Lisa Fein was killed in her home by former partner and father to her son, Frank Spagnola, in Galien Township, Michigan in June 2000. Police believe that Spagnola murdered Lisa due to a bitter custody dispute over their son Jacob.
Police found her body buried in a shallow grave in the backyard, she had been bound in duct tape, and had a pillowcase and towel taped over her head.
Her son Jacob, aged 12, told police that he remembered waking up at 3:30, he heard his mother screaming, he then saw her wrestling in her bedroom with a man wearing a snowmobile helmet. He then woke his younger half-brother Shane, 10, and the two of them fled to their grandmother’s house next door.
When Lisa’s current husband Ron returned home from work the following morning he discovered an empty house, and raised the alarm. Jacob told police that he thought his step-father Ron was the man Lisa had been struggling with, however Ron had a strong alibi at work where he’d spent the whole night, he was quickly ruled out as a suspect.
Police discovered that Lisa had recently had an affair with a Jeff Rohl, her son’s Little League coach, however he fully cooperated with the investigation and DNA testing ruled him out of the murder.
Police attention then turned to Jacob’s father, Frank Spagnola, himself and Lisa had been involved in a difficult custody battle over their son. Lisa’s friends, relatives, husband Ron, and former lover Rohl, all attested to how difficult her relationship with Spagnola had been, how she’d even been afraid to turn her back on him.
When police went to speak with Spagnola their suspicions were heightened by an obvious scar on his face. Testing discovered that Spagnola’s DNA matched that found on Lisa’s body, and the pillowcase was revealed to come from a set he owned.
In July 2003 Spagnola was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison, without possibility of parole.
The case was examined on The Truth About Murder with Sunny Hostin at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.