Diabolical on Investigation Discovery takes a closer look at the murders of Patricia Lynn Steller and her nephew, Ronald King, by Janet Griffin, involving Gordon “Butch” Fruean.
On November 1, 1993, Steller, 49, and King — who were two Wesleyan University employees — were returning to the home they shared in Middletown, Connecticut, when they were shot by Griffin, but the shots were not fatal. That’s when Fruean handed her a knife and told her to finish what she started.
Griffin viciously stabbed Steller and King multiple times and struck them with a lamp and a glass jar. When Steller’s girlfriend, Gina Coccia, arrived at the home, she found their bodies on the kitchen floor.
An investigation revealed that Griffin was Coccia’s ex-girlfriend who became angry when she left her for Steller and moved in with her. Middletown police said Griffin was only after Steller and that King was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Griffin was arrested after police discovered the murder was recorded on Steller’s answering machine. It was never determined how it happened, but investigators surmise that the attackers activated it while cutting the telephone line.
According to an affidavit, Steller can be heard pleading with her killer: ″Help me… no, please… no, don’t… don’t do it… Janet don’t… Janet no, no… Janet no, no … Janet no, don’t, please.″
Despite having a deep cut on her palm, Griffin denied killing Steller and King and claimed that she cut her hand while changing a light bulb. However, her DNA matched that found at the crime scene.
Her accomplice confessed to police that after the murders, they threw the gun in the water near Cypress Grill on South Main Street.
Following an eight-week trial, Griffin was convicted of two counts of murder and one count of capital felony, which should have been punishable by death, but she was spared. Instead, Griffin was sentenced to life in prison. She is being held at a high-security prison at York Correctional Institution in East Lyme, Connecticut.
Although Fruean told police that Griffin held a gun to his head and forced him to help her kill Steller, he was convicted of accessory to murder as he helped Griffin break into the Steller’s home, provided her with a gun and a knife, and egged her on. He was not charged in connection with King’s death.
Fruean was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Diabolical — Recording Evil, airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.