This week Pandora’s Box: Unleashing Evil throws a spotlight on the murder of Dustin Wehde, who was a victim of his neighbor Tracey Richter’s intricate scheme to have her ex-husband locked up.
Tracey Richter and John Pittman had met at medical school and fallen in love, getting married and having a child together. Pittman was a young surgeon and his long hours meant he was seldom at home and he soon began to suspect his wife was having affairs. In the months before they finally separated he also suspected she might be trying to have him killed.
Following her divorce from Pittman, Tracey married Australian Michael Roberts and he moved to America where the pair had two children together. He also began to suspect his wife was seeing other men and also found she had a quick temper and often acted erratically.
It was at this time that Pittman became concerned for his son Bert and decided to try to get custody of the boy. It was this that sent in motion the events that led to the murder of an innocent man.
Sac County, Iowa, in December 2001 and mother of three Richter was hailed a local hero after she shot home intruder 20-year-old Dustin Wehde dead. At the time it was thought that her neighbor Richter broke into her house with an accomplice where he attacked her. She seemingly managed to get to the gun safe in her bedroom and shot at the two men with two separate guns, killing one and forcing the other to flee.
Wehde was shot nine times and in his car investigators found a notebook that contained some damning evidence that Richter’s first husband had hired him to kill her and her son.
However, Wehde’s mother did not believe Richter’s account and began a civil action against her for wrongful death. At this time Richter still had the support of her husband and together they managed to defend against the action until Wehde’s mother ran out of money.
The couple even appeared on the Montel Williams show and claimed that it really was self-defense, with Michael again backing his wife’s account.
However, when this second marriage also hit the rocks Roberts began to think that his wife was trying to kill him, with several bizarre accounts of attempted poisoning. When they divorced she accused him of being in league with Pittman and that both of them were trying to kill her, to keep her away from her children.
All these claims and counter claims and the confusing accounts that Richter sowed were enough to keep the police baffled and it would take the appointment of a new county attorney to see Wehde’s death reinvestigated. DCI Special Agent Trent Vileta had been following the case for years and when he presented the new newly elected Ben Smith with the evidence he’d gathered, he too was keen to reopen the case.
In July 2001 Richter was arrested for first-degree murder and later that year she was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
Pandora’s Box: Unleashing Evil – A Murder She Wrote airs at 2.00 P.M. on Investigation Discovery.