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Susan Gigliotti had a way with men. She could get them to do whatever she wanted, including getting her ex-boyfriend to kill her ex-husband, Joe Gigliotti.
Joe and Susan were high school sweethearts who grew up together in New Jersey. They married in 1986 and had two sons. They worked hard to provide for their family. Susan drove a school bus for special needs children while Joe worked at an asbestos-removal company, according to "Snapped," airing Sundays at 6/5 on Oxygen.
Seeking a safer and better-paying job, Joe studied to become an accountant. This meant Susan had to pick up the slack at home, causing tension. Eventually it became too much: Joe moved out in early 1998 and Susan filed for divorce in December 1999.
Joe was devastated by the failure of his marriage. Susan retained custody of their two sons, but Joe remained an active part of their lives, spending most of his free time with them.
Soon, though, both began to move on. While studying accounting, Joe began dating classmate Lauren Covell. Susan, meanwhile, dated coworker Richard DeBow.
“My Uncle Rich was head over heels for Susan. My uncle was always either staying at her house or they were communicating on the phone,” nephew Davon DeBow told “Snapped.”
After being married, however, Susan was in no mood to settle down. She soon broke things off with DeBow, much to his disappointment.
Joe and Lauren eventually split up as well, but he wasn’t single for long. He met Sue McChesney in an online chat room for singles.
“We hit it off right away. He started bringing his children over. I could tell he was an extremely good father and wanted to spend as much time as possible with them,” Sue McChesney told “Snapped.”
But things soon took a dark turn. Around 9 p.m. on April 16, 2000, Hamilton Township, New Jersey emergency responders received a call about shots fired at the home of Susan's mother, Ruth Jones. When officers arrived on the scene they found Jones outside with Susan as well as Sue McChesney.
Susan told officers that Joe had come earlier that night to drop off their two boys. While he was there, she asked him to check the transmission on her car, which was parked behind the house.
“Susan had then said while she was inside the house with her mother, Ruth, they heard the shots,” former Hamilton Township Patrolman Rich DeStefani told “Snapped.” “Shortly after, they heard the Explorer go peeling backwards out of the driveway.”
Officers found Joe Gigliotti laying on the ground unresponsive outside the home.
“There was bullet holes under his arms, bloodstains on his shirt. It was determined at that moment that Joe was deceased,” said DeStefani.
An autopsy confirmed Joe Gigliotti was shot four times in the chest with with a .22 caliber revolver, according to court documents.
Police put out a BOLO for Susan’s SUV. It was located shortly thereafter at a train station approximately three miles away from the crime scene with the keys still in the ignition. A white male was seen exiting the car.
Atlantic County Prosecutor's Detectives interviewed Sue McChesney, who said there was bad blood between Joe and his ex-wife. On the day of the shooting, she said, one of Joe’s boys had gotten sick and asked for his mother, but Susan adamantly refused to have him dropped off earlier.
After arriving at Ruth Jones’ home to deliver the boys, McChesney asked to use her bathroom. While in the lavatory she heard four loud bangs and saw a car speed off moments later. When she went to check on Joe, Susan blocked her path.
“Susan stopped me at the door and she goes, ‘No, no, don’t go out there, you do not know the property, I’ll go out and check,'” said McChesney.
When Susan returned to the house, she said she couldn’t find Joe. McChesney immediately sensed something was wrong and insisted they call the police.
Detectives next interviewed Susan Gigliotti, who downplayed her and Joe’s contentious divorce and claimed to have no idea who could have killed him. She also said she had a new boyfriend, Steven Ferman.
Without any prompting, Susan told detectives she and Ferman had a business selling computer components he stole from his job with the federal government. She said Joe had recently found out about the business and was not happy about it.
“Joseph had an opportunity to call the police and have Susan removed from the home because of it. I told him to do it and he said, ‘I can’t do that to her, Lauren. She’s the mother of my children,” Lauren Covell told “Snapped.”
Detectives spoke with Ferman, who said he was in love with Susan despite already being married. He also admitted stealing the computers from his work and allowing Susan to sell them, according to court documents.
“When he did talk about the relationship between Susan Gigliotti and Joe Gigliotti, it was always how terrible Joe is. That is an immediate red flag,” Atlantic County Prosecutor's Detective Capt. Timothy Alexander told “Snapped.”
Another ex of Susan's came up in questioning as well: Susan’s family told detectives that Richard DeBow had been stalking Susan after their breakup. DeBow was questioned by detectives, who initially found him harmless.
Joe’s family, meanwhile, told detectives that during their divorce proceedings, Susan accused Joe of hitting her, though no record of abuse could be substantiated. In contrast, friends claimed Susan had made threats against Joe.
“Friends indicated that Susan Gigliotti was aware that Joe Gigliotti had an insurance policy and had made statements to them that it would be easier if Joe was dead,” former Atlantic County Prosecutor's Detective Capt. Chris Wellman told “Snapped.”
Believing Ferman knew more than he was saying, authorities brought him back in for questioning. During the interview he appeared nervous and eventually told them everything he knew about the plot to murder Joe Gigliotti.
“About two weeks ago, she had told me the situation that was going to occur. She told me that basically, ’I have a gun, I have ammunition and I know somebody that’s going to take care of it,'" Ferman told detectives in his taped interview, which was obtained by “Snapped.”
Ferman agreed to wear a wire and record Susan talking about the murder in order to avoid prosecution, according to court documents. He met with Susan on the evening of April 19 at her home. Though she seemed suspicious and wanted to pat him down, she agreed to speak with him.
“Mr. Ferman started requesting to know what Mrs. Gigliotti had said to authorities, that he was very concerned that he was going to jail. Mrs. Gigliotti indicated that, ‘You don’t have anything to worry about, you weren’t involved, it was Rich DeBow,'” said Chris Wellman.
Detectives brought DeBow back in for questioning. After being confronted with discrepancies in his alibi, he threw up his hands and confessed to killing Joe Gigliotti.
DeBow said Susan picked him up on the night of the murder in her SUV and left the keys in it so he could make his getaway. She then handed him a .22 caliber handgun. DeBow laid in wait until Susan sent Joe outside to look at her car, according to court documents.
“He said when Gigliotti bent down to look in the engine compartment, he shot him,” said Chris Wellman.
Joe begged for his life as DeBow shot him repeatedly. After he was dead, DeBow drove Susan’s car to the train station and left, later dumping the gun in a trash can near his home.
“Rich DeBow felt if he followed along and did what Susan asked him to do that he would win her back,” said Chris Wellman.
DeBow said Susan also asked him to murder Steven Ferman’s wife, Carrie. Steven knew of these plans, according to court documents.
DeBow was arrested and charged with murder. Susan was also arrested and brought in, at which point the former lovers crossed paths in the halls of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s office.
Upon seeing Susan, DeBow told her they were "going up the river together." Susan replied, "I told you to keep your mouth shut and don't say a f--king thing," according to court documents.
Richard DeBow was found guilty of murder in January 2003 and sentenced to 40 years in prison. He died in prison in 2020.
In May 2002, Susan Gigliotti was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and other charges, according to The Central New Jersey Home News. She will be eligible for parole in 2030.
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