Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Jeanne Tovrea

Ed

Jeanne & Ed Tovrea
Jeanne & Ed Tovrea

Ed Tovrea came from one of the most industrious pioneering families in Arizona. The family owned one of the state's largest cattle businesses, which led to the formation of other successful enterprises including cattle-feed farms, meat-packing plants and stockyards. Needless to say, Ed never lacked money. However, he was no stranger to hard work and labored hard in the family business until the 1940s.

During World War II, Ed enlisted for the Army Air Corps. On August 19, 1942, he was shot down while flying over the English Channel. Soon after, he was captured by Nazis and held for a couple years in Stalag Luft III as a prisoner of war. Desperate to be free again, he and some of his fellow inmates planned what is now historically referred to as the "Great Escape." According to Paul Rubin, "he never did get to escape" because "the Germans coincidentally moved the American prisoners to another camp just a few days before the planned escape." Ed spent the remainder of the war in the camp.

Dominick Dunne
Dominick Dunne

Ed returned home to Arizona after his release and took control of his family's businesses, expanding them and even adding a "booming banking chain," Dominick Dunne reported in his Court TV series Power, Privilege and Justice. Then in 1947 he married Priscilla Peterson, who also came from a prominent area family. Over the next seven years the couple had three children Georgia, Edward and Priscilla whom they fondly nick-named Cricket, Hap and Prissy. Yet, the couple wasn't destined to stay together. In 1965 they were divorced and the children remained with their mother.

Hap Tovrea
Hap Tovrea

Ed remarried in 1969 but the couple lasted less than a year before they were divorced. For a while, it seemed as if Ed would remain a wealthy bachelor for the rest of his life. However, in 1970 he met a middle-aged divorced mother from Arkansas named Jeanne Gunter who would change all that.

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