Murders A-Z is a collection of true crime stories that take an in-depth look at both little-known and famous murders throughout history.
To most people in the small community of Festus, Missouri, the Holman family seemed happy — and normal. Tammy Holman and her husband Larry had two children, a nice house, and were active in the church.
They had met in church, in fact, when Tammy was 16 and Larry was 28. When Tammy graduated high school in 1986, they started to date, getting married that same year.
“Home life…seemed pretty good. You know, they seemed happy,” remembers their son Josh Holman on the latest episode of “Killer Couples,” airing Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen.
As the years went on, Larry’s job at the chemical plant became more hectic, and in his free time, he went hunting. The couple started fighting more, and Josh used to chalk it up to his father’s long hours away from the family. Meanwhile, Larry’s best friend, Charlie Miller, started spending more time with the family. He had always been involved, but his infatuation with Tammy—who was beautiful and friendly, by all accounts—came to a head when he began having problems with his own wife.
Charlie made his first move on Tammy when Larry was away on a hunting expedition. Tammy told Larry what happened, and they worked to save their marriage and family.
Charlie would later testify that he had become infatuated with Tammy and believed Larry did not treat her well, according to the Southeast Missourian.
On November 21, 2000, Tammy called the security at Larry’s workplace: he hadn’t come home. He had planned to go hunting behind the chemical plant but hadn’t come home.
The security guard found Larry’s car — and Larry, dead, in it.
He had a gunshot wound to the back of his head with a .243 caliber bullet — the high-velocity ammo that deer hunters are known to use.
Because the grounds had had a problem with trespassing hunters, the police first thought that it was a hunting accident, explains Assistant Prosecutor Troy Cardona.
Randy, Larry’s brother, told the police that they had had a close call with an errant bullet on a hunting trip to Mexico, Missouri not so long ago. They thought it was a novice hunter, someone Randy had seen walking through the fields earlier that day.
“We didn’t think at that time it was an attempt on his life or anything, and that was pretty much the end of our, our discussion,” said Randy on “Killer Couples.”
The detectives on the case started suspecting murder — and then the grieving widow Tammy took up with someone entirely new within a week of Larry’s burial. And it wasn’t her lovelorn friend Charlie.
It was another man, by the name of Tim Smith.
“Tammy Holman and Tim Smith dated in high school at one time, and it was several years back, and after the death of her husband, that relationship seemed to have rekindled pretty quick,” says detective William McDaniel on “Killer Couples.”
Josh remembers that in the beginning, they exercised restraint in displays of affection to each other, but as they started growing more affectionate to each other in his presence, it would anger the young boy who had just lost his father. “It was really off-putting and uncomfortable, having him around the house, and it really did feel like she was trying to replace my dad pretty quickly.”
Randy began to harbor suspicions about his brother’s death — and meanwhile, Tammy’s sister Kim came forward with information about Charlie Miller.
Randy had shared with his brother Larry his thoughts about Charlie’s relationship to his family. “Larry, I don’t like Charlie Miller. I don’t think his intentions with your wife are appropriate.” According to Randy, Larry agreed with him, saying, “I don’t either. But I do trust Tammy.”
Kim suspected that Charlie might have been involved in the murder, and decided to confront him. While he didn’t confess immediately, Charlie said something that startled Kim:
“Look what she’s made me do.”
The police went in search of Charlie Miller, taking him back to Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for questioning. He confessed.
And while it may seem that Charlie’s feelings for Tammy were largely unrequited, the story he told the police was very different.
“He said she promised me that she would show me how much she loved me,” remembers prosecutor Troy Cardona.
Tammy apparently told Charlie that she was afraid of losing custody and didn’t want to get a divorce.
“Charlie Miller had told us Tammy led him to believe that if he got rid of her husband that he could fulfill the role of being the man of the house,” recalls Detective McDaniel.
“He claimed that the promise was that they were going to live a life together once Larry was removed,” says defense attorney Scott Rosenblum.
He had attempted to take his best friend’s life twice: the incident in Mexico, Missouri, was the first. Charlie told detectives that Tammy had given him written directions to the remote hunting grounds in Mexico, Missouri. When he told her he had missed, she was reportedly furious, and refused to speak with him for a while.
After Charlie successfully killed Larry, he called Tammy and told her to “set one less plate at the dinner table,” remembers Detective McDaniel.
She went radio silence, effectively ghosting Charlie who had hopes of replacing her dead husband, according to the Southeast Missourian. She even changed her number. She then moved her old high school boyfriend in.
Charlie, spurned, angry and racked by guilt, felt like he had to confess. They had her in custody by 10 p.m. that night. Tammy denied all of it, but phone records showed that she had had frequent contact with Charlie.
Tammy’s defense contended that the relationship was all in his “deranged mind,” shared Rosenblum, “that led him, without any urging from Tammy, to remove her husband.”
The jury deliberated overnight, meanwhile, prosecutors offered Tammy an Alford plea — which means she could accept responsibility, but not admit guilt.
Tammy Holman, 35, accepted the deal, and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit the killing. She was sentenced to seven years in prison. Tammy still maintains her innocence.
Charlie Miller, 49, pled guilty to first degree murder, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison, putting his release to 2028. Miller told the judge he was emotionally disturbed and medicated at the time of the killing.
When Tammy was released in 2009 from prison, she moved back to Festus, hoping to rekindle a relationship with her children. But it didn’t quite work out that way. Josh, to this day, questions why she just didn’t get a divorce.
[Photo: Tammy and Larry Holman. Oxygen Screengrab]
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