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Crime News Snapped

“He Was Worth More Dead Than Alive”: Woman Hires Brother to Kill Husband for $500K

“My uncle and my stepfather both went into the woods and only one came out,” Angel Wells, daughter of Lillie Mae Eubank, said on Snapped.

By Caitlin Schunn

Soldiers tried frantically to save the life of Spc. John Eubank when he was found beaten, unconscious, and struggling to breathe in the woods near Holbrook Pond on the grounds of Fort Stewart Army Base in Hinesville, Georgia on Nov. 30, 2014.

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“He’d been so badly beaten, and his skull so badly broken, that he actually had brain matter exuding from his skull,” said Jennifer Solari, prosecutor, on Snapped, airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen.

Despite their efforts, their comrade-in-arms, who had survived several tours of Iraq as a heavy vehicle driver, died at the hospital. Suspicion immediately went to his wife, Lillie Mae, starting from the moment she was interviewed by police.

“Lillie Eubank was incredibly cold and calculating throughout this murder plot, all the while pretending to be John Eubank’s loving wife,” Solari said.

Why was Lillie Mae Eubank the primary suspect in her husband John's death?

As law enforcement spoke to witnesses in the moments following John Eubank’s discovery, they were told one big clue: A white or gray pickup truck had been seen in the area idling as the soldiers rendered aid, and a man had come out of the woods at that time and climbed in the truck before it drove off.

When they spoke to John’s widow, they were immediately struck by how Lillie Mae reacted when she was told he was dead.

John Eubank featured on Snapped Episode 3324

“Lillie Eubank’s response was puzzling and very suspicious in that she never asked what happened,” Solari said. “Because nobody had informed her of the cause or manner of death.”

Lillie Mae — 10 years John’s senior — had met the solider on an online dating website while he was deployed in Iraq. She picked him up from the bus station when he returned home in the winter of 2008, and they were soon married. He became a stepfather to Lillie Mae’s children.

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Lillie Mae told law enforcement she’d last seen John about a half hour before he was discovered beaten, when she and her daughter, Angel Wells, dropped him off to go animal tracking. But she left out the detail that her half-brother, Carl Swain, had been visiting the family for Thanksgiving. Lillie Mae also drove a silver pick-up truck.

Under further questioning, she admitted she’d bought her brother a ticket to travel to Georgia for the holiday under an alias and was just trying to protect him.

“The explanation that Lillie gave was he had some sort of criminal history that would prevent him from traveling outside of the state,” Nicole Dolan, former U.S. Army CID Agent, said on Snapped.

Lillie Mae then changed her story again, and said she’d dropped both her husband and brother off at the pond with a baseball bat as a weapon in case they ran into wild boar while animal tracking. After running errands, she said she and her daughter returned to pick the men up.

“As they pull around, they see Carl up in the wood line with the baseball bat, hitting something repeatedly,” Dolan said. “Shortly thereafter, Carl comes down from the wood line and gets in the vehicle with them. He is exasperated, has blood on him, and the baseball bat had blood on it.”

She claimed her brother was beating a boar that attacked them, and John had run off. But when pressed with the fact that her husband had been beaten to death in the spot where she claimed her brother beat a boar, Lillie Mae admitted she had seen Carl Swain beating John Eubank.

“Lillie told us that she didn’t want to come to the reality of it,” Deanna Williams, FBI Special Agent, said on Snapped. “And when she saw Carl coming from the woods with a broken bat in his hand and blood on him, she feared for her and her daughter Angel’s life.”

Lillie Mae Eubank featured on Snapped Episode 3324

Angel Wells confirmed her mother’s version of events.

“I saw Uncle Carl swinging the bat towards the ground,” Angel said on Snapped. “Then he stopped and he came out of the woods. He got in the truck. He had blood splattered on his face. As you would if you took spaghetti sauce on a spoon and splattered it on the wall.”

She said she feared for her life, and added, “I had no idea why my uncle would do that. My granny said that he was a ticking time bomb and he had anger issues.”

Carl Swain had an extensive criminal history that included assault. He was tracked down to his home in Alabama and arrested on Dec. 6. After John Eubank’s military bag with jeans containing both his and Swain’s DNA was discovered in Swain’s home, he was charged with first-degree murder.

What motive did Lillie Mae Eubank have to murder her husband, John?

Despite it looking like an open-and-shut-case, John Eubank’s fellow comrades suspected Lillie Mae was somehow involved.

“Lillie took over his finances when they got together and he never really knew how much was in the account or what was going on,” Tymesia Durant, John’s friend, said on Snapped. “There were a lot of times that she would write out checks that were bad.”

John’s friends also knew he was planning to divorce his wife during his last deployment.

“He was bound and determined to get a divorce when he came back home because he had had enough,” Bonnie Bailey, John’s friend, said on Snapped.

In April 2013, Lillie Mae Eubank confided in her daughters John wanted a divorce.  

“We can tell from Lillie Eubank’s search history that’s when she started planning this murder,” Solari said. "Lillie Eubank had been planning to and attempting to kill John Eubank for much longer than was initially suspected."

Her search history included the phrases “how to drown somebody in a bathtub,”  as well as “poisons that will not be identified on an autopsy,” according to law enforcement.

Based on text conversations between Lillie Mae and her brother, Carl, law enforcement determined Lillie had attempted to poison John with castor beans baked into a cake, and even discussed taking a trip near water and drowning John since he wasn’t a good swimmer.

But when Carl Swain was in jail awaiting trial, he provided police with another motive for Lillie Mae to kill John. Swain confessed to his fellow inmates to beating John Eubank to death for money.

“Swain had confided in them he had done this at the behest of his sister, Lillie Eubank, because she was going to get $500,000 after the murder as the grieving widow and that he was going to be owed $160,000 for his part in the murder,” Solari said.

Lillie Eubank was the beneficiary of John’s Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance Policy.

“A part of me wants to believe my mom, but there’s just so much evidence that says otherwise,” Bonnie Wells, Lillie’s daughter, said on Snapped.

Lillie Mae Eubank was charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and murder for hire.  She eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“Every emotion that Lillie Eubank displayed was fake,” Solari said. “Lillie Eubank cared about nothing other than Lillie Eubank.”

Carl Swain went on trial in March 2015, and was found guilty by a jury. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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