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In these cases, truth really is stranger than fiction.
It’s no secret that our culture has an obsession with all things true crime. Any time a new true crime documentary or docuseries premieres on Netflix, HBO Max or any other streamer, it becomes the topic of watercooler conversations for weeks. But one has to wonder, how many true crime stories out there would make great movies?
There are plenty of true crime stories that you most likely haven’t heard of. Some of them have so many twists and turns that it can be hard to believe they aren’t the product of a writer’s imagination. However, it’s always important to keep in mind that there are usually innocent victims that were hurt—even killed—at the heart of most of these cases.
Here are 20 of the most outlandish true crime stories that would make great movies.
1. The Murder of Lynnette Quast Craft
On the outside, it appeared Lynnette Craft had an enviable life. She and her husband, Thomas Craft, had known each other since kindergarten and had been high school sweethearts before marrying at the age of 21. Friends who knew them would describe them as a seemingly perfect couple. However, behind closed doors, Thomas was becoming increasingly controlling, even forbidding Lynnette from attending her brother’s upcoming wedding. She had told friends and family members of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Lynette decided to take her two sons (ages 8 and 7 months) and leave her husband. Unfortunately, Tom came home while she was packing and a fight ensued. Tragically, that was the last anyone would hear of Lynnette.
While stories of domestic abuse are sadly all too common, it’s what happened after Lynnette’s death that was truly strange. Thomas Craft has admitted to dismembering his wife, however, he claims it is because he came home to find Lynnette had committed suicide and he dismembered her to prevent anyone from finding out what she had done. After dismembering her, he put her body parts into multiple trash bags and disposed of them in dumpsters throughout Ohio and Michigan. Tom Craft’s crime was discovered when an employee of one of the businesses whose dumpsters he used happened upon one of the bags, knew it wasn’t supposed to be there, and opened it.
Tom Craft’s story is especially undermined by the fact that his young son recalled to police that he had walked in on his father watching a video on how to dismember a body—prior to his wife’s death.
Tom Craft is out of prison, having been sentenced to just 12 years. He was able to take an Alford plea for voluntary manslaughter and abuse of a corpse. An Alford plea is a guilty plea in criminal court wherein a defendant in a criminal case does not admit to the criminal act and maintains their innocence, but admits that the evidence presented by the prosecution would be likely to persuade a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This was due to the fact that Lynnette’s torso was never recovered, and thereby an official cause of death could not truly be determined. Lynnette’s family is still angry over what they feel is a travesty of justice—her brother Bob even used her murder as a point in a bizarre campaign ad during his Senate run in 2014.
Tom Craft’s one-time prison roommate described to investigators that when he questioned his cellmate as to how he could dismember his wife, Tom Craft only looked at him and smiled. Good luck sleeping knowing this guy is out there free!
2. The Murder of Steven Robards
Dorothy Marie Robards, better known as Marie Robards, loved her mother deeply, with the two being so close they were more like sisters than mother and daughter. The 16-year-old had lived primarily with her mom following her parents’ divorce when she was 4. However, their relationship had become strained prior to the start of Marie’s junior year of high school when the teenager came home and discovered her stepfather, Frank Burroughs, with another woman. Despite this revelation, Marie’s mother Beth decided to work on her marriage, causing a mother-daughter rift. Marie became increasingly disdainful and outright disobedient toward Frank, culminating in Marie threatening to leave the home if Beth and Frank didn't get a divorce. Beth and Frank stayed together, and as a result, Marie went to live full-time with her father Steven.
Marie came to almost immediately regret this decision, however, and turned up on her mother and stepfather’s doorstep begging to move back in. On the other hand, Steven Robards was apparently thrilled to have his daughter with him full-time and was working hard to learn the necessary homemaking skills to raise a teenager. It wasn’t that Marie had a bad relationship with her father—she just missed her mother terribly. Unfortunately for Marie, Frank had made it clear that if she moved out, she wouldn’t be able to move back in, and Beth and Frank stuck to the rule, forcing Marie to go back to her father’s home. That was when Marie decided to take things into her own hands.
Using barium acetate that she had stolen from her high school chemistry class, Marie Robards laced her father’s refried beans on taco night with what would amount to a lethal dose. Later, she would claim she only wanted to make her father sick so she could go back to living with her mother. Whatever the initial motivation, the results were the same: Steven Robards died, and his death was initially ruled as a heart attack. Marie got her wish and returned to her mother’s house. In a horrible turn of events, Marie learned at her father’s funeral that Beth was leaving Frank and had already made a plan to move with her daughter to Florida.
Almost a year later, Marie was studying Hamlet one night with one of her best friends when the subject matter caused her to confess her crime. Her friend, Stacey High, agonized for weeks over what to do with this information before finally asking a school counselor to contact the police about the murder. When the crime was reinvestigated, the poisoning was discovered.
Marie, who by this time was a freshman at the University of Texas, was convicted of her father’s 1993 murder in 1995, and sentenced to 27 years in prison. She was paroled in 2003 and is now believed to be living under a new identity. The crime has been given the fictional treatment in Megan Abbott’s 2018 novel Give Me Your Hand.
3. The Murder of Roger “Butch” Pratt
Butch Pratt and Edward Swiger became fast friends and fraternity brothers while studying together at Thiel College. Unfortunately, the two also got involved with a few illegal activities along the way. The pair worked together at a furniture store owned by Linda Karlen, Swiger’s girlfriend who was 15 years his senior. In an insurance scam, Swiger had helped Karlen burn down the store for a sizable payout. Pratt and Swiger also robbed their own fraternity during a school break, stealing and selling the stereo and other electronic equipment that they had taken.
Butch had a solid moral foundation and had just lost his way, according to accounts. He had been an amazing high school athlete and was known for his kind and caring demeanor, even being awarded the Good Humanitarian Award by his classmates. When he was arrested for the fraternity robbery, Swiger was reportedly nervous and unsure how much Pratt would reveal to investigators, including information about the arson. He began formulating a plan to keep his former best friend silent.
Enlisting the help of two mutual female friends and his brother Michael, Edward Swiger wanted to get Pratt alone. He had the two female friends invite Pratt out for a visit with the promise of a party, then drive him into the woods, trick him into getting out of the car and driving away, leaving him stranded. However, it is unclear how much Edward’s accomplices really knew about his true intentions. Once he had Butch alone, Edward reportedly attacked him. Michael Swiger later recalled seeing his brother punch Pratt, then bang his head repeatedly into a pipe before jumping up and down on his chest while laughing.
Michael has talked about being horrified by his brother’s actions, but helped him load Pratt’s body into the trunk of the car, shocked and believing him to be dead. Michael would describe the next 16 months prior to the discovery of the murder as the worst of his life. The brothers were eventually arrested when Karlen, while being investigated for an unrelated arson, fingered her then-ex-boyfriend to authorities, leading them to Pratt’s body in the process.
Edward Swiger was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 1988 slaying of his one-time best friend. His brother Michael served almost 20 years behind bars—with his high school sweetheart remaining faithful the whole time. Linda Karlen served 15 years for her role in the murder of the promising young man who was taken much too young.
4. The Murder of Brittany Loritts
Brittany Loritts was a bright and beautiful young woman who had her whole life ahead of her. She was supposed to head off to college in the fall of 2005. Instead, in July 2005 her stepfather, Reginald Weeks, discovered her dead in her bedroom—she had been raped and murdered and the house had reportedly been ransacked. Weeks’ sobs about his stepdaughter’s death could be heard in the background of the 911 call to authorities.
As police investigated, wondering who would want to harm Brittany, they discovered troubling skeletons in the family’s closet. Loritts had faced a pregnancy as a young teenager, but no one was certain who the father had been. Police looked into her boyfriends, past and present, as potential suspects. Eventually, they discovered inconsistencies in her stepfather Weeks’ story. It soon came out that her stepfather had been molesting and raping her for around six years—if not more. A potential motive began to take shape, with investigators piecing together that Weeks was afraid of losing control of Brittany when she moved out for college, in addition to being worried she would tell people what he had been doing.
In a move family members feel is a miscarriage of justice, Weeks was given the opportunity to enter an Alford plea for the rape and murder. As a result, he was paroled in January 2015 after only serving seven years for his crimes. It has been speculated that the short sentence was racially motivated and had Brittany not been a young, Black woman, her killer would have faced a harsher punishment.
5. The Murder of Justin Newman
Ari Squire was facing an insurmountable amount of debt after being convicted of Medicare fraud to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. When a body was discovered in Squire’s garage with the troubled man’s driver’s license in the pocket, crushed under a truck and having been set ablaze, it was easy to assume Squire had met a rather unpleasant end. However, the actual story would turn out to be much more twisted.
Ari Squire had recently taken out a $5 million life insurance policy on himself—a policy he could not afford to pay for. He had been spending time at a local hardware store, inquiring with a couple of the workers there about hiring them for a job. Two men, a man named Sandy Lively who closely resembled Squire, and Justin Newman responded to the inquiry. Lively recalled the job had a highly inflated salary and a strange application that asked invasive questions, like the location of scars and tattoos. Lively’s child ended up sick on the day he was supposed to go to Squire’s home to talk about the job in 2008, a twist of fate that likely spared his life.
Instead, Ari Squire lured Justin Newman to his home. Squire murdered Newman and tried to use the young man’s body to fake his own death. Fortunately, authorities were able to spot inconsistencies in Squire’s dental records with Newman’s body and determined that things were not as they seemed. Squire killed himself while hiding out in an Illinois motel room when he discovered authorities were on to him, having tried unsuccessfully to assume Newman’s identity rather than face punishment for his crime.
6. What Happened to Bill Sparkman?
Teacher and United States Census Bureau field worker Bill Sparkman’s body was found in the woods three days after he had been reported missing. He was found with a rope tied around his neck and tied to a tree with the word "FED" written across his chest and his census ID taped to his neck. He was gagged, his mouth and eyes covered with duct tape; his hands and feet were bound together with duct tape as well.
Sparkman was the sole parent of his then-19-year-old adopted son ; Sparkman battled non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in the past and was wary of the disease coming back. It was found that he had a $600,000 insurance policy that had his son as the beneficiary, but it would not pay out if he died from cancer—or from suicide.
After two months of investigating, authorities determined Sparkman had killed himself but arranged for the scene to appear as a homicide. He had done this, they suspected, as a way to ensure his son received the payout from his life insurance policy.
7. The Murder of John Trover
John and Cheryl Trover always seemed to have the perfect marriage. Raising three children, including John’s daughter from his first marriage, the two were popular in their town of Gillette, Wyoming. Cheryl was a well-liked high school math teacher and the family even lived across the street from her boss, the high school’s principal, John Riley.
Things take a turn when John starts receiving threatening calls at work, which continued for months. They stopped after Cheryl Trover was found in the woods on the outskirts of town, naked and beaten, with the family’s trunk bed filled with flames. Back home, two of the couples’ kids were tied up in bed and John Trover was dead. But things aren’t as simple as they seem.
Investigators noticed that Cheryl was only injured in places she could reach on her body, and her story began to fall apart. It would come out that Cheryl had been the one making the phone calls to John’s work. She had been having an affair with John Riley for quite some time. She waited until Riley was at a conference for the weekend, took one of his guns, dressed up as a robber and even tied up her own kids. Then she shot her husband, but because she had used the wrong ammunition, he didn’t die right away and the two engaged in a fight to the death, which John sadly lost.
Cheryl then burned herself and injured herself to make it appear she had been sexually assaulted. She drove out to the outskirts of town and set evidence on fire in the bed of the family truck. When her murderous plan was found out by investigators, Cheryl shot herself rather than face justice, leaving the poor Trover children to have to pick up the pieces.
Related: Is The Thing About Pam a True Story?
8. The Murder of Jeffrey Hall
Let’s get this out upfront: Jeffrey Hall had earned his fair share of enemies and rightfully so. As the regional leader of the National Socialist Movement in Riverside, Calif., and a proclaimed neo-Nazi who was fighting for an all-white society, there were many people who despised the man who said he was willing to die for his cause. However, no one expected him to die the way he did.
On May 1, 2011, as Hall slept on the couch in his home, his 10-year-old son Joseph shot him to death. Joseph told authorities later that he was tired of his father abusing him and his stepfather. Hall had taught his son how to shoot a gun and was in the process of indoctrinating him into his neo-Nazi ways.
After the shooting, Joseph claimed he got the idea to kill his father from an episode of Criminal Minds, in which he saw a child shoot his abusive father without facing any consequences for the crime. He was sentenced in 2013 to 10 years in a California juvenile facility.
Related: Where Is Chris Watts Now?
9. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist
One of the most famous real-life museum heists in history has still not been given the fictional treatment! In March of 1990, two men posing as police officers responding to a disturbance gained entry to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. They tied up the guards and spent the next hour raiding the museum floor, stealing 13 extremely precious works of art, valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars in total.
These works included The Concert, one of the 34 known paintings by Johannes Vermeer, which is said to be the most valuable unrecovered painting in the world. The Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt—his only seascape—was also taken, including other works by the artist as well as paintings and sketches by Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet and Govert Flinck. Oddly, among the stolen works were also a somewhat valueless eagle finial and Chinese gu. These choices have confused experts as other more valuable artworks were left behind.
To this day, though many theories have been floated, the case remains unsolved and the works of art, are unreturned. A $10 million bounty is still being offered for information leading to the art’s return—and the statute of limitations to prosecute the crime has run out. As the collection and its layout are permanent in the museum, due to the wishes of Isabella Stewart Gardner, empty frames remain hanging in place of the missing works, waiting for their return.
10. The Twisted Tale of James Hood
Millionaire real estate developer James Hood and his wife Bonnie seemed to be living the high life in Newport Beach in the ‘80s. The couple decided to buy Camp Nelson in Tulare County and fix it up as an out-of-city retreat. Bonnie moved to the camp, while James stayed behind. However, this would turn out to be a tragic choice for Bonnie.
Following a lavish wedding party on Aug. 19, 1990, at 3 a.m., Bonnie Hood and the lodge groundskeeper, Rudy Manual, were both shot in Bonnie’s room. Bonnie tragically passed away from her wounds, however, Manual survived. Manual even fingered the shooter—Bruce Beauchamp, an employee of James Hood’s.
It turned out Manual, who was also married, had been having an affair with Bonnie. However, at Beauchamp’s eventual trial, Manual refused to admit to the affair. The largely circumstantial case relied heavily on this testimony, and with Manual’s integrity in question, Beauchamp was acquitted of the charges.
His victory would be short-lived, however, as he was found shot to death on March 22, 1992, in James Hood’s office. Hood claimed he had shot Beauchamp in self-defense, but Beauchamp had been shot seven times and the gun that was found in his possession was in his right hand— and Beauchamp was left-handed.
It would come out at trial that James Hood had allegedly hired Bruce Beauchamp to murder his wife as revenge for her affair. A motive for Hood to murder Beauchamp that was presented was Beauchamp blackmailing his former employer to milk him for more money.
11. The Secrets of Charlie Brandt
When Charlie and Teri Brandt and their niece Michelle Lynn Jones were all found dead in Michelle’s home on Sept. 15, 2004, the grisly scene raised a lot of questions. Teri and Michelle had been stabbed to death, with Jones being decapitated and disemboweled, her heart and organs removed and her head placed next to her body. Meanwhile, Charlie had been found hanging from the rafters.
As investigators began to pull back the covers, they discovered Charlie Brandt’s troubling history. He had murdered his pregnant mother and wounded his father when he was just 13 years old. Eventually, investigators discovered the 1989 murder of a homeless woman near Brandt’s home and linked the murder to Brandt. A number of cold cases are thought to be the work of Charlie Brandt, who may have a victim total of more than 30 people. However, as all of this was discovered after his suicide, it is likely we will never know the full extent of his crimes.
12. The Murder of Crystal Faye Todd
The first case in South Carolina that used DNA evidence to link the suspect to the victim, the rape and murder of 17-year-old Crystal Faye Todd seems straight out of a horrific slasher movie. Crystal Faye Todd had been out at a party with friends when she missed her curfew, worrying her mother, widow Bonnie Faye Todd.
Crystal’s body was found in the early morning by two hunters, laying in a ditch. A massive investigation launched townwide, with dozens of DNA samples being taken. Suspects included an older man who had been hanging around with Crystal and her friends, however, he was soon ruled out when his DNA did not match that of the suspect.
No one suspected the murderer was Crystal’s family friend since childhood, Johnnie “Ken” Register. It turned out Register had run into Crystal when she was on her way home after the party that night and convinced her to get into his car and go on a drive with him. It has been alleged that when Crystal turned down his advances, Register raped and murdered her. The then-18-year-old Register was convicted of Crystal’s murder in 1992 and remains in prison to this day.
13. The Murder of Randy Stone
Former Marine Randy Stone and his wife Teresa were married for 19 years, and Randy was a pillar of the community in Independence, Missouri. As a result, when Teresa called authorities to report she found her husband shot to death in the veteran’s insurance business where they both worked, the community was baffled as to who would want to harm the family man. This sentiment was echoed by the speech Pastor David Love made at Randy’s funeral: “We weep not just because of the separation of our loved one but because of the questions that death brings. Questions like, 'Why? Why him? Why now?'"
Why, indeed. Police began to discover inconsistencies in Teresa’s story, notably how she knew her husband had been shot to death when she found him though she had claimed not to have touched the body. They also found a love letter in the workplace’s trash with excerpts like, "Happy Birthday Love. I am not in control of things yet but when we are fully together your birthday will always be exciting."
When Teresa was brought in for questioning, police were shocked by the level of detail the widow was able to give for her alibi, almost like it had been rehearsed. When confronted with the note, she claimed ignorance, yet a camera recorded her saying, "Oh great. I forgot about that," when she was left alone.
The investigation would uncover Teresa’s decade-long affair with an unlikely candidate—Pastor David Love. She fingered Love as the murderer, though acknowledged her part of the crime as part of a plea deal. She was sentenced to eight years in prison. Love took a plea deal for second-degree murder and is currently serving a life sentence.
14. Where is Bhadreshkumar Chetanbhai Patel?
Bhadreshkumar Chetanbhai Patel married his wife Palak as part of an arranged marriage in India, and the couple moved to Hanover, Maryland, in 2015 shortly after. According to relatives, Palak was unhappy in the marriage and wanted to return to her family in India.
Bhadreshkumar and Palak were working together at a Dunkin' Donuts owned by a relative at this time. On the night of April 12, 2015, the couple was working a night shift together. Palak allegedly had a call with her family that night where she expressed her wish to return home to them. It is alleged her husband overheard this call, which fueled what he did next.
Surveillance footage showed the couple walking together at around 9:30 p.m. that night before they disappeared out of view. Minutes later, Bhadreshkumar emerged alone, turned off an oven and fled the store. Hours later, Palak’s body was found. The 21-year-old had been stabbed and beaten to death.
As Palak’s body was not discovered until over an hour after her death, Bhadreshkumar was a lead suspect and had a head start on authorities. He was seen getting a cab to a hotel near an airport in Newark, New Jersey. The driver told authorities that Bhadreshkumar seemed very calm during the ride. Bhadreshkumar then checked into a hotel in Newark where he paid in cash for a room and checked out the next morning. He was last on April 13, 2015, at around 10 a.m. at Newark Penn Station in New Jersey and has not been seen since.
The search for Bhadreshkumar is further complicated by the fact that he is an identical twin. He is said to have connections in Canada, India, New Jersey, Kentucky, Georgia and Illinois. He was added to the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list on April 18, 2017. Palak’s family still hopes he will be caught and brought to justice for their daughter’s murder.
15. Take-Out Bank Robbery
Some crimes are doomed to fail before they even take place. Two would-be bank robbers, 27-year-old Albert Bailey and a 16-year-old accomplice, called People's United Bank before coming in to rob it. They demanded $100,000 in large bills with no dye packs inside the bag be set aside for them for when they get there. Instead of their ill-gotten cash awaiting them, the pair rolled in just as police were arriving and were taken into custody. Gee, we can’t believe that didn’t work!
16. The Murders of Samuel Little
Convicted murderer Samuel Little has the largest number of confirmed victims for any serial killer in United States history, with 60 out of 93 confessed murders to his name. His time as an active serial killer spanned decades, from 1970 to 2005. Though he was in and out of prison for most of his life, he was not put away for good until he was convicted of three murders in 2014. Many of Little’s victims have remained unidentified, though he did draw portraits of dozens of his victims which authorities have released with the hopes of identifying them. Reporter Jillian Lauren published an account of her time interviewing Little in The Cut that is equal parts revealing and chilling.
17. The Murder of Brian Barrett
Though 46-year-old Thomas Montgomery was married with two daughters, he longed for something different. He began an internet affair with a teenage girl named “Jessi” who he met online. The only problem is Montgomery was pretending to be an 18-year-old Marine named “Tommy.”
The two shared scores of love notes, cyber sex and even packages. However, Montgomery’s wife discovered the internet affair and revealed his true identity to Jessi. Montgomery’s co-worker, 22-year-old Brian Barrett, had come into contact with Jessi through Montgomery, as all three used the same online gaming site. When Jessi reached out to confirm the story, Barrett told her the truth and consoled her.
As Barrett and Jessi formed their own online romance, Montgomery grew angry. The pair taunted Montgomery and flaunted their new relationship in his face, though Jessi would throw Montgomery the odd hopeful message occasionally.
Everything grew to a head when Montgomery learned Barrett and Jessi planned to meet in person. On Sept. 15, 2006, Brian Barrett was shot three times in the parking lot as he left work and died. DNA evidence from a peach pit found at the scene was matched to Montgomery.
In a final twist, when police went to interview Jessi to find out what she knew about the crime, it was revealed that Mary Shieler, a middle aged woman—and the real Jessi’s mother—was using her daughter’s pictures to catfish Montgomery (and Barrett) as Jessi the whole time.
18. What happened to Brian Shaffer?
Brian Shaffer was a handsome 27-year-old Ohio State University medical student with everything going for him. He was in love with fellow medical student Alexis Waggoner, and his family and friends reported he was planning to propose to Waggoner on a trip to Miami the two planned for the beginning of April.
On Friday, March 31, 2006, Shaffer went to dinner with his father before meeting his friend William "Clint" Florence at the Ugly Tuna Saloona. The two friends bar-hopped around town, grabbing a shot at each establishment they visited. After midnight, Shaffer and Florence met up with a friend of Florence’s, Meredith Reed, who gave them a ride back to the Ugly Tuna Saloona, joining them there for the last round. At some point, while the three were at the bar, Shaffer separated from the other two.
Florence and Reed tried to find Shaffer, calling him repeatedly, but then left with other patrons when the bar closed at 2 a.m. They waited outside for their companion, however, he never exited the bar. The two assumed he must have returned to his apartment without telling them and left. Shaffer and Waggoner's fathers both tried to reach Shaffer that weekend, but their calls went unanswered. The following Monday morning, Shaffer missed the flight to Miami he and Waggoner had planned and was then reported missing to the Columbus police.
Surveillance footage from the Ugly Tuna Saloona from 1:15 a.m. showed Shaffer, Florence and Reed going up an escalator to the bar's main entrance. At 1:55 a.m., Shaffer was shown outside of the bar talking briefly with two young women, saying goodbye, then moving off-camera in the direction of the bar, most likely with the intention of re-entering—that was the last time he was seen. There is no footage of Brian Shaffer leaving the bar that night and there have been no confirmed sightings of Shaffer ever again. While there have been many theories, it has never been confirmed what happened to Brian Shaffer that night.
19. The Stalking of Karen Welch
Karen Welch was a single mother alone in suburban New Jersey when she received a creepy phone call on Christmas Eve 1997. The person on the other end was using a voice changer and saying things that echoed the movie Scream. She dismissed it as a prank call and went about her life.
However, the calls continued, escalating to multiple calls a day. Every time Welch changed her phone number, her anonymous caller somehow tracked it down. The behavior escalated again when a truck began following Welch and her son on a seemingly normal Sunday afternoon, all the way to her home and eventually blocking her car in.
The harassing calls kept going for 11 months and the police were unable to help her. The stress got to the single mom, and she decided to take her son on vacation to Disney World. Horrifyingly enough, while in their hotel room, Welch received a phone call from the same harasser. He even knew it was her birthday and sang her “Happy Birthday” through the voice changer. He had tracked her down on vacation.
Because her stalker was using a prepaid cell phone, police weren't able to trace the call. The stalking slowed down when she returned to New Jersey and Welch began to relax. Four years went by and she believed her nightmare was over. Unfortunately, she came home one day to her screendoor having been slashed with a nail and footprints by all of her windows. The calls started up again, anywhere from 18 to 20 calls a day. Years went by and Welch was still being stalked in 2009, 12 years after the first phone call.
Finally, on January 15, 2010, investigators were able to figure out who Welch’s stalker was when he slipped up and one of the phone numbers he used was traced back to him. His name was Joe Pate, a well-respected member of the community who is married with a son and no criminal record. What’s surprising is Welch had no affiliation with him. Authorities believed he must have spotted her around town and become obsessed with her from afar.
Pate admitted to police that he was the stalker. However, prior to coming in and giving a statement, Joe Pate duct-taped himself into the shed behind his home and lit a fire, committing suicide rather than facing arrest.
20. The Death of Dawn Hacheney
Young pastor Nick Hacheney was out hunting when a call came in to 911 the day after Christmas in 1997: His house was on fire. When the fire department was able to put out the flames, the body of 28-year-old Dawn Hacheney, Nick’s wife, was found lying on their bed.
Dawn’s death was ruled an accident, however, something seemed strange. Dawn had even told a family member that she was going to die prior to her untimely end. Prophecies were common at Christ Community Church on Bainbridge Island, where her husband Nick was a pastor. When authorities looked into the church, they found something disturbing.
Nick Hacheney was counseling a good deal of couples. However, it was discovered he had begun sexual relationships with many of the women he was counseling, many in a coerced fashion. Nick bounced back a little too fast after his wife’s death, authorities began to believe, beginning romantic relationships within days of her passing.
It soon came out that Nick had been having affairs with several of the church members, including an alleged prophetess in the church, Sandra Glass, even prior to Dawn’s death. Authorities reexamined Dawn’s body and discovered she had been dead prior to the start of the fire. Nick Hacheney had suffocated his wife with a plastic bag, then used the wrapping paper from Christmas presents as kindling to start a fire with their space heater.
Nick Hacheney was sentenced to life in prison for his wife’s murder in 2003, but his sentence was overturned on a technicality in 2007. He was re-sentenced in 2008 to 26 years in prison.