Rob Whedbee woke up to the smell of cigarette smoke. Big problem: nobody in his house smoked. He opened his eyes to see a figure approaching him in his bed, silhouetted by the streetlight outside. The figure was carrying a knife according to Snapped on Oxygen.
“He had one foot on the ground and he had one knee on the bed straddling me. You know, preparing to stab me or cut my throat,” Rob said. He jumped out of the bed and began fighting the intruder. Rob’s wife Lisa appeared in the bedroom doorway with a baseball bat. Rob yelled to his wife for help but she just stood there. Then the intruder began yelling at Lisa. “Hit him. You’ve got to do it and you’ve got to do it now.”
Lisa and Rob met in 1979, when they were both out driving. Rob asked Lisa, then 17, out on a date. She was smitten by the former high school football player turned college freshman. They dated for two years, and friends called them Barbie and Ken.
The seemingly dreamy couple wed in 1982. Rob began working for his family’s insurance agency and so did Lisa until she had children. They bought a home and in 1986, they gave birth to their first child Justin. Their relationship was flourishing, even with the new baby. Sometimes Lisa and Rob would even slip off for a romantic weekend alone at their vacation condo in the Smoky Mountains.
The problems began after the birth of the couple’s daughter Brittany in 1990. The doctor informed the Whedbees that Brittany had been born with Down Syndrome and a heart defect. According to Rob, Lisa took the news very hard. Brittany survived multiple surgeries and, despite her medical problems, grew into a loving little girl. But, Lisa was having a hard time dealing with it. According to Rob, she never quite adjusted to the day-to-day stress of being a stay-at-home mom to a child with special needs.
“Something like that sometimes as they say it can make you or break you and I think it broke her,” he said.
Friends noticed that Lisa became more withdrawn. The birth of Brittany put a strain on her and Rob’s relationship. According to Rob, she became distant and in the spring of 1993, she suggested they get a divorce. Rob didn’t like that idea.
The two went went to counseling at their church and tried to tough it out. That prompted Lisa to take a more active role at their Trinity Methodist. Lisa even signed up for the church choir, where she met a man named Michael Frazier. He was an organist who directed the church choir. He was also a reporter for the local newspaper. Oh, and he was a big time chain-smoker.
Paul Jones, a friend of Lisa’s, called Michael odd.
“When he played he had that Phantom of the Opera kinda thing going on.”
On Mother’s Day in ’93, Michael wrote a newsstory about the Whedbees, specifically Lisa, about raising Brittany.
“I don’t think my name was even mentioned in that story,” said Rob. “It was one of those things that you look at and you say huh that’s kind of strange. You know where am I? I’m left out and she’s mother of the year.”
Around this time, Lisa began coming home late on a regular basis. Rob began suspecting that Lisa and Michael were having an affair.
His suspicion was right, and it was a lot deeper than an average affair.
Rob recognized Michael's voice as he was attacking him.
“So, I just stood up and picked him up over my head and slammed him into the corner by the nightstand and took off out of the room. And as I went past Lisa I took the baseball bat away from her. I squared off in the middle of the garage. I had the bat; he came out into the light and he had that knife in his hand, rubber gloves on, stocking mask, a black tee shirt.”
Not just any tee. It was a 'Phantom of the Opera' shirt. As Rob left the house, Michael went back inside, shut that door and locked it. Enraged about the attempt on his life, Rob circled the house, beating on the gutters with the baseball bat. A neighbor heard the commotion and found Rob covered in blood, walking around in his underwear. The neighbor was stunned by the news that their choir director had just tried to kill Rob. They called 911.
While police were en route, Lisa came out of the house and walked up to Rob, pretending she didn’t know what happened and that she didn’t know who the attacker was.
Police arrived and interviewed Lisa. They noticed that she didn’t seem that concerned about her husband. Placed in the back of a patrol car and read her rights, Lisa still denied being in on the attack, but she did confirm the identity of her husband’s attacker. Frazier was also arrested. He confessed to both an affair with Lisa and to being the hit man in Rob's murder plot.
Lisa and Michael were both booked on attempted murder charges. Lisa was also charged with solicitation to commit murder.
Joe Anderson, friend of Rob, said he was very shocked by Lisa’s taste in the other man.
“She could go out, being an attractive girl, and get basically anybody she wanted. … Why would she cheat with someone like this?”
The unlikely love triangle caught the attention of national news outlets like People, Dateline, CNN and Hard Copy.
Now it was Rob who wanted the divorce. He filed and Lisa, despite her earlier desire to end the marriage, contested. Because of LIsa’s attempted murder charges, Rob was able to obtain temporary custody of the couple’s two children. He also obtained a restraining order against Lisa, who was out on $50,000 bond. Awaiting trial, Lisa continued her affair with Michael Frazier, who was also out on $50,000 bond. The former choir director frequently visited Lisa’s condo, the once romantic getaway for her and Rob, even though Lisa was under specific direction from the judge to not see Michael.
Lisa began claiming the Rob was physically abusive to her. She also said he threatened her life when she tried to divorce him. Rob denied the allegations, arguing that they were all about diverting attention from her pending criminal case.
Michael’s trial came first. In their opening statements, prosecutors argued that the attempt on Rob’s life was the result of meticulous planning on the part of Lisa and Michael. The defense admitted that with the knife in the Whedbee’s bedroom in their open. But, they argued he had a very legitimate reason to attack Rob: Lisa told Michael that Rob abused and sexually assaulted her. And, soon, the very non-threatening Michael took the stand.
“It was important not only what Michael said, but to allow them [the jury] to see this very diminutive, almost kind of dorky and, and, in ways, effeminate person,” said Michael’s attorney, Greg Isaacs.
“I was going to do whatever I had to do to protect Lisa,” Michael said to the court.
Prosecutors claimed that Lisa’s looks made it easy for her to manipulate the choir director.
The jury found Michael Frazier guilty – but not of attempted murder. They convicted Frazier of the lesser charge of attempted manslaughter, punishable by a maximum of only four years in prison. The judge sentenced him to all four.
Lisa didn’t have a trial. She opted for a plea deal instead. She entered an Alford Plea, in which a defendant never admits guilt, but pleads guilt because they believe it to be in their best interest to do so. Lisa served less than a year in jail, followed by three years probation.
“Neither one of them got what they deserved. That’s a fact,” said Rob.
Lisa has since remarried, and built a new life in another state.
Lisa’s attorney, David Eldridge, said, “Among the saddest of the chapters is the destruction of the relationship that she had, very positive relationship she had with the children and that’s a huge price to pay, and she’s paid it I’m afraid.”
Rob raised Justin and Brittany as a single dad.