Phonthip Ott Discovered Dead in California River; Spouse Dennis Ott, US Coast Guard, Convicted of Murder and Sentenced to Life in Prison (May 17, 1992)

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Petty Office Dennis Ott, US Coast Guard, and Phonthip Boonack Ott (photo: 48 Hours)

Phonthip (Boonack) Ott, 33, disappeared from her home in California on May 17, 1992. A couple months later, Phonthip Ott’s dead body was discovered in the Sacramento River near Sacramento. Phonthips body was stuffed in a large nylon duffle bag about 5 feet tall. It was held down with H-shaped cement anchors. The day their mother disappeared, Phonthip’s daughters, Tippy Dhaliwal, 14, and Jeanette Marine, 10, spent the day with their grandparents. Upon their return home, the two girls sensed something was wrong when their mother wasn’t home and immediately suspected their stepfather of killing her. Dennis Ott was an active duty petty officer in the U.S. Coast Guard and his relationship with Phonthip was tumultuous. There was interpersonal violence and adultery on both sides but it appears the domestic violence escalated with Dennis; he was jealous and possessive of Phonthip and didn’t like that she was having affairs. At one point in the relationship, Dennis threatened her life and this is when Phonthip decided to file for a restraining order and a divorce. It would be this same day, May 17th, that Phonthip would disappear.

At first, it appeared Dennis Ott was not going to be held accountable as he continued to go to work at the Coast Guard station day after day. Then one day, a 16 year old Tippy, wrote a letter to the district attorney and the Coast Guard about her mother’s case. It would be this letter that reinvigorated interest in the homicide case and after further investigation, Ott was arrested in November 1994. The duffel bag found at the crime scene was issued to Coast Guard personnel only. The H-shaped cement anchors at the crime scene matched those found in Ott’s backyard. And there appeared to be a history of escalating domestic violence that ended in murder because Phonthip wanted to leave him (rejection). In 1995, Dennis Ott was convicted and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The two sisters hope Dennis Ott remains in prison for the rest of his life and plan to attend all the parole hearings in the future. After 20 years in prison, Dennis was eligible for parole in California. His first parole hearing was denied because the parole board felt he was too evasive and wouldn’t admit culpability.

Dennis Ott has always maintained his innocence and continues to say he did not kill his wife. Dennis Ott is up for a parole hearing again in October 2017, only two years after his last parole hearing. Both sisters share that every parole hearing re-victimizes them because they have to re-live the traumatic events of the day they lost their mother.

“I don’t believe I will be a danger to society.” -Dennis Ott

A stepfather sits in prison for killing his wife. Her daughters vow to keep him there. Does he deserve parole? -48 Hours

Related Links:
48 Hours Premiered ‘Crime & Punishment on CBS (2017)
Calif. sisters fight to keep mother’s killer behind bars
“48 Hours” preview: Crime and punishment
48 Hours: Remembering Phonthip Ott
48 Hours: Sheriff zeroes in on a murder suspect
48 Hours: The possibility of parole
48 Hours: Murder victim’s daughters share their emotional journey
The possibility of parole: “48 Hours” examines life after a murder verdict
Phonthip Ott Murder: Crime and Punishment
Scoop: 48 HOURS on CBS – Saturday, January 7, 2017
California Sisters: Keep our mom’s killer behind bars!
Phonthip Boonack, Dennis Ott: ’48 Hours’ Reels In Case Of Missing Mother Found Dead in California River
‘He deserves to rot in prison’: Sisters fight to keep their mother’s killer behind bars as he comes up for parole 25 years after the victim’s body was pulled from a river in a weighted duffel bag
Sisters receive award for courage after mom’s death

Air Force Retiree Philip Inhofer Murdered by Escort for Money & Mercedes Convertible; Michelle Cummiskey Sentenced to 25 Years to Life (March 7, 1991)

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Philip Inhofer, U.S. Air Force Retiree

Philip Inhofer was an Air Force retiree hired as a civil servant at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, California after retirement from the military. He was recently divorced from his second wife and enjoying retirement as a single man. Philip moved back to North Natomas in Sacramento to be closer to his family. He adored his grandkids and enjoyed being a grandfather. On March 7, 1991, Philip’s boss at McClellan AFB called Philip’s son Henry because he hadn’t shown up to work which was not like him and they were worried. Henry went to Philip’s home and found that his car was gone and his lights were off. He went inside the house, saw blood, and thought maybe he was hurt. Henry was frantic and as a result, he checked the entire house; he eventually found his dad in a closet. Philip was face down and naked with a plastic bag over his head. Henry called his wife who came right over and initially they thought maybe Philip killed himself; they called the police together. Henry took his father’s death hard. He admitted to feeling bummed and having no passion about anything after this tragedy. Henry was in the process of rebuilding his relationship with his dad because when he was young, he was a rebellious teen and Philip was gone a lot while he was in the military.

Henry shared that Philip had been to Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand in his military travels. Henry was using this chance as an opportunity to get to know his father and was looking forward to many more years with him. In retirement, Philip Inhofer loved square dancing and enjoyed his social life but he was getting bored so he bought a two-door 1975 Mercedes convertible. Henry found a list of escort services in his dad’s home and was shocked. He didn’t know anything about his father’s lifestyle. Henry assumed since Philip was recently divorced, he was looking for love in all the wrong places. Henry was embarrassed that his father was purchasing escorts. Apparently Philip did not like being alone so one night he called an escort service and asked for two women. One of those women was an escort by the name of Jade. Jade did not look like a prostitute and was very pretty although she was a prostitute at a Nevada brothel. After meeting Jade that first time, Philip was struck by her and asked for her by name after that because he only had eyes for Jade. In addition to paying Jade for her services, Philip helped her financially; he gave her money to pay her debts, bought her designer clothes, took her shopping, and paid all her expenses. He began spending more and more time with Jade and spending more and more money.

Meanwhile, Henry noticed that Philip would stop by briefly to visit with them but would not sit down and would not stay. He appeared fidgety. Philip was not depressed but looking back in retrospect, he was in love. Philip got rid of his dog for Jade after she complained about it. Then out of the blue he talked about selling his beloved car. We would later learn that Jade wanted his car and he needed another one to replace it. Investigators determined that Jade wanting Philip’s Mercedes became a problem in the relationship because Philip wanted to keep his beloved car. Jade also wanted to continue to shop endlessly but Philip had to put his foot down because he didn’t have the money. Despite Jade’s persistence about the car, Philip could not part with it. Regardless, Philip and Jade started making serious plans together. Philip wanted Jade to move in with him and on March 6, 1991, Jade left the Mustang Ranch in Nevada to move in with her new man in California. Jade and a friend drove through a snow storm to get to California and Philip was very happy to see her. One day later, Philip Inhofer was found dead in his home. First responders at the scene knew right away that Philip Inhofer’s death was no suicide.

A homicide detective was called to the scene to investigate what appeared to be a brutal murder. Detectives discovered a large blood stain on the carpet and found Philip lying on his stomach with a plastic bag on his head. They observed that Philip had suffered from numerous stab wounds and his throat had been slashed. Whoever killed Philip did so in a rage. Philip’s skull was fractured and his teeth were smashed in which was evidence tremendous amounts of blunt force were used. Philip’s shower curtain was shredded and there was blood everywhere including in the tub, on the walls, and on the shower curtains. Detectives found two pieces of paper in the home with Jade’s name on it, one of them was located on the bed stand. They learned Jade was an escort but Philip never told his family that piece of information. Using Philip’s phone records, detectives were able to track down persons of interest in an effort to find Jade. Detectives learned from a friend that Jade was going to Sacramento, California to pick up a Mercedes. The friend who gave Jade a ride to Sacramento informed police that Jade asked her to stop at a store so she could pick up some rat poisoning. She claimed she was going to use it to kill someone but her friend thought she was just kidding.

Investigators also learned that Jade or Michelle Cummisky was accused of electrocuting a previous husband; she threw a radio in his tub. But there was not enough evidence to charge her. Some of her friends said she worshipped Satan and Black Magic, and had tried to kill every man she was ever involved with. A previous husband thought she used rat poison on him because he got very ill when he was with her. Police were concerned that a beautiful, lethal woman was on the run so they called in the Federal Bureau of Investigation to assist. And the media was contacted; they called Michelle Cummisky ‘Batgirl’ in reports. In Biloxi, Mississippi, a police officer pulled over two girls in a Ryder rental truck with a freshly painted Mercedes in the back. The police ran the vehicle identification number and it came back as a hit to the murder victim, Philip Inhofer. Sacramento detectives went to Mississippi. Michelle’s friend Crystal Woodruff was clueless about Michelle’s crimes so she was released but Michelle on the other hand admitted to the crime. She told investigators that she hurt the man she loved because she was high on a lot of LSD and didn’t know what she was doing. Michelle loved her LSD. She claimed she went to get in the shower with Philip but instead saw monsters and beasts. She described Philip as a dark force that she needed to get rid of.

As Michelle committed the murder, she was reminded that Satan would protect her. She started stabbing Philip through the shower curtain as he was taking a shower. He was completely vulnerable, defenseless, and taken off guard. He attempted to fight off the attack as evidenced by the numerous defense wounds on his body but would succumb to the multiple stab wounds. An autopsy revealed that Philip had been stabbed thirty-two times. After he collapsed, Michelle hit him in the head with a bat a few times to make sure he was dead then dragged his body to a closet. Michelle ate dinner and went to bed. She described to investigators that Satan guided her through everything. The next day, Michelle left North Natomas with the bloody rugs and stole Philip’s Mercedes. Michelle Cummisky was charged with murder. At her trial a couple years later, she used the fact that she had a horrible upbringing and difficult childhood as her defense. The prosecutors reminded the jury that the murder was a cold calculated crime and Michelle would go to any lengths to get what she wanted. On April 14, 1994, Michelle Cummisky was sentenced to twenty-five years to life in prison. In April 2011, Michelle Cummisky was denied her first chance at parole. Michelle Cummisky is a greedy, sociopath and her selfish actions altered the destiny of several people forever.

Source: Shades of Jade, Stranger in My Home, Investigation Discovery

Investigation Discovery:

A lonely ex-military man meets up with a much younger beautiful woman, and together they fall in love. Or so they think. Until a deadly combination of greed, worry, and secrets leaves one dead and the other on the run… wanted for murder. -Shades of Jade, A Stranger in My Home (S3, E8)

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch 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. 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 $3.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict. Download the ID Go app or purchase ID True Crime Files & binge away.

Related Links:
Michelle Cummiskey v. California Superior Court (1992)
‘Batgirl’ killer of Sacramento man denied parole
Ask Sacto 911 crime Q&A: What happened to woman investigators dubbed ‘Batgirl’?
Philip Inhofer, Michelle Cummiskey: ‘Bat Girl’ Killer Known as Jade was Sexy Escort, Story on ID’s ‘A Stranger in My Home’
Shades of Jade | A Stranger in My Home | Investigation Discovery (S3,E8)
Shades of Jade | A Stranger in My Home | Investigation Discovery (website)
Shades of Jade | A Stranger in My Home | Investigation Discovery (Amazon)
A Stranger in My Home Premiered ‘Shades of Jade’ on ID: Nevada Escort Murders Air Force Retiree Philip Inhofer Because Greed (April 8, 2016)