A group of woodland search volunteers found the body of missing church secretary Dorothy “Dot” Finelli in October 2002 in a small body of water near Warrensburg in New York state.
The 59-year-old Lake Luzerne, NY, had been missing since the day before. She had been beaten and choked to death, and a rock had been placed on her back in an effort to keep her submerged.
Her murderer was Heath B. Rusell, who was enraged that Finell’s daughter Vicki Hayes had ended her relationship with him.
The police believe that on October 23, Russell went looking for Hayes at Finelli’s home, where he had an angry confrontation with her mother. Investigators also suspect that Finelli had urged her daughter to break-up with Russell.
The evidence against Heath B. Russell
There was a fairly substantial body of evidence against Russell, which included a history of violence, prior threats, DNA, and bloodstains in his truck.
His truck was spotted near Finell’s home around the time she went missing. He was also seen power-washing his vehicle the morning after the murder. However, he missed several bloodstains in the truck, along with other stains on his trailer and in the driveway.
Russell had left a dozen angry voicemail messages for his ex-girlfriend, including one where he stated that he was “going to turn your world upside down, girly.”
Hayes testified that on at least three different occasions, Russell had been violent and physically abusive towards her, including one time when she had needed 15 stitches to close a cut to her lip.
Finelli had also left a message in her daughter’s voicemail on the day she was killed where she can be heard telling Hayes that her former boyfriend was “really off the deep end” and that she should get an order of protection against him.
In December 2003, a Warren County judge sentenced Heath Russell to 25-years to life. He will be eligible for parole in November 2027.
More from Betrayed
Follow the links to read about more murders profiled on Betrayed.
Previously on the show, Carol Ege disemboweled her 7-month pregnant love rival Cindy Thompson in Michigan in 1984. Ege managed to avoid justice was nearly ten years until the law finally caught up her to her.
Donna Bocklet was a mother of two from Long Island, New York, who spurned her neighbor’s sexual advances. Her neighbor, Anthony Libardi, became so enraged that he strangled the woman who had been a babysitter to his children for numerous years. After killing Donna, he fled the state.
Betrayed airs Mondays at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.