Intruder Mystery Murders

for which an at home family member was convicted

15 Cases

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AL - Coffee - George W. White 1985

AZ - Maricopa - Debra Milke 1989

FL - Volusia - Virginia Larzelere 1991

IL - Cook - David Dowaliby 1988

IL - Lawrence - Julie Rea 1997

IL - Will - Kevin Fox 2004

LA - Jefferson - Douglas DiLosa 1986

MS - Noxubee - Kennedy Brewer 1992

MO - Christian - George Revelle 1994

NC - Cumberland - Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald 1970

OH - Cuyahoga - Dr. Sam Sheppard 1954

SC - York - Billy Wayne Cope 2001

TX - Dallas - Darlie Routier 1996

TX - Gray - Hank Skinner 1993

WA - Snohomish - Jerry Jones, Jr. 1988




Date of Alleged Crime


Coffee County, AL George White Feb 27, 1985 (Enterprise)
Both George W. White and his wife Charlene were shot multiple times by a masked gunman.  George survived but Charlene died.  Sixteen months later George was charged with the murder of his wife.  Following a trial that was later characterized as a mockery and a sham, George was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.  In 1989, the conviction was overturned after George spent over 27 months in prison.  In 1992, the charge was dismissed after proof of George's innocence surfaced.  George is a co-founder of Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and served on the board of Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation from 1994 to 1998.  (JourneyOfHope) (JD01)  [6/05]


Maricopa County, AZ Debra Milke Dec 2, 1989 (Tempe)
Debra Jean Milke was convicted of the 1989 murder of her 4-year-old son.  (American Justice) (JD01) (JD05) (  [5/05]


Volusia County, FL Virginia Larzelere Mar 8, 1991 (Edgewater)
Virginia Larzelere was convicted of murdering her husband Norman in their dental office.  She was sentenced to death.  An intruder had robbed the office safe of gold coins, cash, and narcotic drugs and had shot her husband through a closed waiting room door.  (JD04)


Cook County, IL David Dowaliby Sept 10, 1988 (Midlothian)

David Dowaliby was convicted of murdering his 7-year-old stepdaughter, Jaclyn.  Police initially assumed that the window, through which an intruder had allegedly entered to abduct Jaclyn, had been broken from the inside of their home.  There was more broken glass on the outside than on the inside but forensic analysis established that it had been broken from the outside.  During the investigation, Dowaliby and his wife, Cynthia, had followed police advice not to talk to the press, but such refusal had made them appear guilty.

At trial, for which both Dowaliby and his wife were charged with first-degree murder, the prosecution presented a witness, with a history of mental illness, who stated that he saw someone with a nose structure resembling Dowaliby on the night the victim had disappeared and near where her body was found five days later.  This witness, Everett Mann, made this identification from an unlighted parking lot 75 yards away on a moonless night.  The prosecution also presented 17 gruesome autopsy photos that are disallowed in many jurisdictions because they serve to prejudice a jury.  The trial judge gave Dowaliby's wife a directed verdict of acquittal, but the jury convicted Dowaliby.

Afterwards, in an interview, the jury forewoman said that fist marks on the door of a bedroom were critical to the jury's decision to convict Dowaliby.  These marks appeared in one of the evidence photos, but were never mentioned by either side.  The jury concluded from these marks that Dowaliby had a terrible temper.  In fact, they had no bearing on the case, as they had been present years earlier, before the Dowalibys had moved into their home.  The jury forewoman also said, that if given the chance, the jury would have convicted Dowalibly's wife as well.

An appeals court reversed Dowaliby's conviction in 1991, on the grounds of insufficient evidence.  The case came to a legal end in 1992 when the Illinois Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by the prosecution.  The case is the subject of a book, Gone in the Night: The Dowaliby Family's Encounter With Murder and the Law by Protess and Warden (1993).  (CWC) (American Justice)  [12/06]


Lawrence County, IL Julie Rea Oct 13, 1997 (Lawrenceville)

Julie Rea was convicted of stabbing to death her 10-year-old son, Joel Kirkpatrick.  Julie maintained that a masked intruder stabbed her son.  The intruder also left a bruise over her eye and an inch deep gash on her arm.  A physician noted that Julie's injuries, such as the horizontal scrapes on her knees, did not appear to be self-inflicted.  In escaping, the intruder ran through two sets of glass doors.

Despite the bloodbath found in her son's room, Julie was found with no blood on her except for a small transfer pattern presumably caused by her contact with the intruder.  Her toilets, sinks, washer, and dryer were found free of blood.  A search of her septic tank and the lines leading to it failed to reveal the presence of any blood.  Her ex-husband, Len Kirkpatrick, with whom Julie had a bitter divorce, had recently gotten residential custody of Joel, because he remarried, allowing Joel to have a two-parent home.  The prosecution alleged that Julie's thinking regarding custody was, “If I can't have him, nobody will.”  Julie was not charged until three years after the murder.  No new evidence had surfaced after the initial investigation, but her ex-husband and chief accuser had become a sheriff's deputy in a neighboring county.  He had vowed in writing to “destroy her.”

After the case was featured on 20/20, serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells confessed to the murder.  Sells was a cautious killer who liked to kill but learned to avoid danger to himself.  He would often kill sleeping victims, as awake victims were more dangerous.  After a would-be adult victim sent him to the hospital for a week and to prison for five years, he stuck exclusively to killing children.  Sells is also a suspect in the Texas intruder murders of Devon and Damon Routier.  Their mother, Darlie Routier, has been sentenced to death for the murders.  The state denied Sells confession, but the confession is reportedly too accurate to be dismissed as coincidence.  In 2004, Julie's conviction was overturned because her prosecutor did not have the legal authority to try her.  She was acquitted on retrial in 2006.  (ABC News) (CWC)  [11/05]


Will County, IL Kevin Fox June 6, 2004 (Wilmington)
Kevin Fox was charged with the murder of his 3-year-old daughter, Riley.  Fox had confessed to the crime after a grueling interrogation that lasted more than 14 hours.  Riley had fallen asleep on the living room couch, but was missing from her house the next morning.  The front door was open.  She may have opened it herself and gone outside.  There were no signs of forced entry.  Riley was found later that day, drowned in a creek four miles from her home.  She had been sexually assaulted.  Her arms and mouth were bound with duct tape.  Fox was released after spending 8 months in jail.  DNA tests failed to link him to the crime.  Fox and his wife were awarded $15.5 million from Will County in Dec. 2007.  The County plans to appeal the award.  (Chicago Tribune)  [4/08]


Jefferson Parish, LA Douglas DiLosa Sept 27, 1986 (Kenner)

Douglas A. DiLosa was convicted of the murder of his wife, Glinda.  When police arrived at DiLosa's condominium following a 911 call from his son, they found DiLosa tied up on the living room floor.  His wife was found bound and strangled on a bed.  DiLosa said he was awakened about 3:30 a.m. to noises downstairs.  When he investigated, he discovered two black male intruders.  The intruders him beat him unconscious.  When he recovered from his unconsciousness, he found himself bound and the house in shambles.  He called out to his son and instructed him to dial 911.  The crime occurred at Apartment 7-C, Chardonnay Village Condominiums, 1500 West Esplanade Ave. in Kenner, LA.

In time, DiLosa was arrested for Glinda's murder based on an alleged lack of evidence supporting his version of events.  Investigators also discovered a possible motive.  DiLosa was out of work, his unemployment benefits were about to run out, a large payment was near due on the condo, and his wife's life was insured for a substantial sum.  At trial the prosecution focused on the lack of evidence that any other perpetrator besides DiLosa committed the crime.  During his closing argument, the prosecutor told the jury, “There was not one, not one shred of black hair found in that residence.”  And he also stated, “Did you hear any evidence about any other houses that were hit that night?”

However, there was evidence supporting DiLosa's version of events, but it was withheld from the defense:  (1) Hair of a non-Caucasian type was found on the rope around Glinda's neck and on the bed where her body was discovered. (2) Fingerprints were found in the condo that could not be positively identified.  (3) An attempted break-in occurred at a nearby condo.  (4) A taxi driver had seen a car occupied by two black men exit the condo complex at 5:45 a.m.  The taxi driver said the car's driver looked “tense,” faced straight ahead while gripping the steering wheel, and was driving very slowly.

In 2002, the federal 5th Circuit Court overturned DiLosa's conviction due to the withholding of evidence.  It is not known if DiLosa was retried, but a reference source lists DiLosa as having been exonerated in 2003.  (DiLosa v. Cain)  [10/08]


Noxubee County, MS Kennedy Brewer May 3, 1992 (Brooksville)

Kennedy Brewer was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of three-year-old Christine Jackson, the daughter of his live-in girlfriend.  Christine had been taken from her home in the early morning hours and found dumped in a creek.  An intruder could have entered the home through a broken window.  Brewer was the boyfriend of Gloria Jackson, the victim's mother.  Christine had been sleeping on a makeshift pallet of sofa cushions at the foot of the couple's bed.  In the morning, the couple discovered that Christine was gone.  Two other children were present in the home.

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Christian County, MO George Revelle Sept 28, 1994 (Fremont Hills)

George S. Revelle, the CFO of Ozark Bank, was convicted of murdering his wife, Lisa, at their home in Fremont Hills.  Revelle told authorities that intruders broke into their home and shot his wife in a bungled extortion attempt.  He was convicted because he had a $500,000 life insurance policy on his wife and an old letter in which she criticizes him for being materialistic.

Five months into the investigation, the apparent murderers sent a confession letter to police. They said they were fugitives living outside the U.S. They stated George's stepbrother had originally approached them about kidnapping George and forcing him to go to his bank so they could rob it. The letter writers revealed the location of a pond where the murder weapon was found. The prosecutor never investigated any of this evidence, except to test the stamp on the letter envelope for Revelle's DNA.

Revelle's conviction was overturned in Nov. 1997 because an appeal's court found that his wife's note should not have been allowed as trial evidence.  On retrial in Dec. 1998, Revelle was acquitted.  (Beyond the Yellow Ribbon) (Google)  [4/08]


Cumberland County, NC Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald Feb 17, 1970

(Federal Case)  Army Captain Jeffrey MacDonald was convicted of the murder of his wife Collette, 26, and the murders of two daughters, Kimberly, 5, and Kristen, 2.  According to MacDonald, he and his family were attacked by intruders to their home at 544 Castle Drive in Fort Bragg, a U.S. military base.  MacDonald survived with wounds including a collapsed lung.  MacDonald was acquitted of the murders at a Ft. Bragg Army hearing and probably would not have been tried again had he not angered the prosecution by criticizing them during interviews on national TV.  MacDonald's Army acquittal meant that he could not be court-martialed, but he could still be tried in federal court and he was.  Before his federal trial MacDonald invited author Joe McGinniss on his defense team to write a book and hopefully help to establish his factual innocence.  At that trial MacDonald was unfortunately convicted.

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Cuyahoga County, OH Dr. Sam Sheppard July 4, 1954

After an intruder entered his home, and brutally murdered his wife, Marilyn, Dr. Sam Sheppard was accused and convicted of the crime.  The Sheppard home was in Bay Village on the shore of Lake Erie.  Sheppard had an affair some months before and this was portrayed as a motive.  Sheppard had some wounds from the real assailant but the prosecution claimed these were self-inflicted.  Sheppard described the assailant as a bushy haired man and other witnesses claimed to have seen him.  Although its creator denied it, the 1963 TV series, The Fugitive, was widely thought to be based on this case, due to obvious similarities.

Sheppard's defense was not allowed access to forensic evidence prior to trial.  When examined after trial, it found that Marilyn had apparently bitten her assailant as one of her teeth was broken outward, and that the killer must have been splattered with blood as the bedroom walls were all splattered except for a spot that was shielded by the assailant's body.  Apart from a small spot, Sheppard had no blood on him, nor any bite marks.  Backswing blood spatter indicated the assailant swung his weapon with his left hand, while Sheppard was right-handed.  Appeals based on this new evidence were denied.  Eventually a young lawyer named F. Lee Bailey got interested in the case, took it to the U.S. Supreme Court, and had the conviction overturned.  Sheppard was acquitted on retrial in 1966, but died at age 46 in 1970.  DNA tests in the 1990's revealed the assailant was a mentally ill man who had once worked at the Sheppard home.  (American Justice)  [9/05]


York County, SC Billy Wayne Cope Nov 29, 2001 (Rock Hill)

Billy Wayne Cope, a white man, was charged with beating, sexually assaulting, and murdering his 12-year-old daughter Amanda.  Amanda died at her family's Rich Street home in Rock Hill.  Police suspected Cope, as there were no signs of forced entry to their home.  After four days of interrogation while suffering from the stress of finding his daughter dead, Cope confessed to the crime.  Later DNA tests of the semen found inside Amanda matched a black man, James Edward Sanders, who had a history of break-ins involving sexual assaults.  Sanders had moved into Cope's neighborhood a few weeks before.  Instead of dropping the charges against Cope, police, not wanting to waste a coerced confession, merely added a conspiracy charge, despite the fact that no connection was established between Cope and Sanders.

As trial neared in 2004, Judge John C. Hayes III refused to sever Cope's trial from that of Sanders and thereby prevented Cope's defense from presenting evidence of Sanders' other crimes.  Sanders, who was released from prison before Amanda was killed, was charged with several York County crimes, including break-ins and a sexual assault that occurred after Amanda died.  At the conclusion of the trial, both Cope and Sanders were convicted of the crime.

The television news magazine Dateline NBC later produced a two-hour report about the case which Prosecutor Kevin Brackett called, “...a blatant, slanted, one-sided, hit piece designed to make us look bad.”  Brackett has since created a website in which he attempts to defend the conviction.  (TruthInJustice) (The Herald)  [12/05]


Dallas County, TX Darlie Routier June 6, 1996 (Rowlett)

Darlie Routier and two of her sons were attacked by an intruder in their Rowlett home at 5801 Eagle Drive.  The two sons died.  The prosecution claimed the attack was staged and convicted Routier of murders.  An investigator took steps to steer the investigation away from his son, who is now in prison for other violent crimes.  Prosecutors and the courts continue to stonewall against turning over or testing evidence that will prove her innocence.  A book was written about the case entitled Media Tried, Justice Denied by by Christopher Wayne Brown.  (American Justice) (JD01) (JD06) (  ( (ODR)  [6/05]


Gray County, TX Hank Skinner Dec 31, 1993 (Pampa)

Henry Watkins Skinner, also known as Hank, was convicted of bludgeoning to death his live-in girlfriend, Twila Busby, and stabbing to death her two sons, Randy Busby and Scooter Caler.  Hank was sentenced to death.  The murders occurred at 801 East Campbell Ave. in Pampa.  Hank, then 31, had been drinking earlier in the evening and passed out after taking codeine to which he was severely allergic.  A friend, Howard Mitchell, arrived to take Hank and Twila to a New Year's Eve Party at 9:30 p.m., but he could not rouse Hank.

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Snohomish County, WA Jerry Jones, Jr. Dec 3, 1988 (Bothell)
Jerry Jones Jr. was convicted of murdering his wife, Lee.  An intruder had entered his home and stabbed his wife at least 36 times.  Jones intercepted the intruder before he ran off, and in trying to take away the intruder's knife, Jones cut tendons in his hand.  Following the attack Jones behaved strangely, having gone into shock.  He gave 911 dispatchers his old address where he lived for 5 years.  The prosecution portrayed such behavior as suspicious.  A neighborhood boy is an alternate suspect, who lied about his alibi and whose statements and later criminal record fully justify his being regarded as a suspect.  Jones's daughters fully support their father's innocence in the murder of their mother.  Jones's conviction was overturned twice, but he acted as his own attorney at his third trial and was reconvicted.  (Justice: Denied) (48 Hours)  [11/05]