Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Trophy Wife and the Tennis Pro

Back to the Beginning

"Solving this puzzle would take some good old-fashioned detective work," Dominick Dunne says, "so investigators went back to the beginning and followed the only thing Debbie ever cared about the money."

ATF Special Agent Jim Delorto went to the Northfield Police Department to review the original murder investigation.

"You have to establish what the motive of the murder was," Delorto says.

In reviewing the case file, which comprised three boxes of reports, documents, photographs, and evidence, the ATF agent noticed something no one else had: Werner's signature on the most recent insurance policy was a fake. That led Delorto to a question no one else had asked: How had Werner Hartman paid for his second Prudential life insurance policy?

"I wanted to see what check he wrote, and when it was dated," Delorto says, "and there was none."

Delorto and Hamm checked John Korabik's financial records and discovered he had used his own credit card to make Werner Hartmann's $450 insurance premium payment.

Why, investigators drily wondered, would the cheating wife's boyfriend pay for the husband's life insurance policy? The ad hoc team looking into the four-year-old murder of the stereo king of Chicago thought they already knew the answer to that question.

"A picture started to emerge that this was basically an insurance fraud," Delorto says. An insurance fraud hinging on a murder.

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