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Crime News Snapped

Woman 'Resented Being A Nursemaid' For Her Injured Husband, So She Bludgeoned Him To Death

After falling through a roof while doing construction work and breaking both ankles, Tom Bragg looked forward to returning to his job. His wife secretly took out a life insurance policy and ensured that would never happen.

By Benjamin H. Smith

People had taken care of Mary Ann Bragg her whole life — but when it was her turn to be the caregiver, she decided she’d rather be a murderer than a nursemaid to her husband, Tom.

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Tom Bragg was born in 1956, three minutes before his identical twin brother Tim. “They had this funny saying, ‘Tim kicked Tom out,'” sister Elaine Leonard told “Snapped, airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen.

After high school, Tom became a long-haul trucker. He married a woman he met who was waitressing at a truck stop and they had two children together, a boy and a girl. That marriage ended in divorce, and afterward he moved to Thomaston, Georgia. There, in the mid-'90s, he began dating Mary Ann.

Mary Ann had gotten pregnant while in high school and her parents insisted she marry her boyfriend at the time. She had three daughters with her first husband. After they divorced, she worked various jobs to pay the bills. 

“My mother worked at the mill at one point and she also worked at a gas station. She did whatever she had to do to be able to take care of her three girls,” daughter Gail Clifton told producers.

Mary Ann Tom Bragg Spd 2825

Five years after the end of her first marriage, Mary Ann married a man named James Wright.

“He was an older man and he made sure the bills got paid, he took care of her children,“ niece Lori Nance told producers.

Mary Ann and James divorced after 10 years, leaving her free to date Tom after meeting him at a local bar. Mary Ann and Tom immediately hit it off and were married in Aug. 2001. Wanting to spend more time at home with his new bride, Tom traded in long-haul trucking for roofing work. Often, his brother Tim worked alongside him.

Hard times hit in the summer of 2002. The Bragg brothers were doing a job at the New Life Pentecostal Holiness church in Thomaston when the roof collapsed. 

“They all fell through the roof and broke their ankles and legs,” Tom's daughter Christy Bragg Coker told producers. “My uncle Tim moved in with my dad during the time of their treatment and he was staying there and Mary Ann was taking care of both of them.”

By early September, the brothers were on the mend and Tim had moved out. Tom still wore a cast on his leg and needed a cane to move around but was determined to get back to work. Tragically, he would never get that chance.

On September 9, 2002, neighbor James Mann contacted authorities to report he had found Tom dead inside his house. 

“James was just in the front yard, just visibly shaken and you could tell that he had witnessed something that was horrific,” former Thomaston Police Department patrolman Drew Jackson told “Snapped.” 

Jackson entered the Bragg residence and followed blood drops from the entryway into the dining room. Inside the guest bedroom was Tom's body. 

“I observed the body laying on the bed with a pillow over the face. I could see the large pool of coagulated blood under the bed, the massive amounts of blood and tissue that were on the walls and on the ceiling,” Jackson described to producers.

Local authorities summoned the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to help with the investigation. An autopsy determined the time of death was between the hours of 4 and 6 that morning, according to court documents

“The crime scene evidence was indicative of a blunt force trauma to the head. The object would have been consistent with a claw hammer,” former prosecutor Ben Coker told producers.

The home showed no signs of a break in, nor was anything missing.

“This was a deliberate killing of Tom Bragg for no other reason than to eliminate his existence,” said former Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Vaughn Estes. “They were close to this person. They took the moment to cover the person’s face with a pillow.” 

Investigators spoke with Mann and his wife, Lee Henry. Mann said he was supposed to take Tom to an auto parts store that morning but he never showed up. He went to check on him, found the front door open, and discovered the crime scene.  

The couple also said they saw Mary Ann Bragg leave the house around 6 that morning. Mary Ann had said she was on her way to a doctor’s appointment. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. 

When Mary Ann arrived at the scene, she “almost collapsed,” according to Estes. She said she had been at her psychiatrist's  in LaGrange, Georgia, over an hour away. She had driven there with a friend, Deborah Clay, who confirmed her alibi. 

In speaking with Tom’s family and friends, though, detectives learned all was not well in the Braggs' marriage. Mary Ann was having multiple affairs.

Among the men Mary Ann had affairs with were Mann and Pastor Steve Craven of the New Life Pentecostal Holiness church. Investigators spoke with both men and determined neither was involved in Tom Bragg’s murder. 

Detectives also learned Mary Ann spent her free time flirting with men in various internet chatrooms.

Mary Ann Bragg Spd 2825

“She had lots of guys who were interested in her, online as well as in town,” Estes told producers.

As the investigation continued, police received a tip from Mary Ann’s former son-in-law.

“Several years prior, Mary Ann had asked him to get rid of James Wright. He believed that Mary Ann might be up to her old tricks and was trying to eliminate her husband,” Estes said.

Authorities then discovered Mary Ann had spoken to three different men about murdering Wright. In one instance, she promised to share the proceeds from a life insurance policy of his that she was the beneficiary of, according to court documents. 

Mary Ann had recently taken out a $25,000 life insurance policy on Tom. “Our investigation showed that Tom Bragg was never even aware that this insurance policy existed,” Coker told producers.

On October 25, 2002, detectives again interviewed Mary Ann. When confronted with her online dalliances, she dismissed them as “role play,” according to Estes, and voiced her frustrations with her dead husband.  

“She even made the statements to me in an interview that she is supposed to be the one being taken care of, not being a nursemaid for a cripple who can’t work,” Estes told producers.

Detectives thought they had found their motive, but what they didn’t have was evidence. 

Over a year after the murder, investigators re-interviewed Clay, who had provided Mary Ann’s alibi. She told a different story the second time around. 

“Deborah Clay tells us eventually that Mary Ann gave her some drugs. She took those drugs, they made her very sleepy and very weary and she slept most of the ride to LaGrange,” Estes explained.

Clay said at one point the car stopped on a bridge and Mary Ann threw an item in a plastic bag into the waters below. At another stop, Mary Ann threw a large trash bag into a dumpster at a Hardee’s before driving the rest of the way to her doctor’s appointment.

“We theorized that that was clothing that had blood on it and possibly the murder weapon as well,” Coker told “Snapped.     

In 2005, investigators obtained Mary Ann’s medical records from her psychiatrist.

“According to the doctor’s notes, Mary Ann Bragg appeared to be distraught and made the comment to the doctor that she had just found out that her husband had been killed,” Coker revealed.

The only problem was at that time, Mary Ann had not been notified by law enforcement about her husband’s murder.  

On Nov. 8, 2005, Mary Ann Bragg was arrested and charged with malice murder, felony murder, and aggravated assault. In Sept. 2006, she was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to life in prison without parole, the Associated Press reported at the time.

Many of Mary Ann's loved ones told "Snapped" they continue to believe she is innocent and hope she will be released from prison one day.

For more on this episode and others like it, watch “Snapped, airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen, or stream episodes any time at Oxygen.com.

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