With Halloween upon us, here are five real-life horror stories about people who either murdered or attempted to murder others, largely in an effort to obtain life insurance policy proceeds from the victims. Apparently, they never learned that crime doesn’t pay.
Ill-gotten insurance proceeds used to fund anti-government militia
Pvt. Isaac Aguigui of Fort Stewart, Ga., already jailed and charged in the deaths of two people in an unrelated crime, has been charged with the 2011 murder of his wife, Sgt. Deirdre Aguigui, and their unborn child. Isaac had received more than $500,000 in life insurance and benefit payments after his wife died. He had sent a chilling text message to an ex-girlfriend shortly before the murder of his wife, telling the ex that they would “have plenty of money.”
Deirdre, 24, was found dead on July 17, 2011, at her apartment in Fort Stewart, and a military autopsy was unable to determine the cause of death. But a second opinion from a Savannah-based medical examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation concluded that Deirdre had been choked or suffocated by essentially ruling out other causes of death.
Isaac’s defense attorneys suggested the wounds on Deirdre’s wrists and other injuries came from them having rough but consensual sex a few hours before he found her dead on a couch.
When Isaac’s Article 32 hearing, similar to a civilian grand jury, opened on July 1, Army investigators testified that Isaac had received the life insurance and benefits proceeds, and witnesses testified that the couple had been fighting, had separated and were considering divorce because of Isaac’s infidelity and drug use.
Subsequent reports revealed civilian prosecutors in neighboring Long County say Isaac used some of the money to buy guns and bomb components for an anti-government militia group he formed, and he and two other soldiers face the death penalty on civilian murder charges in a double slaying in Dec. 2011, just a few months after Deirdre’s death. In that case, a recently discharged private and his 17-year-old girlfriend were each shot in the head. Isaac and the two others were charged shortly after the bodies were found. The two were reportedly killed because they knew too much about the anti-government militia group, which civilian prosecutors say talked of bombing a park fountain in Savannah, poisoning apple crops in Washington state, and even killing the president.
Isaac, already sentenced to life in prison for the other killings, is currently awaiting court martial proceedings for the murder of Deirdre and their unborn child.
Second time not a charm for Black Widow
In February 2013, Janeene Lea Jones, 49, of North Port, Fla., was charged by Sarasota authorities with two felony counts of solicitation to commit murder in the first degree after police uncovered a life insurance-motivated murder-for-hire plot.
Jones allegedly was looking to hire a hit man for $4,000 to kill her husband while she would be away on a cruise as an alibi. Unfortunately for her, the “hit man” she thought she was meeting was actually an undercover police officer. While she had the hit man’s talents available, Jones, dubbed the “Black Widow” by Sarasota authorities, figured she could spend another $4,000 to have him “whack” a tenant at a property where she was the landlord. She was involved in a civil suit with the tenant that was costing her too much money, and the tenant already knew “way too much.”
The first intended victim of the plot was Jones’ second husband, whom she allegedly wanted to have killed in order to receive proceeds as the beneficiary of his life insurance policy. It’s a plot Jones may have executed once before. Police have received information about suspicious circumstances in the death of her first husband back in 2011. They are looking into whether she may have murdered him and whether she received a large amount of money as the beneficiary of his life insurance policy.
And finally, Jones was once a corrections officer at the Charlotte County Jail, where she worked for about six months before resigning amid allegations that she had a romantic relationship with one of the inmates she was assigned to guard, according to an internal affairs investigation from the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.
If convicted of the solicitation to commit first degree murder charges, Jones would face life in prison.
Trial begins for man accused of killing son for life insurance proceeds
While Carl Carlson is known as Homer Simpson’s innocuous co-worker and drinking buddy on The Simpsons, we can only wish a real-life Karl Karlsen was fictional.
Testimony begins Oct. 28 in the second-degree murder and insurance fraud trial of Karlsen, 52, in Waterloo, N.Y. He is accused of knocking a pickup truck off its jack, allowing it to fall onto his 23-year-old son Levi’s chest, crushing him and leaving him to suffocate back in 2008. Karl had removed the truck’s front tires and raised it on a single jack before asking Levi to repair the brake and transmission lines.
The insurance fraud charge stems from the fact that Karlsen received more than $707,000 from a life insurance policy on Levi bought just 17 days before the incident, which also happened just a day before Levi was to take a medical exam required to keep the policy in effect. Karl had taken Levi to a financial advisor to secure a life insurance policy under the auspices of protecting his two young daughters’ futures, and to make sure Levi’s ex-wife would not receive the funds, Levi named Karl as the beneficiary. The New York Life policy paid an additional $300,000 in the event of an “accidental death.”
Karlsen has pleaded not guilty to all charges, but there is plenty more to this story. Levi’s death was originally ruled an accident, but authorities reopened the case after learning additional details.
California police have re-opened an investigation into a 1991 house fire that killed Karlsen’s first wife, a situation where Karl rescued Levi, then 5, and two young daughters. Karlsen received $200,000 as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy on his first wife.
Karl had also used some of the proceeds he received from Levi’s policy to take out a $1.2 million life insurance policy on second wife Cindy Karlsen, which she said prompted her to work with police to reopen the case involving Levi.
In a jailhouse interview with the Post-Standard of Syracuse a month after his arrest, Karl said his first wife’s death, Levi’s death and even a 2002 fire as his Seneca County, N.Y., farm that killed his Belgian draft horses, for which he received $80,000 in insurance money, were all just coincidences.
There are a number of other twists and turns involved with this case, which will likely soon be the subject of a “48 Hours” segment on CBS.
Gold digger, ex-NFLer finally convicted in 15-year-old murder case
Nanette Ann Packard of Southern California was convicted in 2012 of first-degree murder for arranging to have a former NFL player kill her millionaire boyfriend in 1994 in order to collect on a $1 million life insurance policy and other funds.
Packard, also known as Nanette Packard McNeal and Nanette Johnston, then 29, was dating and living with Newport Beach mogul William McLaughlin, 25 years her senior, when he was shot to death in his home by 28-year-old Eric Naposki, a former New England Patriot and Indianapolis Colts linebacker working at the time as a nightclub bouncer. Packard was romantically involved with Naposki, and convinced him to kill McLaughlin. She gave Naposki, now serving life in prison without the possibility for parole, a key to McLaughlin’s house and told him when he would be home.
Packard ended up receiving at least $500,000 from McLaughlin’s estate and by writing checks to herself, including a $250,000 check from McLaughlin’s account which she deposited into her personal account the day before the murder. Packard even filed a civil suit against McLaughlin’s family after his death seeking more cash.
While authorities long suspected Packard and Naposki, the case went cold for years until police uncovered evidence linking them to the killing.
Death by (laced) chocolate
Alan and Tami Duvall had been separated for months and were having financial difficulties when Tami, a 51-year-old nurse from Columbus, Ind., asked him to come over to work on a malfunctioning air conditioning unit. According to Tami, he became overheated and went outside to cool down. After she fed him dinner and a dessert of “dirt pudding,” Alan “slept” outside that night.
The next morning (Aug. 24, 2007), Tami placed a 911 call and told the operator she had arrived home from work and found her estranged husband dead in a chair in the back yard.
It was initially believed that Alan, who had a blood-alcohol content of 0.436 percent, died of alcohol poisoning. But Alan had previously warned some friends and family that if anything were to happen to him to be suspicious of Tami. Several people — including some of Alan’s family members, Tami’s ex-husband and her own daughter — would convey suspicions of foul play to the Columbus Police Department, prompting the case’s detective to request an autopsy.
Toxicology reports revealed that the dirt pudding dessert was laced. Alan’s blood had a morphine concentration equivalent to approximately 100 times a therapeutic dose and approximately eight times a therapeutic dose of a muscle relaxer. Those same drugs just happened to be missing from the nursing home where Tami worked.
Sordid details eventually came to light. A short time before Alan’s death, Tami had encouraged him to procure a $100,000 life insurance policy and name her as the beneficiary. He had been willing to do so because he believed it was a mortgage insurance policy. The kicker: The policy had been obtained through an insurance agent with whom Tami was having an extra-marital affair.
According to an appeal filed Sept. 6, 2012, the insurance agent advised Tami not to attempt to collect on the policy because Alan had died during the policy grace period and it would look suspicious. Tami nevertheless promptly made a claim for payment.
The insurance company did not immediately pay the claim, but instead assigned an investigator to probe the circumstances surrounding Alan’s death. As evidence mounted against her during the investigation, another interesting wrinkle turned up: a prior boyfriend of Tami’s made a 2005 statement to an investigator from another life insurance company — during an investigation into alleged theft of property — that he suspected Tami had tried to poison him with tainted pudding immediately before requesting his signature and identifying information on a life insurance policy.
On Aug. 6, 2010, the State of Indiana charged Duvall with murder, six counts of insurance fraud, and three counts of obstruction of justice. In April 2011, Duvall’s jury trial ended with her being found guilty as charged and sentenced to 61.5 years in prison. The case is being appealed.