When 56-year-old Bob McClancy was found dead in his home in 2006, his loved ones were grief-stricken, and authorities believed that the Vietnam War veteran, who was known to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, took his own life.
A closer look at the case, however, soon revealed that there was much more to the story.
Deputies with the Monroe County Sheriff's Department were called to McClancy’s home in Coker Creek, Tennessee on the afternoon of May 15, 2006 after a close friend, Charles "Chuck" Kaczmarczyk, called 911 to report that he’d found him unresponsive.
Investigators found McClancy dead in his recliner. Pills were scattered around his body, and a revolver was in his lap. The gun, however, had not been fired, and a white foam had collected around his mouth.
Upon investigation, authorities found no signs of a struggle or of forced entry, and suicide seemed like the most likely explanation.
McClancy, a former marine, had spent time in combat and worked as a sheriff’s detective in Florida before retiring in Tennessee with his wife, Martha Ann, whom he’d met while working in law enforcement. While those who knew him described him as “the life of the party,” he privately struggled with PTSD stemming from his time in the military.
"Certain type of trigger noises would just cause him to have a freak-out moment. PTSD affected Bob pretty bad," Martha Ann’s son and Bob’s stepson, Sean McGavic, told Oxygen’s “Accident, Suicide or Murder.”
McClancy was driven to seek treatment at an in-patient program in 2006, where he first met Kaczmarczyk, another war veteran who was also being treated for PTSD. The two formed a close bond, and while their friendship continued to thrive even after they were discharged, Bob still struggled with his mental health.
After his death, his wife told authorities that her husband was known to abuse his medication and had allegedly overdosed in the past. He had likely overdosed again, she claimed.
Still, questions remained.
Authorities didn’t understand why Bob had been found with a gun in his hand if he'd simply overdosed, and there was a do-not-resuscitate order left out in the open, as if someone wanted the authorities to find it.
Suspicion soon turned toward Kaczmarczyk, the friend who had found Bob that fateful day and made the 911 call. Authorities thought he sounded detached when reporting the sudden death of his dear friend.
"It just didn't add up. Everything seemed all too convenient. The police suspected they weren't getting the right story from Kaczmarczyk,” Marvin Harper, a retired journalist with The Democrat Advocate, told “Accident, Suicide or Murder.”
Kaczmarczyk was brought in for questioning, and he admitted that he had initially found Bob in the bathroom. He said he moved the body to the living room so his death would look more like a suicide to help Martha Ann with the death benefits.
While Kaczmarczyk’s behavior was suspicious, there was no forensic evidence to suggest foul play, and it was not enough to prompt a homicide investigation.
Meanwhile, those who knew Bob were divided over the validity of Martha Ann’s reaction to his death. At the funeral, she seemed visibly heartbroken over her husband's passing, but some of Bob's loved ones felt that Martha Ann's demeanor was just an act.
"[My husband] and I knew that there was something more to the story," Dawn Atkinson, a sheriff’s detective and friend of Bob’s, told producers.
Two weeks later, results from the medical examiner’s office came back. Bob’s death was caused by an overdose of antidepressants, but the manner of death was undetermined. As there was no evidence of foul play, the investigation came to a standstill.
Those who knew Bob, however, did not believe that the case was as open and shut as it may have appeared.
"I felt that Bob would never overdose himself on purpose. He's a Catholic, and I knew that's the furthest thing from his mind," Chris Atkinson, a sheriff's sergeant and friend of Bob’s, told producers.
Meanwhile, Martha Ann began to change. She cut and colored her hair and adopted a new fashion sense, and she looked "10 years younger," friends recalled. She was also spending more and more time with Kaczmarczyk, and it wasn’t long before the pair delivered a bombshell announcement: They had gotten married just five months after Bob’s death.
The newlyweds embarked on a life filled with vacations, cruises, and other expensive exploits.
"It just happened too fast. I'm thinking like a detective now — it stunk," Chris recalled.
The couple volunteered for veterans' organizations, but a speech that Kaczmarczyk gave in 2008, three years after Bob's death, would change everything. He claimed to have participated in several high-stakes military missions, but when media outlets who were present published his story, Kaczmarczyk’s claims were challenged by other veterans who had served with him.
This prompted investigators with the Office of Inspector General for Veterans Affairs to look deeper into Kaczmarczyk's history, and they found that he had routinely lied about his military history.
"Chuck Kaczmarczyk, he never was a Vietnam veteran. He had never seen any combat," criminal investigator Calvin Rockholt told “Accident, Suicide or Murder.”
Still, Kaczmarczyk, who claimed to struggle with PTSD, had spent years collecting disability checks from the VA. They discovered Martha Ann was also collecting checks from the government after claiming she had to use a wheelchair and was rarely able to leave her home.
Nate Landkammer, a special agent with the Office of the Inspector General, began surveilling the couple in an effort to prove that they were defrauding the government and collecting hundreds of thousands of tax-free dollars.
After cameras caught them performing yard work and pushing each other in wheelchairs during multiple visits to the VA office, agents brought Martha Ann and Kaczmarczyk in for questioning. The two confessed, and they were released, pending future charges.
Years later, in 2012, the couple was indicted on numerous charges, including fraud, and chose to plead guilty. News of the case came as a complete shock to Martha Ann's son, who didn't even know that his mother had remarried.
"It was one of the most devastating, hardest things to swallow, knowing my mom's acting like a criminal," McGavic told producers.
While awaiting trial, Martha Ann gave her son power of attorney, and with that responsibility, he gained access to her and Bob's medical records. It was then that Martha Ann told her son that Bob had been actively trying to overdose, which came as another shock to McGavic, who had been told that his stepfather had died of natural causes.
Although he took his concerns to the authorities, they were unable to press charges, as there still was no evidence that foul play had occurred. When Martha Ann gave McGavic her computers, however, he found photographs of Bob lying posed on the recliner at his time of death.
In some photos, he was holding a gun, and in others, he wasn't.
"None of it looked right … It's just more and more looking like what happened to Bob was malicious," he recalled.
The discovery was enough to prompt a homicide investigation involving multiple agencies. They found that Bob's will, which left everything to Martha Ann, had been forged. At that point, investigators suspected Martha Ann was involved in Bob's death, and they asked McGavic to confront his mother about the incriminating photos during a monitored phone call.
Her response was telling — she instructed him to immediately delete the pictures.
Armed with this information, authorities decided to try to reach a deal with Kaczmarczyk, as he was facing more time behind bars for the fraud charges than Martha Ann.
After an hours-long interview, Kaczmarczyk confessed that he and Martha Ann worked together on a plan to murder Bob for financial gain. He claimed Martha Ann had poisoned him gradually by taking his pills and hiding them in his food, increasing the amount until he eventually overdosed.
Kaczmarczyk accepted a plea deal from prosecutors and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder, and he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Martha Ann maintained her innocence, even after she was indicted on first-degree murder charges.
Her trial began in November 2015, and her own son testified against her.
"Testifying against my mom is one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life … Everything I knew about her was a complete lie. She just turned into a monster," McGavic told producers.
Kaczmarczyk also took the stand and testified that Martha Ann initiated their relationship, which started while Bob was still alive. He claimed that she often spoke about getting rid of Bob so that she and Kaczmarczyk could be together. Martha Ann, meanwhile, continued to claim that she was innocent and that it was Kaczmarczyk who killed Bob.
Deliberation lasted for nearly two days, and the jury found Martha Ann guilty of attempting to commit first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. A judge sentenced her to 25 years, in a move that finally gave justice to a man beloved by his friends.
For more information on the story of Bob McClancy, watch “Accident, Suicide or Murder” at Oxygen.com.
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