Valentine's Day is for lovers. But sometimes, romance goes bad. Crimes of passion can happen when relationships go awry, often because of jealousy, infidelity or unrequited emotions between people. The impulse is so strong that a crime, usually violent and without premeditation, occurs.
From extramarital affairs to friendship feuds, here are five crimes of passion.
The High School Lover
“My husband just killed someone,” Erin McLean said to the 911 dispatcher. The young woman was calling to explain that her husband, 31-year-old Eric, had shot her younger lover. It was 2007, and the Knoxville, Tennessee couple's perfect facade was shattered.
As "Snapped" shares, while she was pursuing her PhD, she met 17-year-old Sean Powell at her internship. She fell hard for the high schooler and even began tutoring him and let him move into a spare room.
“It was almost like she was regressing back to her teenager kind of emotions. She just stopped talking to me all together in November. It was like there was no communication at all,” said Eric. Erin and Sean began an affair and even taunted the husband with it.
Eric got a rifle and initially claimed that he just wanted to scare Sean. According to Eric, Sean lunged forward and grabbed at the gun. And, that’s when the gun went off and killed Powell.
Eventually, Eric was found not guilty on all murder charges and on voluntary manslaughter charges. He was found guilty of reckless homicide and was sentenced to a mere 90 days in jail, with credit for time served.
Killing for Insurance Money
In 1991, Dan Willoughby and his family were on vacation in Las Conchas, Mexico. According to "Snapped," his wife Trish (seen above) stayed behind to take a nap. When Dan and the three children came back, they found the 43-year-old mom's skull crushed. Eventually, she died.
The crime was no accident. Authorities discovered that Dan was having a serious affair, including an engagement, with a transgender woman named Yesenia. Dan tried to hide his wife from his lover.
Finally, he convinced her to kill Trish and promised to be with her. Dan also stood to gain millions from his wife's life insurance and business assets.
Dan said, according to Yesenia, “Yesenia, I can’t do it myself. In order for us to be together forever you going to have to help me.”
Yesenia admitted to stabbing the wife and received 35 years in prison. He received two life terms.
A Mom Who Made Teens Killers
Judy Parker didn't kill her husband John; she got her kids to do it. In 2003, police received a call from 33-year-old Judy that her millionaire husband had been shot.
“I didn't see anybody, all I seen was, I heard the shots and I looked, and it was just a person running,” Judy told police, per "Snapped."
Upon investigation, two teens from Crown Point High School were seen flashing cash suspiciously. When asked by a counselor, they confessed that they got it from Danny, Judy's 15-year-old son. He allegedly asked them to “take care” of John Parker and paid them with money his mother gave him.
Eventually, Danny admitted to ordering an attack on Parker as payback for abuse he said he experienced. Interestingly, Judy denied involvement and placed blame on her son.
“We were completely amazed for her to shove a child in front of her to make sure she doesn’t go to jail,” said Robert Wiley, Merrillville Police Commander. Years later, Judy tried to claim $1.5 million from Parker's life insurance policy. Authorities investigated further and saw her connection to the crime and how she ordered Danny and his sister, Christina, to do it. She took a plea, and in 2009 she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder. She was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
Danny was sentenced to 23 years in prison. Christina got five years.
A Jealous Teen Dismembered Classmate
In 2005, 16-year-old Adrianne Reynolds went missing. She was the new girl in town, and her friends, Cory Gregory and Sarah Kolb (seen above), were the last ones to be seen with her. Authorities would find out that an alleged friendship triangle may have set off her death.
Sarah and Adrianne became fast friends, and an attraction grew. After a few weeks of flirtatious note passing, the girls went off to a party together. Adrianne allegedly told Sarah that she had slept with two guys she met at the party. After that, Sarah decided that she didn’t want to date Adrianne. But Adrianne didn't give up.
She pursued Sarah aggressively and wrote her letters stating, “Oh, I really like you. Give me a second chance.” Meanwhile, Sarah got agitated and turned on her friend. She was fuming that Adrianne wanted to befriend Cory, and that's where the story gets hazy.
According to Cory, the two girls got into a heated, physical fight that ended with Sarah locking Adrianne into a chokehold. The teen got blue in the face. According to Cory, Sarah then poured gas on the body and lit Adrianne on fire. But Sarah's defense claimed that a classmate named Nathan actually helped dismember the body. The trial ended in a hung jury.
On February 22, the jury found Sarah guilty of murder. She was sentenced to 48 years for murder, to be served without parole. She also received five additional years for concealing a homicide.
Cory pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder and was sentenced to 45 years in prison. Nathan Gaudet served three years for concealing a homicide.
The Wrong Target
One woman hired a hit team to end a love triangle, but they ended up kidnapping the wrong woman and killed her anyway. According to Law & Crime, 42-year-old Janice Zengotita-Torres was mistaken as the target in a murder-for-hire scheme in Florida early this year. Her kidnappers, 22-year-old Alexis Ramos-Rivera and 22-year-old Glorianmarie Quinones-Montes (seen above), as well as the mastermind behind the plot, 35-year-old Ishnar Lopez-Ramos, were arrested and booked for murder.
Ishnar Lopez-Ramos was upset that a “man she loved” was in a relationship with another woman. Authorities believe that she hired Ramos-Rivera and his girlfriend, Quinones-Montes, to kill the other woman. The two tracked a woman matching the target's description. They followed her back to her apartment and forced her into the back of her car.
The kidnappers then drove the woman to an apartment in Orlando and soon realized they had the wrong target. This didn't deter them, however, from allegedly violently attacking her.
“The suspects continued with their plan of murder and tied the victim with zip ties and then [covered] her head in duct tape and garbage bags,” Sheriff Russ Gibson explained.
Lopez-Ramos was arrested after using the victim's ATM card. Ramos-Rivera and his girlfriend were arrested later. All three confessed. The actual intended target was notified about the hit. Although they have offered her protective services, she declined.
[Photo: Oxygen, Osceola County Sheriff's Department]