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“She Was Just Evil”: Judge’s Daughter Convinces Lover to Befriend and Kill Her Husband
Erin Dundon, a former crime journalist, called Lisa Suter “manipulative, greedy, and somebody who would do anything to get what she wanted” after she arranged for the death of her husband, Alfred.
A Missouri woman from a prominent family tried to hide behind her good name when her husband suddenly died in their home. But as police unraveled the murderous plot, it became clear Lisa Suter was having an affair with her employee, Dan Johnson, and that she was the one who plotted to have him to kill her husband, Alfred, in order to benefit from his life insurance policy.
“She wanted Freddie’s money,” Nick Riggio Jr., assistant prosecuting attorney, said on Snapped, airing at 6/5c on Oxygen on Sundays. “And she wanted Freddie’s house. She was one of those ‘gimme, gimme, gimme’ people.”
How was Alfred Suter murdered?
Lisa Suter called 911 in Saint Charles, Missouri around noon on Oct. 12, 1991 to report that she’d come home and discovered her husband, Alfred “Freddie” Suter, was dead in their home, about 20 miles from St. Louis.
“It was rather calm and collective,” John Bozarth, former major case squad investigator, said of the 911 call on Snapped. “There was no hysterics. There was no screaming into the phone.”
Police said Freddie had a bullet wound to the back of the head as if someone had stood behind him and executed him. There were no signs of a struggle, and the house was in order.
“If a stranger’s gonna knock on the door, and force their way in, they’re probably going to do the shooting right then and there,” Bozarth said. “They’re not going to let you sit down on the couch to watch TV, then shoot you from behind. Alfred knew the person who killed him.”
A basement window in the home had been broken, but the glass was laying outside, indicating someone broke the window from inside the house.
“It told us that possibly it was staged [to look like a home invasion],” Bozarth said.
A nine-millimeter bullet casing was found on the floor, and a nine-millimeter gun owned by Lisa was missing. Police also found guns out on the kitchen counter, along with a cleaning kit.
Lisa Suter had an alibi for the murder: She’d been at a work celebration and was gone overnight, with a co-worker confirming Lisa stayed with her.
Lisa Suter's troubled relationship with her husband, Alfred
Lisa Suter was just 20 years old when she met Alfred, then 32, at a bar in Missouri. In 1987, less than a year after meeting, they were married.
Lisa’s father, Donald Dalton, was a prominent judge in the area. Her brother, Gene, was also a well-known attorney.
“The Dalton name was synonymous with law and order,” Erin Dundon, a former crime journalist, said on Snapped. “For Lisa, that meant a little bit of pressure to live up to the family name.”
Lisa applied to be a police officer with the St. Charles County Missouri Police Academy, and was hired by a local police department, but didn’t get past field training when an ankle injury derailed her career. In 1991, she left the world of law behind and began L.A. Designs, a wholesale fragrance business.
After Alfred’s murder, police discovered the couple had a rocky relationship, which was known to many of those close to them. Even Alfred’s co-workers suspected his wife was responsible for his death.
“All of us pretty much pointed the finger at Lisa right off the bat,” Kirk Grass, Alfred’s co-worker, said on Snapped. “No hesitation. But we just felt who else would do something like that to Freddie?”
There was also a financial strain on their marriage due to Lisa’s business. Lisa’s employees told officers that the business was losing money and was close to closing. The business was found to be over $100,000 in debt.
“Freddie was continually feeding her money to keep it afloat,” Grass said. “She would keep going back to him, begging for help.”
The couple had previously separated for a year, before reuniting after pressure from Lisa’s family to stay together, but their marriage still wasn’t solid.
“It was obvious that Lisa and Alfred were not sleeping in the same bedroom,” Bozarth said. “He had been complaining about how the marriage was over. He was trying to get her to leave him and divorce him. She was refusing to move out of the house because if she had moved out, she wouldn’t get the house.”
Co-workers reported to police Lisa had also threatened Freddie on more than one occasion.
“One co-worker said that Alfred told him that he had woken up one night, and Lisa was pointing a gun at his head,” Dundon said.
Lisa’s employees told police Lisa was flirtatious with men and bragged about picking up men while out with friends. She was known to be especially close to her employee, 23-year-old Danny Johnson.
“There were rumors going around that Lisa and Danny were seeing each other," Becky Cebulski, a former employee of Lisa Suter, said on Snapped. “Did I notice it? Maybe. They seemed real friendly…he was a puppy dog after Lisa.”
When police questioned Johnson, he admitted that Lisa had brought him to her home to meet Alfred, and the men had frequently watched sports together. He also eventually admitted he’d been dating Lisa.
“He was under the impression that Lisa was going to leave Alfred and marry him,” Bozarth said.
Lisa also had a financial motive to get her husband out of the picture. Alfred had recently gotten a $100,000 life insurance policy.
“Lisa saw this money as a way to escape,” Riggio Jr. said. “She could move on with her lifestyle the way she wanted.”
A police tip forces Danny Johnson to admit to murdering Alfred Suter
Danny Johnson’s landlord called police after she overheard her tenant talking.
“He and Lisa had trouble finding a hitman, so he [said] he would have to do the murder himself,” Bozarth said. “The night of the homicide, she had [also] seen Danny sitting in the living room of her house cleaning a semi-automatic pistol.”
Johnson eventually confessed to Lisa’s elaborate plan to make it look like an intruder broke into her home, saw a gun on the table, and killed Alfred with it.
“She told Danny how to stage the house, including breaking a basement window, to look as if it was a burglary gone bad,” Bozarth said. “Where the gun would be, and what to do with the gun afterward. As soon as this was all settled, they would get married.”
Johnson admitted he watched television with Alfred was Lisa was away, then shot him from behind as he sat on the couch.
“Once he actually pulled the trigger, he kind of panicked,” Bozarth said. “And he didn’t leave the house in as big a mess as Lisa had originally told him to.”
Johnson told police he threw the gun into the Missouri River.
“This was a horrible, heinous murder,” Riggio Jr. said. “But it was done in a very amateurish way. Nothing was done correctly. All roads led back to Lisa. Especially after the statement given by Danny Johnson.”
Lisa Suter denied all of the charges, but went on trial for the murder in February 1993. Danny Johnson accepted a plea deal of life in prison without parole in exchange for testifying against her. Despite her protestations of innocence, Lisa was found guilty of first-degree murder, and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
“I was glad that there was justice,” Inge Whyte, a former co-worker of Alfred Suter, said on Snapped. “Because she was the instigator even though she had people to actually do the murder. It was her. She was just evil. Evil, evil.”
Watch new episodes of Snapped on Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen and the next day on Peacock.