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How Twins Ended Up on Trial for Murder of an Alabama Doctor — But Only One Was Convicted
Betty Wilson and her twin sister, Peggy Lowe, both faced murder charges in the death of Wilson’s husband, but only one twin was convicted by a jury.
Snapped is Oxygen’s longest running original series and has become one of the most iconic true crime shows of all time. A lost episode of the show, originally meant to air in 2004, was first released in Nov. 2020, and was just re-released with new all-new interviews.
The “lost episode” tells the story of Betty Wilson, whose wealthy husband, Dr. Jack Wilson, was murdered in their Alabama home in 1992. The complicated murder investigation involved a hitman and Betty’s twin sister, Peggy Lowe. While both twins ended up on trial for the murder, only one is serving time in prison for the crime, and experts believe the reputation of the women swayed the juries.
“One is either walking around free and should not be, or one is sitting in prison and should be free herself. You can’t have both,” Georgi Bragg, former reporter for WAFF 48, said on Snapped.
Dr. Jack Wilson's complicated relationship with his wife, Betty
A hysterical 46-year-old Betty Wilson called 911 in Huntsville, Alabama on the night of Friday, May 22, 1992, to report that she’d walked into her home and found her husband laying on the floor in a pool of blood. She believed he’d been attacked.
Police found Dr. Jack Wilson, 55, dead on the landing at the top of the stairwell. He was on his back, with blood on the floor around him, as well as blood splatter on the walls. An aluminum baseball bat was found near his body with blood on it.
In addition to being bludgeoned, he’d also been stabbed multiple times in the chest.
Betty was working as a nurse at the hospital where Jack was also employed when the two met, and their relationship was love at first sight.
“They literally had been on two dates before moving in together,” Bragg said.
After they met, Jack was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and surgery left him with an ostomy bag (a bag that collects urine and stool). In 1978, not long after his surgery, the two married.
“I thought she had a wonderful life, and the man she was married to was a wonderful man,” Robbie Smith, former friend of Betty Wilson's, said on Snapped. “She always seemed to be really happy.”
As Jack continued to work as a doctor and earn more income, Betty quit working as a nurse.
“They had a big house. They had the nice cars,” Bragg said. “She had the furs. She had the jewelry.”
But friends reported Betty began drinking alcohol to get through social situations. Eight years into their marriage, Betty quit drinking and became involved with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). But there were also rumors of affairs in her marriage, including with men Betty met at AA.
“Betty flaunted herself,” Helen Smith, forensic psychologist, said on Snapped. “She didn’t try to hide what she was. She went out. She had fun. She had affairs. I think reputation accounts for a lot in a small town like that.”
The night her husband was killed, Betty had an alibi she shared with police: She had been shopping, including buying new floral-patterned sneakers she was wearing when she discovered her husband’s body. She was also at an AA meeting before discovering her husband and calling 911.
Betty also shared with police her marriage wasn’t always a happy one, and insinuated Jack’s surgery and ostomy bag had ended their sex life.
“Betty and Jack mutually agreed to have an open marriage,” Joan Renner, true crime author, said on Snapped. “It just means you are emotionally faithful to your significant other, but you can be physically unfaithful.”
How did an anonymous tip tie Betty Wilson and her twin sister, Peggy, to a hit man?
As police investigated, they realized the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department had received an anonymous tip before Dr. Wilson was killed, but the deputies didn’t know what to do with the tip at the time. An informant had told the deputies a man by the name of James White was claiming he’d been hired to kill a Huntsville doctor by a woman named Peggy.
“We contacted back to Shelby County, and we got the name of who they said was a suspect down there, which was Peggy,” Mickey Brantley, former Huntsville police department investigator, said on Snapped. “Here we are. We got Betty Wilson up here. Her date of birth is the same as her sister [Peggy] in Shelby County. That’s how the connection began.”
Peggy Lowe lived in Vincent, Alabama, a few hours away from her twin sister, Betty Wilson. Peggy was an elementary school teacher and the wife of a preacher, with three children. Even as children, the difference between Peggy and Betty was stark, according to classmates.
“Peggy was perceived as the debutante,” Steve Means, a former classmate, said on Snapped. “She excelled. She was the homecoming queen. Betty was more average. But they always appeared to get along just fine.”
Police interviewed James White, the alleged hitman, first. He was a known felon and drug user. He told officers about his alleged relationship with Peggy Lowe. After he built cabinets for her home, he claimed the two became friends, and he developed a crush on her, according to police.
He also alleged she confided in him that her sister’s husband was sick, and her sister was unhappy.
“Peggy told him that Betty’s husband was abusive,” Renner said. “And they wanted to have him killed.”
White told police Peggy came up with the idea, and hired him to kill Dr. Wilson for $5,000. He also claimed both twins met with him to give him a gun for the murder two days before it happened. Officers did find a gun, registered to Betty Wilson, under the floorboards of White’s home.
But there was another detail White shared that gave his story credibility to police: He claimed he met with Betty just hours before the murder at the mall where she was shopping, and described how she was wearing floral sneakers.
“They indeed were the shoes that Betty had on the night she found her husband’s body,” Bragg said.
White carefully described to officers what happened the night of the murder. He claimed it was Betty who drove him to her house, before taking off and saying she’d be back to pick him up. He said he decided to leave the gun behind and bring a knife instead. He said he waited inside the home, and ambushed Dr. Wilson when he climbed the stairs carrying a baseball bat, that he’d been using to put up a sign in his yard.
He alleged Betty dropped him back off before calling 911 to report the murder.
As police investigated Betty Wilson further, they came upon a financial motive for Dr. Wilson’s murder. Police determined Dr. Wilson was worth more than $6 million at the time of his death, and the sole beneficiary of his estate was his wife.
“Betty couldn’t divorce Dr. Wilson, because if it were proven she was having affairs, she might have only received a minuscule part of his estate,” James Fry, prosecutor, said on Snapped. “She wanted it all and she wanted it now. And she didn’t want it with Dr. Wilson."
Police also discovered a possible motive for Peggy Lowe to be involved. As a teacher with a preacher husband, her family didn’t have much income.
“Peggy enjoyed a lavish lifestyle when she came to stay with Betty,” Helen Smith, forensic psychologist, said. “If her sister got away with the money, then she herself would be living a higher lifestyle also.”
What happened to Betty Wilson and Peggy Lowe?
After being arrested for Dr. Jack Wilson’s murder, both Peggy Lowe and Betty Wilson denied everything.
James White took a plea deal to testify against the sisters at trial in exchange for not receiving the death penalty. He is still serving a life sentence, and his next parole hearing is in 2026.
During Betty’s trial, many of her friends testified against her.
“They said she was mean and she said things, very hateful things, in front of other people to Jack,” Bragg said.
Betty’s reputation for affairs was also used against her at trial.
Peggy’s character stood as a stark contrast at her own trial.
“Peggy Lowe had all of her church friends sitting in that trial,” Bragg said. “She was loved by a community.”
Peggy also took the stand in her own defense, unlike her sister.
“She came through as Mrs. Clean,” Doris Flora, former reporter for The Tuscaloosa News, said on Snapped. “She was beautiful. She was sweet. And it all came through in the trial.”
White admitted on the stand he’d been doing drugs and drinking the night of the murder, and his memory was unclear. The defense in Peggy Lowe’s trial poked several holes in his confession, and claimed White was actually trying to rob the Wilsons, and stole the gun from the house.
Lowe’s defense attorneys also questioned if Dr. Wilson was killed with a baseball bat or another object, the location where Dr. Wilson was killed, and if more than one person was possibly involved in the murder.
A jury found Betty Wilson guilty, and she was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But Peggy Lowe was acquitted of Dr. Wilson’s murder.
Betty was denied two appeals for a new trial by the Alabama Supreme Court. Peggy still lives in Alabama.
Watch new episodes of Snapped on Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen, and the next day on Peacock.