Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Jeanne Tovrea

At Close Range

Jeanne & Ed Tovrea
Jeanne & Ed Tovrea

It was by no means a practical joke when on April Fool's Day in 1988, someone broke into the home of wealthy socialite Jeanne Tovrea, 55, the widow of millionaire cattle baron and war hero Ed Tovrea. In fact it was something far more sinister. Somehow, the intruder bypassed the guards of Phoenix, Arizona's prosperous Lincoln Hill Estates gated community in the middle of the night and made their way on foot to her beautiful mountain-side home on East Lincoln Drive, where Jeanne Tovrea lived alone. The intruder carefully removed the twenty-four-inch kitchen window, the only window not protected by the security system and climbed through it into the house. The intruder then navigated through the darkened house to the master bedroom, yanked the cord from out of the telephone, grabbed a pillow, put it over Jeanne's head and at point-blank-range shot her execution style five times in the head with a .22-caliber gun, while she lay sleeping in her bed.

Outisde view of Kitchen with Window Removed
Outisde view of Kitchen with Window Removed

The killer then rummaged through Jeanne Tovrea's bedroom, her jewelry box and her purse before fleeing the scene through a sliding glass door. The opening of the door triggered the security alarm at 12:45 a.m., which promptly caught the attention of the community security guards who called the police. The police arrived within minutes with a dog named Bear in tow, a member of the K-9 unit.

Police Sergeant Bill Heady
Police Sergeant Bill Heady

Bear sniffed his way into Jeanne's home with Officer Tom Orlikowski and Sergeant Bill Heady following closely behind him. Within moments Bear was scratching at the master bedroom door. When the officers opened the door, the dog jumped on the bed and began excitedly sniffing at the sheets, which they pulled back. Beneath lay Jeanne Tovrea's body in a pool of blood.

Inside the Tovrea Home
Inside the Tovrea Home

At first sight the scene looked like a burglary gone wrong. Then as investigators realized that nothing of importance was taken from the house, they began to have second thoughts. In fact, the scene looked as if it had been "staged to look like a burglary," Guinda Reeves reported for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. Someone had it out for Jeanne Tovrea and wanted her dead. The questions were who and why?

Fingerprints Found in Kitchen
Fingerprints Found in Kitchen

Initially investigators hoped that fingerprints found on the kitchen window, countertop and an outside gate would lead them to the killer. However, the evidence could not be matched with fingerprints in the police database. Thus, they decided to look elsewhere, starting with Jeanne's background and those closest to her. Investigators also focused on her late husband Ed Tovrea's last will and testament, which they believed could have provided a motive for Jeanne's murder.

Jeanne Tovrea's Funeral
Jeanne Tovrea's Funeral

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