American Monster travels to the small town of Early, Iowa, to investigate a bizarre plot by Tracey Richter to frame her ex-husband for murder, which involved her shooting dead Dustin Wehde.
On December 13, 2001, Tracey Richter contacted the police to say she had been the victim of a home invasion. She said that her neighbor, Dustin Wehde, and another unknown man had broken into her home as she watched over her three young children.
She said Dustin assaulted her, but she managed to break free and unlock a gun safe and shoot the intruder a total of nine times with two weapons. She said the second intruder managed to flee the scene.
There was just one major flaw with this scenario, Richter was lying, and Dustin had gotten himself involved in an elaborate scheme hatched by Richter to frame her ex-husband.
The police believe that she got Dustin to write a fake diary entry where he claims that Richter’s ex-husband, John Pitman, hired him to kill her and the three children. She then killed Dustin to keep him quiet about the plan and planted the diary in his car.
Richter was going through a contentious custody battle with her former husband, and she feared she would lose custody of their son along with maintenance payments. The cops say she was trying to get the upper hand in the divorce case with the convoluted scheme.
Tracey Richter lured Dustin Wehde to her home
Dustin’s mother later testified that Richter had telephoned her to ask if her son could come over to her home to help out with her family computer business, which fueled suspicions that the home invasion was a hoax.
There was also speculation that a man called Jeremy Collins, who was having an affair with Mona, might have been involved in the scheme with Richter. He had “distracted her” with phone calls on the day of the murder and had split up with her shortly after the shooting.
At the trial, Richter’s now-adult son Bert Pitman testified that there had been a home invasion. He described how his mother had been choked with pantyhose before managing to escape and kill the intruder.
But nearly two decades after 20-year-old Dustin was killed, a court declared that there had been no home invasion, and Richter was convicted of first-degree murder. She was sentenced to life behind bars.
Dustin’s parents, Brett and Mona Wehde, divorced shortly after their son’s murder. Tragically, Brett took his own life 11 months later at the grave of his son.
More from American Monster
Follow the links to read about more American monsters profiled on ID.
John Grazioli shot his wife, Amanda Schmitt, in the head at their home in Erie, PA. He tried to tell the police that it had been a tragic accident; he told them he’d been intoxicated, and the gun accidentally went off as he handed it to her. The police decided he was a liar as well as a murderer.
Donnie Rudd murdered his teenage bride, Noreen Kumeta, in 1973 and blamed it on a car crash. He got away with it for an incredible 45 years before the law finally caught up to him.
American Monster airs at 8/7c on Investigation Discovery.