Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods


Keeping Her Hands Clean

Nicole Kidman in To Die For (AP)
Nicole Kidman in To Die For

In the movie To Die For, Nicole Kidman starred as a weather girl who seduces a high school loser into killing her husband with the false belief that they can then be together. Helen Hunt portrays the true-life person, Pamela Smart, in a made for TV movie.

Twenty-year-old Pamela Smart, blondish and pretty, was on staff at the Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, New Hampshire. She taught media studies and offered a course in self-esteem. Bill Flynn, 15, was immediately infatuated.. One day she asked him to come to her office after school. He was excited at the prospect, because he had his fantasies, but he also knew that she was married.

According to true crime writer Wensley Clarkson, Smart handed young Bill an envelope full of photographs of her in skimpy underwear and said, "I hope you like them."

Pam Smart pin-up pose (AP)
Pam Smart pin-up
pose (AP)

As he nervously looked through them, she sang a song, "Hot for Teacher." She teased him and promised more another time. It wasn't long before she invited him to her home. Clarkson claims that her motive was to gain a lover during the many nights when her salesman husband, Greg, was not at home. She'd discovered he'd been unfaithful and she had many regrets about marrying him. She hoped for someone who would pay her more attention.

When Bill arrived, Pamela had him watch the erotic film, 9 and 1/2 Weeks with her. She had a 16-year-old girlfriend there who was meant to be a cover in case anyone had seen him arrive. Then she left and Pamela proceeded to get Bill worked up.

As she drew him in, he later said that she had hinted about them having a life together, and had suggested that her husband was in the way. It seemed that the plan was to get Bill so infatuated that he would do anything for her that she asked. At any rate, that's how he interpreted it, and when she insisted that he had to kill Greg, he got two of his friends involved. With the promise of $4,000 a piece, they got ready to do it.

The first attempt was aborted when Bill got cold feet, but then he and his friends entered the Smart home one evening and shot Greg Smart in the back of the head.

Pamela dressed in black and cried at his funeral.

She then told the boys to stay away from her and failed to give them any money. Even Bill was cut off.

Eventually one of the boys broke down and confessed to his parents. They went to the police, who persuaded Pamela's girlfriend to wear a wire and get the woman to say something incriminating. Apparently she did admit to her part, including an innuendo that she'd set up the boys to take the fall.

In 1991, Pamela Smart was convicted of masterminding her husband's murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Despite the fact that all four students testified against her, she claims she got an unfair trial and that she and her mother are working hard to prove that.

Another woman who claimed to be innocent of her crime took a different route: she said she was brainwashed.

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