Leonard Rojas, 1994
This crime of passion is especially horrific because it involves family, proving that blood may be thicker than water, but it’s also easier to spill. When Alvarado, Texas wastrel Leonard Rojas woke up one December morning in 1994 after a bender of booze and drugs, he was shocked to see his wife Jo Ann walking out of the room in his home that he let his brother David stay in. Leonard confronted his wife with accusations of adultery, which she denied. The pair then went to the bedroom, where Jo Ann proceeded to perform oral sex on Leonard. He then pulled out a handgun, shot her between the eyes, then murdered his brother. He bought a bus ticket to Atlanta but, overcome by guilt, confessed to a security guard on the way and was arrested, tried and executed.
Sahel Kazemi, 2009
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair seemed like he had it all. With a healthy NFL career and plenty of fans (including his protege, Vince Young), Air McNair was one of the game’s favorite sons. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t keep his business in his pants, and in 2009, he started an illicit affair with 20-year-old Sahel Kazemi, a young Nashville woman. A chance run-in with the law when a drunk Kazemi was pulled over behind the wheel of a black Escalade with McNair in the passenger seat threatened to blow their cover, so McNair decided to pull the plug on the liason. That didn’t sit well with Kazemi, who bought a handgun and shot McNair twice in the body and twice in the head before committing suicide herself.
Lorena Bobbitt, 1993
Nobody has to wind up in the grave for a crime of passion to wind up on this list; they just have to do something really, really messed up. Case in point: the tabloid-pleasing case of John Wayne Bobbitt and Lorena Bobbitt. One evening in 1993, John Wayne Bobbitt came home drunk out of his mind after a night of hard partying, and forced himself on his wife, Lorena. After the deed was done, she went into the kitchen for a knife and chopped off her sleeping husband’s penis. She then took the severed ding-dong for a short drive in her car before throwing it into a field. Lorena then came to her senses and called 911, and after an exhaustive search, John Wayne's member was found and packed in ice. After a seriously sleazy trial, Lorena was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and the couple divorced.
Daniel Sickles, 1859
One thing that distinguishes crimes of passion in the courtroom is the possibility of the insanity defense. When you’re out of your mind with surging emotions, it can be argued that you’re not fully in control of your actions. The first successful use of this defense came way back in 1859 when Daniel Sickles shot and killed D.C. District Attorney Philip Barton Key. Key had been carrying on an illicit affair with Sickles’ wife, Teresa, which would have continued unabated had Sickles not been tipped off by an anonymous letter. Stalking his wife, he saw Key signal Teresa for a rendezvous, at which point Sickles pulled out a handgun and popped three caps into him in front of a huge crowd. The public was firmly on Sickles’ side, and he even got a letter of support from President Garfield. He was exonerated by reason of insanity and lived to the ripe old age of 94.
Lisa Nowak, 2007
One element common to many crimes of passion is a seeming break from rational thought. Few cases illustrate this quite as well as the weird story of Lisa Nowak. The Naval flight officer and astronaut came to national prominence in 2007 when she tried to kidnap Colleen Shipman, an engineer who was involved with her boyfriend, William Oefelein. On Feb. 4, Nowak donned a diaper and drove from Houston, Texas, to Orlando, Fla., where she accosted Shipman in the parking lot of the airport and sprayed her with pepper spray, trying to get her into her car. Shipman managed to alert a security guard and Nowak was subdued without causing any further harm.
Leslie Hylton, 1954
It seems like a lot of crimes of passion are prompted by anonymous letters, making us wonder who’s out there writing these things. Leslie Hylton was a Jamaican cricket player who played for the West Indies team throughout the 1930s to some success. He even toured in England, a rarity at that time. He married an upper-class woman named Lurline Rose -- against her family’s objections -- and the pair settled into a steady, middle-class existence after Hylton retired from the sporting life. In 1951, Lurline traveled to New York City to continue her dressmaking education, and while there started shacking up with a man named Roy Francis. When an anonymous letter tipped Hylton off to the affair, he ordered her back to Jamaica and confronted her. She confessed, telling Hylton that she was “out of his class” and she didn’t love him. He reached for a gun, shots were fired and soon Lurline was dead, with Hylton claiming that it was an accident, that he’d meant to shoot himself. He was executed on the gallows in 1955.
Martha Freeman, 2005
Extramarital affairs go on in many different locations, but for poor Jeffrey Freeman, they were right under his nose. After an argument in 2004, his wife Martha stormed out of the house and spent the night partying with three young men, including an undocumented Mexican immigrant named Rafael DeJesus Rocha-Perez. Martha and Rocha-Perez would soon begin an illicit affair that culminated with the demented woman sneaking her lover into the house she still shared with her husband, and letting him sleep in a closet for over a month. When Jeffrey discovered his cuckold camped out in his very own home, he ordered Martha to get rid of him. Instead, the pair bludgeoned the poor husband to death and left his body in the bathroom.
Clara Harris, 2002
Crimes of passion often involve some non-traditional murder weapons, as wronged parties use whatever’s handy to get their revenge. In the case of the murder of orthodontist David Lynn Harris, all his spurned wife had handy was her Mercedez-Benz automobile. When Clara hired a private detective and discovered that David had been having an affair with his former receptionist, she drove off to the Nassau Bay Hilton to confront him in the act. Unfortunately, she chose a particularly intense way of doing so. When David and his mistress walked out of the hotel, Clara hit the gas and ran him over three times, with her horrified stepdaughter witnessing everything from the passenger seat. Needless to say, she was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in jail.
Yvonne Chevalier, 1951
Let’s take a trip back in time for a classic crime of passion that set the stage for hundreds to come. Yvonne and Pierre Chevalier were one of post-World War II France’s shining couples on the political stage, with Pierre elected mayor of Orleans due to his charm and wit. His wife, however, was less suited for social affairs, and the pair began to drift apart as Pierre’s career took up more of his time. Yvonne tried to win her husband back, buying more fashionable clothes and educating herself on the issues of the day, but to no avail. The final moment came when a distraught Yvonne threatened to kill herself after discovering her husband’s infidelity, to which he responded “Go ahead, just wait until I leave the room.” Yvonne responded by shooting her husband four times and then calling the police, calmly waiting to be arrested.
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Amy Fisher, 1992
One of the most disturbing cases of the 1990s, the tale of the “Long Island Lolita” captivated the nation. When 16-year-old Amy Fisher damaged her parents’ car, she took it to local body-shop owner Joey Buttafuoco to get it fixed. The pair embarked upon a very illegal sexual relationship, compounded by the fact that Joey was married. When Fisher gave her lover an ultimatum -- her or his wife -- she was shocked when he chose his wife, Mary Jo Buttafuoco. Fisher was so shocked, in fact, that she drove to the Buttafuoco house and shot Mary Jo in the head with a Titan .25mm semi-automatic. Amazingly enough, Mary Jo survived and identified her attacker. Even more amazingly, the Buttafuocos didn’t divorce until more than 10 years later.