serial killers by name [r] amazon
  REARDEN Virginia 1932 USA ... ... ... 3
Virginia McGINNIS BW 1972 1987 KY CA
In July 1987, Louisville attorney Steve Keeney was approached by a female member of his church, seeking legal advice. The woman had been trying for months to collect a $2,500 life insurance payment on her daughter, killed in a California rock-climbing accident, but the insurance company was stalling without explanation. Keeney was moved by the womans obvious grief and near-poverty, agreeing to help if he could. At the time, there was nothing to suggest that he would soon be matching wits with an industrious black widow and her homicidal brood. The facts of the case seemed simple enough, at first glance. Deana Wild, age twenty-one, had been visiting Big Sur with friends --Virginia McGinnis and her husband Billy Joe--when she ventured too close to the edge of a cliff and plunged to her death on April 2, 1987. Virginias son by a previous marriage, James Coates, had also been present, and all three agreed that Deanas fall was a tragic accident. So, apparently, did the Monterey County sheriff and coroners office. Investigating officers were casual enough about the case that they refrained from taking any on-site photo-graphs, accepting Virginias assurance that she would give them her snapshots, taken moments before the event. In fact, Virginia lied to the police and sent the photos to Deanas mother, where they gathered dust for several months before eventually coming back to haunt her. In the meantime, there were other photographs that troubled Keeney, pictures taken at Deanas autopsy which showed bruised hands and broken fingernails, as if the girl was clinging for her life before the final plunge. Keeney knew that Deana was married, separated from her seafaring husband of two years but hoping for a reconciliation, yet the death certificate listed her as single. Interviews with passersby revealed that Virginia McGinnis had furnished conflicting accounts within minutes of Deanas fall: in one story, she described Deana as the daughter of a close friend; in another, the dead girl became Virginia's prospective daughter-in-law. More to the point, Keeney learned that Virginia had purchased a $35,000 life insurance policy on Deana the day before she died, listing Joe Coates as first beneficiary, herself as the second. The case was beginning to smell, but assembling crucial evidence takes time. By March 1988, Keeney was nearing the deadline for a wrongful death suit, under Californias prevailing stature of limitations, and authorities in Monterey County refused to file criminal charges on grounds of insufficient evidence. Increasingly frustrated, the Kentucky lawyer went back to work. He learned that Deana had married Jay Wild in 1985, following her navy husband west to San Diego. Long separations had taken their toll by late 1986, and the couple was living apart, but Deana still had hopes of making the marriage work. The McGinnis family had befriended her, nagging her to move in with them, and she finally agreed, though she would tell her sister that the tribe was sort of weird. In fact, she didnt know the half of it. Keeneys research traced Virginia back to her roots in Ithaca, New York, where she was born in 1932. She reportedly met her first husband, Richard Coates, while he was helping fight the fire that destroyed her fathers well-insured barn. Virginia bore him two sons, but she was more interested in collecting fire insurance payments, and Coates finally divorced her when he tired of blazes breaking out around the house. Taking the divorce in stride, Virginia moved in with her father ... and his house soon burned, providing another infusion of cash. In fact, Virginia rarely occupied a home that didnt burn, and all of them were well insured. On one occasion, in California, she had the nerve to reject an insurance companys offer of $85,000 for restoration of a partially burned house; within the week, a second fire leveled the damaged structure, and Virginia collected $147,000 with no questions asked! Nor were her schemes restricted to the realm of fire insurance. Back in 1972, three-year-old Cynthia Coates had accidentally hanged herself with baling twine in Louisville, Kentucky. Authorities were never sure exactly how the child managed to reach an eight-foot rafter in the barn, but Virginia cut the body down before they arrived, and a coroners report described the death as accidental. Cynthias life insurance paid off on schedule. Two years later, Virginias second husband--Bud Rearden--was stricken with cancer. Virginia persuaded physicians that she was a nurse, fully qualified to inject various medicines. Hospital records document one incident where Bud received a double dose of powerful painkillers, but he managed to survive. The night he passed away, Virginia gave her children money for a night out on the town, and they returned to find him dead. She cleaned the body, waived an autopsy, and collected Buds insurance when cancer was listed as the cause of death. Virginia had divorced her latest husband in the wake of Deanas fall, reverting to the Rearden surname, living with her sons by Richard Coates. It was an odd choice for a name, considering the lack of empathy she felt for dear, departed Bud. In fact, Virginia had not spoken to a single member of his family in almost fourteen years. Her sons had problems of their own, plea-bargaining on separate murder counts, and James spent most of his time behind bars on various felony charges. Keeney filed his wrongful death suit with days to spare, twice serving subpoenas on Rearden, but she refused to appear or even respond. In her absence, the court filed a no-fault judgment of wrongful death against her, and Rearden was ordered to pay Deanas family $250,000 plus interest. Still there was no reply.Iì ¥Æì eGì from the suspected killer, and Keeney persuaded San Diego officers to consider a murder charge, based on the fact that Deanas life insurance policy was purchased in their county. By that time, autopsy reports had found traces of a strong anti-depressant drug, amitriptyline, in Deanas remains. Known to cause drowsiness and disorientation, the drug was never prescribed for Wild, but it had been for Billy McGinnis, five weeks before the Big Sur accident. And then, there were Virginias photos, several snaps of young Deana perched on rocks and smiling for the camera, another of her moving toward the cliffs edge with McGinnis, Billys arm around her shoulders. Virginia Rearden and her ex-husband were charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, forgery and insurance fraud; McGinnis later died of AIDS before he faced his day in court. Joe Coates, serving time on an unrelated conviction, was not indicted, but he tried to help his mother on the witness stand. In fact, Joe told the court, he was engaged to Deana on the day she died. They had picked out a ring, but Joe had no receipt and could not remember what it looked like, much less where it was. On top of his amnesia, Joeys wedding plans had been kept secret from his friends, the woman he was married to in 1987, and the several others he was bedding regularly at the time. The jury didnt buy it, voting to convict Rearden on all counts with a finding of special circumstances--in this case, murder for profit--that left her open to a possible death sentence . Her trial judge was inclined toward mercy, though, and on March 30, 1992, he sentenced Virginia to a prison term of life without parole.
Copyright 1995-2005 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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