A Prelude to Murder
In January, months before the killings, Hightower approached his wife's sister outside the Barrington Congregational Church where she had just finished practice with the church's bell ringing group.
"I have something I want you to hear," he told her mysteriously.
Out spilled an unbelievable story one he was to repeat time and again.
He had lost some Mafia money in bad investments, he told his sister-in-law. Now they were threatening to "hurt" his wife and children if he did not repay it.
"How much do they want?" she asked incredulously.
"About $7,000," he replied. "They're demanding the money by tomorrow afternoon."
It was almost all the money she had. Fearing for the safety of her sister and nephews, the woman offered to give him the cash.
In exchange, Hightower produced a letter on his stationery on which he had written the events he had just described. He pressed his fingers against the stationery to imprint his fingerprints, then signed the letter, gave it to his sister-in-law and asked her to keep it "somewhere safe'.
"You are to bring it out only if something happens," he insisted.
He made her promise not to tell his wife or in-laws about the conversation. The next day, he collected the $7,000 she had offered him. She never saw the money again.
Hightower was beginning to set the stage to solve his financial problems and provide an alibi should his wife and children turn up dead.