At the age of 39, Veronica Bozza had a fulfilling career as a TV producer and was a devoted mother. She had achieved the success most people dream of — but on the afternoon of August 29, 2010, her life was cruelly stolen from her.
That day, local authorities received a call from a man named Brian Robinson, who said he’d found Veronica, his girlfriend, dead in her Hermitage, Tennessee home.
Veronica was on the living room floor in a pool of blood, having sustained several gunshot wounds. There were obvious signs of a struggle, and further inspection revealed whoever the killer was, they’d not only taken the murder weapon with them, they’d also picked up most of the shell casings from the scene — save for one.
“We knew by locating that shell casing that we were now going to have a clue that we could follow up on,” Andrew Injaychock, a former Metropolitan Nashville Police Department detective, told Oxygen’s “An Unexpected Killer,” airing Fridays at 8/7c on Oxygen.
When police spoke to Robinson, Veronica’s boyfriend, he said he’d come to the house that day because they’d had plans to go out. However, upon his arrival, he found the garage door open with Veronica’s car inside and the door leading into the home wide open. It was then he went inside the house and found her dead.
“Obviously, he was a suspect for us … The red flags were up for us, as detectives,” Johnny Crumby, a retired MNPD detective, recalled.
But police still needed to do more digging to rule out all possibilities. They retraced Veronica’s steps, and found she’d gone to church hours before her murder and had dropped off her son there to spend time with her ex-husband, Tim Bozza. She’d also talked on the phone during her drive home with Robinson and later, a co-worker.
With this information, authorities were able to establish a basic timeline of events. Veronica was alive at 12:08 but dead by 12:20, leaving a very short amount of time — 12 minutes — for something to have gone terribly, terribly wrong.
Police found it hard to believe Robinson could have arrived so quickly after Veronica was killed without seeing the person responsible, so they called him into the station for further questioning. Once there, a visibly emotional Robinson recounted how he and Veronica were both producers who met at work. They’d only been seeing each other for a few months and were preparing to go on a weekend trip together when Veronica was killed.
However, what Robinson did after finding Veronica rang alarm bells for police. It was only when he called 911 and the dispatcher asked if she was breathing that he checked for a pulse. He also washed his hands before police arrived.
“He didn’t perform any type of medical assistance to Veronica,” Crumby said. “It really seemed odd.”
Still, Brian maintained his innocence and told police Veronica was the love of his life. He then pointed the finger at Veronica’s estranged husband and co-parent, Tim Bozza, telling authorities divorce proceedings were contentious and the two were embroiled in a custody battle.
“That raised red flags and piqued our interest,” Crumby said. “A bitter divorce, custody battles, money — these are all motives for murder.”
Police turned their attention to Tim and learned he and Veronica were within weeks of finalizing their divorce when she was killed. Their marriage had grown strained when Tim, who was self-employed remodeling homes, had experienced a rough financial patch while Veronica’s career in entertainment was skyrocketing. The estranged couple argued frequently about money and custody of their son.
Police traveled to Tim’s home to notify him his estranged wife had been killed, but when he heard the tragic news, he didn’t seem particularly upset, they noted. They brought Tim into the station for further questioning, and he told authorities Veronica had an affair with Robinson. Still, he never wanted to get a divorce, he said.
Police had suspicions. Veronica had a life insurance policy worth $550,000, and once their divorce was completed, Tim would have no longer been the beneficiary.
Tim, however, denied any involvement and maintained the last time he’d seen Veronica was in the church parking lot when she’d dropped off their son with him. He claimed he then went to a hardware store and a grocery store near his home. Surveillance footage and receipts backed up his alibi.
Police were at a loss, especially because Robinson provided an alibi backed up by surveillance footage as well.
Back at square one, investigators interviewed Veronica’s neighbors. One said they’d seen a light-colored SUV parked in a nearby alleyway prior to the murder, and that it was gone afterward. They also found out Veronica’s phone had been stolen after she was killed. Cell tracing showed the phone left the home but the trail suddenly stopped, suggesting either the phone had been turned off or the battery had died.
After checking Tim’s call logs, investigators noticed he’d made numerous calls to one number before and after he and Veronica had met to exchange custody earlier that day. The number belong to a friend of Tim’s named Cory Cotham.
“This was definitely a red flag to us,” Injaychock said.
Police decided to do a little digging into Cotham’s background and were disturbed to find he had a criminal record that included terrorizing and assaulting women. They got a warrant for Cotham’s cell phone records and found his phone had been going in the same direction as Veronica’s before she was killed. Even more disturbingly, Cory’s phone was shown as leaving the crime scene on the same route, and at the same time, as Veronica’s phone after she was murdered. Cotham became suspect number one.
Cotham was brought in for questioning under the guise of helping clear Tim’s name. He launched into a story about visiting a couple of his girlfriends at different locations, neither of which were near Veronica’s house. Aware Cotham was slowly but surely incriminating himself, authorities then asked him about how he could be reached, and he willingly explained he typically had his phone with him at all times.
“That phone was as good as putting a weapon in Cory’s hands,” Crumby said.
When police dropped the bomb that what Cotham had said directly contradicted what was found in his phone records, Cotham grew irate and claimed he didn’t have anything to do with Veronica’s murder. Still, police were able to get a warrant to seize Cory’s car and cellphone. The vehicle matched the description of the car seen loitering near the house the day of Veronica’s murder. They also found items like gloves and different clothes in his car, but without more evidence, they had no choice but to release him for the time being.
The next step was to interview Cotham’s circle. His alibi, Jenny, initially supported his story but later called police to rescind her claims. She also revealed she’d stolen her ex-husband’s gun and placed it in a red lunch bag — the same kind of bag found in Cotham’s car — but it had disappeared.
Detectives spoke to her ex-husband, who confirmed his gun was missing and allowed them to compare his shell casings to the one found at the scene. A ballistics report confirmed it was a match.
But while police had finally gotten the break in the case they needed, they were dealt another curveball when Jenny informed them Cotham was planning to leave the country. Police had to act fast, so they called Jenny to the station and had her wear a wire while she placed a call to Cotham.
During the conversation, Jenny began referencing Veronica’s murder, and Cotham referred to the type of gun that was used to kill Veronica – a 9 mm – a fact only the murderer would know. He dropped another bombshell, too: He told Jenny she needed to get in contact with Tim — Veronica’s estranged husband — suggesting to police Cotham had not acted alone.
Both Tim and Cotham were arrested. Cotham refused to speak to detectives, but Tim revealed the whole story: He and Cotham had been joking about a movie where two people make a “criss-cross” agreement to kill the troublesome person in the other’s life. Cotham was supposed to kill Veronica, while Tim was supposed to kill the ex-husband of one of Cotham’s girlfriends. In exchange, Tim would give Cory $35,000 of the $550,000 he stood to gain from Veronica’s life insurance policy.
“It was definitely bizarre when he told us what the plan was,” Injaychock said.
Tim claimed he thought they were only kidding around. Still, the evidence was stacked against both men. They were tried separately and found guilty of pre-meditated murder. Cotham was sentenced to life in prison without parole, while Tim was given a life sentence and will not be eligible for parole until he’s served 51 years behind bars.
As for Veronica’s loved ones, they were shocked when the truth finally came out.
“[Tim is] just evil. Only a twisted person could pull something like this off,” Kendall Bard, a colleague and friend of Veronica’s, told producers. “He has no soul.”
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