Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Contract Murder of Kathryn Ann Martini-Lissy


According to friends and acquaintances of Kathy and her husband, Michael David Lissy, Kathy met Lissy in May 1983, when she was still relatively new to the area. At that time that she had decided to take scuba-diving lessons at one of Lissy's Valley Windsurfing and Scuba shops. Lissy, 34, was an aquatic supplies businessman and a certified scuba-diving instructor. Kathy didn't know anyone in town who could teach her scuba-diving, so Michael, instantly attracted to Kathy after meeting her at one of his shops, eagerly offered to be her partner for the certification classes.

Michael David Lissy
Michael David Lissy

"She didn't know anyone in town," said a friend, "so Michael agreed to be her partner for certification classes."

That had been in May. Lissy, charismatic and full of charm, soon cast a spell of sorts upon her. They dated frequently, often seeing each other every day, and Kathy fell quickly in love with him. The two soon became inseparable, and then began living together in July 1983, while Lissy was officially still married to another woman. Lissy obtained a divorce from his then-current wife in December 1983, and he and Kathy were married the following month. He soon made Kathy the president of his business.

"Kathy was really in love with Michael," said a friend. "She really believed in him. My husband and I met him just before they got married. Michael was quite the charmer. He had all sorts of big plans. He said he was going to head a dive for the National Geographic and that he had graduated from Harvard and Oxford. He also said he was on a retainer for the Defense Department. I remember Kathy saying Michael would get these calls in the middle of the night and have to go to another room and talk. I was skeptical, and so was my husband. But Michael had educated himself well enough to say obscure things that he could get away with it without hanging himself."

Kathy, however, had swallowed just about everything Michael had told her and others. She was so in love with him that she believed it all, and was outwardly proud to be married to a highly educated, successful businessman who could do no wrong in her eyes.

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