Army Veteran James Neal Broke Into Estranged Wife’s Home, Shot New Boyfriend & Fled; Sentenced to 45 Years in Prison for First Degree Murder (1996)

James Neal

James Neal, US Army Veteran

On July 9th, 1996, 911 received a phone call from a distressed man who reported a burglar was in his apartment. And then the operator hears a bang and the line goes dead. Homicide detective, Lt. Joe Kenda, of the Colorado Springs Police Department was informed shots were fired after what appeared to be a burglary gone wrong. He was informed Danny Richmond, 34, was dead and his roommate Savannah Neal, 50, was present at the time of the shooting. The pair had met at work. Danny was the 911 caller; he reported someone broke into the apartment before he was shot. Kenda has learned from experience that burglars usually pick locks but in this case, whoever this person was, shot at the front door multiple times. This person had a motive to kill the person behind the door. Danny was shot in the central chest and he was shot in excess of 48 inches away. They didn’t find any casings in the room.Kenda observed that Danny was laying in his bed and eating when he was shot.

Kenda noticed Danny’s wedding ring and assumed he was married so he thought maybe Savannah was letting him stay at her apartment because he was having troubles. Did Danny’s estrange wife have something to do with this? Kenda wondered why Savannah was not dead? Why was she not harmed? Kenda deduced the shooter was after one person: Danny Richmond. The police eventually found a 357 Magnum casing at the threshold of the door. It appeared this person reloaded the gun quickly and Kenda thought it very likely could be someone military because Fort Carson is in Colorado Springs. Kenda set out to learn more about Danny. Danny was described by his co-workers as great. One co-worker shared that Danny met Savannah Neal at work; she acted as his mentor. Kenda also learned that Danny was not really married but he wore a wedding ring to show his commitment to Savannah. Kenda learned they were in a personal relationship and were romantically involved.

Kenda was looking for a third person now that he learned about the relationship between Danny and Savannah. A co-worker shared that Savannah was married for 25 years to James Neal but they were having problems so she moved out. The co-worker confirmed that James was in the Army but now worked as a security guard. Kenda then went to the hospital to question Savannah. She admitted things were bad with James and when he found out about her seeing Danny, he was angry. She alleged that he stalked her and Danny; he made threats; and he followed her all over the city. She said the night of the shooting she fixed Danny something to eat and served him in bed. They both heard loud pounding at the door so she went towards the door as it exploded open. She observed that James had a gun in his hand and went straight to the bedroom and shot Danny then he just left. The whole thing happened in the course of 30 seconds.

Kenda needed to find James Neal. He put out an all points bulletin (APB) asking officers to be on the look out and aware that he was armed and dangerous. Minutes later a police officer spotted the gray Camry and pulled him over. James didn’t move so the police officer approached him unsure of what he may do. The officer went up to the driver side of the car and observed that James had blood on him near his shoulder and stomach; next to him was a 357 Magnum revolver. James was telling the officer that he wanted to die and was speaking coherently. He admitted to shooting himself as the officer pulled him over. One officer explained that he shot himself in those locations most likely because he lost his courage to commit suicide. James Neal admitted to Kenda that he wanted to die and he shot his wife’s boyfriend. James Neal was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to forty-five years in prison. Some relationships can turn to nightmare scenarios and this is one of them.


When the severed head of a wife and mother is found, Lt. Joe Kenda uses forensics and interrogation to find both her body and her killer. Then… a young man’s murder looks like a robbery gone wrong until Kenda learns the odd reason he’s living there. -Investigation Discovery

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