When insurance salesman Bob Eidman was shot and killed at his business in St. Charles County, Missouri, in broad daylight, the surrounding community was shaken.
“People were just shocked that a murder like this could happen at the time that it did," true crime podcaster Jami Rice said in the latest episode of Oxygen’s true crime anthology, “In Ice Cold Blood.” "The bad guys typically come out at night. You do not hear about a white-collar insurance agent being murdered right in the middle of the day.”
Because of the nature of his business — Brooke’s Insurance dealt with low-income and poor-credit individuals — Eidman’s office usually had a lot of cash on hand, which possibly explained why it was targeted. But, when investigators arrived on the scene after a mail carrier discovered Eidman’s bullet-riddled body on June 8, 2007, it appeared as if only his wallet had been taken.
Investigators swept the business for clues and found both live ammunition and spent casings on the floor, indicating the gunman either used a faulty weapon or simply wasn’t very good at using a firearm. They also took “touch DNA” from the lining of Eidman’s pocket, where his wallet had been, and sent it to a crime lab for processing.
Additionally, police looked at surveillance footage from a neighboring Mexican grocery store and noticed a white Ford Focus pull into the business's lot shortly before the shooting, and then leave almost directly afterward.
Despite their supposedly happy, decades-long marriage, suspicion went immediately to Eidman’s wife, Diane. Susan Weich, a former crime reporter with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, recalled Diane’s unusually flat affect upon hearing about her husband’s death.
“I didn’t see Diane have any of the typical reactions that you would expect,” she said in the episode. “She didn’t seem to react at all.”
After initially telling investigators that her husband had no potential enemies that could be responsible for carrying out such a horrific crime, Diane changed her story: She mentioned a business rival named Jack Michaels, with whom Eidman had a past altercation about stealing customers. It turned out that, prior to his death, Eidman’s business was severely in the red, so he couldn’t afford to lose any customers.
But, during questioning about the incident, Michaels downplayed what had actually happened, and he was cleared of any suspicion.
However, it turned out at that Diane had forgotten to mention other potentially crucial information to investigators — most importantly, a life insurance policy taken out in her husband’s name, in which she was the sole beneficiary. While she told investigators that it was worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000, it was actually worth closer to $400,000.
Detectives decided to give Diane a polygraph test, but the results were inconclusive. And there was still information Diane wasn’t telling authorities.
After receiving Eidman’s phone records, detectives learned that Eidman had a secret lover: A man named Drew Smith.
“If he’s got a boyfriend, that’s something we need to know about,” Pat McCarrick, a retired captain with the St. Charles Police Department, said in the episode.
According to Smith, Diane had recently found out about his and Eidman’s tryst and, as a result, Eidman told Smith that they needed to stop seeing each other for a while. Although investigators looked into the possibility of a potentially fatal love triangle causing Eidman’s death, the notion was eventually tossed out after Smith provided a solid alibi.
Diane was still police’s prime suspect, but they were at a dead end, since there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest her. But, after nine frustrating months, a new lead popped up: The touch DNA results from Eidman’s back pocket came in, and the prints belonged to a male.
“That was a very strong lead, but we got no hits on it,” McCarick said in the episode.
While investigators remained interested in the Ford Focus, the case went cold.
But, after three long years, in March 2010, investigators received another crucial break. Some of the DNA from Eidman’s pants got a hit from the FBI's national DNA database, and it belonged to a man named Paul White.
Investigators found that White had connections with Eidman’s insurance agency, and he was a customer of Eidman’s.
They also learned that he’d been stopped in a traffic matter about a month before the murder. He was a passenger, and the driver was a man named Cleo Hines. The car they were driving? A light-colored Ford Focus.
It turned out that White was already in prison on a forgery charge, so he wasn’t exactly hard to find. And when police looked into his background, they discovered that he had an extensive rap sheet.
White denied everything investigators threw at him, going so far as to say that it was “impossible” that his DNA was found on the inside of Eidman’s pocket.
But, when they brought in Hynes for questioning, police played a bluff and claimed that they had his car on camera at the scene (despite the fact that they actually weren’t sure it was his). Hines quickly caved, saying that White forced him into the crime at gunpoint.
“Cleo’s story was that Paul wanted to rob someone; he had lost $1,200 at the casino the previous night. So Paul said, I know this guy, he does a cash business. Let’s go rob him,” McCarrick said in the episode. “And they did.”
Despite all the twists and turns in Eidman’s story, it turned out to just be a botched robbery that killed him.
In August 2012, jurors found White guilty of first-degree murder and first-degree robbery, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A month later, he was given two life terms for the crimes.
About a month later, Hines was also sentenced to two life terms for the crimes, according to the Post-Dispatch.
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