5 Bizarre Crimes of Passion

Murder, Bizarre, Crime, NakedLaw, Relationships

Whether you love Valentine’s Day or hate it, the holiday symbolizes love and passion. However, as we know from classic love stories and CSI episodes, true love and passion occasionally become obsession. And obsession can turn very dark for some of us.

The legal definition of a “crime of passion” is one in which one party commits a crime—usually murder or assault—in a sudden fit of passionate rage or jealousy, such as what you might feel if you walked in on your beloved in the throes of “sexy time” with someone else. The broader cultural definition includes crimes of jealousy and rage even after the fact.

This Valentine’s Day, whether you have a date or will be at home with your DVR, consider yourself lucky you aren’t involved with one of these people:

The Jealous Astronaut

NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak enjoyed a torrid, two-year affair with coworker William Oefelein until 2006, when he ended the relationship. Oefelein then took up with an engineer named Colleen Shipman, which sent Nowak into a jealous rage—never mind the fact that Nowak was already married to someone else with whom she had three children. Rather than stalking her ex on Facebook like the rest of us, she decided to go after his new paramour, supplied with a black wig, latex gloves, pepper spray, a BB pistol, a hooded trench coat, ammo, rubber tubing, garbage bags, a knife, and a drilling hammer. She drove 900 miles to confront Shipman at Orlando airport, where Shipman had just arrived on a flight from Houston.

Whatever Nowak was planning didn’t pan out—Shipman reached her car before Nowak struck, and, despite having been pepper-sprayed, was able to summon the police, who arrested Nowak. Though several charges were brought against Nowak, including attempted kidnapping, burglary of a conveyance with a weapon, and battery, she only served two days in jail and a year of probation. She was dishonorably discharged and, predictably, her marriage ended as well.

The Buttafuoco Affair

Who could forget the infamous Joey Buttafuoco and his underage “Long Island Lolita” girlfriend, Amy Fisher? Seventeen-year-old Fisher couldn’t stand to share her hunk of a man with his wife, Mary Jo, so in a fit of teenage drama, she had a friend drive her to the couple’s house, where she attempted to confront Mary Jo. When Mary Jo told her to bug off, Amy Fisher shot her in the head, damaging Mary Jo’s hearing in one ear and leaving her face partially paralyzed. The story didn’t end well for Fisher, who was not only the butt of many late show jokes, but also the subject of several terrible made-for-TV movies and sentenced to seven years in prison for attempted murder. Joey Buttafuoco himself did six months for statutory rape.

The Belgian Sky-Divers

In 2006, a Belgian sky-diving love triangle went terribly wrong when a 38-year-old woman plunged to her death after her parachute didn’t open. It seems that a male member of the sky-diving club was simultaneously having an affair with the married mother of two and a 26-year-old woman with a history of mental issues. The younger woman cut the ropes of her competition’s parachute, causing the older woman to crash into the ground at 120 mph.

The Jealous Veterinarian

In 1973, a 50-year-old Italian gentleman named Tranquillo Allevi received a sample bottle of an aperitif with an invitation from the maker of the drink. When he partook of the sample, he dropped dead of strychnine poisoning. As it turns out, the man’s wife was sleeping with three other men, one of whom was a very jealous veterinarian. The vet had injected a huge quantity of the poison—enough to kill 500 men—through the bottle’s cork with a syringe. He was caught when police traced the typewriter he used to fake the invitation.

The Chat Room Murderer

In 2005, Thomas Montgomery, a 46-year-old married father struck up a chat room flirtation with Jessi, an 18-year-old with the screen name “Talhotblond.” He told her he was also 18, and a Marine bound for Iraq, sending her photos of him from when he actually was a young Marine. Montgomery became obsessed with the girl and the cyber relationship intensified until one of Montgomery’s daughters intercepted an instant message from Jessi and told her mother. When Jessi found out her online boyfriend was actually a 46-year-old family man, she ended the relationship, but then took up with a coworker of Montgomery’s, 22-year-old Brian Barrett.

The relationship with Barrett and Jessi also became very intense, and they carried out their cyber-love in the same chat room where Montgomery and Jessi had met. Montgomery was consumed with jealousy and obsessed with Jessi—so much so that, when he found out Barrett was driving to North Carolina to meet Jessi in person, he snapped. Montgomery shot and killed Barrett with a military rifle in the parking lot outside of their workplace.

When police rushed to Jessi’s house to make sure Montgomery didn’t kill her too, they found the most bizarre part of the story. “Jessi” was actually Mary Shieler, a middle-aged woman who used photos of and pretended to be her own daughter, the real Jessi, without the girl’s knowledge. Unfortunately, despite the murder and her part in the events that led to it, prosecutors were unable to charge Shieler with any crime.