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Crime News Dateline

Military Wife Plunges to Her Death — But Was it Suicide or Murder?

Johanna “Hanna” Hove-Becker's determined father was convinced her husband wasn't telling the truth after finding some troubling clues on the roof of the couple's Belgium apartment.

By Jill Sederstrom
Johanna "Hanna" Hove-Becker featured on Dateline Unforgettable Episode 308

On the night of Oct. 8, 2015, Johanna “Hanna” Hove-Becker, a 32-year-old military wife and mother, plunged from her Belgium penthouse apartment to her death 75 feet below.

How to Watch

Catch up on Dateline: Unforgettable on Peacock or the Oxygen App.

But was it suicide or murder? 

Hanna’s husband, Navy Lt. Craig Becker, insisted his wife had taken a mix of alcohol and prescription pills before she threw herself out the window after realizing their crumbling marriage was not salvageable. But her determined father, John Hove, believed his daughter — who was on the verge of starting a new life with her boyfriend — was murdered.

“I’ll never forget the detective dad in this story,” correspondent Dennis Murphy said on Dateline: Unforgettable. “He passionately chased after the truth behind his daughter’s mysterious death. Did he have obstacles in his way? Plenty of them, not the least of which was the unimaginable grief that comes with losing a child.”

It would take years before a military court martial jury would determine what really happened in Hanna’s final moments. 

Who was Johanna “Hanna” Hove Becker?

Born in Sweden, Hanna moved with her family to the United States when she was just 6 years old and immediately fell in love with Florida’s warmer climate, which gave her more opportunities to play the sports she loved all year round. 

Hanna was an avid tennis player and later regularly participated in triathlons. 

“She was very fit,” John recalled. 

Hanna’s father was a successful mechanical engineer and entrepreneur, who made a fortune in the transportation industry. John and his wife, Yvonne, were able to give their daughter everything she could have imagined.

By 2005, Hanna was a graduate student pursuing psychology when she met Craig, a Navy soldier, at the university swimming pool. 

“She definitely told me she was like, ‘I think this guy is the one,’” her college roommate Elizabeth Aciego remembered. “And I was, like, super excited about that because she had never really mentioned anybody that was going to be special to her.” 

Johanna "Hanna" Hove-Becker featured on Dateline Unforgettable Episode 308

Craig later surprised Hanna with an impromptu wedding on the beach, with just the two of them and Aciego on hand to take the wedding photos. 

“They were in love. They were happy,” Aciego said. 

What marriage problems did Craig and Hanna Becker have?

But Hanna’s friends said cracks later began to emerge in the relationship. Craig’s high-pressure job in the military put him in charge of a 19-man bomb disposal unit and he was often deployed on long overseas assignments. 

Hanna’s friends described him as controlling and said he isolated Hanna from her friends and family. Feeling alone, she turned to one of Craig’s friends for support and the two had an affair. 

 “She definitely had regrets about having done it,” Aceigo said. 


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Hanna was still determined to make her marriage work and was looking forward to a fresh start after Craig got assigned to a post at a NATO facility in Mons, Belgium. The couple even welcomed their daughter, Isabelle. 

But when Craig found out about the affair, Hanna’s friends said he was furious and struggled to forgive her. 

Her father, John, remembered that when the young family returned in the winter of 2014 to spend the holidays in Florida, Craig was so angry he left to stay at a hotel and later returned to Belgium on his own.

In another instance, Belgium police were called after Hanna reported Craig threw her to the ground and tried to strangle her, although she recanted her claims the next day.

Hanna’s friends and family tried to convince her to stay in Florida and leave the marriage, but Hanna was determined not to give up on the relationship and returned to Belgium with Isabelle. 

She got a new job at a base youth center, but just eight months after returning to Belgium, the marriage fell apart for good. They were in the process of a divorce and sleeping in separate bedrooms when Hanna began a new romance with a maintenance man named Chris. 

What happened the night Hanna Hove-Becker Died? 

On the night Hanna died, Craig told authorities that they had shared a lasagna dinner together. He said Hanna had been drinking heavily and took some pills she got from an unmarked bottle before she went to sleep in the bedroom. Just two days before, Craig had visited the police inspectors office at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) where he worked to report that his wife was struggling with alcohol. 

Around 8:50 p.m. on October 8, 2015, Craig said he heard a scream, ran to the bedroom, and saw her feet disappear out the window. 

A mailman on a cigarette break heard the screams and rushed to find Hanna crumpled on the ground, wearing only a T-shirt and her underwear, and clinging to life.

“She was terrified,” the man recalled.

Hanna died at the hospital of massive internal bleeding a short time later, before she was ever able to tell police what happened that night. Just two hours after the fall, Belgium Police concluded the death had been a suicide. 

Yet questions began to emerge in the days that followed. John and his wife, Yvonne, arrived in Belgium and were shocked to discover long track marks on the roof outside of the bedroom window, suggesting that Hanna had fought to try to stay alive. Her hands also had large cuts that John believed were made from nails sticking up from the roof’s shingles as she struggled to hold on.

“This is not a person that jumps out the window,” he said. “This is not marks from anybody jumping out the window, so immediately there, it’s like no, this is impossible.” 

Her supervisor at work described her as being in “good spirits” the day of her death and said she had signed a lease for a new apartment that day. 

A Major at Craig’s office came into the police inspectors office to report he had seen Craig take a bag of pink pills out of his old desk shortly before his wife’s death. Hanna’s close friend also reported that Hanna had not seemed suicidal leading up to her death and was looking forward to starting a new life.

Her boyfriend, Chris, shared text messages he had received from her that day, including one earlier in the day where she had professed her love for him.

Craig’s family, however, insisted that Hanna had been struggling with her mental health and referenced an incident years earlier where Hanna had threatened to take her own life.

Was Craig Becker convicted in his wife’s death?

Belgium authorities reopened the case and five months after Hanna’s death, they arrested Craig and charged him with premeditated murder. 

“There was no doubt,” police inspector Claude Cloosen said. “He did it.” 

The case was later transferred to the US Court Martial and Craig was returned to the United States. 

Seven years after her death, the case finally went to trial in 2022. Military prosecutors argued that Craig slipped sleeping pills into his wife’s lasagna, waited until she passed out and then threw her out the window. Despite Craig’s claims she had consumed nearly an entire bottle of wine, her blood alcohol content was found to have just a trace amount of alcohol. 

They believe she regained consciousness and desperately tried to pull herself back up before plunging to her death and used a model of the window to demonstrate how they believed it happened. 

The defense had a model of their own and their own theory of how Hanna could have climbed out herself. They pointed to a lab analysis of her hair that showed she may have been abusing Tramadol in the last few months of her life. 

They argued that Hanna killed herself after waking up to overhear her husband on the phone with another woman and realizing that she’d never be able to repair her marriage. 

Craig was convicted on April 30, 2022 of murder and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

The couple’s daughter is being raised by his family.

John — who lost his wife just two years after his daughter’s death — still struggles with “life long grief.”