“Whoever profits by the crime is guilty of it” – Anonymous
Life insurance is often considered a dull topic by many people, but what about when it involves a life insurance murder?
The following chilling video is just a taste of the 21 murders and plots you’ll see in this article.
Everyone knows that one of the main motives people have to kill is money.
… But instead of robbing banks, some people murder (or attempt to murder) those closest to them such as their wives, husbands, and even their own children, for the sole purpose of collecting life insurance proceeds.
- Wife Hires Undercover Hitman – Her chilling conversation with the hitman was caught on video.
- Father Murders His Own Son for Life Insurance
- Learn how a Man Killed His Wife… AND COLLECTED on Her Life Insurance
- Does Life Insurance Cover Murder?
- The Slayer Statute – Can a killer collect on life insurance? Some states have different opinions.
While the stories we’re about to share with you might seem like they belong in some fictional movie plot, unfortunately, they are real.
These people actually conspired to have someone murdered by hiring a hitman or committed this despicable deed on their own.
1. Woman Kills Husband with a Hammer
2. Florida Man Claims Wife Was Evil Spirit
3. Husband Pushes Wife Down Stairs
4. Woman Conspires to Hire a Hitman (Caught on Video)
5. Pastor Turned Evil
6. Infamous Black Widows
7. Wife Gunned Down on On-Ramp
8. Man Bludgeoned with Hammer
9. Lesbian Lovers Murder Husband
10. Iraq Veteran Shot to Death
11. Soldier Wife Choked to Death
12. Black Widow Charged in Murder Solicitation
13. Father Murders His Own Son
14. Gold Digger and Lover Murder Husband
15. Nurse Poisons Husband
16. Insurance Agent in Murder Conspiracy
17. Child Custody Murder
18. Marriage Gone Bad
19. A Very Bitter Divorce
20. Detailed Murder Plan Gone Wrong
21. The Mendez Plan
But before we get to each individual story, you may be asking how life insurance works when a homicide is involved…
However, there are a handful of exceptions where the life insurance company will delay or refuse payment to the beneficiary. One of these rare instances is when the policy’s beneficiary is suspected of committing murder.
Committing murder for life insurance never works because every detective starts a homicide investigation by trying to establish a motive. Money is often a primary motive for murder, so one of the first things every detective investigates is if there are any life insurance policies on the deceased.
J. Warner Wallace a former Los Angeles county homicide investigator for more than 25 years, stated:
“When investigating a suspicious death, one of the first things I look at is the life insurance policies purchased for the victim. Life insurance beneficiaries are often suspects in my cases.”
When a life insurance company receives a death claim, the beneficiary must provide “proof of death” before the claim can be paid. If “homicide” is listed as the cause of death on the death certificate, the life insurance company usually holds the payment to determine if the beneficiary is considered a suspect.
If the beneficiary is considered a suspect then the insurer will continue to hold the payment until either:
• The charges are dropped
• The beneficiary is acquitted of the murder
Also, almost every state has a piece of legislation in place known as a “Slayer Statute” which specifically prohibits a person from collecting the death benefit from an insurance policy if they have been convicted of a life insurance murder.
Every state but New Hampshire has a law that says a person may not collect from another’s estate if he/she was convicted of killing that person. This law this applies to the entirety of a deceased’s estate, not just the life insurance proceeds.
It’s also important to note that if the killer is convicted in a civil case, the slayer statute also applies. For example, if OJ Simpson had a policy on Nicole, and if he was the beneficiary, he would not have been able to collect the proceeds even though he was exonerated of criminal charges due to his conviction of wrongful death in civil court.
Specific State Statutes
The specifics of each state’s slayer statute can vary quite a bit. According to John Brooks and Jena Levin at WealthManagement.com, some state’s laws differ with respect to details like whether:
(1) an insanity defense affects the inheritance analysis, (2)the slayer committed intentional homicide versus manslaughter, (3) the slayer’s heirs are also disinherited, and (4) a criminal conviction is required for the law to apply.
In the state of Arizona, you can’t collect on life insurance if you were convicted of manslaughter. In Maryland, if you are convicted of homicide, essentially no one close to you can inherit the money.
For Example: Let’s say a divorced man with two children remarries and his new wife buys a life insurance policy on herself. She names her husband as the primary beneficiary and her step-children as contingent beneficiaries. If her husband were to kill her, the children would not be able to collect the policy’s death benefit in Maryland.
In most states, if the named beneficiary is unable to collect, the benefit passes to the secondary or contingent beneficiary (if one exists). If there is no contingent beneficiary, the proceeds would still be paid to the deceased’s estate and distributed per the deceased’s will.
In the absence of a will, the life insurance policy’s benefits would be distributed per intestacy succession in probate court.
Real Life Insurance Murders
Below we’ve summarized 21 shocking murder for life insurance scams and attempted murders that have made national headlines in the news.
In January of 2009, police were called to a traumatic attack on Dave Harrell, age 34. He was found to have been severely beaten on the head with a hammer. Mr. Harrell subsequently died from his injuries a month later.
The victim’s wife, Marissa Devault, age 36, alleged that Harrell had choked her into unconsciousness while she was sleeping and that when she became conscious she saw a second unknown male beating her husband with a hammer. The police found no evidence for this, and she was charged for murder.
Throughout the investigation, Ms. Devault alleged that Harrell had physically and sexually abused her throughout the course of their marriage. However, the investigators were unable to find any evidence to support Devault’s allegations of abuse.
Devault later changed her story again and confessed that she attacked her husband in a rage after he had assaulted her. Around this time, police uncovered a witness named of Allen Flores who also was Devault’s former boyfriend. He claimed that Devault wanted someone to kill her husband or that she was going to kill him herself to collect his life insurance proceeds.
Flores had loaned Devault around $300,000 during their relationship and she would be able to repay him from the proceeds of her husband’s life insurance policy. Devault was found guilty and was subsequently sentenced to life without parole.
Mesac Damas was convicted of the murder of his wife of 32 years and mother of their 5 children. His wife had previously taken out a $100,000 life insurance policy at Publix which is a Florida supermarket chain where she was employed.
The couple had been to domestic violence court a total of 3 times during the course of their 10 year marriage. Damas claimed that his wife was allegedly trying to “brainwash” him and that she was an “evil spirit.”
Damas was the named beneficiary on his wife’s life insurance policy, but a Florida court denied him the insurance proceeds under Florida’s “Slayer Statute” which prevents a person from collecting life insurance proceeds as a beneficiary if they were involved in the death of the person who was insured. The proceeds were ultimately paid to the victim’s mother.
Patrick Cain, age 61 and his wife were drinking heavily when they engaged in a serious argument. Sometime during the course of this domestic dispute, Cain pushed his wife down the stairs which resulted in her death. He then phoned the police who found his wife unceremoniously stuffed into a closet.
Cain was found guilty of manslaughter and served 2 years in prison. Nebraska, the state in which the crime occurred, has a ‘Slayer Statute” that denies a person from collecting the life insurance proceeds if they have been found to have been “feloniously and intentionally” responsible for the killing of the policy holder.
Cain filed suit in a federal court claiming that he did not intentionally kill his wife. And, as they were alone at the time and there were no witnesses, the estate’s lawyer viewed this claim as problematic and settled for 50% of the life insurance proceeds which were paid to Cain.
Julia Merfeld, age 21 and mother of 2 children, was convicted of “Solicitation of Murder” for attempting to have her husband Jacob Merfeld murdered. In 2013, she was sentenced to a minimum of 5 years and 8 months in prison for a sentence not to exceed 20 years.
Initially, Ms. Merfeld approached a co-worker by the name of Carlos Ramos to commit the murder. She told him that her husband had a $400,000 life insurance policy and that she would pay him $50,000 to commit the murder and would pay him in several $9,000 installments.
Ramos reported the incident to the police and then arranged for Ms. Merfeld to meet with an associate of his who would be willing to commit the murder for her and at the agreed upon terms. The associate was actually an undercover detective who met with Ms. Mefeld in his vehicle on two separate occasions and both meetings were videotaped.
The accused did not actually present a reason for the murder other to say that killing her husband was easier than divorcing him. She also made it clear that she wanted the killing to look like an accident and asked the undercover detective to simply break his neck.
The detective responded that he would only commit the murder using either a knife of a gun. Merfeld preferred that the killing take place outside the home because otherwise it “would be messy in the house.” During the second meeting the undercover detective told her that he would shoot her husband twice in the face and that the murder would occur in the apartment.
Merfeld was initially hesitant, but she ultimately agreed to having her husband killed in their apartment and even selected a date for her husband’s gruesome murder.
In Baltimore, Kevin Jerome Pushia who is 32 years of age and a Pastor at The Arc of Baltimore befriended Lemuel Wallace who is both blind and disabled. Pastor Pushia persuaded Mr. Wallace to take out a $200,000 life insurance policy and name him as the beneficiary.
Pushia was then found to attempt to use church funds for the purpose of hiring a hit man to kill Mr. Wallace so he could collect the life insurance proceeds. Pushia had not only had himself listed as beneficiary but also as Mr. Wallace’s brother.
He has also apparently done this with several other mentally challenged individuals and had them apply for life insurance and also to name him as beneficiary. Pastor Pushia admitted his culpability in this endeavor to police.
Two elderly women by the names of Helen Goley (age 71), and Olga Rutterschmidt (age 75), conspired and successfully murdered 2 men for their life insurance proceeds. The men who were murdered were homeless when the Black Widows found them and helped them get back on their feet.
Apparently, the women committed these 2 crimes in 1999 and in 2005. The first victim was Paul Vados age 73. Apparently Ms. Goley connected with the victim because they are both of Hungarian heritage. Ms. Goley found Mr. Vados an apartment and then persuaded him to purchase a life insurance policy in the amount of $600,000. On the insurance policy, Ms. Goley claimed that she was a cousin to the victim.
In 2005, Mr. Kenneth McDavid age 50 was the second victim of their nefarious scheme. Using a similar ploy, Mr. McDavid was also persuaded to apply for a life insurance policy valued over $2,200,000 and Ms. Goley stated that she and Mr. McDavid were to be married.
Both victims were run over and crushed by vehicles which were insured by the two women. After an investigation was carried out, the women confessed to their crimes and were convicted. Both women received 2 consecutive life sentences for murder.
In Anaheim, in July of 1997, Nuzzio Begaren married Elizabeth Wheat who was employed as a correctional officer at a California state prison. Three days later, Begaren took out a $1,000,000 life insurance policy on his wife.
Not too long after, Begaren made contact with some Los Angeles gang members and hired them to murder his wife with the sole intention of collecting the life insurance proceeds.
While returning home one day, Ms. Wheat noticed that a car following her and she decided to take down the license plate. That same day while on an on-ramp she was gunned down and shot to death as the perpetrators fled.
The case went cold until 2012 but due to the perseverance of her elderly father, Robert Wheat, police re-examined the evidence and found the license plate that Elizabeth had jotted down. They also uncovered a phone number made by the suspect to another gang member the day after the murder.
Both of these suspects were interrogated and confessed to being hired by the husband and their part in the murder. A third gang member who was the shooter is still at large. Mr. Begaren was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced for 25 years to life.
Anthony Delagarza, age 19, pled guilty to one count of 2nd degree murder and a second count of conspiracy to commit murder in November of 2014. The victim of this violent crime was his 38 year-old roommate, Jose Hernandez.
Hernandez was previously married to 40 year old Maryann Castorena. Delgarza had also been Castorena’s former boyfriend. Castorena is alleged to have written down a description of how the murder was to be committed in order to collect from two life insurance policies worth a total of $1.2 million dollars which named her as the beneficiary.
Hernandez was found bludgeoned to death outside of his running vehicle, and Investigators arrested Delagarza who was tried and convicted after agreeing to testify against Maryann Castorena. Castorena was later convicted of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, soliciting murder and lying to an officer.
Judy Reid age 42, who is a Warren County drug case specialist, and Kimberly Ann Vincent, age 53 were accused of allegedly attempting to introduce a powerful and potentially fatal dose of unspecified drugs into a bowl of soup which was consumed by Dewayne Reid on September 8, 2014.
However, the alleged murder attempt did not result in the death of Dewayne but caused sever intoxication and sickness. Reid then allegedly approached a co-worker to obtain some powerful narcotics known as Opana. Reid’s co-worker said she also admitted that she was going to administer them to her husband.
The co-worker contacted the police and was wired by investigators which led to the arrest of both of the attempted murderers. There is speculation that Reid and Vincent may have been romantically involved. Further investigation into this incident of alleged murder is still pending.
In 2012, Elain Young and Katherine Mock were convicted of murder for hire and and conspiracy to commit murder for hire of Young’s husband Melvin Griebaurer. Elain and Melvin were married in 2004, and during their marriage, as well as while Griebaurer was deployed in Iraq, Young purchased several life insurance polices on Griebauer equivalent to $1.2 million dollars.
During this time Young befriended Mock and allegedly told her that her husband had been abusing her and had threatened to kill her. Mock approached her son and asked whether he knew of anybody who would be willing to kill Griebaurer, and that Young was prepared to pay $10,000, but Mock’s son declined.
Some time after his return from Iraq, in 2006, Griebaurer was found shot to death. A police investigation uncovered the women’s conspiracy, and both women were charged and convicted in the murder of Melvin Griebaurer and sentenced to life in prison.
Private Isaac Aguigui of Fort Stewart, Georgia stands accused for the 2011 murder of his wife, Sergeant Deirdre Aguigui and their unborn child. At the time of Deirdre’s murder, Isaac and Deirdre had been fighting, and they were no longer living together.
On July 17, 2011 , Deidre was found dead in her apartment. She had been choked or suffocated to death. Following her death Isaac received $500,000 in life insurance as the beneficiary. Around this time, Isaac was Subsequently charged and convicted for the unrelated murders of another couple.
During their investigation, detectives uncovered that Isaac had sent his former girlfriend a text prior to the death of his wife that they would soon have “plenty of money.” Although already serving life in prison for two other unrelated murders, Isaac is awaiting a pending court martial for the alleged murder of his wife and unborn child.
12. Black Widow Charge with Two Felony Counts of Solicitation to Commit Murder for Hire for Life Insurance Money
Jaleene Jones, age 49, of North Port, Florida was charged with two counts of solicitation to commit murder. She allegedly approached an individual who she wished to employ as a hitman to kill her second husband for the sum of $4,000 while she was away on a boat cruise which she intended to use as an alibi.
She is also alleged to have asked the intended hitman to kill a second victim who was a tenant of hers and with whom she was involved in a potentially costly civil suit. Unknown to Jones, the intended hitman she tried to hire was actually an undercover police officer, and she was subsequently charged for conspiracy to commit murder.
Jones had also received a hefty life insurance settlement as beneficiary for the death of her first husband who died under “suspicious circumstances,” Her trial for alleged conspiracy to commit murder for hire is still pending, and if convicted, she could receive a life sentence.
Karl Karlsen, age 52 of Waterloo, New York is accused of murdering his 23 year old son Leo, for life insurance money. Karl had taken a policy out on his son just 17 days prior to his death. On the, day in question, Karl had taken the front tires off his pick-up truck and placed it on a single jack.
He then asked Leo to help him repair the brake and transmission lines. While Leo was under the car, Karl is alleged to have deliberately knocked the truck off the jack which crushed Leo’s chest and caused him to suffocate to death.
Karl received a total of $707,000 in life insurance proceeds as the death had initially been ruled as accidental. He then used some of the proceeds to take out a life insurance policy on his second wife who had been cooperating with police in their investigation.
In 2002, Karl had been paid $80,000 for the deaths of his Belgian draft horses which had perished in a fire on his farm. And, previously to this incident, Karl’s first wife had died in a fire and he had received $200,000 in life insurance proceeds for her death.
The investigation into the death of Karl’s son still is ongoing, and in light of the new evidence, investigators have re-opened the case involving the death of Karl’s first wife.
In 1994, Nanette Ann Packard was 29 years old and living with her boyfriend Newport Beach mogul, William Mclaughlin. William was 25 years older than Nanette who was also romantically involved with a former NFL player by the name of Naposki. Naposki was then employed at a club that Packard frequented.
Nanette convinced Naposki that they should conspire to kill Mclaughlin for the estate proceeds including a $1,000,000 life insurance policy held by William. She even provided Naposki with a key to the home she was sharing with Mclaughlin and told him when he would be home.
Ultimately, she collected approximately $500,000 in funds from the estate. Although police suspected the pair for the murder, they had insufficient evidence against the couple. For 15 years, the case was cold but new evidence turned up and both were charged and convicted.
Tami Duvall, a 51 year old nurse from Columbus, Indiana had been separated from her husband, Alan, for several months. Tami and Alan were behind on their bills and their daughter’s college tuition was due. To further complicate matters, Tami was having an affair with her husband’s insurance agent.
One evening, Tami called her husband to come over to repair an air conditioner, and served dinner with a dessert of “dirt pudding.” Because it was hot and he had been drinking, Alan elected to sleep outside in the yard. The following morning, Tami called 911 and said her husband had died sometime during the night.
Originally, authorities suspected alcohol poisoning because Alan’s blood level registered .436%. However, previously, Alan had informed friends and family that if anything suspicious happened to him, they should suspect Tami and bring their suspicions to the police which is what they did.
Further investigation and toxicology reports revealed that Alan had morphine in his system that was close to 100 times of what is considered to be a therapeutic dose. They also discovered that the equivalent amount of morphine was missing from the nursing home where Tami was employed.
Tami had also persuaded her husband to take out a $100,000 life insurance policy which she said was to be used as mortgage insurance and to name her as beneficiary. Further investigation led to Tami being charged, convicted and sentenced to 61.5 years in prison.
Canga Park insurance salesman, Ismail Shokri, age 32 was a friend of entrepreneur Farhang Goudarzi, a fellow Iranian compatriot. He often visited him at his home and had lunch and dinner with Farhang and his wife Tayebeh. During a meal one time, Ismail said he wanted to write a life insurance policy for him to which Farhang agreed.
A life insurance policy worth $500,000 was drawn up, but sometime later Farhang told Ismail to cancel the policy because the premium was too expensive. However, Ismail never cancelled the policy. During this time Farhang was subject to two bombing attempts on his life which never succeeded.
Investigators later revealed that both Ismail and Farhang’s wife are alleged to have conspired to have hired a hitman to kill Farhang. Although both have been charged Taydeh left for Iran and hasn’t returned to the US. The case and court trial is still pending.
Daniel Bowen, age 44, was a janitor at the Chicago Cultural Center and a political ward captain. His wife, Anne Tredonis-Bowen, was an attorney who worked for the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. The couple was involved in a bitter divorce, and it appeared that Ms. Bowen would end up with the house, most of the marital assets and the custody of their two daughters.
Unable to accept the situation, Bowen decided to have his wife killed and in February of 2004, and he contacted a friend of his by the name of Dennis McArdle. He said he would pay McArdle $2,000 up front and another $20,000 from his wife’s life insurance proceeds.
McArdle donned latex gloves and wearing a ski mask shot Anne in the back of the head as she exited her car at a transit station. He took her purse to make it look like a violent robbery. McArdle was smart enough to dispose of the gun, gloves, mask and wallet, but held onto to her purse for some reason, which he hid in the basement where he lived.
The purse was found by the landlord who noticed the victim’s name on a prescription bottle from the purse. Recognizing the name, the landlord contacted the police who eventually narrowed in on McArdle as a suspect. Under questioning, McArdle confessed to the crime and pointed the finger at Dennis Bowen.
Bowen was eventually arrested and jailed, but he committed suicide in September of 2004, before the case went to trial. The following month, a Cook County judge sentenced Bowen to 35 years in prison for the murder of his wife, Anne Tredonis-Bowen.
Arriving in the US as a political refugee from Russia in 1992, Zhanna Portnov had the misfortune to meet and eventually marry Ira A. Bloom some two years later. Bloom, was described by some as a violent and sadistic criminal. The marriage lingered until 2004 when Zhanna eventually filed for divorce and kept custody of her 8 year old son.
Bloom filed for full custody and some 6 weeks before the custody hearing, he decided it would be more cost effective to have his wife killed. To carry out his nefarious plan, Bloom contacted an associate of his by the name of Donald Levesque, who was considered not only a “wannabe cop” but was also employed by the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) as a snitch.
Bloom told Levesque that he wanted him to find him a hitman. The plan entailed that the hitman was to intercept Zhanna’s car as she drove home from work, and make it look like a car jacking. The hitman was to rape and murder her, and then dispose of the body somewhere in Hartford. Ira told Levesque that the hitman would be paid $15,000 from the life insurance proceeds of his murdered ex-wife.
Needless, to say Levesque immediately snitched about the plan to the ATF. The ATF, working in conjunction with local police, wired Levesque so he could record their next meeting which was held at a local restaurant. Unbelievably, Bloom actually showed up with a woman who he had just met.
Some of the details were discussed openly but more conversation took place in Levesque’s car where he persuaded Bloom to draw a map showing Zhanna’s place of employment. When authorities had the information they needed, they stormed the car and arrested Bloom who tried, found guilty, and sentenced to 10 years.
Heather and Ronald Samuels had been married for five years. She was a 26 year old former flight attendant and he was a 44 year-old who operated a Pensacola Florida car dealership, sold drugs, and allegedly liked to run around with other women.
Fed up with the situation, Heather filed for divorce from Ronald and took their three children to live at her parents home in Minnesota. Ronald and his current girlfriend moved into the Samuels’ home and eventually married. The couple then returned to Florida and settled in Boca Raton.
Ronald spent thousands of dollars on lawyer’s fees, and following the divorce, Ronald was eventually ordered by the court to pay $3,000 a month in child support. In the meantime, Heather met and married John Grossman in 1997. John was the son and heir of a multimillion estate of Brad Grossman, a former part time owner of the Minnesota Vikings.
Enraged at the situation, Ronald decided that he would murder both Heather and her husband John. He sold his dealership and made his living selling cocaine. He contacted a known cocaine addict by the name of Hugh Estes and paid him $5,000 to find a hitman, but Estes used the money to go on a cocaine binge.
Ronald then contacted another drug addict by the name of Geoffrey Pollock to find a hitman. Ronald met Pollock at a local Denny’s restaurant where he was introduced to another drug addict by the name of Eddie ‘Slim’ Stafford. Stafford told Ronald that he knew of a former army marksman by the name of Roger Runyon who agreed to commit the murder.
Ronald agreed to pay the three addicts (including Estes), in cocaine, and he would also pay the hitman Runyon $25,000. A $5,000 down-payment and another $20,000 when the job was done. He also provided them with all the Intel about Heather’s and John habits and address.
On October 14, Estes, driving his Thunderbird, pulled up beside Heather and John as they waited at a stop light. Runyon, sitting in the backseat and using a rifle fired two shots at the other car. One bullet grazed John on the chin and the other bullet struck Heather in the spine leaving her paralyzed.
Heather and John asserted that Ronald was behind the attempted murder. Authorities quickly tracked down Estes’ Thunderbird and arrested him. Estes quickly snitched out Stafford, Pollock and Runyon. They testified before a grand jury in May 1889 and an indictment was filed against Ronald for attempted murder, solicitation to commit murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Ronald fled to Mexico where he was arrested for possessing 13 pounds of cocaine. Upon his release in 2004, he was picked up US authorities and charged. Ronald was eventually convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment plus 120 years.
Paul Driggers was 53 years old when he decided he wanted to divorce his wife Janice (not her real name). He knew that he wouldn’t fare well because he was an ex-felon who had previously spent a 10 year stretch in prison, and had little chance of gaining sole custody of their children.
Paul schemed to file for divorce without her knowing by using a phony address so she would be unable to respond. The judge then awarded him custody of their three children. Afterwards, the couple continued to live together under the same roof.
Janice learned about the divorce from another party and allegations of physical abuse were made, so the children were placed in foster care. At this point, Paul decided to have Janice murdered and he contacted a man in California by the name of Matt Robinson.
Paul told Robinson that he would deposit $1,000 in his account to use for his expenses in travelling to Idaho and another $10,000 to commit the murder. Robinson agreed, but instead contacted police in Idaho and reported the conspiracy. The police then connected Robinson with the FBI.
In April of 2006 Robinson met Paul at a restaurant in Coeur d’Alene. Paul provided Robinson with extensive details about how to commit the murder and dispose of the body. The following day, Paul contacted Robinson and gave him the okay to proceed with the murder.
Ten days later, the FBI arrested Paul Driggers and charged him with conspiracy to commit murder. After two trials, Paul Driggers was found guilty and was fined $17,000 dollars and sentenced to serve 10 years in prison.
Jose and his wife Mary Louise “Kitty” Menendez were found shot to death on the den of their $5,000,000 Beverly Hills mansion. Jose, who was 45 at the time of his murder, had been struck with eight shotgun blasts and had received a final coup de grace shot by being shot in the back of the head. His wife Kitty had received four shotgun blasts.
Jose had been a successful music-video distribution company. They had two sons, Lyle 22 years of age and Erik who was 19 years of age. Their bodies had been found by their two sons after they supposedly had returned from having a night on the town and who had called police upon making the gruesome discovery.
Although police initially suspected a possible gangland slaying, they did not discount the two brothers who would be inheriting the $14 million dollar estate from their parents. As the investigation proceeded, police uncovered a curious screenplay that had been written by the younger son Erik.
In this 61 page screenplay, Erik had described in detail how an 18 year old son murders his parents for their money. The police were most interested in this manuscript and began to look at the brothers more closely. During the course of the investigation, they also obtained tapes from the bother therapy sessions.
During one of the tapes with Beverly Hills psychologist, L. Jerome Oziel, Erik had come right out and said to Oziel that “We did it. We killed our parents”. The brothers then threatened to kill Oziel if he told anybody about the confession, but sometime later both brothers were arrested.
Police believe that the brothers’ only motive for murdering their parents was greed. Before their arrest, the brothers received a $400,000 life insurance settlement which they shared. The boys spent the money on expensive clothes, vehicles and engaged in some entrepreneurial pursuits.
The trial eventually revealed that the two Mendez brothers had committed the murders of their mother and father using two shotguns that they had discarded on Mulholland Drive, and then their bloody clothes at another location.
Afterwards they went to see a movie as an alibi, but their stories gradually unraveled as police collected more evidence and obtained the psychologist’s tapes of the confession. After two trials, both brothers were convicted of two counts of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Do you know any murder for life insurance stories that we haven’t shared in this article? Tell us about them in the comments below and we’ll make sure to include them in the article.
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