I do find unusual murders fascinating. I'm really not that big into serials killers. I was at one point but eventually they all appeared to be somewhat the same. Bad childhood, started out killing/torturing animals, blah, blah, blah. There really are just so many tales of childhood abuse or neglect that I can stomach. So I eventually tired of the whole serial killer thing.
Now, familial killing. That is my "new" kick. I don't mean the Melendez type of killing. They were just greedy spoiled brats. Nothing interesting there. You know the type. Greedy kids, wives, husbands, etc just want to do away with the parent or spouse just to get some money type of killings. Those bore me as well. Unless the perp is seriously out of this world crazy. Below are my favorite familial killers at the moment. A common thread in these murders is greed. Remember, I said I wasn't interested in greed killings unless the murderer was seriously nuts. Well, these are. So sit back and enjoy my "favorite killers of the moment".
Diane Downs. I have discussed her in my previous blog so you all know what fascinates me about this case.
Aww, Marie. This woman was indeed out of her frigging mind. She was from Anniston, Alabama and she had always aspired to be rich, beautiful and refined. Unfortunately for Marie, she was born into a working class family who lived in a small town. Not much opera, ballet and high society exposure there. She was very attractive but that didn't help her much in her goal to be "upper class". She married a hard working man in 1951, had a daughter and then discovered insurance. She poisoned her husband with arsenic in 1975. A long hard death. An autopsy revealed symptoms consistent with hepatitis (whose symptoms closely match arsenic poisoning) and this was put on his death certificate as the cause of death.
When he died, she inherited a small policy. She spent it and much more within the course of a couple of years. She needed more so she insured her daughter and began to poison her. Unfortunately for Marie, the daughter didn't die. In 1979 while Marie was in jail for giving the insurance company hot checks for her daughter's insurance premiums, she was arrested for attempted murder. They dug up her husband and tested his remains and popped a murder charge on her for that. For some odd reason, the authorities allowed her to get bond and Marie took off. Marie remained a fugitive for over 3 years.
In her absence, they determined that both her mother and her mother-in-law had substantial levels of arsenic in their bodies when they died.
Marie moved to Florida using the name Robbi and met and married a well to do man named Holman, who by all accounts, was just the nicest guy in the world (you know what women like Marie do to these kinds of guys). They moved to New Hampshire after a couple of years. She worked in an office where she alienated several of the employees with her attitude and stories of how upper class she was. During this time, she told people she had an identical twin sister named Terri who lived in Texas.
When one co-worker in particular began to openly and publicly question the comments Marie would make at work about her "privileged life", Marie figured it was time for Robbie to disappear. So, in 1982 she told her husband that she needed to travel to Texas to visit her sister and to receive treatments for a disease she supposedly had. A few months later, "Terri" called to tell him Robbie had passed away and that Terri had donated her body to science so there would be no memorial.
On November 12 or 13, after changing her hair color and losing weight, she returned to New Hampshire and met John Homan, posing as Teri Martin, his “deceased” wife’s sister. She further went to the office where "Robbie" worked and met the suspicious employee. Rather than satisfying the employee's curiosity, it only made her more suspicious.
An obituary for Robbie Homan appeared in a New Hampshire newspaper. The co-worker contacted the police with her suspicions and when they attempted to check out the information contained in the obituary they were unable to verify any of the information it contained. A New Hampshire state police detective surmised that the woman living as Teri Martin was, in fact, Robbi Homan and had staged her death. That hunch paid off and shortly after police brought “Teri Martin” in for questioning, she confessed to being Audrey Marie Hilley. She was returned to Alabama to face trial.
She was quickly convicted and sentenced to life in prison for her husband’s murder and 20 years for attempting to kill her daughter.
She began serving her sentence in 1983 and was a quiet, model prisoner. This good behavior earned her several one-day passes from the prison, and she always arrived back on time.
In February 1987, however, Hilley escaped after she was given a three-day pass to visit her husband, John Homan, who had moved to Anniston to be near his wife. They spent a day at an Anniston motel and when Homan left for a few hours, she disappeared, leaving behind a note for Homan asking his forgiveness. Her escape prompted an inquiry into the prison system’s furlough policy.
This time, she did not stay missing very long. Four days after she vanished, Anniston police responding to a call about a suspicious person, went to a home and found her. She apparently had been crawling around in the woods, drenched by four days of frequent rain and numb from temperatures dropping to the low 30s. She had landed on the steps of a house within yards from the house where she had grown up. The very house she had struggled, connived and murdered to escape.
She was taken to a local hospital and underwent emergency treatment for hypothermia. While at the hospital she suffered a heart attack and died.
John Homan, her husband, was murdered in 1989. His time with Marie had depleted all of his resources and the man who once owned sailboats and houses in multiple states was reduced to working at the same motel where he and Marie had last stayed as a caretaker. An altercation occurred on his shift and when John stepped in to help, he was stabbed to death.
Robert O. Marshall
This man killed for greed and sex. In 1984, Rob Marshall was a successful business man with 3 perfect sons (one of whom later married Tracy Gold, the actress), a perfect and beautiful wife who all lived in a perfect and beautiful house in a perfect and beautiful suburb of Tom's River, NJ.
However, Rob wasn't as successful as he would lead everyone, his family included, to believe. He was heavily in debt and to top it off had a married neighbor on the side that he wanted to marry. Problem was, he had a wife who had never worked outside the home, 3 children and a heavy mortgage. He would be ruined if he went the divorce route. So, what is the alternative? Insure her to the hilt and then murder her. Life would be good. Or so he thought.
So, Rob Marshall sits in prison with a life sentence. Amazing story again of someone who just doesn't see that he did anything wrong.
Patricia Vann Radcliffe and Tom Allanson
I can't talk about this case without naming both parties because the situation is just too bizarre for me not to mention them both.
Patricia thought of herself as special. Her parents had always bailed her out and she'd never had to take responsibility for herself. Partly because of that, she felt that her husband ought to be able to give her anything she wanted. She needed constant attention—what some men might call high maintenance---and unqualified love. She first had married an army sergeant and stayed with him long enough to have three children, but got tired of him, so she left him in 1972 to find a better quality of life—what she felt she deserved. She met Tom Allanson, six years younger than her. She had her eye on someone else, but it looked like Tom could give her whatever she wanted.
Nothing she ever had was enough. She had to make things go her way and she did: through manipulation, poisoning, theft, lies, and deceit. Her presence was a constant danger to people who stood in her way: her brother a "suicide", her new in-laws shot dead, her grandparents-in-law nearly poisoned by arsenic, her employer severely overdosed, her daughter, who finally saw the awful truth about her mother, possibly poisoned. A narcissistic personality, without a shred of conscience, she systematically destroyed her own family.
Tom had money and as soon as he was divorced, he was quite insistent that Pat marry him. He later recalled that he was the one who pressured her, while she would say, "You don't want to marry me." Yet she could just as easily have been stoking the fire by making herself unobtainable.
In 1974, he married her dressed as Rhett Butler, while she played Scarlett, and gave her a heavily-mortgaged, 52-acre home in Zebulon, Georgia, that she referred to as Tara. They set about to raise Morgan horses, and even Jimmy Carter, then governor of Georgia, came to visit. Pat's ambitions of being the proper Southern belle were being realized—or so it seemed.
When Walter Allanson, Tom's father, disapproved of her and angrily tried to force Tom out of his life (and will), Pat filed complaints of sexual harassment against him, claiming that he had exposed himself to her. Tom grew alarmed over this, along with threats that he heard that his father was going to kill him, so he took out a restraining order. Yet his father was taking a defensive stand, believing that his own son was out to kill him. Someone had stolen a pistol and rifle from his home and he was convinced it was his son. The police searched Tom's home and came up empty-handed, yet the intense fear and anger continued to grow on both sides. With no form of communication taking place, it was the perfect set-up for a manipulative psychopath who wanted to get something for herself.
This back and forth paranoia goes on for some time with anonymous phone calls to Tom and also to his father telling them of potential threats to their lives by the other. Mysterious drive by shootings followed up with more anonymous "tips" until one day the trap is complete. The elder Allansons are murdered and Tom is accused of the killings.
Tom was soon arrested. Pat insists on directing the defense. When Pat told a number of lies to the attorney in an alleged attempt to provide Tom with an alibi, the situation became even more suspicious. Tom had his own story—also a lie—and it didn't match. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. At the time of the murders, he and Pat had been married less than two months, and now Pat had the farm to herself. It wasn't long before she tried to talk Tom into a suicide pact, which he later felt sure was an attempt to get him to die so she would inherit everything.
Tom is convicted and sentenced to life. Pat was left alone, so then turns her attention to Tom's remaining family, ingratiating herself with his invalid grandparents. Her house and barns burned down, and she forged Tom's signature to get the insurance payments. When she's certain that the grandparents name her as a major beneficiary in their wills, she begins lacing their food with arsenic. But before she can kill them, she's caught - and does eight years for attempted murder.
Released and apparently reformed, she's hired as a practical nurse by a rich Atlanta couple, Mr. and Mrs. Crist. The aged pair soon sickens; the husband dies, and Pat is convicted of attempted murder and theft.
Once again, Pat was facing prison time. In a shrewd and controversial plea bargain, she agreed to seven charges, including theft, attempted murder, and posing as a registered nurse, with the proviso that she never be charged with the murder of Mr. Crist or investigated for the murder of Tom's parents. One again, she was sentenced to eight years.
There is never a shortage of news about Patricia Vann Radcliffe Taylor Allanson Taylor, Pat is 70 now, and scarcely the slender and lovely Southern Belle she once was. Several years ago, she was paroled from her second prison sentence--for pretending to be a "Registered Nurse," and poisoning and stealing from the elderly Crist couple.
Pat returned to McDonough, Georgia, to move in with her stepfather, Clifford,” The Colonel" Radcliffe and his new bride, Aggie whom he had married a few months after "Boppo" died. (Aggie was Pat's mother Boppo's younger sister.) Pat has a small doll shop nearby: "Pat's Pretty Playthings." Aggie passed away last year, and Pat's son, Ronnie, also died in 2004. Pat is battling Ronnie's widow over who will possess his remains.
Radcliffe is in his nineties and was hospitalized several times in 2005. When he is home, Pat cares for him and oversees his business affairs. Pat bears much ill will toward her granddaughter, Ashlynne, now in her twenties, and, of course toward her daughter, Susan, who was instrumental in Pat's most recent arrest. Susan lives on the West Coast, but occasionally gets ominous messages from Pat. Susan and Bill divorced many years ago, and Susan has happily remarried and is slowly putting her family back together.
The now-released Tom gives stunning suggestions of how Pat engineered the killing of his parents. I can see how he would feel totally manipulated by Pat but come on.........he's the one who pulled the trigger MORE than once and killed both of his parents. She may have pushed him to do it and she may have set the stage, but HE did the killing. He needs to accept responsibility for HIS actions as well as, blaming Pat. Personally, I'd be ashamed to admit that I was such a puss that someone could talk me into murdering my parents. Unbelievable.
UPDATE: As of February, 2008 the elderly Georgia woman who had twice been convicted of attempted murder in arsenic poisoning cases, stood before a Fayette County Magistrate on felony drug charges. According to Lt. Jody Thomas of the Fayette County Drug Task Force, Pat Taylor (as she is now known), 70, was arrested Tuesday and charged with doctor shopping for thousands of pain pills over the past year.
“We believe she may have received over 3,700 pills in less than a year,” said Thomas. Lt. Thomas said officials suspect Taylor was using the pain medication herself. He said normally the quantity of pain pills would indicate the suspect was selling narcotics, but that did not appear to be the case with Taylor.
This story is convoluted at best. Dan Broderick was not at all a sympathetic victim nor was his new much younger bride with whom he had carried on an affair for quite some time before he decided to divorce Betty. Linda was also his office assistant when their affair started.
Dan was by all accounts, vain, selfish, cold and verbally abusive to Betty. He belittled her at every opportunity during their marriage and once the divorce proceedings began he jumped at every opportunity to harass her and put her in her place.
On the other hand. Betty was a wild cat during the divorce. She did not take it well (at all) that most of their friends became his friends. Their 4 children seemed to want to spend more time with their father and his new wife than with her and she saw that as him brainwashing the kids and taking them away from her after having taken everything and everyone else.
It should also be said that Betty worked multiple jobs so that Dan could finish medical school and then when he decided later that he didn't want to be a doctor but a lawyer, Betty worked her butt off again to make sure he could finish law school while raising 4 children and being the social butterfly she was expected to be.
I can understand her feelings about Dan and Linda to an extent. Linda had in essence taken over Betty's life. Betty had been traded in for a new model and was expected to go away quietly and retire. Not Betty.
Dan gave Betty an allowance of $17,000 a month. That's a lot of money these days but back in 1984, it was a tremendous amount. She also lived in a multi-million dollar home and drove a top of the line car. But that wasn't going to work for her. She wanted her life back!
Whenever Betty would commit an act of harassment against either Dan or Linda (little things such as running a truck through the front of their house while they had a dinner party or stealing their door key off her daughters key chain so she could go inside their new home and destroy it) Dan would "fine" her by deducting the amount of money it cost him to repair or replace the things she destroyed out of her monthly check. This enraged Betty.
The last time Dan fined her, some reports state that Betty had a row with her children where they begged her to stop acting crazy and then told her they wanted to go live with Dan and Linda. This was enough for Betty. It was all she could take and that night, she went to their new house, broke in and killed them both as they lay sleeping in their bed.
To be fair, I honestly and fervently believe that Betty was raped by the courts in her divorce. Dan gave her $17,000 a month temporary support but he was raking in over $300,000 a month in a career that SHE had financed for him by working her butt off so he could concentrate on his law studies.
When it looks as if the money is rolling in and Betty can finally kick back and reap the rewards of her years of hard work, Dan starts a 6 year affair with is 20 something assistant and leaves Betty.
When the divorce was finalized, the court ultilized the "Epstein" credits that California courts use as a means of "debiting" the non-working spouse for loans and money given to them from the time of the divorce filing until the time of the divorce finalization. After the credits were subtracted from her settlement, Betty only received around $30,000 in a cash settlement BUT she was still responsible for HALF of the marital debts to that point.
Dan was the President of the Bar Association in San Diego and he most assuredly used every trick in the book and pulled every string he could find to make certain that Betty walked away with nothing and he accomplished that feat quite well.
For a woman who feels her life is utterly out of control and she has no one to help her and no place to turn, I can see that she might entertain the thought of murder. I probably might in her situation. However, I wouldn't actually do it. She did.
She, to this day, denies that she did anything wrong. Dan and Linda wouldn't leave her alone. Dan and Linda took her life away from her. Dan and Linda were poisoning her children's minds against her. blah, blah, blah. Fact of the matter is, she killed them. When she shot Dan he fell off the bed. As he crawled towards the phone she walked over, pulled the cord out of the wall and beat him in the head with it. I actually saw an in person interview once where Betty talked about this part and actually chuckled about beating him in the head with the phone. I think the situation could have been handled a bit differently.
All of the above examples are perfect examples of how these seriously flawed minds work. They, without exception, have no remorse for any of their actions. Everything they did, they had to do in order to have what they wanted. They seem to truly believe that it's not their fault that another human being just happened to get in their way. They appear to believe that each victim, in essence, caused their own murders simply by the fact that they stood between the murderer and what that murderer wanted.
It's intriguing to me, obviously.
But that's just me.
(Note: Much of the Patricia Allanson information above was originally found on the Ann Rule Website. My thanks to Ms. Rule)