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Aspiring Gospel Singer Had Husband Killed with Help from Her In-Laws, a Lover, and Benadryl
Sharon Hurt seemed to have one major motive to have her husband, Don, murdered.
An aspiring gospel singer never made it big, but that didn’t stop her drive to achieve riches. Sharon Hurt murdered her husband, Don, to get her hands on his $250,000 life insurance policy — but she didn’t do it alone.
Her sister, Marcie Murray, and brother-in-law, James Murray, were convicted of helping her get rid of her husband.
“The most guilty person would be Sharon,” Ricky Hurt, Don’s son, said on Snapped, airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen. “Because she could always say, ‘Nah, I’ll divorce him.’”
Instead, prosecutors and police said Sharon Hurt plotted with her family to murder her husband in a drive-by shooting, and when that failed, to drug him and kill him six months later.
How was Don Hurt murdered?
On the morning of Dec. 20, 1991, a bystander found a man slumped over in the passenger seat of a car by the side of the road near Goodlettsville, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville. When police arrived, they discovered the man was dead.
The man had been shot twice in the head, which ruled out suicide. Although not much evidence was found in the car, the man did have his wallet on him, which ruled out robbery. His driver’s license identified him as 52-year-old Charles “Donald” Hurt.
With no indication the body had been moved, police believed Don Hurt had been shot and killed in the vehicle.
The autopsy report indicated Hurt had been murdered between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m. on Dec. 19, 1991. The pathology report showed the two gunshots had come from different angles.
“It was as if the person had moved, and/or possibly could have handed the gun to someone else, who fired a second shot,” said Roger Moore, prosecutor, on Snapped.
The bullet wounds also showed the shots had been fired from close range.
“If a killer gets that close to someone, that indicates he knew who killed him,” Moore said.
A toxicology report also showed Hurt had large amounts of Benadryl in his system when he was killed. Experts said Hurt would have been incapacitated by the drug in his body.
“The amount of Benadryl in Don Hurt’s system could really only have been placed in a drink by someone close to him,” Moore said. “That would have been Sharon Hurt.”
Don and Sharon Hurt had been married for three years when Don was murdered. Both had been married before and had children from previous relationships.
When police talked to Sharon, she told them she’d last seen her husband around 7 the night before his body was discovered. She alleged he’d met up with someone at a flea market to buy a gun, and never came home.
Sharon ahd reported him missing on Dec. 20 — just as police got the report of the body discovery. But she also dropped an important piece of information to investigators: Her husband had also been shot six months before his murder.
What happened when Don Hurt was shot six months before his murder?
Police talked to Don Hurt’s family about how he was shot just months before his death. Family members told law enforcement Don had been driving near the Tennessee River and thought he had a tire blowout, before realizing he was covered in blood.
He was able to get help and get to a hospital. Don also reported seeing a red Firebird vehicle driving next to him before the shooting. Investigators were not able to find the culprit, though.
The wounds he suffered during the shooting caused Don to be unable to work.
“That did place a financial strain on the Hurt family,” Moore said. “There was a bankruptcy filing that had occurred shortly before his killing.”
Investigators learned Don had a $100,000 life insurance policy that was filed after he married Sharon. Shortly before he was shot for the first time, that policy was increased to $250,000.
“After my father got shot, he canceled it,” Ricky Hurt, Don’s son, said. “And what I was told [was] Sharon went back and reopened his insurance, and my father didn’t know anything about that.”
Family members suspected Sharon had been with Don for his money since the start of their marriage. She was trying to make it as a singer in Nashville when she divorced her ex-husband, Ron Dearinger, and met Don Hurt soon after.
“I think that she was using Don as a means to an end to support her music career,” Ed Moran, former Metropolitan Police Detective, theorized on Snapped.
Although she recorded one album, her career as a singer was largely unsuccessful.
“I don’t think she wanted to come back home a failure,” Ron Dearinger, Sharon’s son, said on Snapped. “She tried to be a star, and she didn’t make it. But she did find a rich man to marry is the way I take it.”
Who was the other man in Don and Sharon Hurt's marriage?
Loved ones also revealed to police that they suspected Sharon Hurt had found a new beau more than a year before her husband’s murder. While Sharon was working at Lowe’s, she met Joe Rowe, who ran an electric company in Nashville. Rowe got Sharon a job as a secretary working for him.
“I think it was pretty obvious to everybody that was close to them, even Don’s children, that she was sleeping with Joe Rowe,” Moran said.
Police learned Rowe had provided Sharon Hurt with money to buy a pink Cadillac and had been paying her extra cash under the table at her job.
“Sometimes she wouldn’t even come home for two or three days in a row,” Ricky Hurt said. “You don’t stay all day long and all night long at work unless you’re doing something. It’s crazy. Right in front of my father, right in front of everybody.”
Investigators found Rowe was in bankruptcy and also had a financial motive for Don Hurt’s murder.
But it was a tip through Crime Stoppers that finally gave police concrete evidence against Sharon Hurt for her husband’s murder. The tipster said she’d driven by the murder scene before police got there.
“She recalled that when she had passed by earlier, there were two cars at the scene,” Moore said. “It struck her as odd because it was not a usual place where people would pull off and park. But the most striking thing was the car that was in front was, in her recollection, a pink Cadillac.”
Rowe and Sharon fled the state together after her husband’s murder but were eventually arrested in Sept. 1993.
How were Sharon Hurt's sister and brother-in-law involved in the murder of her husband?
After his arrest, Rowe agreed to talk to police in exchange for a lower bail amount. He admitted to providing the weapon for Don Hurt’s murder, but also pointed the finger at Sharon’s sister and brother-in-law.
“Joe Rowe testifies that they — Sharon, her sister Marcie Murray, and brother-in-law, Jimmy Murray — plotted to kill Don,” Moore said. “They got a handgun from him. He knows they gave Don a drink laced with Benadryl. And that they took Don out, walked him out to the car, got him in, drove him out, and came back. And that Jimmy told him at one point he and Marcie had both shot Don with the same gun so that each of them would be equally responsible.”
Rowe also claimed the Murrays were responsible for Don’s first shooting.
Don had told police a red Firebird pulled up next to him — and a red Firebird was registered to Jimmy Murray. A shotgun found at the Murray’s home matched the shotgun used in Don’s first shooting.
“Marcie Murray, I really believe her motivation was that she loved her sister,” Moore said. “And if Sharon Hurt asked her to do something, she would do it.”
In July 1995, Sharon Hurt, Marcie Murray, and Jimmy Murray all went on trial, and were convicted of first-degree murder. Marcie and James Murray will be eligible for parole in 2026. Sharon Hurt will be eligible for parole in 2024, at the age of 71.
“I think she got dollar signs in her eyes, and to hell with everything else,” Chuck Imel, Sharon Hurt’s son, said on Snapped.
In 1996, Don Hurt’s mother was awarded the proceeds of his life insurance policy.
Joe Rowe pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. He died behind bars in 2018.
Watch all-new episodes of Snapped at 6/5c on Sundays on Oxygen, or the next day on Peacock.