness. That evening, Eric had gone bowling with Derril Willard, one of his wife's coworkers. An hour into the outing, Miller was admitted into the hospital with flu-like symptoms. The symptoms soon passed and the doctors sent Eric home. But two weeks later, on November 30, 2000, he was in the ER again with the same flu-like symptoms. This time tests revealed arsenic in Eric's system. On December 2, 2000, just as he appeared on the road to recovery, Eric Miller died of cardiac arrest. The autopsy said it was due to arsenic. Police quickly focused their attention on Ann. A search of the lab shared with Derril Willard turned up traces of arsenic and evidence of an affair between the two scientists. On January 21, 2001, police searched Willard's home and asked him to come in for questioning. Instead, he took his own life; but not before confessing to his lawyer that it was Ann that gave Eric Miller the fatal dose of arsenic. Willard told his attorney Ann had persuaded him to spike Miller's beer with arsenic at the bowling alley on November 15, but when Eric didn't die, she decided to lace his food. Days later, according to what Willard told his attorney, she'd injected arsenic directly into her husband's IV as he lay in his hospital room, causing the heart attack that killed him. Willard's suicide, however, complicated pressing charges against Ann until September 27, 2004, when a grand jury indicted her for first-degree murder charges. Ann, who had remarried, pled guilty a year later to second degree and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. She is serving 25-31 ½ years in a woman's correctional facility.
13 July 2008
Soft-spoken 3rd grade teacher Elicia Hughes and her handsome, computer whiz husband Brian married in 1999, and, five years later, they had two young daughters and a comfortable suburban life. That changed the night of June 3, 2004. The Hinds County 911 center received a call from Elicia, claiming her husband had been shot. When EMT's arrived, Brian was already dead. Elicia told police that she had been asleep, but woke up when she heard popping noises, followed by the home alarm system going off. When she got up to investigate, she discovered the front door open, and Brian lying dead on the living room floor. Investigators found no signs of forced entry, but they did find spent shell casings inside and outside the house. They also discovered Brian's .45-caliber handgun was missing. The investigation dragged on for nine months; in the meantime, Elicia collected $250,000 in life insurance, and made plans to sell her home and move with her children to Florida. But, in March of 2005, her plans were derailed when police arrested her for Brian's murder. At her trial, prosecutors claimed Elicia was tired of Brian's philandering, and decided he was worth more dead than alive. They told the jury Elicia had made a telling statement to detectives when she told them she heard gunshots, followed by the alarm; if there had been an intruder, she would have heard the alarm first. Her defense countered that Elicia was confused and distressed when she made that statement, and that is was more likely Brian was shot by the jealous husband or boyfriend of one of his many lovers. Prosecutors then put one of Brian's lovers on the stand, and she told the jury that, on the night of the murder, she had been talking to Brian on his cell phone, but he had hung up when Elicia walked into the room. Cell phone records showed that the call had ended around 11:15pm - within five minutes of the time Elicia claimed to have been awakened by the popping noises. It only took jurors two hours to find her guilty of first-degree murder. She was sentenced to life in prison, but got a reprieve in February 2007. The trial judge granted Elicia a new trial, citing racial discrimination in the jury selection at her first trial. At her second trial, she had better luck with the jury; they acquitted her of Brian's murder in November 2007.
Linda Fields was a no-nonsense, hard worker running a Nevada cattle ranch with her husband Vern. The ranch was in financial trouble, and so was their marriage, but the couple continued to stick it out in spite of the difficulties. They received a windfall when police found the body of Jeromir Palensky in the Jordan River in Utah. Palensky had been working as a ranch hand for the Fields. A Czech immigrant who had no family in the U.S., Palensky had left behind a will and a $300,000 life insurance policy, with the Fields as his beneficiaries. Shortly after Palensky's death, Linda cashed in on the will and applied for the insurance payout. But Palensky's relatives from the Czech Republic filed suit to claim the insurance. Meanwhile, investigators continued searching for Palensky's killer, and Linda Fields went from wealthy heir to prime suspect. Investigators discovered that Linda had obtained a power of attorney from him, and had taken out the $300,000 life insurance policy on Palensky herself. The will, which left land and other belongings to the Fields, had been forged by Vern. An autopsy determined Palensky hadn't drowned-he'd been killed by blunt force trauma to the head a month before his body was found. His watch had stopped on the date of the 19th. -- the last day he was on the Fields' ranch. But investigators didn't have enough evidence to get an indictment. As time went by, Linda became over-confident that she'd gotten away with murder. She began telling friends about taking the body to Utah. When one of those friends went to the police, Linda was finally indicted for Palensky's murder, three years after his body had been found. At her trial, prosecutors argued that Linda had masterminded the murder and had driven Palensky's body over 200 miles to divert attention from the ranch. When Linda took the stand, she proclaimed her innocence, saying she had only tried to help Palensky. The jury found her story unconvincing, returning with a guilty verdict, and convicting her of life in prison. A few months later, Vern Fields was also convicted of the murder.
27 July 2008
A mother is hailed as a hero when she kills a home intruder -- but a secret journal leads police to suspect she may have planned a cold-blooded murder.
3 August 2008
Shawna Nelson was a stay-at-home mom to her three children, aged eight, six and 10-months. The former police dispatcher had quit her job after the new baby arrived, and she was active in the older children's activities: Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and sports. But her life was far from picture perfect. Her 11-year marriage to a sheriff's detective had recently been tested, when, in 2005, her husband discovered Shawna was having an affair with a married police officer named Ignacio Garrus. Shawna's husband also learned Shawna was pregnant with Garrus' baby. After filing for divorce, the Nelsons decided to reconcile and keep the baby's real paternity a secret. The reconciliation didn't last long. Secretly, Shawna continued to see her lover, until, before Christmas of 2006, Garrus made a final break. He told Shawna he couldn't leave his wife, Heather, and their young daughter. Shawna continued to try to see him, and was convinced that his wife was to blame when Garrus took out a restraining order against her. On January 23, 2007, Shawna snapped. Wearing a mask, she waited for her rival outside of the credit union where Heather was a manager. When Heather emerged, Shawna told her she had ruined her life, and made her get on her knees. She then shot Heather, execution-style, and drove away. Shawna was pulled over within minutes, and put under arrest for Heather's murder. A search of her home turned up several guns and photographs of costume masks similar to the one the shooter was wearing. Interviews with Heather's friends revealed that Shawna had been harassing her for weeks, sending threatening text messages and challenging her to fight. A friend of Shawna's also told police that Shawna would vent by going to target practice and picturing Heather's face as the target. A few months after her arrest, Shawna's husband quit his job amid rumors that he had been having an affair of his own with a local prosecutor. In March of 2008, a jury found Shawna guilty of Heather's murder and sentenced her to life in prison.
10 August 2008
Gorgeous, sexy Jeanette Sliwinski was a real attention grabber. The daughter of hard-working Polish immigrants, by the time she'd finished high school, her family had become solidly middle class, and she had blossomed into a striking beauty. She began working as a stripper in a local club and taking on modeling jobs to help finance her bachelor's degree in marketing. On the surface, Jeanette seemed confident, happy, and headed for success. But that facade was shattered on July 14, 2004. Jeanette blasted through the streets of Skokie at 70 mph in her cherry red Mustang convertible. The wild ride came to an end when her car slammed into a Honda Civic at a stoplight. Inside, three musician friends were heading to lunch. All three were killed instantly, while Jeanette came away with only a broken ankle. Prosecutors charged Jeannette with first-degree murder, and sought a life sentence. But when the case was tried before a judge in December, 2007, Jeanette's attorneys argued that she was mentally ill and needed to be in a hospital, not a prison. They told the judge that, in the months leading up to the crash, Jeanette had moved to Los Angeles with her boyfriend, but soon returned home to Illinois. There, she'd told friends and family that something was wrong with her, but she didn't know what. She'd sought help from several psychiatrists. Her mental illness had become destructive. She had a psychiatric appointment scheduled for the afternoon of July 14, but that appointment didn't come soon enough. She told police at the scene of the crash that she had been trying to kill herself when she caused the accident. She insisted that she'd never intended to kill anyone else. Prosecutors said it didn't matter who she'd wanted to kill; what mattered was that she had gotten behind the wheel of the Mustang with the intent to kill - and had succeeded. The judge agreed that Jeanette was mentally ill, but still found her guilty of the lesser charge of reckless homicide. He sentenced her to eight years in prison. With credit for time served, she will be out in four years.
17 August 2008
Leslie Ballard lived a privileged life. Her parents ran a successful printing business in Little Rock and paid for her master's degree, her condo, her cars, and her vacations. Then she met and married Mike MacKool. Mike was 23 years Leslie's senior, had several ex-wives and, as far as Leslie's parents were concerned, was overly interested in their money. With Mike in the picture, they were less willing to foot the bill for Leslie's lifestyle. When her father died, he left his only daughter just $25,000 of his million-dollar estate. When, less than a month after Leslie's father died, her mother was found murdered, a family friend told police to look no further than her own daughter. Mrs. Ballard had confided in friends that she feared Leslie and her husband would try to kill her. When police called Leslie in for questioning, she quickly confessed. She told them that Mike was upset that she'd gotten such a small inheritance from her father, but, after reading the will, thought he had found a loophole: if her mother died within thirty days, Leslie would get the entire estate. On the day of the murder, he dressed her in dark clothes and a dark wig and provided her with a backpack stocked with wire cutters, a butcher knife, and a rag for cleaning up. He then drove her to her mother's home and told her what to do. Leslie stabbed her mother more than 70 times with the butcher knife, then stole some jewelry and the family Cadillac. At her trial, Leslie pleaded not guilty by reason of mental defect. She claimed that Mike was abusive, constantly criticizing and beating her. He had no job, and he'd made her quit hers. She claimed that she and her mother were best friends until she met Mike, and Mike had brainwashed her to resent her mother. He had told her to kill her mother, and said that if she didn't do it, he would kill them both. After the murder, he'd told her she'd done a poor job and hid the murder outfit to use as evidence against her if they got caught. The jurors were not sympathetic. They found her guilty and sentenced her to life without parole.
8 January 2009
15 January 2009
22 January 2009
29 January 2009
Beautiful 33-year-old Mechele Linehan appeared to be the perfect wife and mother. She and husband Colin met as college students and married in 1998. The couple eventually settled down with their daughter in Olympia, Washington, where Colin practiced medicine and Mechele got her Master's degree in public administration. Mechele was a model of the suburban supermom: active in her daughter's PTA, teaching Sunday school, and volunteering at a rape crisis center. Her friends and neighbors were shocked when, in October of 2006, she was arrested, along with a man named John Carlin, for the 1996 murder of Kent Leppink near Anchorage, Alaska. They were even more shocked when court papers revealed that, in 1996, Mechele had danced at an Anchorage strip joint. It was there that she had met both Leppink and Carlin. She also became engaged to both men - at the same time. When Leppink was found shot to death, Mechele became a suspect. Although police found plenty of motive - Mechele had taken out a $1 million life insurance policy on Leppink just months before his death - they didn't have enough evidence to charge her with the crime. Shortly after the murder, Mechele moved to New Orleans, where she met her husband, and started a new life. But, the Alaska police didn't drop the investigation. In 2004, when a new cold case unit was formed, investigators took a fresh look at Leppink's murder. A break came in 2005, when investigators tracked down Carlin's son, who said he had seen his dad and Mechele cleaning off a gun around the time of the murder. Carlin went to trial in March 2007 and was found guilty. Eight months later, a jury also convicted Mechele of first- degree murder. Both were sentenced to 99 years in prison.
5 February 2009
Beth Ann Carpenter was a classic overachiever. Brainy and self-assured, she got a degree in international law at a prestigious college in Washington, D.C. Back home in Connecticut, she landed a job with Haiman Clein, a powerful real estate attorney in New London. Beth's younger sister Kim, on the other hand, had been married and divorced by the age of 20, and had a young daughter she frequently pawned off on her parents while she partied with her latest deadbeat boyfriend. In 1993, Kim married Anson "Buzz" Clinton, a hard-partying local who worked odd jobs, but had recently become a male stripper. Not surprisingly, the Carpenter family was opposed to Kim and Buzz's marriage, especially when they learned that the couple was living in a converted tool shed behind Buzz's parents' house. Beth Carpenter went to court on behalf of her mother to win custody of Kim's daughter, but was shocked when Buzz, acting as Kim's lawyer, won the case. A few weeks later, on March 10, 1994, Buzz was found shot to death on a remote stretch of road off I-95. At first, police thought the killing was part of a drug deal gone bad. But, when a tip led them to a notorious drug dealer, he claimed he was a hit man working for local attorney named Haiman Clein. He told cops that Clein had ordered the hit at the request of his lover and employee, Beth Carpenter. The cops went to question Clein and Beth, but both had split town. Eventually, authorities tracked down Beth in Ireland, she gave up Haiman's whereabouts. Haiman confessed to being involved in the murder, but cut a deal in exchange for his testimony against Beth. Beth was apprehended in Ireland in January of 1999 and extradited back home. She finally went to trial for Buzz's murder in February, 2002. The prosecution's star witnesses were Clein and the hitman, but the defense told the jury that, by their own admission, Clein was a cocaine and sex-addicted crook and the hitman a Satan-worshiping drug dealer - not exactly pillars of truth. The defense's star witness was Beth herself. She claimed that Clein had seduced her, and had set up the hit on Buzz to impress her. But the jury took one look at the overweight, middle-aged Clein and the redheaded beauty, and decided Beth was the one who had done the seducing. She was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
12 February 2009
Growing up on the streets of Memphis, Monique Johnson possessed a no- nonsense toughness that made her a perfect fit for her job as a corrections officer. But her job performance wasn't the only thing that earned the 40-year-old single mom the admiration of her peers. In 2005, she started dating Memphis police officer Tony Hayes. Hayes, estranged from his third wife, was known as a ladies' man, a reputation that led to a rocky relationship with Monique. In May of 2006, Hayes had even filed a police report accusing Monique, supposedly angry he'd gotten a phone call from another woman, of trashing his apartment and scratching obscenities on the hood of his car. But when Hayes disappeared that September, Monique seemed genuinely concerned, afraid her policeman lover had run afoul of some drug-dealer. Three days after Hayes disappeared, it was Monique who handed police a breakthrough - she led them to Tony's body, stuffed in the trunk of his white Lexus in a Memphis parking lot. Monique admitted she'd shot him, but claimed she'd been defending herself from an abusive boyfriend. But, as investigators looked deeper into Monique's background, they uncovered a history of troubled relationships. Charged with first-degree murder, at trial she claimed that, on the day of the murder, she'd confronted Tony about another woman. They'd started arguing and he attacked her, backing her into a closet. She'd grabbed a gun kept there and shot him. Prosecutors argued that it wasn't self-defense, because, of 6 shots she fired, four hit him in the back. The jury was unconvinced, however, setting aside first-degree charges and finding Monique guilty of reckless homicide. After sentencing, with credit for time served awaiting trial, she walked away with only probation, but in June 2008, Monique was arrested for violating the terms of her probation. She will be released in May 2009.
In 1984, Susan Grund had finally made good. With three failed marriages and a baby on the way, Susan had met and married a fellow native of Peru, Indiana: prosecutor turned defense attorney, James Grund. The 34-year old blond was Jimmy's second wife, and, as wife of the prominent attorney, she now hobnobbed with the town's social elite -- a far cry from the country upbringing of her childhood. Then, after dark on August 3, 1992, Susan called 911, claiming she had just returned home and found Jimmy on the sofa, with a drop of blood coming from his mouth. He was dead by the time police and EMTs arrived. Detectives found no sign of forced entry, and turned their investigation toward family members after the autopsy showed Jimmy was killed by a 9mm pistol - the same kind of gun that had been stolen from his 18-year-old son David's home a month earlier. Jimmy's will had also been amended just three weeks earlier to include Susan's son, Jacob. David, Susan's stepson, told investigators that he'd shown Susan where he hid the gun when she dropped off the permit to his house. Susan's sister, Darlene, came forward less than a month after Jimmy's death, claiming that Susan had confessed to the murder. Police set up a wire-tap to try to get her confession recorded, but it failed. But then, the forensics lab came back with results proving it had in fact been David's gun that had killed Jimmy. Susan was arrested for her husband's murder. About a month before the trial started, Nellie Sanders, Susan's mother, contacted police to report a suspicious tub of hers that someone had filled with cement. Underneath, was the 9mm that was used to kill Jim Grund. At the trial, prosecutors claimed Susan killed Jimmy to gain access to his estate, and that all the evidence pointed in her direction. Susan testified in her own defense, and told the jury that she had found the gun at the scene and picked it up. When she realized it had her fingerprints on it, she panicked and hid it. But the widow Grund had more surprises in store for the town of Peru. Susan testified that she was having an affair - with David Grund. She argued that he had killed his father out of jealousy. David denied having a relationship with his stepmother. The jurors, apparently, had their doubts. They deadlocked and Susan was released. Two years later, Susan once again stood trial for the murder of her husband. At the second trial, Susan's lawyers advised her not to testify about the alleged affair with her stepson. The strategy turned out to be a mistake. The second jury found her guilty. She was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
In the early morning hours of June 6, 2001, 36-year-old casino employee Vol Dooley slipped out the back door of a Shreveport nightclub; it would be the last time he was seen alive in public. The son of a popular former parish sheriff, Vol was trying to avoid trouble with his estranged wife Jocelyn, who had been following him from club to club all evening. After four years and two kids, the Dooleys' marriage was a signature away from being dissolved, but 31-year-old Jocelyn couldn't seem to let Vol go. Their divorce should have been finalized a year earlier, but Jocelyn kept missing the court dates. That didn't stop her from getting a new boyfriend, a local bartender named Jeff Kosden. In fact, the day before Vol's disappearance, she and Kosden applied for a marriage license. And Jocelyn didn't seem to miss Vol after his disappearance - it was his family who reported him missing. Tracing Vol's last movements, police quickly discovered that Jocelyn was one of the last people to see and speak to him. When she was questioned, Jocelyn didn't deny it, and she even volunteered that she had tried to call him on her cell after leaving the club, but couldn't reach him. Detectives discovered Vol's truck in a neighboring parish, but found no trace of the missing man. The first break in the case came two weeks later, when one of Jocelyn's friends confessed that she had helped Jocelyn and Kosden get rid of Vol's body. The friend then led police to the burial site. Both Jocelyn and Kosden were arrested on second-degree murder charges, but when Kosden heard that Jocelyn had met another man, he agreed to testify against her in exchange for a lesser charge. At Jocelyn's trial, both her friend and former fiancé testified against her, describing in detail how she had called them in the wee hours of the morning, claiming she had shot Vol and needed their help. Jocelyn's defense claimed the friend was mentally ill, and Kosden was only testifying to get himself off the hook. Furthermore, according to the defense, forensic evidence pointed in another direction. A tissue with another woman's blood had been found at the crime scene. However, the prosecution pointed out that the blood belonged to Vol's teenage daughter, who was with her mother the night Vol disappeared. They also pointed out that, according to cell phone records, Jocelyn had lied to police when she said she called Vol the night of his disappearance. When Jocelyn took the stand in her own defense, she told the jury that she was innocent, and that she and Vol were actually reconciling when he disappeared. The jurors didn't buy it - it took only two hours for them to return with a guilty verdict. Jocelyn was sentenced to life without parole, and an additional 40 years for obstruction of justice.
Adopted as an infant, 17-year-old Nikki Reynolds had a normal, happy childhood: she was active in church and sang in her high school choir. But, according to her adoptive father, Robert Reynolds, things changed in the 10th grade when Nikki began dating Carlos Infante. Both her grades and her relationship with her adoptive parents deteriorated. So did her credibility when, in 1996, Nikki told her parents she'd been raped by a stranger. The Reynolds immediately reported the incident to police, who determined that the entire thing was a fabrication. Confronted with the findings, Nikki admitted she'd made the whole thing up because she feared she was pregnant. For the next several months, Nikki and Carlos' relationship continued on and off until, in May of 1997, the school guidance counselor contacted Billie Jean Reynolds, Nikki's adoptive mother, and told her the school was buzzing with rumors that Nikki was pregnant. Mrs. Reynolds scheduled an appointment with the school guidance counselor for the morning of May 15th. She'd miss the meeting. On the evening of May 14th, not long after her father had left for church, Nikki called 911 and told the dispatcher she'd just killed her mother. When the cops arrived, they found a trail of blood leading throughout the house and, at its end, Billie Jean dead from multiple stab wounds. Nikki told the police that, shortly after her father left for church, she'd taken a 14-inch butcher knife and attacked Billie Jean. The two then ran around the house, Nikki stabbing her mother repeatedly until she collapsed. Then, according to Nikki, she'd asked her dying mother for forgiveness. And, after Billie Jean forgave her, Nikki stabbed her one last time in the chest, ending her agony. Asked why she'd done it, Nikki told the police "she must have been crazy." She was booked on murder charges. At her first trial, jurors couldn't reach a verdict. At her second trial, the defense pled insanity, claiming that Nikki was too emotionally disturbed to have formed clear intent to commit murder. They also claimed Nikki inherited severe depression and psychological problems from her biological mother. Then, to back up the claim, they put Nikki's biological mother on the stand to testify in the defense of a daughter she'd never known. Prosecutors, in closing, contended that Nikki had plotted to kill both her parents, while the defense stressed Nikki's disturbed emotional state. In 1999, a second jury found Nikki guilty of 2nd degree murder. The judge sentenced her to 34 years in prison. She'll be eligible for parole in 2015.
A doting father is shot down on his doorstep, and police find his killer too close to home for comfort.
Season 7, Episode 13: Rhonda Orr18 October 2009
A fitness queen turns fugitive when her assistant's body turns up in her car.
When police officer Wayne Irby didn't show up for work on December 10, 2004, a couple of fellow cops went to Wayne's home to check on him. Inside, they found Wayne lying dead in his hallway, shot in the head. And on the kitchen counter, they discovered a note from Wayne's girlfriend, Denise Miller. The note said, "I did it. I took our lives." But Denise was not lying dead alongside Wayne. In fact, she seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth. The next day, the front desk at a hotel in another town received a call from a guest, saying she had fallen and needed help. When hotel workers opened the door, they found Denise inside, lying on the floor with two guns nearby. They immediately called police. The cops discovered that Denise had tried to shoot herself in the head. They also discovered a suicide note, in which she confessed to accidentally killing Wayne. Denise was rushed to a hospital, then arrested upon her release 38 days later. Investigators tried to figure out what prompted the shooting, but Denise, now paralyzed on one side, said she couldn't remember anything about what happened. Wayne's family and friends revealed said Denise was so jealous and possessive that Wayne had decided to end their relationship. At Denise's trial, the prosecutor told the jury this was a classic case of "If I can't have you, no one can." Jurors didn't hear from the wheelchair-bound Denise, since her attorneys said she still had amnesia about the day of the shooting. However, they pointed out that, in her notes, Denise may have admitted to shooting Wayne, but she also said it was accidental. And they said the very fact that she tried to commit suicide proved that she was remorseful. The jury didn't buy it. They found her guilty murder, and sentenced her to 62 years.
The British public was riveted when 27-year-old Tracie Andrews' made her television debut. On December 3, 1996, with a bruised and tear-stained face, she appeared at a news conference to describe a road rage attack on her fiancé, Lee Harvey, and herself two nights earlier. Tracie described how, as she and Lee were driving home from a local pub, a car came out of nowhere and started following them. When Lee pulled over on the dark country lane, so did the other driver. According to Tracie, a man got out of the other car and began stabbing Lee, punching Tracie when she tried to help. By the time police and emergency workers arrived, the other car was long gone and Lee was dead. Over the next week, police put up roadblocks, stopping over 600 cars and questioning friends, family and potential witnesses. Tracie gained even more sympathy when she was hospitalized after taking an overdose of sleeping pills. But, unbeknownst to the public, the sympathy of the investigators was turning to suspicion. A witness came forward who claimed he had seen Lee and Tracie's car on the road just prior to the murder, and that there was no car chasing them. Forensic evidence also seemed to contradict Tracie's account. On December 7, Tracie was arrested as she left the hospital and charged with murder. At her trial in July 1997, the jury heard that Lee and Tracie had a history of violent arguments, and that witnesses had heard them fighting earlier on the day Lee was killed. When Tracie took the stand, she adamantly denied killing Lee, and stuck by her road rage story. She didn't deny that she and Lee had a volatile relationship, but said they loved each other deeply. She described the ups and downs of the relationship, including an abortion during a breakup, and how Lee bought her breast implants to cheer her up once they reconciled. But the jury weren't impressed with her tears or her story. She was found guilty and sentenced to life, with the possibility of parole in 14 years. Two years after her conviction, she admitted she had stabbed Lee, but only after he attacked her. Recently, she has made trips outside of prison, to prepare her for her release in 2011.
On the evening of June 10, 2007, the tight-knit community of Darby, Montana, learned that craftsman and builder Bill Stout was dead. Bill's wife Anne said she came home from running errands and found her husband's bloodied and lifeless body in the couple's bed. When police arrived on the scene, they discovered Bill dead from a single gunshot wound to the head. Anne told investigators Bill had no enemies in Darby, but suggested that her husband was the target of a former lover turned stalker. The woman, Barbara Miller, lived in Arkansas. She and Bill had reunited at an old friend's wedding, and had a brief fling. But after Bill broke off the relationship, he received a barrage of threatening emails and letters with Barbara's signature. It looked like a tragic case of "Fatal Attraction." But as police continued to investigate, their sympathy for Anne turned to suspicion. They found a gun hidden in the saddlebag of Bill's motorcycle, and a rubber glove buried in a clothes hamper. Anne claimed she could never harm the father of her two sons, but the Ravalli County Sheriff's Office wasn't buying it. They arrested Anne, and charged her with her husband's murder. Friends and family rallied around Anne, who appeared to be a grief stricken widow. But prosecutors saw no sorrow in Anne's eyes. Instead, they uncovered evidence of a person consumed with rage over her husband's two-year-old affair with Barbara Miller. And, at trial in the summer of 2008, they presented a chilling case against Anne. There was the murder weapon: Bill's handgun that had been reported stolen just weeks before the killing. And, that wasn't all. The most damaging evidence showed that Anne tried to frame Bill's former mistress Barbara, creating phony emails and letters-and making phone calls from a local pay phone. It was starting to look like an open and shut case against Anne. But the defense argued, if Anne was clever enough to fabricate emails and letters, why did she leave a rubber glove with DNA evidence and the murder weapon at the scene? But jurors weren't swayed by the defense argument. Their verdict: guilty. Anne's case remains on appeal while she serves a life sentence in the Montana Women's Prison, with little chance of parole.
Rhonda Glover and Jimmy Joste met in 1989 and there was an immediate attraction between the two. Rhonda was a former beauty queen who had started her own staffing business. Jimmy, 15 years her senior, was a Texas trust fund baby who'd made millions in the oil industry. It wasn't long before the two began dating and moved in together. While the couple was raking in the money hand over fist, they were spending it almost as quickly. Together, the two were high society regulars in the Texas oil crowd. In 1994, the couple had a child together, yet they continued on their wild ride working their way through Jimmy's fortune. He bought her a house in Austin, and even once wrote her a check for $1 million to use for spending money. But, life wasn't quite the fairytale it appeared for the beauty queen and the oilman. Jimmy had a tendency toward violence when he drank, and Rhonda had erratic mood swings. Together their arguments were legendary, bringing in the police on more than a dozen occasions. But, by the end of 2003, the money was dwindling and the relationship was on the rocks. Even worse, the couple's regular fighting and occasional drug use led Rhonda's mom to seek and win custody of the couple's child. On July 26, 2004, Jimmy was found dead in their Austin home, shot 10 times. Police found casings from a Glock pistol scattered near his body. Had an oil deal gone bad? As police investigated all possibilities they learned about the tumultuous relationship between Jimmy and Rhonda, and discovered Rhonda had recently purchased a Glock 9mm Pistol: the same type of weapon used in the murder. However, when they sought out Rhonda for questioning, she was nowhere to be found. Over the next few days they traced her cell phone records to eventually find her and the couple's son in a rented RV in Kansas. Rhonda confessed to killing Jimmy, but insisted she had shot him in self-defense. When the case went to trial, the prosecution claimed that Rhonda had carefully planned and executed the murder, having grown sick of Jimmy after spending all his money, and planning to cash in on a lucrative insurance policy. Rhonda's defense, however, argued Rhonda had been a victim of abuse, and finally had fought back. The jury believed the prosecution. They found Rhonda guilty and sentenced her to 46 years in prison.
Season 8, Episode 14: Sarah KolbSeptember 2011
A teen love triangle ends with a missing girl, a dismembered body and three families changed forever in East Moline, IL.
27 February 2011
Season 8, Episode 27: Amy Bosley26 February 2012
Season 8, Episode 29: Winkler27 May 2012
10 June 2012
After a deadly fight, a mother's secrets are exposed but she has a few surprises for the jury.
A wife refuses to watch a Star Wars cartoon with her husband, so he strikes her -- and she strikes back.
A wife shoots her husband during a family hunting trip and authorities question whether it was an accident - or something more sinister.
Season 10, Episode 2: Jane RethFebruary 2013
A college romance goes cold -- and ends with a murder that takes 22 years to solve.
Season 10, Episode 8: Amy Bishop24 February 2013
A biology professor ends a faculty meeting with gunfire and reveals a surprising history of violence.
A wife is the target of three assassination attempts, and her husband and his lover point the fingers at each other.
14 April 2013
A former college teaching assistant kidnaps and shoots her fiancÃ© after he breaks off the engagement.
A wife is charged with killing her husband, an attorney with financial woes - but was it a suicide, and was she wrongly accused?
28 April 2013
A women's advocate and respected business owner snaps, turning a bitter custody fight into a plot for murder.
A woman runs a boarding house with a killer eviction policy.
A discovery in the woods leads police to a troubled marriage, a drug overdose and a deadly plot.
A suspicious fire hides a deadly secret and forces a son to testify against his only remaining parent.
22 December 2013
The murder of a church choir member uncovers a sordid secret and an unlikely love triangle.
19 January 2014
The brutal murder of a homecoming queen shocks a NY town.
A school nurse pulls the trigger, but was it self-defense or murder?
31 August 2014
26 January 2014
A custody battle, a shooting and a suicide on the train tracks all point to one woman.
20 June 2010
A young widow blames depression, but was her husband's death more sinister than a suicide?
4 September 2011
A yoga instructor's death reveals his girlfriend's secret double life.
25 March 2012
A Canadian woman gets caught up in a love triangle... and a murder investigation. Toronto, Canada
28 November 2010
14 October 2012
A brutal attack in a yoga shop leaves one victim dead -- and the other...a suspect.
5 September 2010
A mysterious bar fire reveals a murder and one woman's desperation to cover up her secret addiction.
3 March 2013
Two teen girls are brutally murdered - could one of their best friends be responsible?
1 June 2014
A mysterious death leads one family into troubled waters as they search for justice.
7 September 2014
A devout mother pulls a gun and exposes the problems in her marriage and her mind.
9 March 2014
A doting husband gunned down in Atlanta reveals a wife's secret addiction.
29 January 2012
A businesswoman seeks revenge and ends up a fugitive. Clearwater, FL.
3 April 2011
A modern-day Romeo and Juliet story has a killer ending.
8 January 2012
A beautiful young woman is caught on tape plotting to kill her husband -- but was it real or an audition for reality TV? (Boynton Beach, FL.)
22 September 2013
A millionaire lottery winner goes missing, leaving his financial advisor in the spotlight.
19 September 2010
5 May 2013
An army reservist disappears, and his temperamental wife appears to have cooked the evidence.
23 March 2014
Did an Ohio man kill himself? Or could his fiancÃ© be to blame?
5 January 2014
A murder in an isolated parking lot leads to betrayal, multiple suspects and a lot of finger-pointing.
6 June 2010
6 April 2014
A woman blames mistaken identity in her boyfriend's death, but does the evidence point to something more sinister?
8 April 2012
A woman goes to deadly extremes to help her son win a custody battle with his ex.
15 December 2013
The anticipated conclusion to the story behind the trial that captured the nation's attention.
21 October 2012
When a beloved businessman's daughter is accused of his murder, she makes a terrible accusation of her own.
7 November 2010
29 December 2013
A roadside shooting leaves one man dead, and exposes his wife's wild double life.
16 May 2010
13 October 2013
A man's last will and testament points police to his murderer.
24 March 2013
A woman complains about her ex-husband, but her venting has deadly consequences.
4 October 2010
20 April 2014
The murder of a Texas man reveals a deadly love triangle and destroys two families.
17 March 2013
A woman confesses to her husband's unsolved murder -- but was she telling the truth?
27 October 2013
The search for a missing man leads investigators to a surprising discovery.
20 October 2013
A deadly break-in pits mother against daughter, revealing a secret addiction.
30 March 2014
A bizarre bombing, a body in a freezer and a jilted boyfriend lead police to a woman with a notorious past.
24 June 2012
One woman methodically exacts her revenge by ambushing the girlfriend of a former Chicago Bears star.
10 October 2010
19 August 2007
16 December 2012
A quiet California cul-de-sac becomes a crime scene when a couple's domestic drama reaches a deadly climax.
29 August 2010
9 October 2011
A young girl's death is complicated by her lesbian lover -- and her lesbian lover's husband in Easton, PA.
23 June 2013
30 September 2010
19 February 2012
A popular elementary school teacher is accused of murdering her husband with an axe. Farmington Hills, Michigan.
29 July 2012
A beautiful blonde soccer mom has a history of manipulating men - but does that make her a murderer?
19 May 2013
A crime novelist's plot for her husband's untimely death takes an unexpected turn.
9 September 2012
A lesbian love triangle turns deadly when one woman disappears and police look to the other two for answers.
2 October 2011
Forced to choose between her mother and her boyfriend, a Florida teen makes a deadly decision in West Palm Beach, FL.
7 October 2012
A love triangle pushes two teenage girls into a deadly confrontation.
17 June 2012
A widow and her stepdaughter accuse each other of murder - but only one goes on trial for her life.
2 June 2013
When a woman is brutally murdered and her neighbor attacked, police discover the two women share more than a property line.
20 May 2012
Was the driver in a hit-and-run death an abused woman or woman scorned?
5 August 2012
An Oakland hairdresser claims her boyfriend's death is an unfortunate accident.
27 February 2005
When police discover garbage bags full of body parts being thrown into a river, Rita Gluzman becomes the prime suspect.
24 August 2014
A family's suspicion leads them to the grisly truth about a young father's disappearance.
11 November 2012
A single slip of paper in a grandmother's purse reveals a murderer's identity seven years after a case goes cold.
24 October 2010
2 December 2012
A popular college basketball player's clash with her more studious roommate ends in tragedy.
11 August 2013
A former teacher's plea of self-defense is called into question when secrets about her sordid secret work life are revealed.
12 September 2010
31 March 2013
An old flame comes back to rekindle a romance and ends up charged with murder and arson.
20 February 2011
A Missouri man goes missing, and his ex-wife holds the key to the mystery.
23 September 2012
A mother responds to her estranged daughter's call for help and walks into a deadly trap.
27 January 2013
A secret affair between a woman and her church's pastor becomes public when they become suspects in a murder.
25 May 2014
An elderly woman's death leads to shocking revelations about her daughter's double life.
20 January 2013
A popular police officer is killed, and the motive may be payback - by a woman scorned.
3 June 2012
A love triangle between a preacher, his son and his girlfriend ends in the death of the preacher's wife.
28 October 2012
A mother schemes to save the expense of a divorce by recruiting her 16-year-old son to help end her unhappy marriage.
30 June 2013
When a man and his girlfriend are attacked, the evidence leads detectives to his ex-wife's door.
A hunter's death has authorities tracking a killer, but the trail leads surprisingly close to home.
2 June 2011
The premature death of a cancer victim leaves his wife facing lethal injection.
22 December 2013
27 April 2014
When a young Marine goes missing, police uncover his troubled marriage and a deadly plot.
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