When sheriff's officers in Rushville, Indiana, talked about the death of David Plue, they came up empty in their search for motives. The proverbial man without enemies, Plue had been shot in the head, execution-style, his body discarded alongside a rural highway in 1978. No one suspected his widow of playing a role in the crime, although in retrospect, Sheriff David Clevenger recalls that the 29-year-old woman "told us a lot of lies."
Nine years later, in Arabi, Louisiana, 65-year-old Raymond Gates was found dead in his home, skull crushed by a dozen blows from something resembling a poker. Raymond's estranged wife, 38-year-old Anne Gates, "discovered" the body and phoned for police. A former nurse, residing at her mother's home in Mississippi since the break-up of her May-December marriage, Anne seemed stricken by her husband's death, but homicide detectives weren't convinced.
For openers, police had found a cigarette -- Anne's brand -- still smoldering in Raymond's living room when they arrived, and they were told the victim did not smoke. A set of fireplace tools was missing from the murder scene, and officers believed they'd found their motive in the form of an insurance policy, scheduled to pay Anne Gates $82,000 in the event of her aging husband's death. Forensics experts noted that the suspect, five full inches taller than the victim, could have easily inflicted wounds which cracked his skull.
A conversation with authorities in Indiana led to Anne's arrest on December 9, 1987, two months after the murder. Released on $40,000 bond, she also faced the prospect of another charge in Indiana, where Rush County authorities have reopened their investigation of her first husband's murder.