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Crime News Snapped

Woman Tries To Stage Her Ex-Husband's Murder As A Suicide — How Was She Caught?

Judith Nix initially told police she was just dropping off dinner for her ex-husband when she discovered him dead from a gunshot wound.

By Benjamin H. Smith

Ken and Judith Nix seemed to have a happy marriage for over 25 years. But ultimately, the relationship ended in a divorce and a murder.

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Kenneth “Ken” Nix was born in 1946 in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the oldest of six siblings. He loved cars and motorcycles.

“My dad was a very good mechanic. He was the youngest Texaco gas station owner in Lake Charles, Louisiana,” son Kevin Nix told “Snapped,” airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen. 

In 1966, Ken married a woman with whom he had three children, and the family later relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Sadly, the marriage did not last. Ken would keep trying to find love, though: Over the next 10 years, Ken would marry and divorce three more times.

Though he struggled in his personal life, his work endeavors always found success. He founded a thriving business in 1980, Inland Divers Inc., which offered scuba diving and underwater salvage. 

He took another chance on love in 1984 when he met Judith Bailey, an accountant and a divorced mother with two teenage daughters, Angela and Michelle, who everyone called Shelly. 

Judith was born and raised in Texas before she moved to Tulsa. She had married before in the late 1960s but divorced soon after her daughters were born.

Ken and Judith married in 1985, and soon after, Judith began putting her bookkeeping skills to use with Inland Divers. The company was a success, and the couple enjoyed a happy marriage, according to Ken's children.

But that joy didn't last. After three decades together, the Nixs’ marriage fell apart. 

“My father raised me and my brother to be on our own and not be dependent on anybody, but Judy coddled her kids, financed her kids any time they had a problem, and that caused turmoil between my father and Judy. Communication between the two was diminishing,” son Keith Nix told “Snapped.”

Judith and Ken divorced in 2011 but remained in each other’s lives. Though Judith owned her own home, she often stayed at Ken’s. 

But just past 9 p.m. on March 21, 2016, Judith made a frantic call to 911 in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. She claimed she was dropping off dinner for Ken when she found him dead from a gunshot wound. 

“It looks like someone shot him. There’s a gun lying right by his left hand,” she told the operator, according to Tulsa’s ABC-affiliate KOTV-DT.

Judith and Kenneth Nix featured in Snapped

When the dispatcher asked if Ken was suicidal, Judith told her: “Yes, he’s very despondent, he’s got so many health issues. Neuropathy is getting so painful he just can’t deal with it anymore."

When authorities arrived, Judith directed them to the master bedroom where they found Kenneth Nix, dead at 69. There was a gunshot wound on his left temple and a pistol lay by his hand. 

“Judith says, ‘The last time I was here was the night before between 4 to 5 p.m. and I left because he got kind of grumpy and tired,” prosecutor Kenneth Elmore told “Snapped.” 

She claimed she had called Ken earlier that day before dropping by, but he didn’t answer the phone.

Though the immediate appearance of Ken’s dead body didn’t rule out the possibility of a suicide, certain factors began to poke holes in Judith’s narrative. 

“The blood on the side of his head was dry and I could see lividity. Lividity is the pooling of blood and it takes hours to develop,” former Broken Arrow Police Investigator Jackie Smithson told "Snapped."

Upon moving his body, investigators found two bullet holes approximately an inch apart on his head. 

“Who commits suicide and is able to shoot themselves twice in the head?" former Broken Arrow Police Sgt. Scott Lillard said to “Snapped.”

Bloodstains on Nix’s shirt didn’t align with his injuries nor the position of his body. The only way they could have occurred was if he had been moved after being shot.  

“At that moment we realized we had a homicide,” said Smithson.

The medical examiner determined Nix died around 7:30 a.m., almost 14 hours before Judith called 911.

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Investigators questioned Shelly, who alleged her mother and Ken had a troubled relationship. She said he was abusive and that she and her sister Angela didn’t get along with him. 

When asked her whereabouts on the day Ken died, she claimed she went to his house around 11 a.m.

“She said she went to the house and she was met at the front door by Judith and they exchanged money there. She never went inside the residence,” said Lillard. This contracted what Judith had initially told police.

Believing Shelly wasn’t being truthful, Broken Arrow Police arrested Michelle Davis-Pearson and charged her with suspicion of being an accessory to murder after the fact, according to Oklahoma City ABC-affiliate KOCO-TV.

Authorities were subsequently contacted by Todd Moore, who was previously married to Judith’s daughter Angela. He said Angela and Shelly came to his house around noon on the day of the murder. 

“Shelly and her sister Angela actually end up going to Angela’s estranged husband’s house where they tell him that Judith has shot Ken,” former prosecutor Benjamin Fu told “Snapped.”

Todd said the women tried to recruit him in covering up the murder but he refused. 

After hearing her daughter was arrested, Judith agreed to speak with investigators. She claimed that due to his health problems, Ken was lonely and needed help but was “impossible to live with.”

She said Ken told her she owed him money that he had spent on her daughters and alleged he was physically abusive.  

“He’s threatened me all the time. He’s hit me, verbally abusive, absolutely, just out of this world. You know, it’s easy to say, you can just leave, but I love the guy,” Judith told investigators in her videotaped statement, which was obtained by “Snapped.”

Judith claimed that on the morning of the murder, Ken threatened her and told her she owed him $21,000 for money he spent on her daughters. When she told him she didn’t have the money, she said he pulled a gun on her.

“He said, ‘If you do not give me the money … I will kill you and hide your body,'” Judith told investigators. 

She said that she grabbed the gun and a struggle ensued. In the melee, it went off twice, striking him in the head. Judith then called her daughters in a panic, who helped her clean up the scene, Judith alleged.

Contrary to her statements, however, Ken’s bedroom showed no signs of a struggle. The nature of Nix’s bullet wounds also didn’t align with the scenario Judith described. 

Judith Nix, 69, was subsequently arrested for murder in the first degree, reported Tulsa NBC-affiliate KJRH-TV

Angela Moore was also arrested and was subsequently charged with accessory to commit murder, according to Tulsa ABC-affiliate KTUL.   

Intent on investigating Judith’s allegations of abuse, authorities discovered that in the waning days of the marriage, she had filed a protective order against Ken in 2011. It was dismissed when the couple failed to appear for a court hearing, according to KJRH

Court records showed that on several other occasions, police had been called to Ken’s home.  

“Ironically, some of those calls actually involved Kenneth calling the police and saying Judith was threatening to kill him,” said Fu. 

Phone records showed text messages between Judith and her daughters, where she voiced her repeated dislike of her ex-husband and her bitterness towards him. On March 15, days before the murder, she texted Angela discussing a similar make and model handgun as the one that killed Ken. 

Ken’s sons told investigators that Judith stole both money and prescription drugs from their father. 

“The stealing with his money was prior to their divorce and it was even after she was coming back over to my father’s house,” said Kevin Nix. “He was always getting his pills taken by Judy and when he would confront her about the stealing, she would say he’s crazy.”  

Judith’s finances showed she was heavily in debt. When Ken delivered an ultimatum, asking for his money back or he would throw her out, authorities believed Judith took action. 

According to their divorce agreement, Judith would inherit Ken’s house should she survive him. Investigators theorized she staged the suicide in order to gain ownership of the home, which she could then sell and get out of debt. 

Prosecutors dropped all charges against Shelly Davis-Pearson and Angela Moore, who both agreed to testify against their mother at her murder trial.

In March 2017, Judith Nix was found guilty of first-degree murder. A month later, she was sentenced to life in prison, according to KTUL.

Though Judith is eligible for parole, she will not qualify until she is 108 years old.   

For more on this case and others like it, watch "Snapped," airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen, or stream episodes here.

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