For some, it would’ve appeared like a real-life episode of “The Sopranos.”
In 2004, three separate darkish inexperienced Kenneth Cole suitcases, containing items of a dismembered physique, have been present in and across the Chesapeake Bay, close to Virginia Seaside, Virginia.
The physique was ultimately recognized as 39 year-old Invoice McGuire, an worker of the New Jersey Institute of Know-how, who lived greater than 300 miles away in Woodbridge, New Jersey. The medical expert decided that the physique had been shot a number of occasions.
His spouse, Melanie McGuire, a fertility nurse and the mom of his two sons, was ultimately convicted of murdering him and dumping his physique. She was sentenced to life in jail.
13 years have handed since Melanie McGuire’s conviction. She’s now a 47-year-old inmate on the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Clinton, New Jersey, the place she claims that she’s not solely harmless of killing her husband however that his actual killer remains to be on the market.
Watch the complete story on “20/20” Friday, Sept. 25, at 9 p.m. ET on ABC
For the primary time in years, she says she has hope that an explosive new podcast, “Direct Attraction,” may assist exonerate her. The podcast, hosted by Fairleigh Dickinson College criminology professors Meghan Sacks and Amy Schlosberg questions Melanie McGuire’s guilt and suggests that there’s proof within the case that by no means obtained the authorized scrutiny it deserved.
“In spite of everything these years, I nonetheless really feel damage. I nonetheless really feel bothered. Like, how may any individual suppose that I did that?” Melanie McGuire instructed ABC Information’ Amy Robach in a uncommon interview from jail for “20/20.”
Melanie McGuire’s story made nationwide headlines within the mid-2000s, when she was charged with first-degree homicide and dubbed the “Suitcase Killer” by some within the media. Her 2007 trial turned a nationally televised occasion.
Prosecutors believed that Melanie McGuire’s motive to kill her husband got here from her want to begin a brand new life along with her lover, Dr. Bradley Miller, a companion on the medical apply RMA Associates, the place she labored as a nurse.
Melanie McGuire admitted to having an affair with Miller. She mentioned her marriage to Invoice McGuire was not going effectively and claimed that he was violent. Within the early morning hours of April 29, 2004, the day her husband disappeared, Melanie McGuire mentioned that that they had a violent battle and claimed that he choked her with a dryer sheet and hit her earlier than leaving the home.
“He in all probability would have damaged my cheek if [the hit] had been a closed fist,” Melanie McGuire mentioned. “I appeared down and there’s my 2-year-old. I grabbed the infant and went to the lavatory proper behind me and shut the door. I simply needed to get away from him at that time. He mentioned he was leaving and he wasn’t coming again and [that] I may inform my kids they didn’t have a father.”
She mentioned her husband left and that she by no means noticed him once more.
The investigation into who killed Invoice McGuire started in Virginia however ultimately moved to New Jersey. A high precedence for New Jersey investigators was figuring out if Melanie McGuire had ever owned a gun. They searched gun information within the state however discovered nothing. Then, they appeared in Pennsylvania.
“They knew that Pennsylvania was shut and lots of people will go to Pennsylvania for firearms as a result of … gun legal guidelines are extra lax,” Sacks mentioned. “There’s much less of a ready interval.”
“It turned out that when the document test was completed with Pennsylvania, a document got here again that Melanie McGuire had bought a gun,” mentioned Patti Prezioso, the lead investigator and prosecutor at Melanie McGuire’s trial.
Melanie McGuire mentioned that Invoice McGuire had requested her to purchase the gun for him since he had a felony conviction from a foul driving document, which barred him from buying one on his personal. It was the timing of that buy, although, that basically caught the attention of investigators: It occurred simply two days earlier than Invoice McGuire went lacking.
As soon as police honed in on Melanie McGuire because the prime suspect, they started wiretapping her telephones. They recorded her calls with household and pals, together with Miller, with whom she was having the affair.
When investigators found the affair, they approached Miller.
“Dr. Miller was adamant that he had nothing to do with any crime, and he didn’t know something about this. So I feel the police mentioned, ‘Nicely, show it. In case you’re prepared to put on a wire, we’ll imagine you,’” mentioned Sacks.
Miller agreed to cooperate with investigators and was by no means charged within the crime.
“We appeared very intently at Dr. Miller,” mentioned Prezioso. “There was no proof connecting him to this crime.”
Miller ultimately testified in opposition to Melanie McGuire at her trial.
One other vital growth for investigators was the invention of Invoice McGuire’s automotive.
After his physique was discovered and detectives notified Melanie McGuire of her husband’s demise, she instructed them to search for Invoice McGuire’s lacking automotive in Atlantic Metropolis — she claimed he had a playing drawback and frequented town. Police rapidly discovered his automotive in a parking zone there.
Investigators found that the parking zone had surveillance cameras, and so they pulled the safety footage considering that they had stumbled upon a smoking gun that might present who dumped Invoice McGuire’s automotive. On the time, the native media additionally reported this element in regards to the parking zone’s surveillance cameras.
After seeing this report Melanie McGuire instructed Miller a narrative that prosecutors later known as preposterous.
Melanie McGuire defined that the night time after Invoice McGuire went lacking, she was turning into angrier at her husband and suspected she knew the place he was: Atlantic Metropolis. She mentioned in a second of admitted irrationality she determined to drive down there and search for his automotive.
“And I am driving down, and I take the primary move on this, on this freeway, and I see a darkish sedan, and lo and behold, there it’s,” Melanie McGuire mentioned.
As unbelievable because it sounds, Melanie McGuire mentioned she really stumbled upon her husband’s automotive.
“As soon as Melanie spots Invoice’s automotive from the freeway, she decides she’s going to maneuver his automotive,” mentioned Shlosberg. “Melanie says previously, once they’re offended at one another, it’s a manner of messing with one another, I assume you possibly can say.”
“It sounds past ridiculous sitting right here saying it and I acknowledge that… It’s the reality,” Melanie McGuire instructed “20/20.”
After pulling the surveillance footage from the parking zone, nonetheless, investigators have been disenchanted. The grainy photos appeared to indicate Invoice McGuire’s automotive being pulled right into a spot, however didn’t seize who the motive force was.
Prezioso mentioned she believed that Melanie McGuire was planting the automotive in Atlantic Metropolis to create an phantasm that Invoice McGuire was nonetheless alive.
“That requires two drivers so definitely meaning somebody helped her,” mentioned Prezioso.
Prosecutors have at all times maintained that they believed Melanie McGuire doubtless had an confederate. They have been assured Miller was not concerned within the crime however have been by no means capable of convey costs in opposition to anybody else.
Though detectives didn’t discover what they have been in search of on the surveillance footage, they have been capable of finding one thing curious on Melanie McGuire’s assertion from her digital toll cost firm, EZ Move. There have been two costs, totaling 90 cents, on her assertion that proved she had pushed to Atlantic Metropolis after her husband went lacking. Making issues worse, Melanie McGuire had known as the corporate and tried to have these costs eliminated.
“I panicked. I completely tried to have these costs taken off as a result of I feared that individuals would look and suppose what they in the end ended up considering,” McGuire mentioned.
When investigators processed Invoice McGuire’s automotive, in addition they discovered a bottle of the sedative chloral hydrate and two syringes. By way of document tracing, they discovered that the chloral hydrate was picked up at a Walgreens pharmacy simply down the street from the McGuire kids’s daycare on the morning that Invoice McGuire disappeared.
The prescription for chloral hydrate got here from Miller’s prescription pad.
“Dr. Miller appeared on the prescription and he mentioned, ‘That’s not my signature and it seems to be Melanie McGuire’s handwriting,’” recalled Prezioso.
Prosecutors believed that McGuire solid the prescription as she had entry to this prescription pad.
5 days after Invoice McGuire went lacking, investigators mentioned Melanie McGuire made one other weird street journey, this time to Delaware. She instructed Miller that she was furnishings purchasing, in response to Prezioso, who mentioned she believes that’s when Melanie McGuire drove the suitcases along with her husband’s stays to Chesapeake Bay.
To drive from New Jersey to the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia requires driving by means of Delaware, “and the primary suitcase turned up the very subsequent day,” Prezioso mentioned.
Melanie McGuire denies this, pointing to the truth that there are a whole bunch of miles between Delaware and Virginia Seaside.
“You’re speaking about hours [of driving] and there isn’t sufficient time,” mentioned McGuire.
The circumstantial proof in opposition to Melanie McGuire was mounting by this level, however investigators have been nonetheless having hassle discovering any bodily proof that might hyperlink Melanie McGuire to her husband’s homicide, in response to Sacks.
Investigators searched the house for proof a number of occasions, checking to see if Invoice McGuire had been killed and dismembered there.
“They introduced within the luminol, and so they additionally pulled down components of the partitions. They pulled out the piping, pulling floorboards up,” mentioned Sacks. “They actually turned this place the other way up numerous occasions… They could not discover any forensic proof in any respect to determine this was a criminal offense scene.”
“I don’t know the way you’ll dismember a physique and successfully clear that up,” mentioned McGuire.
Though investigators have been unable to seek out bodily proof of homicide contained in the McGuire’s residence, they have been capable of finding small items of Invoice McGuire’s flesh — proof that might ultimately be referred to within the media as “human sawdust” — from the automotive.
Prezioso believed the “human sawdust” was the results of Invoice McGuire’s dismemberment.
“Their idea was that this nurse, who was type of so meticulous, had in some way simply forgotten to wipe the underside of her footwear, that she by accident tracked these human sawdust particles of Invoice’s physique from the home to the automotive,” mentioned John Glatt, a real crime creator who wrote “To Have and To Kill,” a e-book about Melanie McGuire’s case.
On June 5, 2005, authorities arrested Melanie McGuire on first-degree homicide costs. She pleaded not responsible.
At trial, prosecutors offered an obvious mountain of circumstantial proof in opposition to Melanie McGuire in Invoice McGuire’s disappearance and homicide.
Melanie McGuire’s protection group centered on the shortage of bodily proof, insisting it was extra doubtless that Invoice McGuire was murdered as the results of his playing, than by the hands of his diminutive spouse.
After an almost month and a half lengthy trial, Melanie McGuire was discovered responsible. She was sentenced to life in jail on July 19, 2007.
After re-examining her homicide conviction over a decade later, Sacks and Shlosberg, imagine Melanie McGuire was wrongfully convicted. https://directappealpodcast.com/
“She did not match the profile, I assume, of a assassin,” Shlosberg mentioned.
With all of her appeals exhausted, Melanie McGuire mentioned she participated within the podcast hoping that new proof is perhaps found that might result in her exoneration.
“It was laborious. It was reliving it. However this was the primary time any individual was mainly saying, ‘We hear you,’” mentioned Melanie McGuire.
When Invoice McGuire’s physique was discovered with bullet wounds, prosecutors pointed to the truth that Melanie McGuire had bought a gun in Pennsylvania simply two days earlier than her husband was reported lacking.
The podcast hosts and Melanie McGuire herself, elevate questions on whether or not it is even doable the gun she bought was the homicide weapon.
“Nobody plugged the serial variety of my gun into a web site to seek out out what the specs have been,” mentioned Melanie McGuire.
“There have been 5 lands and grooves that my weapon was mentioned to have made based mostly on the corporate’s web site. The bullets that got here out of my husband had six lands and grooves,” mentioned Melanie McGuire.
Lands and grooves are rifling traits which can be machine pressed into the barrel of a gun. When a bullet passes by means of, its easy floor turns into imprinted with the identical variety of lands and grooves because the barrel. Melanie McGuire claimed that her gun couldn’t have been the homicide weapon for the reason that numbers of lands and grooves on the bullets that got here out of Invoice McGuire did not match the quantity that the manufacturing web site mentioned it had made her gun with.
Prezioso mentioned she has little doubt Melanie McGuire’s gun was the homicide weapon. “It was a mistake on a gun producer’s web site. We weren’t gathering proof from a gun producer’s web site. The proof that was at trial was from ballistic specialists.”
“The proof on this case factors to a well-organized, meticulously deliberate execution of a homicide,” Prezioso mentioned through the trial.
Prosecutors additionally pointed to Melanie McGuire’s supposed web searches within the days main as much as Invoice McGuire’s disappearance.
They recovered searches together with: “The way to buy weapons illegally,” “The way to commit homicide,” “Undetectable poisons” and, typically, the best way to sedate or kill somebody, in response to investigators.
“I am a nurse or I used to be a nurse, and I needn’t search for issues like that. If I needed to search for one thing like that, I’ve a [physicians’ desk reference]. I’ve a e-book that I can look in that does not depart an web historical past,” Melanie McGuire instructed “20/20.”
Her protection attorneys argued that anybody may have carried out the searches.
Prezioso mentioned the proof offered by the state’s pc forensic professional at trial was strong and Melanie McGuire’s authorized group offered their very own professional as effectively. She provides, “Is she making an attempt to say that the person who was so excited to be shopping for this home, as a result of he needed to have this home for the spouse that he cherished and his kids, that on the identical time making an attempt to kill her? It by no means made sense.”
Investigators additionally discovered trash luggage in Melanie McGuire’s residence that they believed matched these used to wrap components of Invoice McGuire’s physique.
Sacks and Shlosberg declare that the exams run by the state’s plastic professional weren’t enough to conclusively hyperlink the baggage present in Melanie McGuire’s home and those used to wrap Invoice McGuire’s physique.
“He ran exams, however he did not do all of the exams that you simply really have to definitively say whether or not these luggage match,” added Sacks. She mentioned that they imagine the rubbish luggage have been a prop to sway the jury.
Nonetheless, the state’s professional disagreed, testifying that he ran the exams he believed have been essential to hyperlink the baggage.
The podcasters and Melanie McGuire additionally level to unexplained animal hair discovered on Invoice McGuire’s dismembered physique and famous in investigative studies.
“They appeared excessive and low to attach Melanie to some pet, and as soon as they discovered that there was no strategy to join Melanie to those pet hairs, it turned not of evidentiary worth,” mentioned Sacks.
Sacks firmly believes that prosecutors did not reply key questions within the case.
“Melanie didn’t incapacitate, shoot [or] use a noticed to dismember her husband,” mentioned Sacks. “Are you aware how laborious it’s to chop by means of bone? It’s bodily exhausting. Additionally if the crime scene did not occur [at the family home] and she or he’s residence along with her kids all night time, the place is that this taking place? There are simply too many holes on this story.”
Prezioso is definite that Invoice McGuire’s assassin is the lady who was convicted and is now sitting in jail.
“There are occasions when podcasts and media can shine a lightweight on sure circumstances the place what the federal government did was not proper. This isn’t a kind of circumstances,” mentioned Prezioso.
“My job is to not persuade the world. My job is to persuade the jury. I imagine that the proof offered to the jury instructed the jury what occurred,” Prezioso mentioned.
Melanie McGuire, who will not be eligible for parole till she is 101 years previous, mentioned the toughest half will not be being there for her kids. The courtroom awarded custody of her two sons to Invoice McGuire’s sister, Cindy Ligosh, and Melanie McGuire has had no contact with them since her trial.
McGuire had a message for her sons, who at the moment are adults, “Make up your thoughts. Do not settle for what you are simply being instructed on the floor. Dig, dig. These paperwork exist. These items exists. It is on the market,” she mentioned.