Rhode Island

Victims of the State

4 Cases

Map of Counties

U.S. Cases




Date of Alleged Crime


Newport County, RI Claus von Bülow 1979-1980  (Newport)

Claus von Bülow was convicted of two counts of attempting to murder his wife, Martha “Sunny” von Bülow.  It was alleged that Claus had on two occasions injected Sunny with an overdose of insulin causing her to fall into a coma each time.  The alleged crimes occurred at the couple's estate, Clarendon Court, in Newport, RI.

Sunny was a former princess because of her first marriage to Prince Alfred von Auersperg.  She was also the daughter of a utilities magnate, George Crawford, and had inherited a reported $100 million from him at age 4.  Sunny had two children, Alexander and Ala by Prince Alfie and another daughter, Cosima, by Claus.  Claus was a British socialite and the son of Danish aristocrats.  He had worked as a personal assistant to oil magnate J. Paul Getty.

Read More by Clicking Here


Providence County, RI John Gordon Dec 31, 1843 (Cranston)
John Gordon, an Irish immigrant, was hanged on Feb. 14, 1845 for the murder of Amasa Sprague, a Cranston textile factory owner and the brother of a U.S. Senator and a future Rhode Island Governor.  Gordon's innocence is reportedly detailed in a 1993 book, Brotherly Love by Charles and Tess Hoffman.  (Info)  [7/05]


Providence County, RI Beaver Tempest Feb 19, 1982 (Woonsocket)

Raymond D. “Beaver” Tempest, Jr. was convicted of the murder of Doreen Picard.  The murder occurred at 409 Providence Street in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.  Picard was a third floor resident of this address and her brutally murdered body was found in the basement.  A first floor resident, Susan Laferte, was also found in the basement.  She had also been severely beaten, but had survived.  Evidence seemed to indicate that Laferte was the intended target of the attack which was interrupted by Picard.  Both victims had been beaten by a 28-inch length of galvanized pipe.

Laferte's three year-old daughter, Nichole, had apparently witnessed the assaults.  At various times when Nichole was at social gatherings that included a man named Donald Dagesse, Nichole made statements to the effect that Dagesse was the man who “boomed” her “mama” or asked him if he was that bad man who “boomed mama.”  Dagesse also made incriminating statements to different people.  Dagesse had an alibi, but there were eight different inconsistencies with it.  When asked in the hospital to identify her assailant, Laferte repeatedly was able to write down the letters D, A, and a Y or a G.  A detective then recited several first names, but Laferte did not respond to any of them.  A nurse asked her if the assailant was Donald Dagesse and Laferte nodded her head yes. She was asked two more times by the detective if the name was Donald Dagesse and she nodded yes each time.  Laferte later had no memory of the assault or of being asked her assailant's name.

Despite the evidence against Dagesse, the investigation went nowhere from late 1983 to 1987.  Beaver Tempest's brother, Gordon Tempest, was a Woonsocket police officer and in 1987 he arrested Stanley Irza, the brother-in-law of Captain Rodney Remblad, the chief of detectives.  From Irza's arrest on, Remblad apparently had it in for Beaver.  Remblad would also use the case as a stepping stone for his promotion to Woonsocket Chief of Police.  In the years that followed, the frame-up of Beaver Tempest proceeded, with a complex tale of police convincing witnesses to lie, police manipulation of the press, and police convincing more witnesses to lie when the lies of previous witnesses were exposed.  By 1992, Beaver Tempest was arrested, tried, and convicted of the crime.  He was sentenced to 85 years in prison.  His brother Gordon was convicted of perjury for disagreeing at Beaver's trial with “facts” presented by false witnesses.  (caught.net) (1/95) (7/95)  [5/08]


Providence County, RI Scott Hornoff Aug 11, 1989

Jeffrey Scott Hornoff, a Warwick Police Detective, was convicted of bludgeoning to death Victoria Cushman with a fire extinguisher and a porcelain jewelry box.  Following the murder, Hornoff denied being anything other than friends with Cushman.  Detectives knew otherwise and Hornoff soon admitted that he had two sexual encounters with her.  Hornoff's alibi was that he was at a party with his wife and friends on the night of the murder.  People at the party confirmed his presence.  A grand jury considered the evidence, but did not indict him.

The Rhode Island State Patrol took over the investigation in 1991 and Hornoff was indicted in 1994.  At trial in 1996, the prosecution dismissed his alibi, saying he slipped away from the party and returned without anyone noticing his absence.  Hornoff's initial claim of only having been friends with Cushman was presented as evidence that he tried to cover-up the murder.  Hornoff was sentenced to life in prison and, in 1999, the Rhode Island Supreme Court unanimously rejected his appeal.

Realistically, it was time for Hornoff to abandon hope.  But then a miracle occurred.  On Nov. 1, 2002, Todd Barry walked into the attorney general's office and confessed to murdering Cushman.  Barry said he was consumed with guilt that an innocent man was serving time for a crime that he committed.  Barry's confession revealed how the murder investigation had focused exclusively on Hornoff.  Barry lived near Cushman, had dated her on and off, his name and number were near the front of her Rolodex, and he was known to her friends.  Yet he was never questioned about the murder, either by the Warwick PD, or by the state police.

Hornoff was soon released and cleared of all charges.  In 2006, Hornoff was awarded $600,000 plus $47,000 a year for life from the City of Warwick.  He may also be awarded additional money from the Rhode Island State Patrol.  (American Justice) (caught.net) (JD33) (TruthInJustice) (TIJ2) (00) (04)  [7/07]