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Crime News Snapped

Texas Woman Hires Hitman to Murder Husband In Move That Became "Ironic"

After the hitman called Cathie Grigsby to say her husband was dead, she responded, "How's my dog?"

By Caitlin Schunn

Faced with being alone with no money, a 59-year-old Texas woman hired a hitman to kill her estranged husband, all to get $100,000 from his life insurance policy.

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Cathie Grigsby was conveniently out of town when Daniel Ray Harrison shot 72-year-old Jack Grigsby execution-style while he reclined in a chair in his own home. But in Snapped, airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen, police explained how they were able to put the pieces together and peg Cathie Grigsby as the mastermind of her husband’s murder.  

“What I think finally made Cathie snap was the fact that the divorce was starting to come to a head, and that Jack was cutting her off financially,” Carla Post, former assistant prosecutor, said on Snapped. “She was not going to be able to survive without his help.”

What happened to Jack Grigsby?

Cathie Grigsby called 911 just before 9 p.m. on Sunday, May 17, 2009, hysterically screaming because her husband, Jack, was dead.

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She told dispatchers in Sargent, Texas in Matagorda County — about 70 miles southwest of Galveston, on the Gulf of Mexico — she’d found him unresponsive. His recliner was turned over on the floor, and blood pooled around his head.

“She was screaming that he was dead quite loudly,” said Steven Reis, prosecutor, on Snapped.

Cathie told police she’d been out of town in Dallas for the weekend with friends, and Jack had been watching her dog. When she came to the house to pick up the dog, she found Jack dead on the floor.

An autopsy report showed a gunshot wound to the head was Jack’s cause of death. He was killed some time on Sunday.

There was no forced entry to the home, and nothing was taken. Investigators found a single shell casing near the body.

Cathie told police that she and her husband were still friendly, even though they were living in separate homes and in the process of getting a divorce.

Jack had been divorced once, Cathie twice, when they met at a party in 1991. By 1996, Jack and Cathie were married, but when Jack retired in 2001, the couple’s 13-year age difference began to wear on them.

“She lived a different life than him,” Alberta Teague, a friend of Jack’s, said on Snapped. “She was always wanting to be on the go. She had a lot of sorority sisters she’d go to Dallas to meet. She wanted more from him than what he was giving her.”

In 2009, Jack’s health also began to decline, adding to the stress on the couple. Cathie moved to her own apartment, and they made plans to divorce.

Cathie shared with police that she owned a gun that she’d bought from her boss, but it wasn’t in her apartment when police arrived to take it. Cathie told them the gun must have been stolen.

How did a witness tip help the investigation?

A man named Joe Zamora approached law enforcement one day after Jack Grigsby’s murder. He said he’d been fishing near the Grigsby home on Sunday when he saw a car that kept driving by. He explained it pulled into the Grigsby driveway several times, and then left, before coming back again.

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“He wasn’t fishin’,” Zamora said in an interview with police. “He kept drivin’ around — just, you know? I was like, ‘What the hell?’”

Zamora told police he finally saw the driver knock on the Grigsby front door before going in. Later, the man drove by him and asked him how the fishing was.

“When he talked to me, I don’t know, man,” Zamora told police. “He just seemed … you know when somebody just ain’t right. Kinda made me nervous.”

Zamora helped police with a sketch of the man, which was publicized.

“This was a huge tip for us,” David Maxwell, former Texas Ranger Sergeant, said on Snapped. “It was a big break for us to have this witness. The activity that this person was doing did not seem to fit anything other than being involved in this homicide.”

Soon after Zamora came forward, law enforcement realized Cathie’s missing gun was the same caliber and manufacturer as the shell casing found at the murder scene.

“That was a little shocking,” Reis said. “By that point, the police realize she could not have been the shooter. But they certainly believe that she’s being deceptive.”

How did police find Jack Grigsby's murderer?

Law enforcement decided to check the surveillance footage of the only gas station in town, on the chance it showed them the suspect or his vehicle, a Ford Taurus. They found both on camera.

“It was a ‘Eureka!’ moment,” said Richard Rooth, ret. Matagorda Co. Sheriff’s Captain, on Snapped.

Surveillance showed the suspect using a Lone Star card, which was used for food stamps, to buy sandwiches and beer from the gas station. The card was traced to a woman named Suzanne Matz, and her boyfriend, Daniel Ray Harrison.

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Harrison’s driver’s license photo was a close match to the sketch of the suspect. Unsure how Harrison was connected to Jack Grigsby, police traveled to Harrison’s house for an interview. While he wasn’t home, his girlfriend was.

A mugshot of Cathie Grigsby, featured on Snapped 3220

Suzanne Matz told officers she’d known Cathie Grigsby for eight years, when they met working at a mail order center. She also dropped a bombshell.

“She knew that the relationship was rocky,” Reis said. “That it was not a good relationship. In 2003, Cathie was looking to get Jack killed.”

Matz claimed that six years earlier, Cathie had asked her if she knew anyone who would kill her husband, but Matz didn’t think it was a serious proposition.

When Harrison arrived at his home, police took him in for questioning, where he also claimed Cathie had tried to poison Jack several times before.

“Daniel says Cathie had actually tried to poison him with antifreeze,” Rooth said. “In his coffee or something. And it did cause some real damage. He got sick from it.”

Believing he was caught, Harrison began confessing to law enforcement. He said Cathie contacted him again in March 2009 about killing her estranged husband.

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“Yeah, she tried to pay me,” Harrison said in a police interview, admitting he needed the money. “Price on it was 10 grand.”

By this time, police had learned Jack Grigsby had a $200,000 life insurance policy. Cathie was set to inherit half of it, giving her motive.

How did Cathie Grigsby plan her husband's murder?

Harrison told officers Cathie Grigsby wanted her husband killed before June, when her divorce proceedings were set to begin. While she was in Dallas for a convention, Harrison said he was told to pick up a copy of a key to her apartment from her Dallas hotel, get her gun out of her apartment, and kill her husband.

Harrison followed these instructions, and knocked on Jack Grigsby’s front door, pretending to be fishing nearby.

“Daniel asked him could he come inside and use the restroom, so they wind up going inside,” Robert Thompson, former Matagorda Co. Sheriff’s Investigator, said on Snapped.

Harrison told police when he came out of the bathroom, with the gun, Jack was sitting in a reclining chair. He said he knocked Jack to the ground with the gun, and then shot him in the head execution-style.

Afterward, he called Cathie to say Jack was dead.

“And her response was, ‘How is my dog?’” Thompson said. “Pretty cold.”

Harrison told police he dumped the gun in Lake Texoma.

He also said his girlfriend, Suzanne Matz, was not involved. Matz was never charged by police.

Besides a receipt showing Cathie made a copy of a key at Walmart, surveillance video from Cathie’s hotel also showed her leaving the key at the desk, and Harrison picking it up.

“So everything started coming together at that point,” Thompson said. “She planned this and he carried it out.”

Harrison accepted a plea deal of 40 years in prison in exchange for testifying against Cathie Grigsby. He’s eligible for parole in June 2029.

In October 2010, Cathie went on trial for her husband’s murder. Prosecutors revealed a bombshell in court.

“Jack had changed the beneficiary on his life insurance policy,” Rooth said. “Cathie was no longer a beneficiary. The irony of the whole thing is that she wouldn’t have gotten a dime.”

A jury found her guilty of capital murder, which in Texas, is an automatic life sentence.

“I feel bad for Jack,” Teague said. “I feel bad for his family. I’m sure he wanted to live one more day to say, ‘I love you,’ to his kids.”

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