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As a Valentine's Day treat, here's the second part of my list of deadly couples; whose dark fantasties, morbid passions and murderous desires only come to the surface when they fall head-over-heels in love with a kindred spirit, who is willing to do anything to prove their love for each other... even going so far as to commit murder. Often, when we think of "couples who kill", we usually think of Myra Hindley & Ian Brady, Fred & Rose West and even Bonnie & Clyde, but they were not the first and they won't be the last. What follows is a list of "murderous lovers", so shocking are the stories that it's hard to simplify them, and so long is the list that I've barely touched the surface and had to split this list into a two-part blog, the first part can be viewed here. Warning: this blog contains graphic (& very unromantic) details.
Jasmine Richardson & Jeremy Steinke
On 23rd April 2006, 23 year old self-confessed “vampire” Jeremy Steinke and his 12 year old girlfriend Jasmine Richardson brutally murdered her family including her father Marc (42), mother Debra (48) and brother Jacob (8) in the basement of their home, it is claimed they’d been inspired by the film Natural Born Killers which Steinke told an undercover officer is “the best love story of all time”.
On 15th December 2008, Steinke was sentenced to 3 life sentences and is eligible for parole in 25 years. On 9th July 2007, Richardson was found guilty of three counts of first degree murder, but was sentenced to 10 years (the maximum sentence given her age); with 4 ½ spent in a psychiatric institution and the remainder as a student at the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University (Calgary). On 6th May 2016 her sentence was completed and she was freed. Read more.
Jens Söring & Elizabeth Haysom
In 1985, Canadian couple Elizabeth Roxanne Haysom & German national Jens Söring murdered her parents - Derek & Nancy Haysom – in their Boonsboro home (Virginia). They’d been brutally slashed, stabbed and (so ferocious was the attack that they were) almost decapitated. Both blamed the other during their trials – even though it is believed that Jens committed the murders - but both were found guilty.
Elizabeth Haysom acknowledged her guilt and was sentenced to 90 years at the Fluvanna Correctional Centre (Troy, VA) and won’t be eligible for parole until 2032, aged 68. Jens Söring fought extradition, and following a plea bargain (which saw the death sentence dropped) was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn (VA), and became eligible for parole in 2003... but his application was rejected. Jens Söring maintains his innocence. A recent documentary cast doubt on the conviction. Read more.
Judith & Alvin Neelley
On 25th September 1982, Judith & Alvin Neelley kidnapped Lisa Ann Millican from the Riverbend Mall in Rome (Georgia). Driven to the Neelley’s motel room, the frightened 13 year old girl was repeatedly raped and tortured for three days, and later injected with liquid drain cleaner in the neck, arms and buttocks, which – although a hideously painful death – didn’t kill her, so Judith shot her in the back and tossed her body off a cliff.
One week later, with their sadism unsated, the Neeley’s abducted young couple Janice Chatman & John Hancock and were brought back to the same motel room, during which John Hancock was shot in the head… but did not die, and subsequently identified Judith & Alvin Neelley as the culprits. To avoid Georgia’s mandatory death penalty, Alvin pleaded guilty to murder and received a life sentence served at the Bostick State Prison until his death in November 2005, whilst undergoing surgery. Having given birth in prison, Judith Neelley was convicted of the torture & murder of Lisa Ann Millican and was sentenced to death at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women (Alabama), making her the youngest woman on death row in the USA. But on 15th January 1999, days from execution, she was granted clemency and the state governor commuted her sentence to life in prison without parole. She is now 52. Watch a documentary about them here.
Michelle Michaud & James Daveggio
On 2nd December 1997, sadistic lovers Michelle Michaud (38) & James Daveggio (42) lured 22 year old university student Vanessa Lei Samson into their green Dodge caravan (specially fitted with hooks and ropes) in Pleasanton (California) and repeatedly raped and tortured her as they drove to South Lake Tahoe, forcing her to wear a rubber-ball gag, strangled her with nylon rope and then dumped her body in the snow.
Both were found guilty, sentenced to death and are currently on Death Row. At their trial, Judge Goodman said "the death penalty is the appropriate penalty", adding that Samson's slaying and torture was "vile, cruel, senseless, depraved, brutal, evil and vicious", especially after – in her own defence – Michaud described each assault as an “adventure” and “huntings". Records show that Daveggio & Michaud sexually assaulted at least six other young women, two of whom were relatives. Read more.
Paul Bernardo & Karla Homolka – The Barbie & Ken Killers
In October 1987, Karla Homolka met Paul Bernardo and fell in love. But unlike most loving/sexual relationships, between 4th May 1987 and 27th December 1992, she encouraged his sadistic sexual desires and together they’d stalk, assault, abduct, drug, rape, torture and murder at least 20 young women in the Scarborough area of Toronto (Canada), as they exited buses late at night… although the true victim count is estimated to be as many as 100+. Found guilty of sexual assault, kidnapping and murder, Paul Bernardo was declared a dangerous offender in 1995 having amassed a score of 35/40 on the psychopathy checklist and was sentenced to life imprisonment at Millhaven Institution.
He is eligible for parole this year. Karla Homolka agreed a plea-bargain, testified against Bernardo, and was subsequently sentenced to just 12 years in prison, having claimed she was an “unwilling accomplice”, even though there is evidence against this, including video footage of Karla performing oral sex on their victims. Karla Homolka is currently living with her children in Châteauguay, Quebec. Read more.
Ray & Faye Copeland
Aged 76 & 69, Ray & Faye Copeland are the oldest couple sentenced to death in the United States. Between 17th October 1986 and 1st May 1989, the Copeland’s killed at least five homeless drifters, shooting them with a .22 Marlin rifle to the back of the head and burying their bodies in a nearby barn. Following a conviction for fraud, Ray couldn’t buy or sell cattle, so he’d employ hobos as farmhands, got them to buy cattle for him using fake cheques, and then the men would ”disappear”.
Both were sentenced to death. When Ray learned that his wife of 50 years had been sentenced to death, he unemotionally said “well, those things happen to some, you know". But neither Ray nor Faye were executed. On 19th October 1993 Ray died of natural causes and in September 2002, following a severe stroke which left her paralysed, and having been moved to the Morningside Centre nursing home in Chillicothe (Missouri), Faye died aged 82. Read more.
Ricky Davis & Dena Riley
In April 2006, serial rapist and methamphetamine addicts Richard D. Davis & Dena D. Riley, who were once the FBI’s most wanted couple, kidnapped, tortured and murdered mother-of-four Michelle Huff-Ricci (36). When Police searched the couple’s apartment, whilst investigating the disappearance of Marsha Speer on 14th May 2006, they discovered a stash of videotapes depicting the torture, beating, rape and strangulation of Marsha Speer and Michelle Huff-Ricci. One tape was more than two hours long.
The bodies of Marsha Speer and Michelle Huff-Ricci were subsequently dumped and doused with lighter fluid. But before David & Riley could be arrested, they fled, sparking an 8-day manhunt, during which they abducted and sexually assaulted a 5 year old girl. In August 2008, Dena Riley & Ricky David were given nine life sentences. Read more.
Suzan & James Carson
Now, I don’t wish to denigrate stoners but… between March 1981 and March 1983, heavy cannabis-users and radical anarchists (who predicted a nuclear apocalypse within the year) Suzan & James Carson murdered three people in California and San Francisco Bay. First, their 22 year old roommate Keryn Barnes, who’d been stabbed 13 times and had her skull bashed in with a frying pan, as Suzan was convinced she was a witch. Secondly, Clarke Stephen, a fellow worker at the cannabis farm, who Suzan also thought was a witch, who they shot, burned and buried.
And thirdly, whilst on the run, a 30 year old hitchhiker called Jon Charles Hellyar, who (have you guessed it?) Suzan thought was a witch. Whilst driving at speed on Route 101 near Santa Rosa (Sonoma County), Suzan repeatedly stabbed Jon and James shot him dead at point blank range, all in view of passing motorists. On 12th June 1984, the Carsons were found guilty of murder and sentenced to 25 years a piece for the murder of Jon Charles Hellyar, with their sentence extended to 50 to 75 years for the two subsequent murders. Read more.
Ray Fernandez & Martha Beck - The Lonely Hearts Killers
Between 1947-49, convicted fraudster Raymond Fernandez and his lover Martha Beck killed 20+ women who’d they’d met through lonely hearts adverts. Desperate to marry her lover, Martha fled Milton (Florida) to New York City, abandoning her children with the Salvation Army, believing this to be a sign of her unconditional love for him. Besotted and fully accepting of his criminal plan, Martha posed as his sister / chaperone as Raymond would lure hopeful “lonely hearts” to his Long Island apartment, and con monies out of them, having made them believe they were in love with a much younger man.
Unfortunately, Martha had an awful temper and – in fits of jealousy, witnessing the couples kissing, or worse – would smash the “lonely hearts” over the head with a hammer, strangle them, drown them... and even their children. Fernandez quickly confessed and on 8th March 1951, both were executed by electric chair at the infamous Sing Sing prison (Ossining, New York). Their final words were Raymond: "I wanna shout it out; I love Martha! What do the public know about love?" and Martha: "My story is a love story. But only those tortured by love can know what I mean. I am not unfeeling, stupid or moronic. I am a woman who had a great love and always will have it. Imprisonment in the Death House has only strengthened my feeling for Raymond". Read more.
If you "enjoyed" this blog post, why not take a peek at; Serial Killers & Murderers Who Were Never Caught, London's Deadliest & Often Forgotten Disasters, Are More Serial KIllers Born During a Full Moon, Killer's Birthdays / Star Signs, Serial Killers Who Were On TV, Celebrities Who Have Killed, London's Railway of Death, Serial Killers as Kids and the World's Weirdest Death Rituals
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten quirky & unusual things to do in London” and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totalling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster & tour guide of Murder Mile Walks, hailed as one of the best "quirky curious & unusual things to do in London".
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