The murder of John Kowalczyk involving Ralph N. Shambaugh, Jr. is featured in an episode of Everyone Has A Motive on Investigation Discovery.
On June 10, 1993, Kowalczyk, 38, of Fairfax, Virginia, waited in a parking lot in Vienna for his former wife, Katherine Hymen, to pick up their son, Nicholas, after a scheduled visit. When the then-12-year-old went to throw something away in a nearby trash can, shots rung out.
Kowalczyk was struck in the head and was pronounced dead.
Two months later, when Kowalczyk’s former father-in-law, Stanley Hymen, 72, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, became a suspect in his murder, he shot his wife before turning the gun on himself.
Their bodies were found in a Florida condominium, along with a suicide note proclaiming his innocence.
An investigation revealed that Ralph N. Shambaugh, Jr., a groundskeeper, conspired with Hymen to kill Kowalczyk, but investigators could not determine who pulled the trigger as there were no witnesses and the murder weapon was never found.
Attorneys argued that a custody dispute between Kowalczyk and his ex-wife led to the murder. Several months before he was shot to death, the former couple was supposed to go to court regarding their two sons.
James Sabol testified that Shambaugh told him that a powerful person offered him $25,000 to kill Kowalczyk. He wanted Sabol to drive the getaway car, but he refused.
Telephone records indicated that Shambaugh called Hymen three hours after the killing and $9,000 was deposited into a West Virginia bank a few weeks later.
Shambaugh was arrested and booked into the Fairfax County Jail on capital murder charges.
However, he denied killing Kowalczyk and conspiring with Hymen.
In December 1994, a jury deliberated for 20 hours before finding Shambaugh guilty of conspiring to kill Kowalczyk.
Gun and capital murder charges were dropped following a mistrial.
Shambaugh was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Everyone Has A Motive airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.