Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Trophy Wife and the Tennis Pro

"This was a murder"

At 4:50 a.m., Northbrook Police Sergeant James Wilson arrived at the Hartmann residence, an old farmhouse Werner Hartmann had converted into a luxury home. A pair of concrete lions stood guard on the front lawn, two of four such lions Werner had given his wife as a birthday gift in honor of her astrological sign, Leo.

Sergeant Wilson entered through the kitchen door. Creeping through the dark house, a feeling of foreboding settled over the veteran police officer. "It was just very eerie," he recalls.

Upstairs in the master bedroom, Wilson found the body of Werner Hartmann, the stereo king of Chicago, lying face up and naked on the floor. He had been shot several times in the face and chest. Ten bullet casings lay scattered around Werner's body.

Autopsy photo: Head
Autopsy photo: Head

"The first thing that went through my mind was this was definitely not a suicide," Wilson said. "You could see from the number of gunshot wounds that this was a murder."

Werner Hartmann had five bullet wounds to his face alone: his left cheek, right eye, the edge of his mouth, the right side of his jaw, and one through his forehead. He had also been shot several times in the chest.

"You could see where someone stood over him and shot him while he was on the ground," Wilson describes. "There were wounds through the body and into the floor."

Crime scene investigators later pieced together what happened.

"The evidence at the murder scene showed that Werner Hartmann was shot fourteen times," said John Farrell, an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago. "There was one bullet wound right between Werner's eyes."

Autopsy photo: body
Autopsy photo: body

Aside from the bullets in the floor and the shell casings scattered around Werner's body, there was little else in the way of evidence in the house, nothing but a stack of unpaid bills. To investigators, the pile of delinquent account notices and the estranged wife suggested that Chicago's stereo king had been having financial and marital difficulties a sometimes lethal combination.

Detectives separated Debra and Eva and questioned them about where they had been that day, what they had done, and whom they had seen. The interviews lasted late into the morning.

During a break in the questioning, Debra Hartmann curled up on the floor of the detective office and went to sleep. To detectives, Mrs. Hartmann's behavior seemed strange, improbable for someone who'd just discovered her spouse, even an estranged spouse, shot dead in the family home.

"Within hours of finding her husband murdered, Debbie Hartmann was able to curl up and take a nap." Dominick Dunne said. "The police had never seen anything like it, and sleeping beauty quickly became their prime suspect."

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