Army Veteran & Former Police Officer David Runyon Sentenced to Death for the Premeditated Murder of Navy Ensign Cory Voss in Newport News, Virginia (August 27, 2009)

David Runyon

David Runyon, U.S. Army Veteran

“The non-statutory aggravating factors found by the jury were that the Petitioner (1) caused injury, harm, and loss to the victim, and the victim’s family and friends; (2) utilized training, education, and experience gained during criminal justice college courses, his time in the Kansas National Guard, his work as a law enforcement officer, and his experience as a member of the United States Army; (3) engaged in acts of physical abuse towards women; and (4) demonstrated a lack of remorse.” (Runyon v. United States, 2017)

On April 29, 2007, Navy Ensign Cory Voss was discovered dead in his pick-up truck in a bank parking lot in Newport News, Virginia. Initially, investigators thought maybe this was a robbery gone wrong but Cory had been shot five times. Typically, in the course of a robbery, a suspect may shoot at the victim a couple of times in their attempt to flee the scene so this particular crime was suspect right away. Detectives left the scene to notify Cory’s wife Catarina Rose that he was deceased, and had been murdered. Catarina was very, very upset to learn the news although she was able to provide some details about Cory’s movements the night before. Catarina admitted that she was on the phone with Cory while he was at the ATM and warned him to be careful. This was immediately suspicious to detectives because it seemed like too much information. You typically wouldn’t be concerned if your spouse drove 3 miles away from the house.

The next day news spread quick in the Newport News and Naval community. People were in shock that someone they knew was murdered in this way in what normally is a relatively safe community. Detectives were able to get the surveillance video at the bank. It appeared someone jumped in the driver’s side of the vehicle and demanded that he drive away. They stopped in a nearby parking lot and Cory was shot. Unfortunately the quality of the video was not good enough for an identification. One interesting thing police learned was that no money had been withdrawn from the ATM and Cory was not robbed. Meanwhile, Catarina was very distraught and was being supported by Cory’s family and the Naval community. Then one day, police received a phone call from a witness that changed everything. When questioned, Ashley Doyle revealed her identity and was persuaded to meet with the investigators.

When Ashley met with the investigators, they showed her pictures of Cory and the unknown assailant from the bank surveillance video. Immediately, Ashley felt that it was Michael Draven that had killed Cory so she provided police with his name and suggested they look into him. She also told investigators about Michael and Catarina’s ongoing affair while Cory was deployed with the Navy. Investigators started looking at both Michael and Catarina’s social media pages and they were shocked by what they discovered. Michael Draven was seen pictured with Catarina and Cory’s children and he referred to them as his wife and family. Police enlisted the help of Ashley and asked her to meet with Catarina in an attempt to elicit a confession or get any other information that would be helpful to the investigation. When Ashley contacted Catarina she learned she was still very upset and was in the process of planning Cory’s funeral.

Ashley went to visit Catarina with hidden recording devices in tow. She learned that less than three days after Cory died, Catarina received $250,000 in life insurance money and she couldn’t get the full amount until an investigation was conducted. Catarina’s main concern while they visited was why she couldn’t get the second half of the life insurance pay out. Investigators were responsible for the hold on the second payment because it’s standard practice in situations like these, but Catarina was angry and impatient. As a result, she filed complaints that police weren’t doing their jobs and demanded that Cory’s case be solved (so she could get the rest of her money). Three weeks later, Catarina and Michael traveled to the Outer Banks in North Carolina for a vacation. Unbeknownst to them, their every move was being watched by police. And Cory’s family were starting to become uncomfortable with her behavior after she received the insurance money.

As a result of Catarina’s behavior, detectives subpoenaed her bank records. They learned the account Cory used on the night in question had only been opened for six days and never had more than $5 in it. Cory made three attempts to make a withdrawal. The first time was $60, then $40, then $20, all of which were insufficient funds. Police theorized that Catarina didn’t just want Cory to get the money but she wanted him to stay there and struggle. Interestingly enough, the account was co-signed by Michael Draven. A deeper dive into Catarina’s life turned up even more shocking revelations. Catarina wasn’t from the Ukraine like she told people but instead she was a local girl by the name of Cathlene Wiggins. She was also married once before to a man named Steven Larson. Steve joined the Army to support them and soon his testimony started to sound like a familiar pattern: long deployments, manic shopping, and infidelity.

Corey Voss

Cory Voss, U.S. Navy

Steve Larson alleged Catarina stood him up at the airport when he returned home from a deployment to Korea and when she did finally show up she told him she was three months pregnant with Cory’s baby. Catarina wanted Steve out of the picture and started fights with him every chance she got. She escalated and became aggressive to the point that Steve wanted to leave the relationship to stop her from hurting him. All this new information about Catarina was helpful circumstantial evidence but she wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger. Investigators believed Catarina and Michael Draven conspired to murder Cory for financial gain but they still needed hard evidence to put the pieces of this conspiracy together. They also believed that someone helped Michael Draven commit the murder so they dug into Draven’s past. A month before the murder, he spent some time in the city jail on a domestic abuse warrant.

Police found a number of recorded calls at the jail, the majority to Catarina, and the pair discussed their future together. In addition, they appeared to be discussing the plan to kill Cory and Catarina mentioned a 2 hour conversation she had with “David” who police suspected was the third party involved in the crime. Investigators combed through Catarina’s cell phone records and determined his name was David Runyon. He lived in West Virginia and was a marksman in the military; he met Michael Draven at a medical research facility. In December 2007, investigators initiated a search warrant for David Runyon’s property in an effort to find evidence tying him to the murder. In the search of his vehicle, they found a map of Newport News, Virginia and there were handwritten notes with the name of the credit union and address and a physical description of Cory’s vehicle. This was enough to arrest all three players.

Michael Draven was reinterviewed by detectives and ultimately he confessed this was a planned murder that he and Catarina had devised. They hired David Runyon to do it. Michael threw both Catarina and David under the bus and sold them out. Apparently, Catarina told Michael that Cory was abusing or mistreating the children and Michael believed her. Investigators believed this is how Catarina coerced and manipulated Michael into finding someone to kill Cory. Police asked Draven to call Catarina and tell her he was outside the police station and about to confess. Catarina asked him not to confess and drove to the police station where detectives were waiting to arrest her. On December 14, 2007, 8 months later, Catarina was charged with the crime. Seven months later, Catarina went to court. In an effort to avoid the death penalty, Catarina agreed to a plea of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire.

Catarina Voss admitted to investigators that she set the murder-for-hire up by asking Cory to go to the ATM to get some money. She admitted she knew David Runyon was lying in wait. As a result, Catarina was sentenced to four life terms in prison plus twenty additional years. On July 17, 2009, a federal jury convicted Michael Draven and David Runyon of murder, conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, and carjacking. Michael Draven received two life sentences and David Runyon received the death penalty. For the family, the pain of the loss of Cory Voss endures. Cory had turned his life around, joined the Navy, and went from enlisted to an officer. He was doing all the right things and the only thing he did wrong was love the wrong woman. Catarina Voss never showed any remorse towards Cory, but police say she was remorseful because she got caught.

Source: Blinding Fantasy, Cold Hearted, Investigation Discovery

NCIS, The Cases They Can’t Forget:

“NCIS: The Cases They Can’t Forget” returns for its third season. -CBS News (May 29, 2019)

An American hero was shot to death while withdrawing lunch money for his kids. Who killed the young naval officer? It turned out to be a murder-for-hire case, plotted by Cory Voss’ wife, Catherine, who sent a hitman to kill him in what prosecutors said was supposed to look like a botched robbery. -Inside Edition (May 29, 2019)

Investigation Discovery:

Navy man Cory Voss and his wife Catherina “Cat” Voss are a young couple raising two children in Newport News, Virginia. Despite Cory’s love and devotion, Cat secretly falls for another man. But betraying her marriage vows is just one angle in Cat’s complicated web of lies, and eventually she seeks a more permanent solution to finally end her marriage. -The Liars Club, Deadly Wives (S2,E5)

They say opposites attract, that’s how Navy man Cory Voss meets his wife Cat. When money runs dry she seeks the attention of a seemingly wealthier man. But when Cat finds out he isn’t who he says the Voss family falls apart. -Blinding Fantasy, Cold Hearted (S1,E4)

Related Links:
Three Indicted in Murder-For-Hire at Langley FCU
Wife sentenced in sailor’s murder
Newport News woman gets life for hired murder of husband
VA Man Sentenced to Prison for Murder-for-Hire Conspiracy
Jury convicts two men in murder-for-hire case
2 convicted in murder-for-hire of sailor
Voss’ Family: Killing Left a Void
Television show delves into Newport News murder-for-hire case
A Month in Review: In the News on Military Justice for All (April 2018)
Deadly Duo: Catherina Voss hired David Runyon to kill her husband, Cory Allen Voss; Runyon received federal death sentence
Navy Ensign Cory Voss Found Murdered in Bank Parking Lot in Newport News, Virginia; Wife Catarina Voss, Michael Draven, and David Runyon Conspired to Kill for the Life Insurance (April 29, 2007)

David Runyon:
WV Man to Stand Trial in VA for Murder-for-Hire Plot
Death sought for alleged triggerman at federal trial
Ex-officer convicted of murder-for-hire
Jury calls for death sentence in Navy officer’s slaying
Killer of former Galesburg man sentenced to death
Lawyer: Death for Sailor Killer Unfair
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. David Anthony RUNYON, Defendant–Appellant (2013)
Supreme Court denies appeal in Newport News death penalty case
Supreme Court denies appeal of death sentence in Newport News murder-for-hire case
David Anthony RUNYON, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES of America, Respondent (2017)
Federal Death Row Prisoners | Death Penalty Information Center

True Crime Programming:
“NCIS: The Cases They Can’t Forget” returns for its third season
Who Killed Navy Dad Shot While Withdrawing Lunch Money for Kids?
Wife Who Planned Navy Husband’s Murder-for-Hire Is Unforgettable Case
Navy Hero Murdered While Getting Lunch Money for His Kids
Cory Voss murder: How NCIS investigators unraveled a Navy officer’s homicide
Navy man Cory Voss was murdered when his wife Catherina Voss took out a hit on him
The cheating wife who had her Naval officer husband killed for his $400,000 life insurance: NCIS investigators reveal how they uncovered murder-for-hire plot orchestrated by ‘devastated’ widow, her new boyfriend, and a hitman
“NCIS: The Cases They Can’t Forget” returns for its third season
Who Killed Navy Dad Withdrawing Lunch Money for His Kids?
The Liars Club | Deadly Wives | Investigation Discovery (S2,E5)
Blinding Fantasy | Cold Hearted | Investigation Discovery (S1,E4)

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