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5 Books About Husbands Who Murdered Their Wives for Money

Updated on February 13, 2017
Kim Bryan profile image

Tennessee-based freelance writer with a passion for true crime, a thirst for knowledge, and an obsession with lists.

When the news reports a man has killed his wife, we immediately think there's another woman waiting in the background somewhere but such isn't always true. Believe it or not, some men could care little else about their wives' infidelities or the likes so long she doesn't try to take his money.

The following is the true stories of five of those men.

1. When Greed Turns Deadly by Dixie Murphy

Betty Lou Gray married her high school sweetheart but after 29 years of marriage, she’d grown tired of his controlling, manipulative ways and she wanted a divorce.

Of course, Betty Gray may have been most encouraged to leave after falling in love with Roy Leavitt.

Regardless of the reason, Betty was planning to divorce her husband and Bill Gray realized he was going to lose half of everything – all of which he considered his – and no one was going to be there to wait hand-and-foot on the kidney transplant patient.

On a hot July night in 1989, Betty Gray was taking one more step away from her marriage when she went to stay the night with her friend, Reeda Roundy. After several hours of girl talk and wine, the women turned in the for night.

When Greed Turns Deadly by Dixie Murphy
When Greed Turns Deadly by Dixie Murphy | Source

They would never wake up.

As the women lay sleeping, someone crept into the Roundy home and shot them. A cryptic satanic message was written in Betty’s blood and left amid 18 candles.

While the killer intended for investigators to believe it was a random act committed by members of the occult, the many clues left behind by an arrogant know-it-all didn’t send detectives down a dark path but rather to a pawnshop in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Author Dixie Murphy follows the three decades of history between the much-loved Betty Gray and her husband Bill Gray in her debut book When Greed Turns Deadly. From their elopement in Las Vegas, through years of financial successes and failures, to the disastrous event that tore a family apart, Murphy shares everything about the Grays life.

2. To Love, Honor, and Kill by Lee Butcher

When Justin Barber asked his wife of three years to take a romantic stroll down a St. Augustine, Florida beach, she hesitantly said yes.

Maybe it was the lingering effects of the seemingly nonstop arguments over money, the bitter tastes of having been cheated on by the man she promised forever, or maybe it just pure intuition that made April Barber hesitate but if only she’d blown her husband off as he’d done her so many times before, things would be so much different now.

According to what Justin later told police, as he and his wife strolled hand and hand along the sandy shores, they were accosted by an unknown assailant and when the struggles were over, April lay dead and Justin was wounded – both from gunshots.

To Love, Honor, and Kill by Lee Butcher
To Love, Honor, and Kill by Lee Butcher | Source

Justin, realizing the extent of his wife’s injuries, dragged her body to a dune walkover and then rushed to his vehicle to go try and get help. Passing home after home and open businesses, Justin finally chose a location more than mile away to summons police.

When investigators arrived at the scene, right away they noticed things smelled fishy. April’s wounds were fatal, while Justin’s were superficial; and when they uncovered Justin’s secret debts which was compounded by the couples already excessive debt, a large life insurance policy with a double indemnity clause, and Justin’s determination to not be divorced despite his numerous extramarital affairs, detectives were certain Justin Barber wasn’t a victim but a cold-blooded wife killer.

3. The Preachers Son: A True Story of Murder in North Carolina by Lynn Chandler-Willis

Patricia Gail Blakley had prayed for God to send her the perfect man for a husband and she believed those prayers had been answered when Theodore “Ted” Mead Kimble came into her life.

Ted, however, was in it only for himself. His employer, Gary Lyle’s, was willing to turn over his business to Ted only after he was married. Ted desperately wanted that business.

In May 1994, Ted got the wife. Soon thereafter he got the business. By October 1995, however, Ted wanted more.

The Preacher's Son by Lynn Chandler-Willis
The Preacher's Son by Lynn Chandler-Willis | Source

Patricia was adamant they save money or, at the very least, not spend more than they earned. Ted was unaccustomed to not getting what he wanted so he formulated a Plan B.

When Patricia’s body was discovered in the couple’s burning home, it seems at first to be tragic accident - until they spot the gunshot wound to the back of her head. Working diligently round the clock, detectives fear the homicide is headed for the cold case files.

Until Ted’s dirty little secrets start surfacing.

Seems the charming, handsome preacher’s boy may have missed a few sermons on The Ten Commandments. What once threatened to become a cold case turns into a blazing hot trail right up to a man who may have married with murder on his mind and a Marine willing to do anything for his big brother.

Previously published in 2000 under the title Unholy Covenant, author Lynn Chandler-Willis released the book in 2003 with the more appropriate title The Preacher’s Son. She follows the case from its fiery beginnings to the turn of the jailer’s key. And the best part is the super condensed trial section. Chandler-Willis discloses every single secret in the Kimble family closet. It’s like reading a long, well-organized, intensely written gossip column.

4. Everybodys Best Friend: The True Story of a Marriage That Ended In Murder by Ken Englade

Life seemed to be perfect for Craig Rabinowitz and his wife Stefanie. They lived in a beautiful home in Philadelphia’s ritzy Main Line area and had been blessed the previous year with a precious, curly-headed daughter they named Haley.

But things aren’t always what they seemed.

In April 1997, the truth about the Rabinowitz family would come to light with the seemingly accidental death of Stefanie as she bathed in the Main Line home’s tub. Further inspection, however, revealed that Stefanie had been strangled.

Everybody's Best Friend by Ken Englade
Everybody's Best Friend by Ken Englade | Source

Her husband Craig had said from the beginning no one had been in the house but he, Stefanie, and the baby. A police inspection of the home would show no intruders had come through the locked windows and doors. Craig was the obvious suspect, but why would he kill his wife?

As investigators worked to answer this question, they uncovered a myriad of information about a husband’s Ponzi scheme, excessive life insurance policies, strippers, and five star hotel rendezvouses. Craig wasn’t above using anyone to satisfying his sexual obsessions while avoiding any kind of real work.

Ken Englade recounts the tale of the pathetic man who was willing to kill his wife when his financial facade was ready to collapse in his 1999 true crime book Everybody’s Best Friend: The True Story of a Marriage That Ended In Murder.

5. Legally Dead: A Father and Son Bound by Murder by Kevin Flynn and Rebecca Lavoie

I don’t know about you, but I’m just about sick and tired of idiots who think they’ll win a child custody case by murdering their ex-spouse. And of course, there is never a shortage of these fools who hate their ex more than they love their children.

Next up in this category is Seth Bader, a New Hampshire attorney who was more worried about the dollars in his pocket than the well-being of his children.

Vicki Lynn Buzby married Seth in 1991 and soon thereafter they adopted Seth’s cousins, Joseph and Matt Bader, whose mother was a homeless heroin addict. Soon Vicki and Seth would welcome a third child, their biological son, Sam.

Legally Dead by Kevin Flynn and Rebecca Lavoie
Legally Dead by Kevin Flynn and Rebecca Lavoie | Source

Being married with children wasn’t enough for Seth, however, and it wasn’t long until he was using the services of prostitutes. As can be expected, Vicki eventually got sick of her husband’s extramarital affairs and filed for divorce.

Before the ink was even dry on the divorce petition, Seth was shacking up with Mary Jean Martin; a gold digging, dog breeding, blonde bombshell. Although Seth had managed to gain temporary custody of the kids, they were neither Seth’s nor Mary Jean’s real concern. Money was what mattered.

This psychotic duo set out to torture the emotionally and mentally weak Vicki, using the children as pawns in their nasty little game of child custody, child support, and alimony. Seth and Mary Jean used the 1995 movie Never Talk to Strangers as a blueprint for their plans but when it began to look as though Seth was not going to get everything he wanted, he deviated from the script and used his son to accomplish his ultimate goal.

Where Are They Now? (Warning! May Contain Spoilers)

  • I was disappointed I could locate no updates for Patricia’s parents,Richard Blakley and Sheila Blakley. The most recent update on her brother, Rueben Blakley is that he is a Maintenance Engineer with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and he lives in Randleman, North Carolina.
  • The updates were limited, and somewhat outdated, for Ronnie Lee Kimble, Sr. and his wife, Edna Kimble. An obituary from 2009 lists “Pastor Ronnie Kimble” as the service speaker for a funeral in North Carolina, so I can only draw from this an assumption they are still in Julian, North Carolina.
  • Mitch Whidden is presently a Senior Pastor at Barrington Ridge Baptist Church in Hobart, Indiana. He and his wife, Debbie Whidden are still married.

  • Craig Rabinowitz is currently incarcerated at the prison in Houtzdale, Pennsylvania.

© 2016 Kim Bryan

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