55 percent of female homicide victims in the USA were killed by an intimate partner.
15. SCOTT PETERSON SEES DOLLAR SIGNS
Scott Peterson, a fertilizer salesman, rose to fame after murdering wife Laci. She was eight months pregnant with their unborn son at the time. It was Christmas Eve in 2002 when Laci was first reported missing from the home she shared with Scott in Modesto, California. Several months later a body was found and confirmed as Laci Peterson. The very same day, Peterson was arrested in San Diego on pending capital murder/double homicide charges.
It wasn’t long before the news spread, capturing millions across America. It would saturate national media coverage for nearly two years. The lengthy trial would eventually come to an end with Peterson being charged and sentenced to death row at San Quentin State Prison near San Francisco. It was concluded his motive was escaping married life and upcoming parenthood. There was also a $250,000 life insurance policy that Peterson took out on Laci prior to her death. We guess there is a pretty good chance that had something to do with it.
14. WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS PLAYS WILLIAM TELL
One of the most influential writers of the 20th Century, William S. Burroughs, was a Beat Generation writer known for his startling, non-traditional accounts of drug culture. His popular works include Naked Lunch, Cities of The Red Night and Junkies. His works weren’t the only thing that shocked fans though. In September of 1951, William shot and murdered his common-law wife, Joan Vollmer, in Mexico City.
Initially, Burroughs claimed his wife’s death had been an accident during a drunken game of William Tell, with Burroughs attempting to shoot a water glass on Vollmer’s head. He missed and shot Joan in the head instead. However, his story later changed. He claimed he had accidentally misfired the gun while trying to sell it to an acquaintance. Burroughs was initially arrested, but his brother bailed him out of jail shortly after. While he was awaiting his trial, Burroughs fled to the United States. He was convicted in absentia of homicide and was given a two-year suspended sentence. Maybe money can buy you your freedom.
13. OSCAR PISTORIUS TOP DOG TO LET DOWN
What better persona to hide beyond than an Olympic champion? Oscar Pistorius aka the Blade Runner was a South African sprint runner and double-amputee who lost both his legs at 11 months old. Despite his disability, Pistorius went on to be a Paralympic champion and the first amputee to win a non-disabled world track medal. People viewed Pistorius as inspirational, a hero, so when news started to spread that he had shot and murdered his partner, Reeva Steenkamp, the world was shocked.
On Valentine’s Day in 2013, Oscar Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp four times. His line of defense was that he had mistaken her for an intruder. While Pistorius was initially found not guilty of murder and sentenced to a reduced five-year sentence of culpable homicide an appeal by the prosecution landed the athlete back in court in 2016. This time, Pistorius was found guilty of the murder of his partner, but given a reduced sentence of a mizzly six years imprisonment.
12. ALBERT SALMI LEAVES THE PUBLIC IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE
Albert Salmi was an actor best known for appearing in episodes of critically-acclaimed TV shows Gunsmoke and the Twilight Zone, but had roles in several Broadway plays, at least 20 feature films and more than 150 television dramas. In April of 1964, Salmi entered into his second marriage with Roberta Pollock which would last 20 tumultuous years. In 1990 it was announced the couple had officially separated and Roberta filed for divorce citing Salmi’s alcoholism and domestic violence in her supporting affidavit.
Just several months later, three days prior to what would have been the couples 26th wedding anniversary, a bitter Albert Salmi showed up at Roberta’s house. He shot her twice in the back with a .25-caliber handgun. Later that same day, Salmi shot and killed himself with a .45-caliber gun. Despite false claims from the media, the police reports said Salmi had no alcohol in his system when he was found. The TV star had been suffering from depression in the months leading up to the murder-suicide.
11. ROBERT BLAKE: FAMILY TIES
It is 2002 when con-artist wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley, of TV actor Robert Blake is found shot to death in a parked car just a block away from the Italian restaurant in Los Angeles where the unhappy couple had just eaten dinner. We say con-artist and unhappy because Blake claimed he had been tricked into marrying Bakely after discovering she was pregnant with his child. Fortunately for the New Jersey actor, the aftermath of the murder played out just like an episode of The Sopranos, where they do get away with murder, well sort of.
Blake pleaded not guilty during his trial. His alibi, he was inside the restaurant retrieving a handgun he had forgotten when the shooting happened. His reason for carrying a handgun? His wife feared someone was stalking her. He wanted to protect her. Blake was charged with one count of murder with a special circumstance of lying in wait and two counts of solicitation of murder in the shooting death of Bonny Lee Bakley. However, after a lengthy four-year trial, a California jury acquitted him of the murder. Was it a classic case of bribery? Surely Blake had ties with mafia family members with his New Jersey roots.
10. SHRIEN DEWANI: MILLIONAIRE MURDERER
Widespread media coverage of the Shrien Dewani case quickly turned one man into a celebrity. London millionaire, Shrien Dewani, wed his Swedish bride, Anni, in 2010. The couple shared a fairy tale wedding then headed to South Africa for their honeymoon. While honeymooning near Cape Town, the couple were kidnapped at gunpoint. Mr. Dewani was released unharmed just hours after the kidnap, his wife was not. The next day, her body was found in the very taxi the couple had been kidnapped in. She had been shot in the neck.
Initially Zola Tonga and Mzwamadoda Qwabe were arrested and charged with the kidnapping and murder of Anni Dewani. However, upon arrest, one of them revealed some shocking information. Zola Tonga confessed that the wealthy businessman had paid him 15,000 rand (£1,400) to murder his wife. Shrien Dewani was arrested on December 8th and a long legal battle ensued. Almost four years later on October 6th, 2014, Dewani was extradited to South Africa. This time he would not be in South Africa for pleasure, but to stand trial for the murder Anni. Despite damning evidence including CCTV footage of Shrien Dewani meeting Zola Tonga, the man who made the murder possible, the trial was thrown out by the judge, Judge Jeanette Traverso. Dewani walked free. Judge Jeanette Traverso claimed the prosecution’s evidence fell “far below the threshold.” It was a day the justice system not only failed the family of Anni, but the public that had been following the case for the past four years.
9. CHRIS BENOIT DOUBLE MURDER AND SUICIDE
Canadian Chris Benoit was a professional wrestler. Over his 22-year career, Benoit worked for the World Wrestling Federation, World Wrestling Entertainment, World Championship Wrestling, Extreme Championship Wrestling and New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Holding 22 championships, he was considered by many one of the all-time greats of the wrestling world, so what drove him to a double murder and suicide?
The world was shocked when it was reported Chris Benoit had murdered both his wife and son, then hung himself. Between June 22 and June 25 in 2007, Benoit killed his wife Nancy first and later the couple’s seven-year-old son, Daniel. Police reported both had been killed by asphyxiation. After the double murder, Benoit hung himself in his weight room in the family home. Without answers to why Benoit committed such tragic acts, there was much debate about what caused the former wrestlers actions. Brain damage? Steroid abuse? A failing marriage? Despite speculation, the motive behind this double murder and suicide is unknown to this day.
8. PAUL SNIDER: DEATH OF A PLAYBOY PLAYMATE
Paul Snider is best known as one of the creators of the male stripping act Chippendales. The murder he committed is a textbook example of a crime of passion. A classic tale of from rags to riches, Snider first met wife, Dorothy Stratten at a Dairy Queen she worked at in 1977. Snider had an eye for talent and became Stratten’s manager. He was going to turn her into a star. At the same time, Snider pursued a relationship with Stratten. Between 1977 and 1980, a lot happened in the couple’s life. After Snider sent nude photographs of Stratten to Playboy, her career took off. The two moved to L.A. where she regularly started working for Playboy. Snider and Stratten were also married during this period of time.
As Stratten’s career flourished, she started meeting new people, including a new love interest, Peter Bogdanovich, and realizing hard truths about her husband, he was a hustler and pimp. After leaving Snider, Stratten returned to the home they once shared together to discuss an amicable divorce. She wouldn’t leave alive. Later that same night, nude bodies of Stratten and Snider were both found in Snider’s bedroom. Police reported the cause of death was a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun. In the aftermath of the murder suicide, it was assumed Snider didn’t want anyone else to have Stratten, and he couldn’t live without her, so he killed her and then himself. It turned out Stratten was right after all, Snider was nothing but a hustler and pimp.
7. TALENTED AND TORMENTED SPADE COOLEY
Donnell Clyde Cooley, better known as Spade Cooley, self-proclaimed King of Western Swing, was a western music icon known for hits like, “Shame On You,” “Three Way Boogie” and “Crazy Cause I Love You.” However in 1961, he became known for something else, the brutal murder of his wife Ella Mae.
The marriage between Donnell and Ella gradually crumbled resulting in Cooley filing for divorce from Ella in 1961. Shortly after, Cooley tortured and beat his wife Ella Mae for over an hour before she died. Watching the horrific scene helplessly was the couple’s teenage daughter. Spade Cooley was arrested and with an eye-witness, his daughter, the case was relatively straightforward lasting only a month before the people of California had a verdict, guilty of murder in the first degree. Cooley was sentenced to life imprisonment. While Cooley originally pleaded not guilty of the crime, by reason of insanity, he later withdrew the plea and waived a jury with respect to fixing the penalty of his heinous crime.
6. EARL HAYES AND MR. STEAL YOUR GIRL
Aspiring rapper, Earl Hayes, best known as part of Floyd Mayweather’s entourage, married Stephanie Moseley, dancer and actress of VH1’s series Hit the Floor, in 2008. While married life wasn’t perfect, it seemed the couple tried their hardest to make things work. However after Stephanie allegedly had an affair with Trey Songz, Hayes was done making things work. On December 8th, 2014 things came to a tragic end for the couple in a murder suicide in which Earl Hayes reportedly shot his wife Stephanie then himself. Prior to Hayes shooting his wife, he spoke to Floyd Mayweather via Facetime. Airing frustrations about his wife, Hayes became more and more agitated. After ending the call, he shot his wife Stephanie who had been in the bathtub at the time then turned the gun on himself. Minutes later, law enforcement broke down the couple’s apartment door after residents reported hearing a woman screaming and gunshots, but it was too late. Both Hayes and Moseley were dead.
On December 8th, 2014 things came to a tragic end for the couple in a murder suicide in which Earl Hayes reportedly shot his wife Stephanie then himself. Prior to Hayes shooting his wife, he spoke to Floyd Mayweather via Facetime. Airing frustrations about his wife, Hayes became more and more agitated. After ending the call, he shot his wife Stephanie who had been in the bathtub at the time then turned the gun on himself. Minutes later, law enforcement broke down the couple’s apartment door after residents reported hearing a woman screaming and gunshots, but it was too late. Both Hayes and Moseley were dead.
5. GIG YOUNG STRUGGLING ACTOR AND ALCOHOLIC
Throughout Gig Young’s career, he mainly acted as the supporting role in films. He appeared in movies like The Three Musketeers, Teacher’s Pet and Game of Death. In They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Young won an Academy Award for his performance as a slimy dance-marathon emcee. Yet, the Academy Award wasn’t good enough for Young. His fourth wife Elaine Williams said, what he was aching for, as he walked up to collect his Oscar, was a role in his own movie—one that they could finally call ‘a Gig Young movie.’
Throughout his lifetime, Young struggled with alcoholism. It would cause havoc in his romantic relationships and eventually cost him his acting career. In September of 1978, Gig Young married fifth wife Kim Schmidt. He was 64 and she was 31. Just three weeks after the couple wed, they were found dead in their Manhattan apartment. While it remains a mystery of what exactly happened, Gig Young’s past with alcoholism led police to believe Young shot his wife and then himself while under the influence of alcohol. A motive for the murder was never made clear.
4. MICHAEL JACE: COP TO CONVICT
Michael Jace played the role of police officer Julien Lowe in the FX hit series, The Shield, and also had other small roles in crime dramas like Law and Order and Cold Case. In 2014, his fans would forever remember him for something else though, the murder of his wife, April Jace.
On May 19, 2014, the Los Angeles Police Department responded to the Jace residence following a domestic violence report and Michael Jace’s phone call to the police in which he confessed, “I shot my wife.” April Jace was found dead. The cause of death, multiple gunshot wounds. When questioned by police, Michael surprisingly admitted to shooting his wife while his two young sons watched. He was arrested for the murder of his wife. Several weeks later, Jace stood before the court to hear his sentence. He was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 40 years to life in prison. Why did the Shield actor do it? During the trial, Michael Jace confessed he went into a jealous rage after finding out his wife April was seeing someone else.
3. RAE CARRUTH: NOT ALL NFL STARS WALK FREE
Born in Sacramento, California, Rae Carruth grew to fame as the wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers of the NFL. While some former NFL players might have gotten away with murder, Rae Carruth wasn’t as lucky.
In November of 1999, Carruth arranged for his partner, Cherica Adams, who was eight months pregnant with Carruth’s baby, to be killed. During the crime, Carruth stopped his vehicle in front of Adams’ car, another vehicle pulled up beside Adams and shot her. Despite the gunshot wounds, Adams managed to call 911 and reported what had happened to police. She was taken to the hospital where her baby was delivered. Unfortunately, Adams did not make it, but her baby did.
Carruth was found and arrested around a month after the incident. During his trial, it was established Carruth arranged the murder of Adams because she went against his wishes and did not abort their unborn baby. Rae Carruth was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child. While Carruth currently serves time at Tyrrell Prison Work Farm near Columbia, North Carolina, his release date is in sight, set for October of 2018.
2. HIGH-FIVE MEMBER RUSSELL NEAL UNSTABLE OR PLAYING THE SYSTEM?
Children of the early 90’s will remember Russell Neal best as a member of the R&B quintet Hi-Five. In 1990 the group had a #1 hit on Billboard Hot 100 called, “I Like the Way (The Kissing Game).” Anyone born later, had to refresh their memory of who Neal was when news spread the member of High-Five had murdered his wife.
In July of 2014, Russell Neal walked into a Texas sheriff’s office to tell deputies his wife was dead and he needed a lawyer. Police found the wife of Neal, Catherine Martinez, dead in the Houston apartment she shared with Neal. Her cause of death was blunt force trauma. After taking Neal into custody police questioned the R&B singer about what had happened. All Neal told the police is that there had been an argument. While Neal was originally charged with murder and released on a bond of $100,000, his bond was revoked after more evidence against him was presented. In jail Neal started to demonstrate crazy behavior and was placed in a mental institution where he continues to reside. He is currently deemed incompetent to stand trial. Will the family of Catherine Martinez ever get justice for Catherine? Or will Neal continue to play the mental card and the criminal justice system?
1. O.J. SIMPSON: TRIAL OF THE CENTURY
15 Famous Celeb Men Who Murdered Their Wives would not be complete without mentioning the O.J. Simpson murder case, one of the most publicized criminal trials in history. It’s a case that is so popular people are talking about it to this day, even though it ended in 1995. Books have been written about it and TV shows and films made.
O.J. Simpson, nicknamed, The Juice, was a former NFL running back, broadcaster and actor when he was put on trial for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman. Prior to the couple’s divorce, Simpson had been investigated for domestic abuse multiple times. Calls to police from Brown, scared for her life, continued even after Simpson and Brown divorced. Despite Brown’s continued pleas to the police, they didn’t take the situation seriously. On June 13, 1994 Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman were found dead outside her condominium. The pair had been stabbed multiple times in the head and neck. Shortly after, Simpson was arrested for the murders of Brown and Goldman. Despite damning evidence during the trial including a DNA sample, Simpson was acquitted of all of the charges against him and he walked free. O.J. Simpson stood a fair trial and is now a free man, but many still believe he is guilty. Did the justice system fail Nicole Brown and her friend? Or did The Juice really deserve his freedom?