Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Trophy Wife and the Tennis Pro

The King and the Floozy

Financial success didn't translate into domestic success for Werner Hartmann, though.

In 1977, Werner and Vasiliki divorced.

The following year, Werner was frequenting the seedy part of Chicago's west side. What he was looking for is anyone's guess. What he found was trouble, but years would pass before he realized just how much it was going to cost him.

"There was a whole strip of nightclubs with exotic dancers and thinly veiled whorehouses out on the western side of Chicago," recalls former Chicago Tribune reporter John Gorman.

One of the clubs was called The Smoker's Lounge. Werner, on the prowl, stepped into the club one night and met a stripper named Debra, a 24-year-old knockout who claimed to be a former model. Werner plunked down $75 and took Debra to the VIP room. Whatever happened there was obviously something that the 35-year-old stereo king wanted to continue.

Werner Hartmann
Werner Hartmann

Werner and Debra started dating. Soon they were married and Werner moved the new Mrs. Hartmann into the big house in Northbrook. Werner was in love and gave his new bride everything she asked for, including a Rolls Royce.

"He was in love with Debra, madly in love with her, and did everything he possibly could to try to please her," said Assistant U.S. Attorney John Farrell. Not everyone in Werner's life was convinced that his feelings for his new wife were reciprocated.

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