Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Trophy Wife and the Tennis Pro

The Setup

Christmas 1981 must have been a rough time for Werner Hartmann. His marriage was over, and his business was going badly. He still had his two daughters, though, and a chance to recover. He called someone he could trust, his ex-wife, Vasiliki, and asked for her help. Would she come back to work at the store and help him put his business the business they had built together back in order?

She said yes.

When Vasiliki came back to the office and examined the books, she was shocked. Werner and the business were nearly bankrupt.

"He wasn't the millionaire they portrayed him to be," she said. "He didn't own the Rolls Royce. He had no money."

In January 1982, Debra moved out of Werner's Northbrook house and in with her tennis pro boyfriend, into the house John Korabik shared with his father.

The new couple the ex-stripper and the tennis pro tried to paint Chicago red.

"They were carrying on and having a great time together," John Gorman said. "They would go out drinking, hit night spots. They were living the high life."

But how long could that last? Without her husband, Debra had no money, and Korabik didn't even have a real job.

Meanwhile, Werner Hartmann was trying to get his affairs in order. He had two life insurance policies, one for $150,000 with the Prudential Insurance Company, and a $100,000 policy with another company. Both listed Debra as beneficiary.

Werner called both of his insurance agents and asked them to make his daughters the beneficiaries of his two policies. He also purchased an additional policy from his Prudential agent, one with a $250,000 death benefit, also in his daughters' names.

A form soon came in the mail from Werner's other insurance company and he changed the beneficiary on that policy from Debra to Stephanie and Eva. But something got mixed up with the Prudential policies. The change-of-beneficiary form never arrived, and when the new policy came in the mail, it also listed Debra as the beneficiary.

Both Prudential policies had double indemnity coverage, meaning if Werner died from an accident or worse, the policy payout doubled. So if Werner died from other than natural causes, the beneficiary would get $800,000 tax free.

What Werner Hartmann didn't know was that the Prudential mix-up was no accident. He was being fattened up for the slaughter.

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