Next Episode of Snapped is
Season 22 / Episode 16 and airs on 25 March 2018 22:00
Each year, approximately 16,000 people are murdered in the United States. 7% of the killers are female.*Who are these women and what drives them to kill? Oxygen's hit true crime series, Snapped, profiles the fascinating cases of women accused of murder. Did they really do it? And, if they did, why? Whether the motivation was revenge against a cheating husband, the promise of a hefty insurance payoff, or putting an end to years of abuse, the reasons are as varied as the women themselves. From socialites to secretaries, female killers share one thing in common: at some point, they all snapped. Snapped is produced in conjunction with Jupiter Entertainment, the creators of City Confidential and Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege & Justice, and narrated by veteran news reporter Sharon Martin. Each episode of Snapped chronicles the life of a woman who has been charged with murder. These shocking but true stories turn common assumptions about crime and criminals upside down, and prove that even the most unlikely suspects can be capable of murder.
In 1997, 32-year-old Celeste Beard hit the jackpot. That year, the thrice-divorced Austin housekeeper married her 75-year-old millionaire employer, Steven Beard. Suddenly, Celeste had it all: a Texas mansion, plenty of money, and a stable life for her two daughters. But on October 2, 1999, Celeste's picture-perfect life came crashing down with one blast from a 20-guage shotgun. That night, an armed intruder slipped into Steven's bedroom and fired a point-blank shot directly into his chest. Steven survived the initial shot, but five months later, died from complications related to his injury. By then, however, Texas authorities had a suspect in custody--Celeste's lesbian best friend, Tracey Tarlton. The former bookstore manager eventually implicated Celeste in the plot to kill her husband. At the trial, defense attorneys alleged Tarlton was simply a jealous woman with a terrifying and deadly love interest in Celeste. Prosecutors, on the other hand, claimed the Celeste had manipulated her fiend into perpetrating the shooting in order to inherit Steven's vast fortune. To support their claim, prosecutors even called Celeste's own daughters to the stand. Both girls testified that their mother had sought a hit man to silence Tracey before her arrest. The jury found Celeste guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and sentenced her to 20 years in prison.
Virginia Larzelere was well off, even by coastal Florida's relatively high standards. Her husband Norman was a successful Daytona Beach dentist, and Virginia enjoyed a beautiful home, expensive cars, a yacht and an airplane. But the good times came to an abrupt end on March 8, 1991, when a masked gunman broke into Norman's office and killed him with a shotgun blast to the chest. In the murder investigation that ensued, police quickly discovered that the Larzelere family was anything but ordinary. It appeared that the couple financed their lavish lifestyle by funneling narcotics through Norman's dental practice, and both engaged in numerous extramarital affairs. Digging deeper, the cops also uncovered a two-million dollar life insurance policy that Virginia had taken out on her husband. Then, the Larzelere's live-in help, Steve Heidel, came forward with the exact location of the murder weapon. Heidel told police that Virginia and her son, Jason, had asked him to dispose of the weapon following the shooting. On May 5, 1991, both Virginia and Jason were charged with first-degree murder in the death of Norman Larzelere. At her trial, prosecutors described Virginia as an opportunist looking to cash in on her husband's hefty life insurance policy. The defense, however, argued that Steve Heidel was the actual mastermind behind the murder. In the end, the jury sided with prosecutors and sentenced Virginia to death. In a separate trial seven months later, Jason Larzelere was acquitted on all charges.
Few smiles were brighter than those of Clara and David Harris. Both dentists, they shared a thriving practice and a seemingly perfect marriage. But that changed in July of 2003, when Clara began to suspect her husband was having an affair with his secretary. Intent on catching them in the act, Clara hired a private detective to tail the couple around town. A few days later, the detective called Clara to tell her that he had followed David and his secretary to a hotel rendezvous - the same hotel that Clara and David had been married in. Enraged over the news, Clara grabbed her stepdaughter and drove to the hotel to confront David. When Clara saw him exit the building, she gunned her Mercedes and ran over him - several times. At her trial, Clara's attorneys said she had been pushed to the limit by her difficult-to-please husband. According to the defense, Clara had quit her practice, hired a personal trainer and undergone plastic surgery in an effort to make David happy. But the jury showed her little sympathy, especially after watching a videotape of the vehicular homicide that had been taped by, ironically, the detective Clara had hired to tail David. Convicted of 2nd degree murder, she's currently serving a 20-year sentence.
Russian émigré Elena Kiejliches was living the American dream. At 36, she had two beautiful children, a millionaire husband, and a sprawling mansion in Staten Island's upscale Toldt Hill neighborhood. But Elena's fairytale life came crashing down in March of 2000, when her husband, Borys, went missing. A month later, Borys turned back up - dead and dismembered in a cardboard barrel found floating in a marsh in Queens. Police first suspected the Russian mob in Borys' death. But the focus of their investigation soon shifted to Elena after they learned she had been having an affair with a man named Messiah Justice, an aspiring rapper and con artist. Following an interrogation with Justice, police charged the Russian housewife with murder. At trial, Justice testified that he had helped Elena dispose of Borys' body, but that the Russian housewife had pulled the trigger herself. The prosecution contended that Elena had shot Borys after he had threatened to divorce her and leave her destitute. The defense, however, painted Justice as an opportunist looking to cut a deal with the DA. The jury found Elena guilty of second-degree murder. She was sentenced to 22 years to life in prison.
A bright and bubbly surgical technician, Kim Hricko led a comfortable middle-class existence with her husband, Steven. But the Hricko's sunny, suburban image vanished in smoke and flame on Valentine's weekend of 1998 when Steve and Kim went on a romantic getaway at a golf resort on Maryland's Eastern Shore. As part of the special Valentine's package, the resort staged a murder mystery play where guests watched the staged whodunit and then attempted to solve the puzzle. But after the play, the plot thickened when the couple's room caught fire and Stephen's charred body was discovered on the hotel room floor. Though Kim claimed her husband had gotten drunk and died from smoke inhalation, the resulting autopsy showed no signs of either alcohol or carbon monoxide anywhere in his body. At Kim's trial, the prosecution argued that she had knocked Stephen out with Succinylcholine - a nearly untraceable muscle paralyzer used in surgery - in order to collect on his $400,000 life insurance policy. Found guilty on both charges, she's currently serving life plus 30 years for arson and murder.
Lee Ann Reidel always had a thing for hunky men. So when she married Long Island gym owner Paul Reidel in 1998, everyone thought it was the perfect match. Lee Ann just had one small problem with her new husband - his crack cocaine addiction. In July of 2000, Lee Ann took the couple's infant son and moved in with her mom in Florida. After being separated for six months, the couple reconciled when Paul agreed to go into rehab. But just when things were starting to look up for the Reidel family, tragedy struck. On January 17, 2001, a gunman shot someone fitting Paul's description outside his gym in Long Island. When the police arrived at the scene, it wasn't Paul that lay dead on the asphalt, it was his partner and best friend, Alex Algeri. Detectives made their first break in the case when they arrested a drug-abusing bodybuilder named Scott Pagett. In his interrogation, Pagett fingered a Florida strip-club bouncer named Ralph "Rocco" Salierno as the actual triggerman. Pressing Pagett more, investigators discovered that Rocco and Lee Ann were having an affair. With the information in hand, authorities immediately charged the two for the murder of Alex Algeri. At their trial, prosecutors alleged that Algeri was the unintended victim of a scheme to murder Paul Reidel for his insurance money. Though Lee Ann and Rocco each tried to pin the murder on each other, the jury found them both guilty and sentenced the former lovers to life in prison.
Ruthann Aron was an overachiever. The wife of a respected urologist in the upscale D.C. suburb of Potomac, Maryland, Ruthann was a successful real estate developer and aspiring politician. In 1994, she made a run to be the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, but lost, partly due to a local attorney who dogged the campaign with allegations of shady business deals. Ruthann, however, was undeterred. In 1997, she was gearing up to run for a Montgomery County commission seat. But her political ambitions were thwarted yet again when a local landfill operator went to the police claiming she'd approached him about finding a hit man. After an elaborate sting operation, Ruthann was arrested for soliciting the murders of, not just her old political nemesis, but her husband as well. At trial, prosecutors claimed Ruthann feared her marriage was heading for a divorce, which might hurt her political career. In addition to the testimony of the landfill operator and the undercover cops, the prosecution had Ruthann's own voice on surveillance tapes literally spelling out the names of her intended victims. Faced with overwhelming evidence, Ruthann's attorneys argued that Ruthann was mentally ill. The trial resulted in a hung jury. Ruthann then pled no contest and served three years in the county jail.
24-year-old Joyce Cohen went from rags to riches when she met and married Miami construction millionaire Stan Cohen in 1981. Together, the couple lived lavishly in an exclusive Coconut Grove mansion, went skiing at their Steamboat Springs ranch, and partied all night long at Stan's Miami nightclub. But Joyce's party came to an abrupt end on March 7, 1986, when she frantically called 911 claiming that Stan had been murdered by three intruders that had broken into their mansion. To cops, the story seemed plausible. At the time, Miami was plagued with home invasion robberies and, like many Miami real estate developers in the 1980s, there were rumors that Stan was involved with some shady characters. But when a convicted felon already serving jail time came forward with information that Joyce had hired him and his friends to do Stan in, cops swept in and arrested her. At trial, prosecutors painted Joyce as a gold-digging murderess who killed Stan after he had threatened divorce. Faced with losing the luxurious life-style she had grown accustomed to, Joyce had plotted her husband's murder with three men she had met on the Miami club scene. The jury found her guilty of murder but was unable to reach a unanimous decision at her sentencing. With the jury deadlocked, the judge sentenced her to 25 years to life. Joyce will be eligible for parole in 2014.
To everyone who knew her, Susan Wright seemed like she had everything. Married to successful salesman Jeff Wright, she was a stay-at-home mom raising two adorable young children in their suburban Houston home. But, then, in January of 2003, Jeff mysteriously disappeared. Susan told others that Jeff had walked out after striking their five-year-old son. But, one of Jeff's co-workers became suspicious and called the cops. With police closing in, Susan eventually told local authorities that she had killed Jeff - in self-defense - and buried his body in the backyard. At her trial, the prosecution claimed Susan had killed Jeff not in self-defense, but for insurance money. Her lawyers, on the other hand, painted Jeff as an abusive husband and claimed that Susan killed him after he attacked her with a knife. But there were plenty of holes in Susan's story; 192 to be exact. That's how many times Susan had stabbed Jeff in "self-defense." The jury convicted Susan of first-degree murder and sentenced her to 25 years in prison.
Diane Zamora and her fiancé, David Graham, had a bright future ahead of them. High school sweethearts, the couple had met in 1991 as volunteers in the Texas Civil Air Patrol. She was an honor roll student bound for Annapolis, and he was a track star with an appointment to the Air Force Academy. But their ambitions to serve their country were derailed on December 4th, 1995, when a farmer discovered the battered body of Adrianne Jones, a sophomore member of David's high school track team, laying in a field. Brutally beaten, she had been shot in the head. After nine months of dead ends, investigators got a tip from one of Diane's Annapolis classmates. According to the informant, Diane had admitted that she and David had murdered Adrianne after David had confessed that he'd had sex with the girl. In September of 1996, both Zamora and Graham were arrested for the murder. Given separate trials, the young lovers turned on each other and said that the killing had been the other's idea. Neither defense worked. Both were found guilty and given life sentences.
Blond, spunky, & ambitious, Kristin Rossum seemed to be going places. A summa cum laude graduate of San Diego State University, she worked as a toxicologist at the San Diego medical examiner's office. Her husband, Greg, worked for an up-and-coming biotech firm. Well-educated, highly intelligent, and good-looking, their future seemed limitless. But Kristin's picture-perfect life came to an end on November 6, 2000, when she returned home from work and found Greg dead of an apparent suicide, his body covered in rose petals. At autopsy, police discovered Greg had died from an overdose of the drug, Fentanyl. Fentanyl, cops soon found out, was a drug Kristin had a lot of contact with at her toxicology job. When police learned that a large amount of the drug had been reported missing from the lab where Kristin worked, they hauled her in for Greg's murder. At her trial, prosecutors said that Kristin had poisoned Greg with the drug and then covered his body with rose petals mimicking a scene from her favorite movie, "American Beauty" in an effort to make the cops believe the death was a suicide. As for motive, prosecutors asserted that Kristin had developed a secret addiction to crystal methamphetamine. When Greg threatened to expose Kristin's drug habits, she plotted his death with a co-worker she'd been having an affair with. Portrayed as a lying and manipulative druggie, the jury found Kristin guilty of Greg's murder and sentenced her to life in prison.
By most accounts, Debra Baker had the perfect job. She was the bookkeeper and business manager of Jerry Sternadel, a millionaire Texan entrepreneur. She was also a close confidant of Sternadel's wife, Lou Ann. They were so close that many, including Lou Ann's husband, began to suspect that the pair were more than just friends. In 1990, Jerry fell deathly ill. As he lay in his hospital bed, he told anyone who would listen that he thought Debra and Lou Ann had poisoned him. He died shortly afterward. A follow-up autopsy revealed that Jerry had ingested a lethal dose of arsenic. When a trace of the poison was found in a storage shed rented to Debra, she was immediately arrested and charged with Jerry's murder. At trial, prosecutors painted a picture not of a love triangle, but of a hate triangle. Jerry hated his wife and wanted to divorce her. Debra hated her boss. And Lou Ann hated the thought of losing her lavish lifestyle. Prosecutors argued that Debra had poisoned Jerry before he could divorce her beloved friend, Lou Ann. Based on the evidence of the arsenic found in Debra's storage shed, the jury found her guilty of murder. But in a surprising legal twist, the same jury that had convicted her sentenced her to only10-years probation and fined her $10,000. In 2003, Debra Baker was arrested for parole violations. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The daughter of a wealthy Michigan businessman, Carolyn Warmus enjoyed a life of privilege that included a swanky apartment on New York's Upper East Side and an all-expenses-paid education at exclusive Columbia University. After earning a Masters degree in elementary education, Carolyn landed a job teaching computer science at Greenville Elementary in Scarsdale, New York. There, she met and began dating a popular sixth grade teacher named Paul Solomon. Paul, however, just happened to be a married man. Their torrid affair continued until Paul made a gruesome discovery on the evening of January 15, 1989. That day, he found his wife, Betty Jean, shot to death in the couple's condo. The focus of the subsequent investigation quickly centered on Paul's obsessed lover, Carolyn Warmus. Sorting through Carolyn's phone records, investigators discovered that the blond bombshell had made a few calls to a P.I. named Vinnie Parco. Parco admitted to police that he had sold Carolyn a .25-caliber automatic - the exact weapon used to kill Betty Jean Solomon. There was also evidence that Carolyn had purchased ammunition from a New Jersey gun dealer on the exact day of the murder. Though it took two trials, Carolyn Warmus was eventually found guilty of murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Betty Wilson has quite an interesting story to tell about the untimely demise of her physician husband,Dr.Jack Wilson, who had been brutally murdered in his Boulder Circle home on May 22, 1992. Police responded to a 9-1-1 call at 9:30 p.m. Betty made after she returned from her AA meeting and found poor Jack lying dead on the upstairs floor. A baseball bat and a knife had finished off the good doctor. Betty was so grief-stricken that for 24 hours she couldn't be questioned by police. The following day she told police everything she knew, which wasn't much. As to the killer's identity, Betty stated her guess was as good as theirs. Within a few days, however, the Shelby County Sheriff's office passed on a tip about one James Dennison White, a known drug addict, alcoholic, child molester, & paranoid delusional schizophrenic,who bragged about killing a doctor in Huntsville. White claimed he was contracted as a murder for hire by a woman he had met through her sister, Peggy Lowe, a schoolteacher. White was infatuated with Peggy Lowe. He claimed she had recruited him with the promise of a sexual tryst to kill Dr. Jack Wilson for his wife, Betty Wilson. Police jumped on this one and paid the grieving widow a visit to inquire about her connection to James White. Betty was none too happy about the visit.
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