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As a crime fiction author, Nancy Mancuso Gelber believed she knew enough about real-life investigations to get away with murder. But when she tried to put a hit out on her estranged husband, Joseph Richard “Jody” Gelber, Jr., Nancy found herself entangled in a sting operation that culminated with her arrest for solicitation to commit capital murder.
On December 7, 2011, Nancy met a hitman named “Dwight,” played by criminal investigator Terry Young, in the parking lot of La Salle Hotel in Bryan, Texas. The two had been introduced through one of Nancy’s friends, Jeremy, who, unbeknownst to Nancy, was a police informant. Jeremy was Nancy’s drug dealer, and he always lent a sympathetic ear when she vented about her problems with Jody.
Jody had filed for divorce two months prior to Nancy’s arrest, citing “discord or conflict of personalities.” In an interview with “Murder for Hire,” airing Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen, Jody said he had separated from his wife because of her excessive drug and alcohol use, while Nancy told friends she believed Jody had been unfaithful, which he denied.
Throughout their relationship, Jody had been the sole financial provider, and with the divorce looming, Nancy was worried she’d be left with nothing. She soon turned to Jeremy for help, telling him she wanted Jody killed so she could cash in on his life insurance policy. Nancy promised that once she gained access to the funds, she would “split” the payout with the hitman.
Jeremy then asked Nancy how she “wanted it done.”
“If it were up to me, I’d have him tied up and then f*cking nipples removed, his dick removed and everything else,” said Nancy.
At her meeting with investigator Young, Nancy took a more conservative approach. She said she wanted Jody to be killed “quick,” and that to avoid any police suspicion, his death needed to “look like an accident.” They settled on a payment of $60,000 for the hit, and Nancy gave Young her wedding ring as collateral. Nancy also provided Young with two of Jody’s identification cards.
“I always knew I was going heaven. I’m going to hell now,” said Nancy, laughing.
The following evening, police arrived at Nancy’s home to deliver a false death notification. Her reaction appeared “overly dramatic” and “staged,” according to Young, and she was taken down to the Brazos County Sheriff's Office under the pretense of providing investigators with additional information about her husband.
She was later arrested and charged with first-degree felony solicitation to commit capital murder, reported the Houston Press. Nancy was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison, according to “Murder for Hire.” She will eligible for parole in 2026.
Nancy’s self-published novel, “Temporary Amnesia,” tells the story of a prison escapee who devises a plan to drug 50 sex workers into submission and have them rob 50 different banks out of $6 million.
To hear more about Nancy’s case and other contract killings, watch “Murder for Hire” on Oxygen.
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