People Magazine Investigates Premiered ‘Terror in Philadelphia’ on Investigation Discovery: Air Force SrA Troy Graves Serving Life Sentence for Rape & Homicide (November 12, 2018)

ID Go: In 1998, a gifted Philadelphia graduate student is found murdered in her bed. The hunt for her killer forces police to reevaluate a series of unsolved crimes, turning the city upside down. Will her killer be caught or will he strike again? -Terror in Philadelphia, People Magazine Investigates (S3, E2)

Date of Arrest: April 23, 2002
Offender: Troy Graves, 29, US Air Force service member
Victims: Shannon Schieber, 23, University of Pennsylvania student (rape/homicide), multiple rape victims in Pennsylvania & Colorado
Circumstances: Shannon Schieber was enrolled as a Phd. student at the Wharton School of Business, on May 7, 1998, Shannon was studying for exams when a neighbor heard what sounded like cries for help, he called 911 to report that his neighbor was asking for help, the police arrived but no one answered the door and the neighbor backed off his statement, they searched the property and the neighbor said it could have been outside so they left, Shannon’s brother showed up the next day and Shannon didn’t answer the door, the neighbor told her brother what he heard the night before, they broke into the apartment and found Shannon naked on her bed, Shannon was strangled to death and it appeared she tried to fight off her attacker, police found DNA at the scene, DNA ruled out those close to Shannon, Shannon’s parents were outraged that the man who killed their daughter was in the apartment when the police knocked on her door, but the police did their job right and by the book, a few days before the murder, Shannon reported being followed home one night, she was scared, so police started investigating the stranger angle, perhaps this is a serial rapist, they look into sex crimes in the area, they want to match the DNA to other sex crimes in the area, in February 1999, they got a DNA match, 2 other sexual assaults had occurred but they were coded as misdemeanors, the assaults occurred just a few blocks from Shannon’s apartment, in June and July 1997, two more sexual assaults were connected to the offender bringing the total to 5, the PPD coded these sexual assaults as misdemeanors as well, they downgraded the offenses because it lessoned the load for the police, and made the arrest rate look better than it was, Shannon’s case helped enact change in Philadelphia, if they had investigated these cases, everyone would have known there was a serial rapist, Shannon would not be dead if she knew what was going on, the DNA still didn’t have a match to the offender, in 1997, a sketch was drawn from the recollections of the first victim, they got a new composite, this offender would enter the home, hold the victim down on the bed, rape them or make them perform oral sex, it was about control and domination for this guy and he was also somewhat of a romantic, once they acquiesced, he would treat them like a date, he would get comfortable with the victims, they determined he was a light skinned black male based on information he shared with one victim about his life growing up with bi-racial parents, he was dubbed the Center City rapist, in August 1999, no other cases were reported since Shannon’s murder, the case went cold, the police got a bulletin in 2001 from Fort Collins, Colorado, the offenders modus operandi sounded familiar to the Philadelphia PD, on June 13, 2001, one victim was home when she was attacked from behind and raped, after she acquiesced, the rapist became gentle as if he was a boyfriend, after he left, she called 911, she was his third victim in Fort Collins, they were all blitz attacked, FC police were investigating a serial rapist, a fourth & fifth rapes were reported, he made a mistake and left behind a ball cap at the fifth victims home, Fort Collins DNA was matched to the rapes in Philadelphia, PPD gave FCPD the composite drawing, police received a letter in the mail from the suspect, he was taunting them, in the fall of 2001, the attacks in Fort Collins stopped, meanwhile the PPD started focusing on cross referencing names of suspects with the two geographic locations, they got a match for Air Force service member Troy Graves, he was in Philadelphia, Fort Collins, and now at Warren AFB in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 2002, the police had the new suspect in their sites, the police learned that Troy was also investigated by the Office of Special Investigations, it was over charges of harassing a female colleague, the charges were dropped but there was still something suspicious there, Graves has a clean criminal record and no finger prints on file, the case was circumstantial, they reached out to Graves to come to the police department and do an interview, Troy Graves and his wife showed up to the Fort Collins PD, the police immediately separated the couple, his wife admitted that he had insomnia and went for walks and drives at night and that honestly she thought he was having an affair, meanwhile Troy denied knowing anything about the crimes, the police confronted him about the rapes in Fort Collins, he denied being arrested for any sex crimes, he denied being investigated by the Air Force, he did not want to provide his fingerprints but a warrant was issued to compel him, the fingerprints were a match, Troy Graves was arrested and booked into custody, this case changed the PPD policies on sexual assault to include how evidence is handled and how the victims are treated and interviewed
Disposition: Troy Graves feared a trial would not go in his favor in Fort Collins, Colorado, he pleaded guilty in exchange for a life sentence without the possibility of parole; Pennsylvania wanted to seek the death penalty but Shannon’s family did not want that because Shannon wouldn’t have wanted that, Graves entered into a plea agreement and got life in prison plus sixty years

Notable Quotes: “We have to change the system but not put people to death.” -Vicki Schieber (Shannon’s mom)

Source: ‘Terror in Philadelphia’ People Magazine Investigates

Shannon Schiebercredit: Courtesy Schieber Family

Shannon Schieber (Photo: People Magazine Investigates)

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch all of the Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. Download the ID Go app and binge away. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $2.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict.

Related Links:
U. student killed in Center City
Family, friend mourn Schieber’s death
Grief, Questions After Student is Slain
DNA tests clear ex-boyfriend in Schieber murder
Airman arrested in sexual assaults
Center City rapist suspect arrested
Suspected Serial Rapist Arrested
Colo. airman arrested on sex charges suspected as Center City Rapist
Colorado Suspect Is Believed Tied to Other Attacks
Airman trained at VAFB arrested in Colorado sex assaults
Airman’s DNA Linked to Slain Md. Woman
Officials: DNA Evidence Links Colorado Man to Philly Rapes, Murder
Airman Awaits Hearing in Rape Case
Troy Graves: I did it… and ‘I’m sorry’
Serial rapist says he’s sorry
Remorseful airman admits murder, rapes
Admitted serial rapist now will face a charge of murder
USAF content with civilian prosecution of Graves
Serial rapist pleads guilty in Colorado
Graves Pleads Guilty In Philadelphia Rapes, Murder
Victims speak out; Graves gets life
Colorado: Life Sentence For Airman
Airman gets life sentence in string of sexual assaults
A baffling case: The women who loved Troy Graves
The story of Shannon Schieber
Why two mothers back death penalty repeal
A Place of Peace | Bethesda Magazine
Death Penalty Vs. Life: An Issue Of Closure Vs. Peace
Victim’s family moves “from pain to peace”
Investigating rape in Philadelphia: how one city’s crisis stands to help others
Woman advocates repeal of death penalty as part of unconditional pro-life policy
What are Fort Collins’ most infamous moments?
Rape is Rape, Isn’t It? | ProPublica
Rape is Rape, Isn’t It? | The Marshall Project
The Annual Ritual Shaping How the Philadelphia Police Department Handles Rape, Abuse Cases
How one woman changed the way Philly police handle rape
Why is the death penalty discussed in religious terms?
How do you fix a broken system? One U.S. city offers a model for handling sex-assault cases
How a Business Student’s Dying Cries of ‘Help Me’ Eventually Led to a Serial Rapist
Death penalty: Parents of murder victim oppose killer’s execution
Mom of Wharton Student Found Raped, Murdered in 1998 Still Wonders: ‘How Could Somebody Do That?’
Troy Graves | Murderpedia, the encyclopedia of murderers
Terror in Philadelphia | People Magazine Investigates | Investigation Discovery (S3, E2)
All Charged Up | Forensic Files | FilmRise

Extraordinary Claims Should Require Extraordinary Evidence (June 26, 2018)

National GuardGuest Post by Liz Ullman:

Enrique Costas comes from four generations of dignified and recognized military service. His grandfather’s name is in the history books as one of the first soldiers to join the Puerto Rico National Guard to serve the United States. His father defended this country for 32 years, earning an Air Medal for heroism in Vietnam; his nephew will be commissioned as an officer in the next week and will be going on active duty.

Costas enlisted in the Puerto Rico National Guard in 1988. In 1999 he volunteered to be assigned as a Recruiter, earning top awards and commendations throughout his almost 14 years as the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of the Puerto Rico Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention (RR) Command office in San Juan. He was also selected and participated for seven years in the Puerto Rico National Guard Honor Guard, the team responsible for carrying our Nation’s and Army Colors in the highest of the Government’s activities and celebrations.

He was responsible for achieving monthly production for the three main tenets of the Guard recruiting office: Recruiting, Retention and Attrition Management • Staff resourcing for two Army battalions covering 13 cities • Supervising and mentoring up to 10 recruiting and retention non-commissioned officers.

Costas was a champion in mission accomplishment with the highest integrity and ethics. His walls are filled awards and photos with the Guard’s top-ranking officers, including General Clyde A. Vaughn, who personally commended Costas for his service and integrity. Costas retired in 2014 after Honorably serving our Nation for over 26 years.

The biggest mistake Costas made in his career was simply being on duty during the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program also known as G-RAP, a cash incentive opportunity for civilian soldiers to bring in new recruits. With no direction from Washington D.C.’s Strength Maintenance Division, General Vaughn’s recruiters were supposed to intuit the 60 changes in the G-RAP rules over a seven-year period, while also working to fill the dwindling ranks of Guard troops.

Just before dawn, on an early October morning in 2015, Costas’s home was stormed by six Federal agents and two State police officers, in full tactical gear. Costas thought his family was under attack, and it was – by the Government he had served. Costas was arrested and taken to a Federal Courthouse where he was charged with “crimes” dating back almost ten years, during the days of G-RAP.

Costas is one of hundreds of General Vaughn’s recruiters who have been held responsible for not knowing the G-RAP rules that were never sent to them. And not just held responsible — charged with criminal intent to commit fraud against the Government. General Vaughn, who created and administered G-RAP, and who was administratively sanctioned for poor management, is enjoying full retirement in Virginia and Arizona.

Costas is going to prison.

The government’s “evidence” against Costas and other recruiters does not even meet the standard of circumstantial. In his case, the government admitted during trial to having no actual evidence, but only a “reasonable inference” that a crime could have been committed.

As a recruiter, Costas could not and did not participate in G-RAP. There were no Army regulations that governed G-RAP because the program was run by a private Alabama-based contractor called Docupak. Docupak was essentially incentivized to run a sloppy program, earning a 17% markup on every new enlistment, on top of their contract fees and administrative expenses. This lack of training stands in sharp contrast to how the Army usually operates, with manuals and rules on almost every action and procedure.

The one rule that the prosecution seized on to brand soldiers and veterans as felons regarded the relationship between the Recruiting Officer and the Docupak civilian contractors known as Recruiting Assistants (RAs). When G-RAP began, those contractors were regarded as assistants to the Recruiting Officers. The Recruiting Officers might use the RAs to give that extra push to a potential applicant considering enlisting. The Recruiting Officers were encouraged to ask the RAs to attend recruiting events and help with the finding of potential candidates. The original program outline stated that the Recruiting Officer would provide specifics for each possible enlistment to the RA, including legal name, birth date and social security number. That information was used by Docupak to verify enlistments and process payments to their RA contractors. In later descriptions of G-RAP, the social security number would go from the new recruit to the RA contractor, bypassing the Recruiting Officer, which not a single RA contractor reports ever seeing or any evidence has ever been produced by Docupak that verifies it.

This procedural change has resulted in hundred of indictments and scores of convictions for identity theft and wire fraud. Soldiers and veterans are in prison. Costas, sadly, is on his way.

After the government filed more than 50 felonies against Costas, his defense team could not overcome the wrath of the United States and he was convicted by a jury who felt that with so many felonies filed, Costas certainly had to have done something wrong.

He did not. G-RAP was a tangle of mismanagement; the soldiers who were on duty during its tenure are paying the price of administrative failures by their command. In an internal investigation done by the Puerto Rico National Guard pertaining to G-RAP in 2012, the Investigating Officer admitted that “Recruiters had no formal training on how G-RAP operated.”

Costas and his family had their hearts broken when the prosecution opened with statements calling him a “cheater, stealer and a liar.” He said these words, “pierced the core of his soul.”

Presumption of Innocence or even the “benefit of the doubt” was never given. In the end the Government spent an estimated $100,000 prosecuting Costas and the jury found Costas guilty on three charges amounting to $3,000. Although never having a criminal record and an impeccable military career, the judge sentenced Costas to prison. In the end “reasonable inference” and circumstantial evidence weighed more than 26 years of honorable service willing to sacrifice life and limb.

Recently the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th District reversed and vacated a conviction of an accused soldier involving G-RAP and determined, that the “Government did not retain a revisionary interest in the funds and that it did not exercise supervision or control over the funds”. This decision cannot be applied to Costas unless the United States Court of Appeals for the 1st District, the Supreme Court, or Congress rules on it.

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
― Carl Sagan

The claims were extraordinary. The evidence was missing. And yet, a United States military hero and veteran has been sacrificed.

We respectfully request that Congress or the White House appoint a commission to review the G-RAP investigation, to identify Soldiers that have been unjustly stigmatized by it, and to recommend suitable cases for clemency and pardon.

Related Links:
Stop G-RAP Injustice | Facebook
The Conspiracy Behind the G-RAP War on American Soldiers (March 30, 2016)
If You Look at the Dollars, Guard Recruiting Assistance Program Investigations Make No Sense (July 12, 2016)
Top Ten Problems with the National Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP) Investigations (December 15, 2016)
An Open Letter to Congress Regarding the Investigations of the National Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (June 5, 2017)

Unsolved Homicide: Fort Hood Army Pvt. Justin Lewis Shot & Killed Near Vacant Lot in Neighborhood in Killeen, Texas (2017)

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Pvt. Justin Lewis, US Army

Fort Hood Army soldier Pvt. Justin Lewis, 19, was shot and killed near a vacant lot in a neighborhood outside the post in Killeen, Texas on April 17, 2017. Justin was pronounced dead on April 18, 2017 by the coroner. Pvt. Lewis’ home of record is listed as Henderson, North Carolina and he entered active-duty service in August 2016. Pvt. Lewis was a cavalry scout assigned to 3rd Cavalry Regiment in Fort Hood, Texas. The circumstances surrounding the unsolved homicide are under investigation by the Killeen Police Department in Killeen, Texas. The point of contact for the investigation is Ofelia Miramontez, Public Information Officer, Killeen Police Department. Miramontez’s phone number is (254) 501-8941/8807 and her email is omiramontez@killeentexas.gov. Eight months later, the Killeen Police Department does not have any updates in the case according to Killeen Police spokeswoman Ofelia Miramontez. Justin’s Army buddy, Logan Duty, told the TDT news: “[Justin] was just gunned down in the middle of the night, and no one’s able to find out why. If I was there, and I was one of the detectives, I wouldn’t rest until I figured out why. … (Lewis) wanted to help others, willing to lay his life down defending someone. I haven’t met anyone who was dedicated to serving like him.”

“Pvt. Justin Lewis’ uncle, Jerry Lewis, said when you have a loved one go into the military, you deal with the fact you may lose them on the battlefield. They never imagined they would lose 19-year-old Justin on American soil, near a vacant lot in Killeen, Texas.” –11 ABC News

Related Links:
In loving memory of Justin Lewis
Pvt. Justin Antwan Lewis | Fallen Warriors
Death of a Fort Hood Soldier – Pvt. Justin Antwan Lewis
Fort Hood soldier found dead identified
Man found dead in Killeen identified by police
Fort Hood soldier shot dead Monday night in Killeen, Texas
Killeen homicide victim was Fort Hood soldier, Army says
Teen found dead near vacant lot in Killeen neighborhood identified
19-year-old Fort Hood soldier shot and killed in Killeen
Young soldier from NC shot and killed in Texas
Soldier from NC shot to death in Texas, officials say
Soldier from Henderson shot, killed in Texas, army base says
Family seeks answers after NC soldier slain in Texas
Family grieves loss of Henderson soldier, looks for answers
Friends remember Henderson man killed in Texas
School Remembers Soldier from Vance County Found Dead Near Fort Hood
Soldier’s death in Killeen weighs heavy on friend 8 months later
52 Deaths at Fort Hood Since January 2016 ~ 14 Since January 2017…Normal Or HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS?
73 Fort Hood Soldiers Died Since January 2016: 4 Insider Attacks & 2 Suicides Overseas; 67 Stateside Deaths Including 34 Alleged Suicides & 1 Unsolved Homicide
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside
Violent Crime, Suicide, and Non Combat Death at Fort Hood, Texas (US Army)
Killeen Calling in Feds to Combat Crime
Gangs in the US Army Documentary
The Fort Hood Fallen on Facebook
Seeking Justice with Change Your POV

Army Doctor Col. Dennis Taylor Attempted to Kill Wife Carol in an Effort to Escape Domestic Abuse and Threats to Commander After Asking for Divorce

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Army Col. Dennis Taylor was court martialed at Fort Carson, Colorado and found guilty by a jury of ten off his peers for the attempted murder of his wife Carol. (Photo credit: Investigation Discovery)

Lt Joe Kenda of Homicide Hunter featured another case where he was tasked with investigating what hospital officials suspected was an attempted murder. Upon arrival at the hospital, he was bombarded by the press because they heard the call for service over the scanner. The hospital was secure and police officers were on the scene. Upon an initial briefing, Lt Kenda discovered that a nurse suspected that someone had tampered with one of their patient’s IVs. Lt Kenda then interviewed Carol Taylor, the wife of an Army officer also present at the hospital with their two children.

Lt Kenda learned that Carol had broken her leg and had developed some blood clots. She was simply visiting with her husband and children when all of a sudden the alarm on the IV infusion machine went off. And somehow the IV had been pulled from her arm. Lt Kenda immediately began to suspect that someone was trying to kill her because it looked like someone had either tampered with or inserted something into the IV line. Because the crime lab was not proficient in the hospital’s medical equipment, they called in a hospital employee who was considered an expert. This person determined that someone had injected something into the line. The only other people in the room were her husband and children.

Lt Kenda started his next line of questioning with the husband. He learned that Lt Col Dennis Taylor served in the US Army for 27 years and was currently working as the Chief of Oral Surgery at the Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado. Lt Kenda observed that the doctor was unusually calm and appeared to be minimizing the event and brushing it off as a mistake. So then Lt Kenda went back to the wife and asked her if she thought that maybe her husband did this. The wife claimed she was fine and that everyone was making a big deal out of it and she just wanted it to go away. She claimed that they had a great marriage and life. Lt Joe Kenda had a hard time believing that her marriage was as perfect as she made it out to be and moved forward with the investigation because there was in fact liquid in the IV pump that was not supposed to be there.

Kenda reached out to a family friend who worked alongside the doctor over the years. He learned from Stan that the doctor had confided in him that Carol was verbally abusive, demeaning him, telling him he is pathetic, and even punched him. She also was upset about his drinking and knew that he had been having extra-marital affairs. Stan told Kenda that the doctor wanted to leave Carol but she had threatened to go to his commander and report him for the drinking and adultery (both considered UCMJ infractions and punishable under military law) if he left her. Carol enjoyed the privileges of being a military wife too much to lose them to divorce. He felt trapped in his current abusive marriage and was drinking more and having affairs as a way to cope with his current situation. In the civilian world, Carol would not be able to get away with threatening her husband because it is not illegal to drink and have affairs.

As it turns out, the results of the pump came back and they found Diazinon, which is a poison used to kill ants, spiders, cockroaches, etc. She would have been dead in a matter of minutes and would have been in excruciating pain, as the poison would have burned her from the inside out. As a result, Kenda arrested the doctor for attempted murder. During the arrest he found a plunged hypodermic in his pocket. The doctor told him he didn’t need an attorney and admitted his guilt. He told Kenda that earlier that morning while he was out shopping, the idea came to him that this was the only way out. Because he is a doctor, he knew how to do it. He inserted the poison and the alarm went off so he pulled the IV out of her arm for fear of arrest.

Instead of the civilians pressing forward with a case, the Army decided that they were going to court martial the doctor. They claimed they wanted to make an example of the disgraced colonel in front of a jury of his peers. He was sentenced to 18 months hard labor and he and his family were stripped of all Army privileges. And this may be why Carol Taylor protected her husband despite the fact that he just tried to kill her. Why would the Army doctor rather kill his wife then report the domestic violence to the commander? Why would the doctor feel that going to the commander was not an option and his only way out of this abusive situation was to murder his wife? Why was the doctor so intimidated by the threat of his wife reporting what would be considered minor infractions, even under UCMJ standards?

We need to evaluate why the doctor felt that he was not able to report the abuse and threatening to the Commander. Would he automatically be in trouble with military leadership if he admitted that he had been drinking and having affairs? Was he concerned about losing his career, his retirement, or facing disciplinary action? Why did he feel that he had to choose murder over reporting the threats and abuse to his commander? These are all things that we must ponder. We are seeing a pattern over and over. Our military men do not feel that reporting to the commander is an option when they are the victim of a crime. If that is the case, how can we help our military men, who find themselves the victim of threats, domestic violence, or sexual assault, report to a safe place? Right now, some would rather resort to murder then report the crimes to their commander. There must be a better way.

Related Links:
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Carson, Colorado
Only Way Out: Army Wife Threatens to Report Doctor to Commander if He Leaves Her


When the lifeless body of Willie McCarty is found at the base of a staircase, neighbors direct Kenda to a mysterious truck spotted fleeing the scene. Then… Kenda must solve a bizarre case of poisoning at a busy downtown hospital. -Investigation Discovery

Army Spouse Catherine Walker Found Murdered by Husband on Aliamanu Military Reservation in Hawaii; Sgt. Michael Walker Indicted for Conspiring to Murder Wife; Awaiting Civilian Trial (November 14, 2014)

Catherine and Michael Walker

Catherine Walker and Michael Walker, U.S. Army

In December 2015, Ailsa Jackson admitted in federal court to stabbing the wife of an Army medic she was having an affair with. Catherine Walker was murdered in her home on the Aliamanu Military Reservation in Hawaii on November 14, 2014. As part of a plea agreement, Jackson is expected to be sentenced to 30 to 33 years in prison in exchange for testifying against Sgt. Michael Walker. Walker is accused of plotting to murder his wife for the life insurance. Meanwhile, he was court martialed by the Army and is serving two years for possessing child pornography and soliciting payment for sex. Walker faced a January 2017 murder trial in civilian court but the trial was delayed because a police interrogation video was thrown out by the judge.

In the News:

Michael Walker, 36, was also indicted for a second charge of conspiring to kill his wife. -KHON2 News (November 4, 2015)

Related Links:
Catherine Walker: Army Wife Stabbed to Death in Hawaii Home, Found by Soldier Husband Michael Walker
Hawaii Soldier Accused Of Conspiring With Lover To Kill Wife
Army Medic Arrested in Hawaii Love Triangle Murder
Woman arrested in Indiana for Hawaii murder of soldier’s wife
Honolulu murder suspect arrested in Fort Wayne
‘Other woman’ accused of murder will return to HI to face charges
Army Soldier’s Lover Allegedly Stabbed His Wife To Death: FBI
Army soldier and his girlfriend charged in murder of his wife
Man indicted in wife’s murder on Aliamanu Military Reservation
Soldier accused of conspiring to kill wife pleads not guilty
Soldier’s lover admits to murdering wife
Woman pleads guilty in killing of Army medic’s wife
Mistress of Army Medic Pleads Guilty to Stabbing His Wife to Death with Kitchen Knife
Plea deal in military love triangle death hits snag
Man indicted in wife’s murder on Aliamanu Military Reservation
Prostitution and Porn charges tied to Army medic accused of conspiring with mistress to kill his wife
Army medic accused of having lover kill his wife may be court marshaled after murder investigation ‘revealed child porn and evidence he was a male prostitute’
Army medic accused of killing his wife now court-martialed on prostitution and child pornography charges
Soldier Charged in Wife’s Death Sentenced for Child Porn
Army medic accused of killing his wife sentenced for child porn
Civilian Ailsa Jackson Plead Guilty to Stabbing the Wife of an Army Medic She was Having Affair With in Hawaii, Expected to Testify Against Sgt Michael Walker
Alleged wife murderer found guilty by military of sexual abuse of child
Soldier facing murder trial guilty of sex abuse
Interrogation video shows suspect in hours after alleged murder
Interrogation of Army medic accused in love triangle murder is thrown out
Ruling in love triangle murder delays trial
Ruling in Hawaii love triangle murder delays trial
Ruling in Hawaii love triangle murder delays trial
Soldier accused of conspiring to kill wife pleads not guilty

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)

Navy Lt. Verle Lee Hartley Died of Arsenic Poisoning in 1982; NCIS Cold Case Squad Solved Murder 13 Years Later; Wife Pamela Served 16 of 40 Years in Prison, Paroled (November 18, 1982)

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Lt. Verle Lee Hartley, U.S. Navy

NCIS, The Cases They Can’t Forget: Mysterious poisoning of a Navy lieutenant leads to one of NCIS’ most notorious cold cases (May 29, 2019)

Just off the coast of Spain, the U.S.S. Forrestal cruised through open waters on the Mediterranean Sea. This particular aircraft carrier had the ability to unleash total devastation on the enemy. But below deck, one Navy sailor was fighting off an enemy in his body. Lee Hartley was complaining of diarrhea and lethargy. He also experienced excessive weight loss and there was a grayness to his skin. Lee Hartley was a career Navy sailor, having served nineteen years, and the Lt. in the ship’s disciplinary office. A month into his current deployment, Lee became violently ill with severe stomach pains and a strange tingling in his hands and feet. He was treated by the ship’s medics for gastrointestinal problems. A couple weeks went by and the symptoms reappeared, each time getting progressively worst. The onboard medics thought maybe he was exposed to something in a foreign port.

Lee Hartley also assumed it was food or water he consumed while visiting one of the foreign ports. Whatever the cause, Lee’s symptoms were spiraling out of control. He endured nearly two months of agony. When Lee wasn’t getting better, the Navy decided to ship him off to a hospital so he was medi-vaced to Jacksonville, Florida. Lee’s wife Pamela rushed to his bedside. Pam and Lee were newlyweds; they were married a year earlier. Doctors ran a battery of tests to help make a diagnosis. Some believed he might have liver disease or hepatitis or even some kind of poisoning but they couldn’t come up with a definitive diagnosis. Lee commented to multiple people that he thought he was dying because he was so gravely ill. On November 18, 1982, after nearly five months of terrible suffering, Lt. Lee Hartley succumbed to massive organ failure.

Before he set out on his final deployment, Lee Hartley was living the life he had always dreamed of. Lee loved the Navy and his family was very proud of him. He joined the Navy as an enlisted man and then became an officer. Lee was happy with Pam and was looking forward to the end of long deployments so he could spend more time with her. They didn’t have children of their own but Lee had a daughter from a previous marriage. Pam was now a devastated widow and waited for the autopsy to determine the cause of her husband’s death. When the results came back, they revealed Lee died from arsenic poisoning, nearly 1000 times the normal level. His liver, kidneys and blood was full of arsenic and Lee had enough arsenic in him to kill several people. Arsenic is a odorless, colorless, and tasteless chemical. This information led to a murder investigation.

An investigation was immediately launched to find out how that much arsenic entered Lee’s body. Investigators could not imagine how Lee came into contact with that much arsenic aboard a ship. Special Agents Jerry Whitaker and Walter O’Brien of the Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) were assigned to the case. The two actually knew Lee Hartley and served side by side on the U.S.S. Forrestal with him. They start with the simplest possibility: was this an accidental poisoning? They checked to see if there were large amounts of arsenic on the ship but that theory was instantly put to rest. The supply officer on the ship maintained records of everything that was onboard the ship and according to him, there was no substance on board the ship that contained arsenic. This meant there was no way Lee came into contact with arsenic onboard the ship, at least not by accident. Agents wondered if someone deliberately dosed Lt. Lee Hartley.

The NCIS agents broke the news to Lee’s family. When Pam found out about the arsenic poisoning, she reacted with shock. Pam’s mother-in-law was the one to break the news to Pam that someone may have killed her husband. The agents didn’t know who killed Lee but they knew how so they launched a search for suspects. They looked at who had something to gain if Lee died and one main suspect emerged, his wife Pamela Hartley. Pam had the motive because she stood to inherit a lifetime of military benefits but how did she poison her husband while he was on a ship thousands of miles away? When agents checked her travel itinerary, they discovered Pam traveled to port in Spain to spend time with Lee. Quite often, when a ship visits a foreign port, it’s common for a group of wives to visit that port. One of those wives was Pam Hartley.

Pam traveled to Spain and met with Lee and another military couple. On one of those days, Pam offered to cook breakfast for everyone and she even made drinks too. Soon after that visit, Lee got violently ill, along with his friend who had eaten breakfast with him. At the time, they both thought they got sick from drinking Spanish water, the friend recovered but Lee kept getting worse. Over the next two weeks, Lee had severe cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting so he reported to the ship’s medical department. Agents wondered if Pam laced her husband’s food and drink with arsenic during that Spanish shore leave. It was a chilling scenario but one that became more plausible as agents found out about Pam’s unique job experience. They learned that Pam worked at the Department of Energy facility in Akon, South Carolina for one year.

Pam used to be an environmental technician and one of her job duties was to analyze water samples to determine heavy metal levels. At her job site, she came in contact with a range of toxic chemicals, including arsenic. Was Pam the victim of circumstantial evidence or heartless black widow? Agents wanted to perform a polygraph because they were convinced she wouldn’t pass. She was their prime suspect because she had the opportunity to spike her husband’s food and drinks when she went to Spain at his port of call. On the surface, there was nothing suspicious about Pam so agents conducted interviews of Hartley’s neighbors. The pair appeared to have a normal family and were described as nice people. But gossip soon found its way from officer’s wives club and this information painted another picture.

With their husbands overseas, the Navy wives would get together at parties and drink. And after a few drinks, they weren’t afraid to say anything. There was talk among the wives that life was so much better when the men were at sea. Some even suggested they get rid of them. But it was a party atmosphere so nobody really took it seriously, except maybe Pam. In one interview, Pam made a comment to a friend about hiring a hitman to kill Lee but was taken as a joke by the witness because they had been drinking. As special agents dug deeper, they found out Pam and Lee were having some marital problems. Pam was a free spirit who liked to go to the officer’s club and dance with other men. Apparently, this made Lee extremely jealous. And Lee may have had reason to be jealous because Pam admitted to friends that while Lee was off at sea, she found it to be difficult to be faithful.

For NCIS agents, it all added up to a classic scenario: a bored wife feels trapped in her marriage so she poisons her husband… Under questioning, Pam insisted that she loved Lee and swore she has nothing to do with his death. And she agreed to take a polygraph test to prove her innocence. Agents were convinced she wouldn’t pass the polygraph but the results indicated that she wasn’t being deceitful. The agents concluded Pam didn’t have anything to do with Lee’s death. In addition, lab results blew a hole in their theory because the toxicology analysis on Lee’s hair pinpointed the dates he was exposed to the arsenic. His first dose was before Pam’s trip to Spain. Hair grows about a centimeter a month and testing of the hair provided a timeline of when the poison entered his body. The hair samples indicated that Lee was poisoned 5-6 months prior to his death.

The arsenic timeline showed Lee Hartley was first poisoned while Pam was thousands of miles away in Jacksonville, she had a persuasive chemical alibi. Armed with the new evidence that Lee was poisoned while on board the U.S.S. Forrestal, NCIS agents confronted a massive crime scene. The U.S.S. Forrestal was a floating city with 5000 potential suspects. And like any large city, the carrier had personnel dedicated to maintaining law and order. As the ship’s discipline officer, when sailors ran afoul with Navy regulations, it was up to Lee to administer punishment. This likely didn’t make him a lot of friends on board. Because of his work, Lee was exposed to people who might have had a grudge or an axe to grind against the Navy or the legal office or a person. As agents conducted more interviews, they learned of a disturbing rumor involving Lee.

During the investigation, there was an indication that Lee had received an anonymous death threat. The rumor about the death threat was backed up by Lee’s parents. They told agents what Lee shared with them while he was home in Mayport. Lee told them he was walking about the ship when someone angrily confronted him. Now Agents wanted to eliminate or find somebody who may help them understand what happened. A search of Lee’s cabin revealed a clue. They found a collection of letters written by Lee himself. In one of those letters, Lee described a near death confrontation with another sailor aboard the ship. He described how he came across someone who had a sword. But, if there was an altercation, Lee never reported to his superiors. Why would Lee choose to keep it secret but share it with his parents? Was Lee leaving a trail of evidence?

In an effort to track down subjects, agents used Lee’s toxicity reports which showed a continuous pattern of poisoning over a 5-6 month period of time. Agents shared when investigating poisoning deaths, you need to establish an opportunity of who during that time would have had access to both Lee and poison. There were spikes in Lee’s arsenic levels during his deployment at sea, at the port of call in Spain, and even when he was at the hospital in Jacksonville. One person who was at Lee’s side throughout his months of agony was his cabin mate Lt. Samuel Yates. They seemed to get along well but tension builds up month after month when living in close proximity together trapped on a ship. Lee was also in direct competition with his roommate for advancement.

Both Lee Hartley and Lt. Yates wanted desperately to be promoted to Lt. Commander. Was there a feud simmering between them, a rivalry that turned deadly? As agents developed information on the roommate, rumors began to circulate that had already been rampant on the ship. After Lee’s death, Lt. Yates allegedly waisted no time going after his roommate’s young wife who was grieving and vulnerable. At Lee’s funeral, he paid his respects by reportedly seducing the pretty widow. Agents knew they needed to take a closer look at Yates. And when they did, they found a chilling piece of evidence. Lee’s cabin mate was asked to give them a blood sample to see if it tested positive for arsenic or other heavy metals. As a result, they learned Yates had some elevated amounts of arsenic in his blood stream, the same poison that killed Lee.

Lt. Yates’ low level arsenic exposure was consistent with someone who had handled the substance. But the test results were not remarkable because Yates would have been exposed to all the same environmental factors as Lee. If someone was trying to harm Lee, Yates could have easily been exposed to the same food and drinks in foreign ports. Although a lot of circumstantial evidence pointed to the roommate, a thorough search of Yates’ belongings showed no traces of arsenic. They could only conclude that Yates was a collateral victim of whoever was poisoning Lee. As suspects were eliminated one by one, agents had to consider the possibility that the suspect they were looking for may be Lee Hartley himself. One of the NCIS agents said when they don’t have anymore theories, they have to think outside the box. The agents considered that Lee may have ingested the arsenic intentionally.

It appeared Lee Hartley had everything going for him and he loved his job on the U.S.S. Forrestal. He also had a beautiful young wife waiting for him in Florida. But NCIS agents wondered if the image of that perfect life was just a sham. The two agents knew Lee while serving with him on the carrier. When they reflected back on their time with him, they did observe some unusual behavior. After lunch, Lee regularly met up with a small group and he always appeared disgruntled. They learned Lee was drinking heavily before his deployment and thought maybe he was going through some depression. Was Lee suicidal? Did he deliberately consume the arsenic to poison himself? The pair thought the odds were high that Lee ingested the poison and brought in in a psychologist to analyze Lee’s life and letters; they found no suicidal ideation in any of his writings.

The medical evidence in this case didn’t fit the pattern of someone trying to kill themselves. Typically in a suicide case, it would be a major ingestion of poison and then it would drop off. Lee was poisoned consistently over several months. He was in horrible condition to the point that he had an ulcerated esophagus, open sores in his mouth, couldn’t talk, and could’t eat. Would Lee have voluntarily chosen to kill himself in such a slow, agonizing way? They ruled out suicide and wondered if the poisoning was an attempt to help get him off the ship. Lee made some statements to family members that he really didn’t want to go on this last deployment and his heart wasn’t in it anymore. He was upset about having more sea duty. He wanted a stateside desk job close to his wife. Did he use the arsenic to get himself off the ship? Would they send him home?

Agents considered that maybe Lee wanted to take just enough of the poison to get himself sent back home. But arsenic doesn’t leave the body and instead builds up over time. The agents theorized Lee may not have understood its cumulative effect over time. Maybe, Lee didn’t realize it made him sicker and sicker with every dosage. Did his scheme backfire by taking one dose too many? This theory didn’t hold water though because there were no tell tale signs in Lee’s belongings that led anyone to believe he had handled arsenic. And toxicology evidence showed that the poisoning continued even after he got back to Jacksonville. NCIS had no choice but to put the latest theory to rest. At this point, they ran out of theories, suspects, and direction and chose to close the case.

Thirteen years later in 1995, NCIS formed a cold case homicide unit. Lee Hartley’s poisoning case was one of the first cases brought to their attention. Lee’s death was reviewed at headquarters and a new team of special agents were assigned. They quickly learned that all of the physical evidence in the Lee Hartley case had been destroyed. The team had to work the case the old fashioned way so they started re-interviewing people involved in the initial investigation. Agents said its helpful to go back and talk to people because their stories change and some are more willing to tell the truth after 10-15 years has passed. Agents spoke with family, friends, and neighbors and the same name that kept coming back up was the original suspect in the case, Pam Hartley. But their big break came when Lee Hartley’s brother-in-law helped them uncover the truth.

Pam’s brother knew the dynamics of Pam and Lee’s relationship so agents wanted to speak with him. The fact the case had been reopened after all these years, caught Pam’s brother by surprise and he dropped a bombshell no one expected. He shared that Pam tried to hire him to kill Lee and offered him some of the insurance money if he did it. He kept this secret for years and when agents interviewed him this time, he told them the truth. NCIS was now convinced Pam was the killer but building a case against her wasn’t going to be easy. After all, she passed a polygraph test that indicated no deception. When NCIS had the results re-examined by current staff, they found the findings of ‘no deception’ were probably erroneously reached. The results should have been inconclusive. It was more evidence of Pam’s involvement in Lee’s death.

But after so many years, they had no physical proof, no eyewitnesses, and no way to tie Pam to the actual crime. She also had what seemed to be an ironclad alibi. She was on the other side of the world when her husband was poisoned. If she was the killer, how did she do it? Could they get her to confess? They only had one shot and needed to get Pam alone, because thirteen years ago her controlling mother was beside her running interference. The cold case team placed Pam under surveillance and tracked her every move. They learned the years since Lee’s death had not been good to her. Having squandered her inheritance, she lived with her mother and struggled with substance abuse. She treated her addiction at a hospital on a military base. On one of those occasions, she arrived alone for the appointment. The NCIS used the structured environment of the Army base to conduct the interview.

This approach allowed NCIS to conduct an interview without Pam’s mother being there. Pam nervously agreed to answer their questions. They told her there was no doubt in their mind that she did it and most of the problems in her life were most likely attributed to what she had done to her husband. They played on her guilt and told her to put it behind her and tell the truth. Pam Hartley broke down and told them what she did. She told them everything and filled in the missing puzzle pieces. She didn’t want to be married anymore. She said she was miserable and hated how possessive Lee was. But, she really liked the status of being an officer’s wife and didn’t want to lose that lifestyle. She wanted him gone but wanted to maintain her status. It was almost the perfect murder. The last time she saw Lee, she bid him farewell and then ran to a feed store to purchase rat poison. Pam sent Lee poisoned treats while he was deployed at sea.

Like a model wife, Pam created treats for Lee because she knew he had a sweet tooth. Agents learned that both Lee and his cabin mate sampled some whiskey cake that she sent Lee. Yates said he ate one piece, it was too strong, and didn’t like it. Pam wanted Lee to die at sea but the call never came so she upped the anti and traveled to Spain to poison him in person at breakfast. But it still didn’t do the job. When Lee was airlifted to the hospital in Jacksonville, Pam rushed to his side. This time, she poisoned his apple juice. Pam gave Lee the lethal dose the night before he died while pretending to care about him. After Lee died, Pam took the rest of the poison and dumped it in a pond behind their house. Her persistence finally paid off; she collected on a lifetime of military benefits minus the annoying husband. How could she have hatched such a diabolical plot? When asked why poison, she said “ladies have been using poison for years.”

Pam’s confession sealed her fate. On October 16, 1996, Pamela Hartley pleaded guilty to second degree murder in a Florida state court. Agents reminded us that Pam had a psychotic personality. She didn’t think about the cause and effect on other people; she only thought of herself and the effect on her. After nineteen years of service, Lee Hartley didn’t die in battle, his mortal enemy was the one person he loved most. Not long before Lee’s death, Lee and Pam’s brother had a conversation where Lee told him if anything happened to him, his sister would be well taken care of. He died thinking he still needed to take care of Pam. Pamela received $35,000 in life insurance money, $10,000 a year in veterans benefits, and free military medical benefits for life. Lee was a good man and the pain from the loss endures. Pamela Hartley was sentenced to 40 years in a state prison and served 16 years when she was paroled. 

Source: Maritime Murder, Unusual Suspects, Investigation Discovery

Real NCIS: 

When a Navy lieutenant onboard a US aircraft carrier falls victim to a rare case of arsenic poisoning, NCIS investigators must scour both land and sea for his killer. With no crime scene and little physical evidence, agents must separate rumor from truth and use their best interrogative know-how to solve a deadly crime. Follow real NCIS agents as they hunt down suspects on one of the world’s largest ships and after a long 13 years finally uncover the bizarre truth behind the poisoning death of a Lt. Lee Hartley. -Dark Minds in Crime

Investigation Discovery:

John Prudhont as NCIS Special Agent Tom Assimos and John Bridell as NCIS Special Agent Dave Early and Mocean Melvin as the Narrator in an edited clip from Season 4, Episode 13 of the Discovery ID TV show “Unusual Suspects.”

ID Go: In 1982, a Naval Officer dies from a mysterious illness. When toxicology reports reveal he was poisoned, Naval Investigators sift through a ship of thousands, and countless theories before the truth behind the victim’s painful death is revealed. -Maritime Murder, Unusual Suspects (S4,E13)

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch all of the Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. Download the ID Go app and binge away. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $2.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict.

Related Links:
2 Charged in Reopened Death Probes
Widow guilty of poisoning death in 1982
After 14 years, woman confessed to killing her husband
Wife sentenced in poisoning death
Widow Sentenced in Death of Husband
Murder-for-hire motive often insurance
Inmates find freedom behind bars
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‘Unusual Suspects’: Woman Poisoned Navy Husband Over Years Through Care Packages
Pamela Hartley poisoned her husband, Verle Lee Hartley, because she did not want to hurt him with a divorce
Mayport cases to appear on TV’s ‘The Real NCIS’
Mysterious poisoning of a Navy lieutenant leads to one of NCIS’ most notorious cold cases
NCIS: Lt. Hartley’s Wife Got $45,000 After Killing Him with Rat Poison
NCIS: The Cases They Can’t Forget Premiere Season 3 Time & Channel
NCIS: The Cases They Can’t Forget | CBS
NCIS History (October 1998, Vol II, Edition 6)
NCIS: The Cases They Can’t Forget | Amazon
Real NCIS | E02 | Hartley Case
John Prudhont Unusual Suspects Maritime Murder 30 sec Clip
Maritime Murder | Unusual Suspects | Investigation Discovery (S4,E13)