Penny Bjorkland: A demure and pretty teen with an odd obsession – she wants to know what it feels like to kill someone.
Kelly Silk: When mental health problems take over a young mother’s life, no one is safe – not even her loving husband and precious children.
Joyce Chant: Joyce had endured years of abuse at the hands of her sadistic husband. At some point, a woman has to say, “enough.”
Sandy Cain: A bored dental hygienist gets lured into a master/slave relationship by an online predator – his mistake.
Sheila LaBarre: They called her “Crazy Sheila,” a more than appropriate nickname for this gun-toting, knife-wielding, femme fatale.
Michelle Michael: A deadly fire, a $500,000 inheritance, an obvious suspect. Her alibi seems unbreakable. But is it?
Lastania Abarta: Chico Forster was a player, who used up his conquests and then cast them aside. He’s picked the wrong woman this time.
Click the "Read More" link below to read the first chapter of
Deadly Women Volume 8
It started on a pleasant Connecticut evening in March 1994, when police received reports of a body lying at the side of a remote stretch of road just off I-95. Officers of the East Lyme PD responded, expecting to find the victim of a traffic accident. What they found instead was a murder scene. Five bullets had been pumped into the dead man, a man they all knew well. He was 28-year-old Anson Clinton III, known to his friends as Buzz.
The officers were not exactly surprised by the identity of the victim. Buzz Clinton was a man with a lot of enemies. He was a somewhat rowdy local, a drug user and reputedly a small-time dealer, someone who scrounged a living doing odd jobs, when he could be bothered to work at all. Most recently, he’d been performing at local clubs as a male stripper, but Buzz’s dancing days were over now. Five bullets from a .38 had seen to that. Who had fired those fatal shots? Some rival drug dealer was what the police initially surmised. They were wrong.
Two months passed, with the police making very little headway in tracking down Buzz Clinton’s killer. Then, in May of 1994, there was a surprise break in the case. A woman named Cathy White called investigators and said that she had information to share. Her boyfriend, Joseph Fremut, was involved in the murder of Buzz Clinton, along with a man named Mark Depres. Both men were well known to the East Lyme police. Both had extensive rap sheets while Depres was an occasional informant. It was on this pretext that officers lured him to a meeting. Depres, who thought that he was going to be asked about some or other drug deal, suddenly found himself being quizzed about a murder.
Depres, however, had danced this dance before. He was not about to be strong- armed by a couple of small town cops. He refused to answer questions and insisted on contacting his lawyer. When the cops allowed him to do so, he made several attempts to contact a local attorney, Haiman Clein. This appeared a strange choice to the officers. Clein was well-known locally as a high-powered real estate lawyer. He didn’t handle criminal work. Besides, he was well out of Depres’s price range. On this day, he was also not taking calls. Unable to reach him, Depres eventually agreed to talk to Detective Chet Harris, the officer who occasionally used him as a C.I. (confidential informant). During the course of that conversation, Depres admitted that he did have information about Buzz Clinton’s death and that he “may have been involved.”
But the identification of Depres as a murder suspect was just the start of what was to become an incredibly complex case. Depres claimed that he’d gunned down Clinton on the orders of Haiman Clein, the lawyer he’d been trying to reach. But what interest did Clein, a multi-millionaire fixer for the rich and famous, have in a nobody like Buzz Clinton? The answer to that question would lead to an even less likely suspect, a brilliant young lawyer named Beth Ann Carpenter, who happened to be Buzz Clinton’s sister-in-law.
Beth Carpenter was born on November 2, 1963, and grew up just a few miles from the Long Island Sound, near Old Saybrook. The area is picturesque and affluent, and Beth was raised in a happy, tight-knit family unit. She excelled at school, scoring straight A’s, and was eventually accepted at George Washington University. Her plan was to attend medical school after college, but a last minute change of heart saw her decide to study law instead. That took her to Catholic University and later to an internship at the SEC. After passing the bar exams in Connecticut, New York, and Washington D.C., she was ready to take on the world.
The early nineties, however, was not a great time for a young lawyer to be in the job market. Beth drew more than a few blanks until the day that she walked into the New London law offices of Haiman Clein. He hired her on the spot. So began a working relationship that would soon develop into something more. Clein was 52 years old at the time and on his fourth marriage; Beth was 29 and still somewhat naive. He was overweight, balding, and heavy-jowled; she was lithe, with striking blue eyes and a mane of auburn hair. It is difficult to see what the attraction was. Nonetheless, a torrid sexual relationship developed. Soon the couple were sharing pillow talk. One of Beth’s preoccupations at that time was the welfare of her three-year-old niece, Rebecca, the daughter of her sister, Kim.
Kim and Beth Carpenter could not have been more different. Whereas Beth was academically gifted and the shining light of the Carpenter clan, Kim had grown up with a learning disability and had flunked out of school without graduating. She’d then compounded her childhood problems by making bad choices as an adult. Her first husband (Rebecca’s father) was a jailbird who had been sent down for a long stretch even before the birth of his daughter. Kim had divorced him while he was serving his time. She’d then hooked up with Buzz Clinton, who she’d met on a night out, at a club where he was dancing. Kim’s family had been less than impressed with Buzz, their distaste amplified when he and Kim disappeared for six weeks after their first meeting, leaving little Rebecca in the care of her grandparents. During that time, Kim had not even bothered to visit her baby daughter, not even once. Kim did eventually show up at the house, but only to tell her parents that she and Buzz were getting married.
For Kim and Beth’s mother, Cynthia, it was the last straw. Afraid of what would happen to Rebecca in the dubious care of Kim and Buzz, she decided to petition for custody. With a lawyer in the family, she had every confidence in winning, more so when Kim arrived at the court without an attorney. Her new husband, Buzz, would argue the case on her behalf. Buzz, as it turns out, was quite eloquent. Despite having no legal training at all, he won. Then he and Kim compounded the family feud by announcing that they were moving to Arizona, taking Rebecca with them. It was at this point that Beth turned to her boss and lover, Haiman Clein, for help. Clein said that he knew someone who could take care of the problem, a guy who sometimes supplied him with cocaine – Mark Depres.
Whether or not Beth Ann directly asked Clein to arrange a hit on Buzz Clinton, we will never know for certain. Clein says that she did, and since the jury accepted his version of events, we must assume that to be the case. In any event, Depres was offered $8,500 to murder Buzz and accepted $2,000 as a down payment. The opportunity to carry out the hit arose in March 1994 when Buzz placed an ad in the local newspaper offering his tow truck for sale. The first call that he got was from Mark Depres, saying that he was interested in viewing the vehicle. The two of them agreed to meet in the parking lot of a diner along I-95 on March 10. From there, Depres could follow Buzz to where he was garaging the vehicle.
Originally, the plan had been for Joseph Fremut to accompany Depres on the hit. But Fremut was feeling unwell that day, and so Depres roped in his own 15-year-old son to ride along. After meeting at the diner, the three of them set off, with Depres following Buzz’s bronze-colored Camaro. They had just left the I-95 when Depres flashed his lights, indicating that Buzz should pull over. Buzz complied. He was just getting out of his vehicle when Depres approached, pulled a .38 and gunned him down. Depres and his son then sped away from the scene, driving over Buzz’s body as they did.
That was how the murder went down, according to Depres. It had been a hit arranged by Haiman Clein on behalf of his girlfriend. But proving it would be a different matter. The word of a habitual criminal does not usually carry much weight in a court of law. The police did not even have the murder weapon, which Depres had destroyed directly after the murder. Desperate for something, anything, that would back up Depres’s statement, detectives then began delving into Clein’s affairs and uncovered that he was involved in far more than the murder-for-hire plot. He had been defrauding clients, dipping into trust accounts, and dealing dope. He also had a voracious sexual appetite. Beth Carpenter was just one of his many conquests.
But Beth had moved on now, quitting her job in January 1995 and relocating to London, England, where a friend had found her a position with a reputable law firm. She still remained in touch with Clein, though. The two spoke regularly on the phone. That was probably how she learned that Mark Depres had been arrested and charged with Buzz’s murder. A short while later, she quit her high-paying London job and moved to Dublin, Ireland, where she found work as a waitress. The reason for this sudden move seems obvious in retrospect. Ireland does not extradite suspects to a jurisdiction where they might face execution. In Connecticut, a conviction in a murder-for-hire case usually results in that sanction.
While Mark Depres languished in a Connecticut jail and Beth Carpenter was serving up pints of Guinness in a Dublin pub, the third member of the deadly trio had gone into hiding. When officers arrived with an arrest warrant on December 15, 1995, they found Haiman Clein missing and his clients’ accounts severely depleted.
Clein would remain on the run for two months. During that time, he was in constant contact with Beth Carpenter, calling her cell from various payphones. He could not have known that the U.S. authorities had been in touch with Beth, asking for her assistance in apprehending him. Perhaps thinking that it would count in her favor should she ever go on trial, Beth agreed.
In February 2006, Clein arrived at a payphone in Sunset, California, to wait for a prearranged call from Beth. They had just begun their conversation when Federal agents moved in and snapped the cuffs on Clein. His last words to his former lover were, “You set me up.”
With two of the murder suspects now in custody, the authorities threw their full weight behind bringing Beth Carpenter back to the U.S. to face the music. That would require some deft maneuvering. The Irish authorities were initially reluctant to extradite Carpenter, although they did agree to arrest her and hold her in custody to prevent her from fleeing the country. She would remain in an Irish prison for 19 months before a deal was struck. Ireland would send her back. In exchange, the State of Connecticut agreed not to pursue the death penalty in her case.
By the time Beth Ann Carpenter arrived back in the United States in November 1997, her co-accused had already pled guilty to the charges against them and accepted the terms that were on offer – 45 years for each of them. Mark Despres had initially agreed that he would testify at the Carpenter trial but later withdrew his offer and refused to co-operate. The same could not be said for Haiman Clein. He was thirsty for revenge over Beth’s betrayal and ready to tell all. In fact, one of the prosecutors called him “the most cooperative witness that I have ever worked with.”
And so to the 2002 capital murder trial of Beth Ann Carpenter. The death penalty was, of course, off the table, but the stakes could not have been higher. Here was a beautiful and accomplished young woman facing a lifetime behind bars if found guilty. It all came down to two competing narratives. On the one hand, there was Beth’s story. In it, she admitted that she had complained frequently to Clein about the custody situation with her niece Rebecca. However, she denied that she had ever asked Clein to have Buzz Clinton killed. She claimed that the murder was all Clein’s doing. He had arranged it in order to impress her. The first she’d heard about Buzz’s death was when she saw it on the news.
Clein, however, told a different story. According to him, Beth had pestered him constantly to find someone to get rid of Buzz. Clein had been reluctant at first, but had eventually agreed after Beth told him that Buzz was sexually and physically abusing the toddler. According to her, the family had noticed several circular marks on the little girl’s skin that turned out to be cigarette burns. It was only to spare the child further harm that he had agreed to find a hitman.
Haiman Clein had been impressive on the stand; Beth Carpenter less so. Whereas he spoke clearly and authoritatively with a good recall of facts and dates, she stuttered and stammered, sometimes seemed confused, and often answered with “I don’t remember.” Perhaps that was what swung it for the jury. After deliberating for four days, they returned with a verdict of guilty of capital murder and guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.
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