- 72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner
- 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female
- Learn more: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Air Force Major Melissa Birtzer, 42, went missing from the Fort Walton Beach area in Florida on November 17, 2012. A few days later on Nov 20th, Major Birtzer was found dead at the Eglin Air Force Base range. The USAF reported that the case was under investigation and then updated the public with the announcement that there was no foul play suspected. The official cause of death is unknown but was not ruled a homicide. Co-workers shared she may have been ‘depressed’ prior to her disappearance. Major Birtzer served honorably for 18 years first as an enlisted Intelligence Specialist and then as a Nurse. She also completed two tours in Afghanistan. Melissa is survived by a spouse and two children.
Christopher MacCallum was discovered dead at the bottom of a cliff in Oregon on November 20, 2012. Christopher was reported missing by his wife Patricia and her step-sister after disappearing while they were camping at the Applegate River campsite. Investigators could find no one who had motive to harm Christopher so they started digging into his relationship with Patricia. Christopher and Patricia met in 2008. Patricia joined the Army in January 2011 and five months later in December 2011, she was medically discharged. She moved back to Oregon with the children and left Christopher behind; he was waiting until the lease on their San Antonio, Texas apartment was up. It turns out they separated and reconciled a couple times throughout the course of their relationship. Christopher moved back in with Patricia again in September 2012 and she immediately began plotting his murder with her step-sister. Christopher was dead the next month. From all accounts, Christopher was a good man who loved his children and simply wanted to be with them.
Eventually Patricia MacCallum admitted to shooting Christopher multiple times while he lay asleep in his tent. Patricia’s step-sister Amber Lubbers admitted to assisting with the cover-up of the crime. Together they dumped his body off a cliff and told police that he had gone missing. Prosecutors revealed that the motive for the crime was the custody of the children, social security benefits, and life insurance. Patricia admitted to intentionally getting her husband drunk so that once he passed out, she could kill him when he was most defenseless. Christopher’s father Mike MacCallum shared that he believes that Christopher wanted to save the marriage to prevent the kids from going through a divorce and this desire turned out to be a fatal error. Patricia MacCallum was found guilty and sentenced to 50 years in prison. Amber Lubbers was charged as an accessory after the fact, found guilty, and sentenced to 16 months in prison. She served about half her sentence and was released early because of good behavior.
Obituary: Michael Christopher MacCallum
MacCallum’s Mother Speaks Out; Donations Accepted for Children
Oregon woman to be tried for husband’s murder
Prosecution: MacCallum did it for ‘money, kids and insurance’
Medford woman guilty of murder
Jury finds MacCallum guilty of murdering her husband
The Trial of Patricia MacCallum Convicted of Murdering her Husband, Michael Christopher MacCallum
Woman admits helping cover up murder
Woman sentenced as accomplice in camping trip killing of Medford man
Accomplice in Siskiyou County murder is freed early
Patricia MacCallum, Christopher MacCallum: ‘Snapped’ Spotlights Applegate Creek Campsite Murder of Oregon Husband Found Dead at Bottom of Cliff
Life Insurance Fraud is a Common Motive for Murder in the Military
Sheriffs show up to a campsite where Patricia MacCallum’s husband went missing. -Oxygen Media
Whistleblowers expose hidden culture inside the California National Guard
Behind the Gates of the Guard
‘The California National Guard has a long history of serving the country in critical times of need. Its members have fought wildfires, responded to Hurricane Katrina and recently assisted with rescue efforts in super storm Sandy. It is a reserve military force of 23,000 guard members—the largest in the nation—where “integrity first” is a guiding principle. But a joint-investigation by NBC Bay Area and KNBC-TV in Los Angeles has uncovered a disturbing hidden culture in the California National Guard where some guard members say sexual assault and racism at times go unchecked, and where retaliation is a frequent method of discipline. During the past six months reporters spoke with nearly two dozen men and women from the California Guard who have found no solution inside and now want to expose what they say is the truth.”
Read more from NBC Bay Area here.
NBC Bay Area: California Guard Tries to Serve Firing Papers to Member After Suicide Attempt (June 25, 2013)
NBC Bay Area | Military Women: We Got Fired for Being Raped (August 21, 2014)
NBC Bay Area: California National Guard Military Sexual Assault Bill Becomes Law (August 21, 2014)