Deadly Women is investigating the murder of Michael Gabel from Avon Lake, Ohio, who was killed by his sadistic wife, Jeanne Harrington, in August 2011.
The police believe that Harrington murdered Michael after their relationship had soured, and she thought she could cash in on his life insurance policy by killing him and staging it to look like a suicide.
On the morning of August 16, 2011, Harrington phoned the cops to say her husband, 55-year-old Michael, had committed suicide.
When the police arrived, they found him lying on a couch with plastic wrapped around his head. They also located what appeared to be a typed suicide note which read: “This is the only possible way I will be able to feed and provide for my family and keep a roof over their head.”
The police learned that the couple had had a strained marriage and were actually sleeping in separate rooms at the time.
Harrington told the cops that she and Michael had been arguing about finances the night before and that it had even turned violent. She said she had used a stun gun on her husband.
However, Harrington claimed that the pair had then gone to bed, and the next time she saw him, he had killed himself.
The investigators began to grow suspicious of Harrington; they noticed she appeared not to be too concerned about her husband’s death. She continuously complained about her and her son’s financial situation, and she told the cops that Michael had a life insurance policy worth $375,000.
The coroner later ruled that Michael had died from asphyxiation but could not determine if it was suicide or homicide. They did inform the police that he had been shocked with a stun gun at least 20 times.
When questioned about the stun gun marks, Harrington told the police that she had stunned Michael about 20 times during their argument the night before he died. She also claimed he had been violent towards her and had even bitten her on the arm.
However, the police were puzzled by this explanation as there were no signs of such a struggle in the home.
The coroner then informed the police that a further examination of Michael’s body revealed multiple other injuries to his body. They said it appeared as though he’d been repeatedly struck in the face moments before the plastic was wrapped around his head.
Jeanne Harrington had discussed killing Michael Gabel
An acquaintance of Harrington, who had stayed at the Avon Lake house for a brief period, informed investigators that the killer had regularly expressed her dislike of Michael and said she couldn’t afford to divorce him. On one occasion, she’d asked the acquaintance, a pharmacy technician, about poisonous drugs.
The police decided to swab the so-called suicide note for DNA; they found a sample which they sent off to a lab. Unsurprisingly, the DNA profile matched not Michael but Harrington.
The cops concluded that Harrington had subdued her husband with a stun gun before beating him with a blunt object, and then she’d suffocated him with plastic wrap.
In May 2016, Harrington was convicted of murder and sentenced to a minimum of 16 years behind bars.
At the sentencing, Michael’s daughter Lauren Gabel told how her father had described his wife as a dangerous woman. She also said of Harrington: “These are terrible crimes, done a very, very awful way, and I think she’s still harboring some of that inside of her, so I don’t think they’ll let her out anytime soon.”
More from Investigation Discovery
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Theophilus Brooks brutally murdered Erica Vassell after a Super Bowl party in Clewiston, Florida, in 2011. He then dumped her remains by the side of the road in a neighboring county.
Deadly Women airs at 8/7c on Investigation Discovery.