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Annastasia Hester was a single mother trying to provide for her young daughter. When she was found brutally murdered in her home, suspicion turned to her ex-husband and his new wife.
Born Annastasia Diane Holmes and known to her friends as "Ann," she was born in 1981 and grew up in Gresham, Oregon, a suburb of Portland. Her father died when she was a teenager and she was raised by her mother and stepfather. She loved tabletop role-playing games and often hung out at a local gaming shop in Gresham. There, she met Matthew James Keone Hester, a fellow gaming enthusiast.
Ann and Matt began dating and were married in 2008. In November 2011, their daughter was born.
“She really loved him. She really did. She had every intention when they got married that they would be together the rest of her life,” friend Brianne Morganstern told “Snapped," airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen.
Ann wanted to be a stay-at-home mother and wife but the marriage soon began to unravel. They tried having an open marriage on the condition that they remained honest about their affairs. It didn't work.
“Ann found out that Matt had cheated on her at least once, going outside those rules that they had set up, and at that point she started talking about filing for divorce,” friend James Morganstern told “Snapped.”
Ann and Matthew divorced in 2012. Now a single mother, she worked at a call center in downtown Portland and moved into a one-room apartment with her daughter.
“Ann got full custody of her daughter and Matt had his scheduled weekends. The one thing Ann did complain about Matt was he was never good about paying his child support because he kept constantly losing his job,” James Morganstern said.
To help pay the rent, Matthew took in a roommate, single mother Angela Rose McCraw and her three children. Within a month, they began a romantic relationship. Matthew and Angela were married in 2014. Afterward, Matt began petitioning for more time with his daughter.
“Ann really, really was hoping they could have at least a relationship in such a way that they could communicate and co-parent effectively,” said Brianne Morganstern.
That didn't happen. In the early morning hours of June 10, 2016, Ann made a frantic call to Gresham 911 saying she’d been attacked in her apartment.
“Someone tried to kill me … [unintelligible] started stabbing me … ” Ann is heard saying on the call, which was obtained by “Snapped.” When asked where she was stabbed, she responds, “All over … Oh God.”
First responders arrived within minutes. The 36-year-old was rushed to a nearby hospital where she was later pronounced dead, according to Portland ABC-affiliate KATU.
“The stab wounds ranged in depth of penetration from about half an inch to about eight inches. The knives pierced all the vital organs,” Gresham Police Detective Aaron Turnage told “Snapped.”
An autopsy by the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office determined Ann died of homicidal violence and had been stabbed over 60 times, according to a press release from the Multnomah County District Attorney.
Detectives realized Ann lived with a child. Panic set in as they tried to account for her whereabouts.
Ann’s daughter was eventually located. She was with her father at a pre-arranged visitation. Matthew told investigators he had picked her up the day before for the weekend. Matthew and Angela agreed to come in for a police interview. In the meantime, detectives began to construct a timeline of events leading to Ann’s lethal assault.
“We had observed that the air conditioner had been removed and then from outside we could see what looked like a cinder block had been placed,” Multnomah County Sheriff’s Detective Kennth Yohe told “Snapped.”
From blood spatter analysis and crime scene evidence, detectives determined she was laying in bed when she was attacked. She tried to escape and make her way to the front door when she was attacked again.
Investigators found several bloody knives at the crime scene and a bloody boot print was found on the floor, reported Portland CBS affiliate KOIN.
Detectives interviewed several of Ann’s neighbors who claimed they heard screaming but didn’t see anything suspicious, according to the Oregonian newspaper.
“The first screams were heard at around 11:15 p.m. and the 911 call came in at 2:59 a.m.,” said Turnage. “We’re looking at almost a four-hour time frame for this to be perpetrated on Annastasia.”
Matthew spoke with authorities and claimed he was at home playing games with Angela and the kids on the night of the murder. He said he had no reason to want his ex-wife dead.
But while questioning Matthew, detectives received security camera footage from Ann’s apartment building. It matched the Hesters' car, according to the Oregonian. When asked why his car was at the crime scene, Matt claimed he was asleep and couldn’t say for sure.
Detectives next interviewed Angela McCraw-Hester, who said she and Matthew were in a bitter custody battle with Ann, who, she claimed, wouldn’t allow Matt to call his daughter.
Angela denied the car in the security footage was hers. She also claimed on the night of the murder, she had thrown up on herself and Matt had helped clean her up, details he had failed to mention in his interview.
Detectives spoke with James and Brianne Morganstern who told them that Matthew and Angela had tried to get full custody of Annastasia’s daughter, resulting in a prolonged court battle.
“They filed for full custody claiming that Ann was an unfit mother,” said James Morganstern.
But while Ann, worked full time and kept a tidy if tiny home, Matt and Angela lived in squalor and survived on government assistance.
“Matt explained that his children have different disabilities and get social security benefits or payouts from the state so he lives off of the proceeds of his kids’ disabilities,” said Aaron Turnage.
A month before Ann’s murder, a judge awarded her full custody of her daughter and ordered Matt to pay $13,140 in back child support payments and $29,000 in legal bills, according to the Oregonian.
Now that they had found motive, evidence seemed to pile up.
Ann had a $100,000 life insurance policy that listed her parents as beneficiaries. Her insurer contacted detectives to say that Matt had recently called up to see if he was eligible for a payout. Then, the bloody boot print was ultimately matched to a woman’s size and retail store where Angela made a purchase in 2015, according to KOIN.
Detectives also learned that Angela was often convinced her children had disabilities that needed to be addressed with prescription drugs.
“We had OCD, bipolar, autism, and another bipolar. [Our] divorce came down to the fact that I wanted to make sure my kids weren’t getting poison and drugs in their body that they didn’t need,” Angela’s ex-husband Aaron McCraw told “Snapped.”
Angela became obsessed with the idea that Matthew’s daughter suffered from bipolar disorder, according to Portland’s Outlook newspaper. Ann disputed the claims and thought it was part of the Hesters' cash grab for disability benefits.
In October 2017, 37-year-old Angela McCraw-Hester was arrested and charged with aggravated murder and first-degree burglary after her DNA was identified on one of the murder weapons, reported the Oregonian.
During questioning, Matt claimed that Angela came home on the night Ann’s murder covered in blood. He said he helped her clean herself up but otherwise had nothing to do with the murder, The Oregonian reported.
But Matthew Hester, 38, was arrested in the summer of 2019 and charged with one count of solicitation to commit murder, two counts of criminal conspiracy to commit murder, and one count of hindering prosecution, according to KOIN.
In November 2020, Angela McCraw-Hester pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison, according to the Portland Tribune newspaper. She will be eligible for parole after serving 25 years.
Matthew Hester pleaded guilty in August 2021 to solicitation to commit murder and hindering prosecution, according to KOIN. He was sentenced to 56 months in prison with his earliest possible release date being March 2023.
Angela and Matt divorced while in prison and are allegedly no longer in contact. Angela’s children were placed in foster care while Matt and Ann’s daughter is being raised by her maternal grandparents.
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