Submitted by Susan Kilroy
Murder is committed every day out of passion, jealousy and obsession. It’s difficult for the average person to understand how anyone can murder a loved one, but it happens more often than you’d expect. Below are the 10 worst killings committed in the name of love:
Man Kills Wife’s Teen Lover: In March 2007, Eric McLean shot and killed 18-year-old Sean Powell, who was having an affair with his wife. McLean claimed that the shooting, which happened outside his home as he waited in his car, was accidental and that Powell had been stalking his wife, the boy's former high school teacher.When Powell refused to leave the property, McLean threatened him with a rifle. Powell allegedly grabbed the barrel of the gun and McLean said he accidentally shot him. He then called 911 and admitted to killing Powell. Although prosecutors claimed that McLean was a cold-blooded killer, the charge was reduced and he was convicted of reckless homicide, with probation. The following year, 2009, McLean won custody of his sons.
Skydiver Falls to Death: Els Clottemans and Els Van Doren had more in common than their love of skydiving. The two Belgian women also shared a lover, Dutchman Marcel Somers. On Nov. 18, 2006, Clottemans, Van Doren and a plane full of skydivers went for a jump over eastern Belgium at 30,000 feet. Van Doren jumped a second too late and didn't participate in airborne stunts with the others, but when it was time to open the chutes, Van Doren’s failed to open and she plunged to her death. Clottemans became a suspect when she tried to kill herself hours before talking to the police for a second time. She sent anonymous letters to Van Doren’s husband, made anonymous phone calls to Marcel Somers and attempted suicide before the trial. The parachute bag and helmet that Van Doren wore that day had been tampered with and were used in court as evidence.Video footage from a camera mounted on Van Doren’s helmet was also viewed in court. In October 2010, the jury agreed that Clottemans' motive for killing Van Doren was jealousy. She was found her guilty of the murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Teen Love Triangle Turns Deadly: Florida teens Sarah Ludemann and Rachel Wade were fighting over 19-year-old Josh Camacho, who had been" two-timing" them for months. Ludemann and Wade traded vicious taunts and harassing text messages, voicemails and Facebook posts that led ultimately to the deadly fight. In April 2009, Ludemann received a voicemail from Wade, threatening to murder her. Ludemann then left in her father’s minivan to fight Wade, unaware that Wade was armed. The two girls charged each other, and Wade pulled a steak knife and stasbbed Ludemann, piercing her heart and killing her. Wade’s attorney claimed that she brought the steak knife as a means of self-defense, but the jury didn’t buy it. In September 2010, Wade was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 27 years in prison.
Mother Kills Brain-Damaged Son: In 2008, Frances Inglis, a London resident, killed her 22-year-old son Tom by injecting him with a lethal dose of heroin. Before his death, Tom was in a vegetative state with severe brain damage, a result of falling from a moving ambulance, in 2007. Inglis felt that her son was suffering from severe pain and the only way to end his "living hell" was to take his life. After one failed attempt to kill her son with heroin, Inglis tried again. While Tom was lying in his hospital bed, Inglis injected him with a fatal dose. She was found guilty of murder and attempted murder. Given a life sentence and ordered to serve a minimum of nine years, her sentence was reduced to five years in 2010.
Mother Kills Children by Rolling Car into Lake: In an attempt to mend a broken relationship with a man who didn’t want a ready-made family, Susan Smith killed her two sons by rolling her car into the John D. Long Lake in South Carolina with her children inside. Smith fabricated a story for police, saying a black man carjacked her and drove away with her children.She and her husband appeared on TV several times and asked the community to join forces to look for her vehicle and the man that Susan had described as the carjacker. During police investigations, Smith raised suspicion with her demeanor, inconsistent stories and failed polygraph tests. Lead investigators believed she knew where her children were and that she was responsible for their disappearance. Nine days after the disappearance of her two sons, Susan Smith confessed and was charged with two counts of murder and sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.
Mom Kills Three Children in Murder-Suicide Pact with Husband: One of the worst murder-suicides committed in the name of love happened to a Saguenay, Quebec family on New Year’s Eve in 2008. That night Cathie Gauthier and her husband, Marc Laliberté, killed their three children by poisoning them with a mixture of Gravol, an anti-nausea medication, and a tranquilizer. Marc Laliberté committed suicide by slitting his wrists and died from loss of blood. On January 2, Gauthier was found in the family home with her right wrist slashed after she called 911. Although Gauthier claimed the murder-suicide pact was completely her husband’s plan and that he was responsible for the children’s deaths, prosecutors argued that she bought the medication that poisoned her children and was an equal participant with her husband. Gauthier was found guilty in the premeditated murders of her three children and given a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Mom Attempts to Kill Three Kids: Diane Downs hoped to reconsile with a man who didn't want children, so she shot all three of her own, killing one of them. Downs told police that a stranger had shot all three of her kids while trying to carjack her car. She said she was able to escape, although she had been shot, and arrived at the McKenzie-Willamette Hospital with her children in the back seat. Her second child was already dead and Downs was treated for a gun wound in her left forearm. During the police investigation, Downs retold her story, which didn't seem plausible. Video footage captured her laughing as she described the traumatic details and police discovered that Downs had been seeing a man in Arizona, who made it clear that he didn't want children.The key testimony which put Downs behind bars was that of her oldest daughter, who confirmed that her mother had shot them all, including herself. Downs was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
Woman Kills Love Rival: Shawna Nelson and Heather Garraus were both involved Ignacio Garraus, a Fort Collins, Colorado, police officer. Garraus had a three-year long affair with Nelson and fathered a child with her, but broke off the relationship a month before the shooting. On Jan. 23, 2007, Heather Garraus was shot execution style by someone wearing a mask, who reportedly yelled, "You ruined my life. Get on the ground." Soon after Garraus was found dead, police focused on the only person who seemed to have a motive to kill her — Nelson. DNA tests, gunshot residue, matching tire tracks and other compelling evidence linked Nelson with the murder. In 2008, Nelson was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Wife Kidnapped and Killed: Joshua Damien Fulgham and his mistress Emilia Carr killed his wife, Heather Strong, by strapping her to a chair and suffocating her with a plastic bag. The duo then buried Strong’s body in the backyard of Carr’s mother’s home. Her body was discovered a month later. In 2010, a jury found Carr guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping and recommended that the Florida woman get the death penalty. Fulgham is on trial for the same charges and awaits sentencing.
Teen in Student-Teacher Love Triangle: A love triangle turned deadly when an Arizona teenager was caught in bed with his high school teacher by her fiance. A sailor, Sixto Balbuena, discovered Tamara Hofmann and Samuel Valdivia naked in her home and proceeded to stab Valdivia. He claimed that when he entered the home he heard a noise and grabbed a kitchen knife, fearing for Hofmann’s safety. Balbuena said he never meant to kill Valdivia, and only wanted to teach him a lesson, but a fatal stab to the stomach left him dead. Balbuena was guilty of second-degree murder and received a 10-year prison sentence in 2010.