Early Tales Of Lethal Domestic Violence By Females In Colorado

This site is copyrighted, supported, and maintained by the Equal Justice Foundation.


 

| EJF Home | Join the EJF | Comments? | Get EJF newsletter | Newsletters |

| DV Home | Abstract | Contents | Authors and Site Map | Tables | Index | Bibliography |

 

| Chapter 13 — Women Who Have Killed Their Partners In Colorado |

| Next — Female Domestic Violence Killings In Colorado - 1990-1995 |

| Back — Introduction To Women Who Kill In Colorado |


 
Stories used here are reproduced under the Fair Use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.
If you have, or know of a story about abused or murdered men in Colorado that should be posted here please send it, or a link to comments@ejfi.org.

Index

Lovely Ms. Nottingham kills fiancée, serves 24 hours in county jail

An early example of the "battered woman" defense

Pick your poison

Hahn's modus operandi

Headed west

The end of the line

Colorado's Triangle Murder

Murder will out, though thirty-two years may go by

Wrongful death suit filed

Singer Claudine Longet shoots skier-boyfriend Spider Sabich in Aspen

Woman hires two men to kill her policeman husband in Avondale

Early release

The reaction of Dennis Yaklich's daughter

The two brothers

Arrest takes frost off cold case, but age bars pursuit of murderess


 

Lovely Ms. Nottingham kills fiancée, serves 24 hours in county jail

Top

Women killing their intimate partners isn't any newer than men killing their wives and sweethearts. The August, 1998, issue of the Vail Trail mentioned the following story in an article on the history of the Eagle Valley.

One of the area's early newspapers originally reported that at the time of her death in 1908, at age 26, Grace Nottingham had achieved great notoriety. Said to possess remarkable beauty, Grace came to public notice in 1904 at the age of 22 when she shot and killed her fiancée.

The man had made statements reflecting on the young woman's character. She returned his ring, then shot him.

A sympathetic jury ruled the death involuntary manslaughter and recommended judicial clemency for the beautiful young woman.

She served 24 hours in county jail.

Juries aren't quite that sympathetic today but, fortunately, Lenore Walker has invented the "battered woman syndrome" to excuse such acts.


 

An early example of the "battered woman" defense

Top

A "Trial of the Century" featuring a lovely but "fallen" woman, Gertrude Gibson Patterson, as defendant occurred in Denver in 1911. Newspapers at the time called her "The Most Beautiful Woman in America."

Robert Hardaway, a University of Denver law professor, has written Alienation of Affection based on the story of the sensational murder of Charles Patterson by his wife, Gertrude, at Denver's Richthofen Castle.

Gertrude was reportedly a small-town girl who sortied to Chicago and eked out a starveling existence as a seamstress or shopgirl before being saved from poverty by a wealthy "sugar daddy."

Gertrude's patron was Chicago businessman Emil Strouss, a bachelor who was smitten and treated her with astonishing kindness. He paid for an expensive education for Gertrude in Paris and wanted to marry her. She accepted his generosity but finally decided to marry for love — choosing a poor but handsome former football player, Charles Patterson. Patterson's business ventures came to nothing and he apparently resigned himself to living off the money that Strouss continued to provide for Gertrude while she continued to provide her favors to Emil. The realization that he was little more than a pimp may have fueled Charles' cruelty toward Gertrude.

The district attorney called her a vile vampire who used her beauty to enslave and destroy, and who should be hanged by the neck until dead for the crime of shooting her lawfully wedded husband, the saintly and consumptive Charles Patterson.

Defense attorney O.N. Hilton was somewhat less generous in describing the character of the deceased, though he didn't deny that the beauteous Gertrude had dispatched Charles to whatever reward awaits pimps and wife-beaters. But Hilton foreshadowed the modern battered woman defense by arguing that the deceased had only got what was coming to him.

Evidence showed Gertrude fired four rounds, two of which missed her husband, Charles, entirely. The two that did enter his back did so at an upward angle. That fact gave vital support to her defense attorney's argument that she had shot in self-defense. He claimed that Charles had reverted to his wife-beating ways, hitting Gertrude and knocking her down. Gertrude then pulled a pistol from her handbag and fired — missing her assailant. Charles, discovering he had brought only his fists and bad temper to what suddenly turned into a gunfight, turned and ran. Still lying on the ground, Gertrude then fired the two fatal rounds into Charles' back.

With modern legal hindsight, Gertrude might not have been justified in continuing to use deadly force after Charles ended his alleged battery and turned to flee the scene. But the 12 male jurors were in no mood for fine distinctions once their "chivalrous" instincts were aroused.

Reviewing the evidence, which included the fact that Gertrude had shot Charles in the back — twice — the all-male jury did the honorable thing:

Not guilty by reason of self-defense.

As Bob Ewegen noted in November 29, 2003, article in the Denver Post (p. 15C), more than the jurors chivalry may have been aroused. At least four of the male jurors visited Gertrude in her hotel room after the trial. One, who brought flowers, seemed especially eager to get into Gertrude' s, as Ewegen put it, "good graces."


 

Pick your poison

Top

© 2006 Bill Reed, Colorado Springs Gazette

Fateful 1937 journey to Colorado Springs, trail of bodies proved serial killer's downfall

October 8, 2006 — Anna Marie Hahn spent only a few days in town, but she left behind a dead body and quite an impression. If it hadn't been for a ham-handed theft at a downtown Colorado Springs hotel, one of the most prolific female serial killers in history might have gotten away clean.

The "Blonde Borgia" rolled into town on July 30, 1937, with her 11-year-old son, Oscar, and her traveling companion Johan Georg Obendoerfer. Unfortunately for Obendoerfer, he had to be dragged from the train station to the Park Hotel as he writhed in agony.

Hahn was trying to find a place to dump her baggage, and this seemed as good a place as any. The trio's journey began in Cincinnati, where Hahn and Obendoerfer lived in the German-flavored Over-the-Rhine district.

He was the latest older gentleman the young Hahn had befriended and romanced, and the latest to contract a mysterious illness.

Hahn's story is told in detail by author Diana Britt Franklin in The Good-bye Door: The Incredible True Story of America's First Female Serial Killer to Die in the Chair. Franklin dug up reams of court documents and newspaper articles to piece together the tale.

All told, Hahn killed eight people and attempted to poison five more. She was deadly in the kitchen.

Although largely forgotten today, her murder trial was the most fantastic of its day. Reporters poured in from across the country, and the story demanded front page attention for months. Readers ate up the mix of gory details, gambling escapades and sexual innuendo. The pile of bodies at her feet kept growing.

Hahn's modus operandi

Top

Hahn immigrated from Germany with her boy and entered into a troubled marriage with Philip Hahn. When he dared to cross her, Philip got a taste of her poison at the dinner table. He survived, but he didn't meddle in her affairs after that. The two remained married, however, until her death.

A compulsive gambler, Hahn got desperate when her debts added up. She was pretty and charming. She found older men to flirt with, and after feeding them a few homemade German dinners that didn't agree with them, she became their nursemaid as their health spiraled downward. As the men neared death, she tried to drain their bank accounts and pocketbooks.

Her modus operandi was consistent.

"It's well-known that female killers are far less likely to be detected, because nobody expects them to be a killer," Franklin said. "They tend to blend into society very well. And she did."

Obendoerfer was an old cobbler who met Hahn when she showed up at his shop with a broken heel. He immediately fell for her charms. They spent the afternoon chatting and became close friends in the ensuing weeks.

"When a 31-year-old woman takes up with an older man, speaking his language, and a good cook — of course he will be infatuated with her," Franklin said.

Obendoerfer, 67, shaved off his thick mustache to look younger and began talking about a honeymoon with Hahn. Hahn told him she had a ranch in Colorado and they could spend the rest of their lives there together. She was honest about one thing — Obendoerfer was going to spend the rest of his few days in Colorado.

He withdrew $350 from his bank and gave it to Hahn to pay for the trip; the same day she deposited $250 in her own account.

On July 20, 1937, a healthy Obendoerfer packed his wicker satchel and went to Hahn's house.

"She prepared a special dinner for him," Franklin wrote, "so special that by 11 o'clock Wednesday morning he needed help to get into Otto Walke's Yellow Cab."

Headed west

Top

Ms. Hahn, her son Oscar and Obendoerfer traveled by train to Chicago — where Obendoerfer stayed in a 25-cents-a-night flophouse while Hahn and Oscar stayed in the $8 Stevens on Michigan Avenue — and then to Denver. By the time they got to Denver on July 23, Obendoerfer was gravely ill.

They stayed at the Oxford Hotel on Seventeenth Street until a hotel porter noticed Obendoerfer writhing on his bed and inquired about him. Hahn moved the trio away from the nosy porter to the Midland Hotel, at Arapahoe and Seventeenth streets, on July 25.

She wrote a letter on Oxford Hotel letterhead to Obendoerfer's bank that revealed her plan to pick him clean and then abandon him in Colorado. She was trying to get all his money sent to Colorado so she could snatch it while he withered away, and she almost succeeded.

But the same day the money showed up in Denver, she fled the city for Colorado Springs. The staff at the Midland Hotel was getting nosy, too, demanding she take Obendoerfer to the hospital, and she wanted to get out of town.

Hahn was feeding Obendoerfer watermelon to ease his dry throat and sprinkling what appeared to be salt on it from a shaker.

She might have been twisted, but she was not stupid. Turns out the salt shaker was filled with arsenic, and watermelon was a well-known method for feeding arsenic to unwitting rats. She fed her victims arsenic with a chaser of croton oil. The croton oil was such a powerful purgative it scrubbed the arsenic from the stomach — and croton oil was not one of the poisons tested for in a standard autopsy. Voila, no evidence of her crime remained. But her luck ran out in Colorado Springs.

The end of the line

Top

They arrived at 7 PM July 30, 1937, at the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad depot and walked across the street to the Park Hotel, owned by Pell and Rosie Turner. Hahn and Oscar helped Obendoerfer to his room and then went to dinner.

The next morning came an impulsive moment that brought Hahn's killing spree to an abrupt end. The door to the Turners' private quarters at the hotel was open, and Hahn slipped in and pocketed two diamond rings. Rosie Turner caught her coming out and confronted her, but didn't notice the rings right away.

"No other single act — not the lies, the forgeries, the previous thefts, or the murders — contributed more to her date with the electric chair than the theft of those two rings," Franklin wrote.

Hahn and Oscar went sightseeing on Saturday, tossing snowballs at each other on top of Pikes Peak as Obendoerfer suffered in his room. But when Hahn returned that night, he was so bad she called a cab to take him to Beth-El Hospital (now Memorial Hospital). She checked him in as an indigent.

Obendoerfer died at 6:30 PM Sunday, August 1 st , and was taken to The Law Mortuary on Nevada Avenue. By the time he arrived, he didn't have a penny in his pockets. When Law Mortuary notified Hahn at her hotel, she claimed she had just met Obendoerfer on the train.

A death notice was placed in The Gazette on August 2 nd . A few hours after the paper hit the streets, Hahn and Oscar were on a train to Denver, anxious to get out of town. But before she left, she checked Obendoerfer's wicker satchel at the train depot. Inside were clothes, a pipe and a salt shaker containing 82 percent arsenic trioxide.

In Denver, she continued sightseeing and visited a pawn shop where she received $7.50 for Rosie Turner's two diamond rings. The pair then caught the Burlington Zephyr back east, arriving in Cincinnati on August 9 th .

The next day, police were knocking at her door. Colorado Springs Detective Inspector Irvin B. Bruce sent a telegram to Cincinnati police, asking that Ms. Hahn be questioned for grand larceny. She was arrested for the two diamond rings, but Colorado Springs police also were curious about the body she had dropped off in their city.

"The Colorado Springs Police Department really put the case together for Cincinnati," Franklin said.

Under police questioning, Hahn's stories began to unravel, and Cincinnati police found connections between her and several bodies. At trial, the prosecution put a staggering 95 witnesses on the stand, while the only people who would vouch for Hahn were herself and Oscar. Even her husband, Philip, didn't testify on her behalf.

"Anna Hahn is the only one in God's world that had the heart for such murders!" prosecutor Dudley Miller Outcalt thundered during his closing statement. "She sits there with her Madonna face and her soft voice, but they hide a ruthless, passionless purpose the likes of which this state has never known."

From the day she was arrested, Hahn had only 484 days to live. The "good-bye door" in the title of the book is the door that led to Old Sparky, Ohio's electric chair where Anna Marie Hahn was executed on December 7, 1938.

 

Contact Bill Reed at (719) 636-0226 or bill.reed@gazette.com


 

Colorado's Triangle Murder

Top

With the present hysteria about domestic violence, and tales of how it was ignored in days of yore before Big Sister brought VAWA to women's rescue, it is worthwhile to reflect how things were just 35-years ago.

On March 6, 1963, Richard Vanausdoll of Denver was murdered in his front yard with a shotgun. Detectives soon arrested 22-year old Scotty Gene Carr, who confessed that he killed Vanausdoll because he was in love with his wife Edna. Scotty insisted Edna had no knowledge of the shooting and that he alone was to blame. Because of the love triangle aspect, the murder made national news.

Carr was sentenced to life in prison for the shooting. But a detective played a hunch that Edna knew a little more than was admitted. Interviewing Carr in prison, he reviewed what had happened, and how the young man was in for life. Did he want to come clean now?

What followed shocked the country. Carr told of a restless wife who pestered and badgered him for three months to kill her husband "so the two of us can be happy forever."

In those primitive times, Lenore Walker had not yet invented the "battered woman" defense. Warren Farrell would now classify this as the contract killing defense. Women are more likely today to succeed with such gambits as we know now that wives are always the "victim" of an oppressive, battering husband. Or at least Big Sister tells us so.

But in those heathen times, the police and courts hadn't been sensitized to the special needs of women that justified them killing their husbands. Based on Carr's testimony, Edna Vanausdoll was tried and found guilty in the death of her husband.


 

Murder will out, though thirty-two years may go by

Top

This story is abstracted from reports published in the Denver Post

© 2001-2003 Denver Post

Reproduced under the Fair Use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.

James (Jim) C. Robinson, age 38, a popular car salesman and insurance agent, was laid to rest in 1969 on a hillside overlooking the small western Colorado town of Meeker. He died of a sudden illness that turned his skin dark, made his hair fall out, and caused excruciating pain in his hands and feet.

At the time Robinson's death was officially ascribed to natural causes, specifically a paralyzing nerve disease, Guillain-Barre syndrome. But, according to the October 18, 2001, edition of the Denver Post (p. 1A and 24A) rumors of the time about poisoning, deception, affairs, and cover ups have found support with modern forensic evidence.

According to the Denver Post the current inquiry began when Robinson's son, Matt, began formally requesting an investigation in 1996. Matt Robinson wanted to know exactly what had killed his father in the hope that it would shed light on chronic medical problems he has had.

In 1996 young Robinson sent his father's medical records to a Grand Junction forensic pathologist, Dr. Robert Kurtzman for an opinion as to cause of death. Dr. Kurtzman then replied that the symptoms, rapid onset of the illness, pain in the hands and feet, and hair loss were classic signs of poisoning. Consistent with medical tests made in 1969, Dr. Kurtzman ascribed the cause of James Robinson to acute thallium poisoning and listed the death as a homicide.

Jim's body had been tested for arsenic and other heavy metals after he died. Though he complained before his death that he had contact with a pesticide days before the onset of his illness, medical records show he had never been tested for thallium.

Thallium (Tl) was widely used in rat poison and to kill coyotes on sheep ranches before it was banned for private use in Colorado in 1965. Sheep ranchers probably had stocks on hand of this dangerous, but effective poison that they used for many years after the ban.

After receiving Dr. Kurtzman's opinion, Matt Robinson began a five year battle to have his father's body exhumed. Over the objections of his mother, his wishes were finally carried out in the fall of 2001. Forensic tests showed his father's body contained high levels of thallium. Authorities are now attempting to change the cause of death on Jim Robinson's death certificate to homicide.

According to the Denver Post (October 18, 2001, p. 24A), before his death Jim told a number of friends and relatives that his wife, Lois, was having an affair with well-known and former state legislator, Nick Theos. Days before he was poisoned Robinson told a friend he was going to Nick Theos' sheep camp to confront him about the affair.

Theos divorced his first wife several years after Jim's death and married Lois in 1977.

Theos testified before Congress on the need for strong predator controls during the Nixon administration. He was also described in the 1971 book "Slaughter The Animals: Poison The Earth" as having laced a mule carcass with thallium to kill coyotes. The December 26, 2001, edition of the Denver Post (p. 8B) states that taped conversations between Theos and U.S. Fish and Wildlife investigators indicate that he had a stockpile of the poison in 1990-1991 and that Theos describes in detail how to use it on the tapes.

In 1991 Theos was charged with illegally using thallium to kill coyotes on his ranch. He claims he was framed and was acquitted in a trial held in Meeker.

Lois Robinson Theos died in late September of 2001 without answering investigators questions. Nick Theos has been questioned by the police but will neither confirm or deny the affair, and denies having any knowledge of Jim's murder.

Jim Robinson's murder is being investigated by Meeker police chief Si Woodruff and he hopes to have his investigation complete in early 2002 but that investigation stalled, as most seem to do when a woman kills her husband. Law enforcement and prosecutors say they have not being able to devote many resources to a 34-year-old case in which many potential witnesses have died.

Garfield County District Attorney Mac Meyers said he is waiting for the outcome of the civil case described below to determine whether he might yet take the matter to criminal court.

Wrongful death suit filed

Top

In a front page follow up story in the August 4, 2003, edition of the Denver Post reporter Nancy Lofholm provides additional details.

Nick Theos' stepson, Matt Robinson, has filed a wrongful death suit against him for the 1969 death of his father.

The rumors whispered around the small town of Meeker for 34 years will finally be aired in court this winter when well-known sheep rancher and former state legislator, Nick Theos, defends himself against a civil claim that he played a part in the poisoning death of Meeker businessman Jim Robinson in 1969.

A jury trial has been scheduled in Mesa County District Court for January 26 through February 6, 2004. It promises to put small-town allegiances, affairs, family rifts and cover-ups of domestic violence against men in front of a jury charged with deciding whether Theos, now 82, and his late wife, Lois Robinson Theos, conspired to cause the death of Robinson Theos' first husband and Matt's father, James Robinson.

As noted above, Robinson died Aug. 31, 1969, of a horrible illness that caused his hair to fall out and his skin to turn black. He was 38 and in good health before the sudden illness struck, and he died paralyzed and in excruciating pain within three weeks of its onset.

His passing might have faded in memories like other untimely deaths in this town of 2,600, except for some troubling circumstances that kept people wondering.

The allegations in the civil case go back to the time of James Robinson's death, when, friends and family said, his wife was widely known around Meeker to be involved in a relationship with the politically well-connected and married Theos.

The tale unfolded in the lawsuit and interviews with witnesses. Days before James Robinson fell ill, he told a friend he planned to go to Theos' sheep camp to confront him about the alleged affair. James Robinson, the owner of a car dealership and service station, reportedly told that friend he was considering a divorce.

Theos, who denies having anything to do with Robinson's death, said James Robinson never went to his camp that weekend.

The 44 witnesses listed in the wrongful death suit don't have direct knowledge about what happened in those days before James Robinson became ill. They simply know that on August 10, 1969, he became so sick while on a family picnic that he couldn't drive home.

Robinson Theos enlisted a cousin to help her drive her husband to a Denver-area hospital where her good friend, former Meeker physician Stuart Smith, worked.

The cousin said that at Robinson Theos' urging, they stopped to visit other relatives in Glenwood Springs along the way while James Robinson lay in the back seat of the car, breathing from a tank of oxygen and drifting in and out of consciousness. Later, while he lay in a bed at Lutheran Hospital in Wheat Ridge, Robinson Theos and Smith went out drinking on two occasions, the cousin said, adding that Robinson Theos returned to Meeker before her husband's death and went out dancing.

On the day of James Robinson's funeral, Nick Theos threw a large party at a ranch outside Meeker. At that time, Theos was active in the National Woolgrowers Association and was on the National Advisory Board of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. He was chairman of the Rio Blanco County Republican Party and would go in 1978 and 1979 to serve one term in the Colorado legislature.

The lawsuit relates that in the week after Robinson's death, Nick Theos' late brother, Mike, told other relatives that "Nick finally got the job done."

Robinson Theos told family members that she collected only $45,000 in insurance and veteran's benefits for her husband's death. But the lawsuit says an insurance agent reports he delivered a check for $120,000 to Robinson Theos.

Robinson Theos gave Nick Theos $189,000 before their marriage, for a part ownership in his ranch, the lawsuit states.

Nick Theos divorced his first wife about five years after Jim Robinson's death and moved in with Robinson Theos the next year. They were married in 1977. They remained married until her death in 2001, although Robinson Theos had moved out of Theos' home before her death.

During their marriage, Nick Theos was charged with using the banned poison thallium to kill coyotes on his ranch. He was acquitted after political heavyweights such as former Gov. John Vanderhoof testified as character witnesses for Theos. His acquittal came even though federal agents recorded him claiming to have a stockpile of thallium and describing in detail how to use it.

Matt Robinson said he lived with suspicions about his father's death for decades, but he did not connect it to thallium.

Before his mother's death, he said, he had urged her to tell him the truth about his father's death and to allow his body to be exhumed, but Robinson Theos resisted his attempts. Matt Robinson said in the lawsuit that she and Nick offered at various times to pay for expensive care for medical problems Matt was suffering if he would drop his investigation into his father's death.

Keith Killian, the attorney for Matt Robinson, said the facts show that James Robinson was poisoned by thallium. He said the jury will have to determine "who had the motive and the material to commit murder."

"Justice demanded that we file this lawsuit," Killian said.

Joseph Coleman, the attorney defending Nick Theos, called the lawsuit "an abuse of the system" and "a private vendetta."

"There is not one shred of evidence to convict Nick Theos of anything," Coleman said. "Certain people get fixations in life, and I am fearful the plaintiff has a fixation."

Neither side expects that the jury trial will put the long-whispered-about case totally to rest. They each have hopes, though, that it will answer questions.

"We need to get this very important question about who killed James Robinson answered not only for Matt but for the entire community of Meeker," Killian said.


 

Singer Claudine Longet shoots skier-boyfriend Spider Sabich in Aspen

Top

In late March of 1976 singer Claudine Longet made the front pages of national newspapers when she shot and killed her lover, handsome and dashing skier Spider Sabich, in the Aspen, Colorado home that Claudine, her three kids by Andy Williams, and Sabich shared.

At age 31, Sabich was three years younger than 34-year-old Longet, and a popular babe-magnet on the ski circuit. Sabich competed in the 1968 Olympics, and was a top pro skier in the early 1970's, winning world championships and earning $250,000 in 1972 from prize money and endorsements.

Sabich and Longet met in 1972 at a celebrity ski tournament in Bear Valley, California. Despite the fact that she was still married to singer Andy Williams, by 1973 she was virtually living with Sabich in his Aspen chalet.

They had a tumultuous relationship which resulted in several public arguments. Reportedly Sabich had mentioned to friends in the winter of 1975 that he wanted to end the relationship with Longet after her divorce that year from Andy Williams, during which she got a $2.1 million property settlement. Sabich may have been trying to break up with her on the day he died, March 21, 1976.

Claudine, who had spent part of that day in a bar, was holding a pistol and, she claimed, it fired accidentally, hitting him once in the stomach. Supposedly the gun she used to shoot Sabich was a Luger that he had given to her as protection.

Longet called the police in a panic, then rode with him in the ambulance, but Sabich died on the way to the hospital.

Ms. Longet was charged, not with murder, but with reckless manslaughter. During a four-day trial in January 1977 her defense lawyer managed to prove that the loaded gun could have gone off at any time without anyone actually pulling the trigger. The jury, after deliberating only four hours, found her guilty of only criminal negligence, a misdemeanor.

Claudine spent just one month in jail, and the judge even let her choose when she would have to serve her time. Between the time that Ms. Longet was sentenced and the thirty days that she spent in jail, she went to Mexico on vacation.

Mr. Sabich's parents filed a wrongful-death civil suit against Ms. Longet in May 1977 but eventually settled out of court.


 

Woman hires two men to kill her policeman husband in Avondale

Top

December 1985 — Dennis Yaklich was gunned down in front of his Avondale home by brothers Charles, 16, and Edward, 25, Greenwell. They testified Donna Yaklich hired them to kill her husband — a Pueblo police narcotics officer — in exchange for $45,000 in insurance money.

There was never much doubt that she hired the two brothers to kill her husband. But in court she said she did it because Dennis Yaklich was violent. She stated that because he was a police officer no one would help her and she hired the Greenwells to kill him because she feared for her life. Donna Yaklich claimed during her murder trial that Dennis Yaklich had abused her. Her story was featured in a 1994 made-for-TV movie starring Jaclyn Smith.

But its hard to sell "self defense" when the murder was clearly planned. If she had time to plan this out to do away with him she could have come up with other plans to extricate herself from the circumstances other than having to take his life.

However, the Yaklich jury apparently sympathized with her and in 1988 handed down a conspiracy conviction but acquitted her of murder. She was then sentenced to 40 years in prison by a Pueblo judge for her role in the slaying of Dennis Yaklich.

Early release

Top

In 1993, Donna Yaklich unsuccessfully attempted to have her sentence reduced.

In October 2005 Donna Yaklich was given parole after serving only 18 years of her sentence. According to the February 5, 2006, Denver Post (p. 2C) Donna Yaklich was sent to the Arapahoe County Residential Center on February 3, 2006.

She is to meet the parole board again in July 2006. The community corrections board did not publicly state the reasons for releasing Yaklich to a halfway house.

The reaction of Dennis Yaklich's daughter

Top

After the parole hearing in October 2005 Dennis Yaklich's daughter spoke openly about the decision. "It's devastating," she said, tears welling in her eyes. "I don't believe justice has prevailed. My father died at age 38. He was stripped of his opportunity to live life. He was prevented from raising his children, from seeing us grow up and accomplishing our goals."

Fingering several snapshots of her father with her and her siblings, Vanessa said his murder didn't have to happen. She said two months before her father's murder, her stepmother told her that Dennis Yaklich had asked for a divorce but they were going to postpone the proceedings until after the holidays for the children's sake.

Donna Yaklich had four stepchildren from Dennis Yaklich's previous marriage and one biological son.

"She wasn't in a marriage that she couldn't get out of," Vanessa said. "I never witnessed my father being physical with her. He was never abusive to me or my siblings."

Vanessa said when Donna informed her of her father's death, her stepmother showed no grief and no remorse. "When she came and woke me up to tell me about my dad, her face was red and flush. She was smiling and playing with my brother (Dennis Jr.)," she said. "She showed no remorse in her eyes."

She added that days later at her father's funeral, Donna slapped her for crying. "That's the kind of person she was. She took a man's life and then she wouldn't even let his children grieve," Vanessa said.

"His life was taken because he was going to divorce my step-mother and not because she was the victim of abuse.I never feared my father nor did I observe any abuse, whether it be psychological or physical, perpetrated by him. His demeanor was calm and loving; his words encouraging and supportive. I can honestly state my step-mother did not provide my siblings or myself with the same. She was harsh and condescending. I grew up being told on a regular basis that my father was 'stupid' because he 'loved' me. I can remember my step-mother shoving my head into the wall at age 4 as she pointed her finger in my face and told me, 'Your mother killed herself because you're a bad little girl.' The stories go on and on...

Obviously, my father is not here to defend himself. Hence, I have taken this upon myself because I know the truth as well as the injustice that has been performed.My stepmother's legal defense was paid for by my father's life insurance proceeds and my family and I believe she profited from the made-for-television monstrosity. Most recently, her financial status has provided her with the ability to hire a media publicist.Both he and her high-priced attorney have manipulated a representative of the media who, in turn, placed political pressure on the Pueblo County Sheriff's Department to re-open my mother's death.

She passed away in 1977 and the autopsy, performed at the request of my father, determined her death to be the result of a potassium deficiency. The task force assigned to this case has failed to speak with her doctors, etc., to verify she was ill and under the close supervision of her medical doctor the last year of her death.Rather, they are focusing on the lies of a convicted murderess. I have implemented my own investigation for which I have evidence substantiating my mother misused Lasix which led to a potassium deficiency, which led to cardiac arrest.

My eldest brothers were home the day of our mother's death, but again, this is just another fact being tossed to the wayside by investigators whose job is supposedly to determine the truth."

The two brothers

Top

Edward Greenwell, who was 25 at the time, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the murder. Now 43, the elder Greenwell last appeared before the parole board in June 2005; he was denied parole. His anticipated release date is in 2011.

Charles Greenwell, then 16, received a 20-year sentence. Now 34, he appeared before the board in June 2002 and was denied parole. His estimated release date from prison was in October 2005.


 

Arrest takes frost off cold case, but age bars pursuit of murderess

Top

Abstracted from story by Joey Bunch, The Denver Post

February 13, 2009 — An Ohio woman wanted for 40 years in a Denver bar-room murder won't face charges, police and prosecutors said Thursday.

The 65-year-old woman, known to her family as Agnes Ramey, was released from custody in Dayton on Thursday afternoon.

Ramey can return to a name she used in Denver in 1968, Tina Louise Lester, said Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson.

"Time was not our friend in this case," Jackson said. "The original detectives in this case have died; witnesses have died or they can't recall what happened well enough to make this a case we could win in court."

A Denver cold-case detective located Lester, and she was picked up at her home by U.S. Marshals February 6, 2009, before prosecutors weighed in.

"You can't wait to examine the strength of your case in court. You have to arrest the person for public safety," Jackson said.

Ms. Lester, aka Agnes Ramey, was named by police as the shooter immediately after Ronald Schlatter, 36, was killed at the Blue Chip Tavern on Arkins Court on November 8, 1968.

According to an account in The Denver Post at the time, Schlatter and Lester scuffled after she distracted him while he was trying to make a shot on the pool table. She pulled out a pistol and shot him in the chest, witnesses said.

Top


 

| EJF Home | Join the EJF | Comments? | Get EJF newsletter | Newsletters |

| DV Home | Abstract | Contents | Authors and Site Map | Tables | Index | Bibliography |

 

| Chapter 13 — Women Who Have Killed Their Partners In Colorado |

| Next — Female Domestic Violence Killings In Colorado - 1990-1995 |

| Back — Introduction To Women Who Kill In Colorado |


 

This site is supported and maintained by the Equal Justice Foundation .

Last modified: 10/5/14