Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Kristi Koslow

Tarrant County Parent Killers

Money is a motivator, no question about that: especially for the young and wealthy, looking to cash in before their trust fund matures. Between February and November of 1994, four women in Tarrant County, Texas, all faced charges of parricide, the murder of a parent. These heinous crimes all had two things in common: lack of remorse and capital gain.

Courtney Dunkin
Courtney Dunkin

In addition to Koslow, Jennifer "Nicole" Yesconis, Courtney Dunkin and Dorothy Robards were spending their Saturday nights in a stale jail cell instead of at the local social event.

Jennifer Yesconis
Jennifer Yesconis

Yesconis, 20 years old in 1994, sought to cash in on a substantial insurance policy and, like Koslow, sent her love-stunned boyfriend and his friend to kill her father and his wife on the eve of their fifth anniversary. The attempt was successful, and though she claimed sexual abuse during the trial, a witness stated Nicole had said she would pay $30,000 for her father's murder. She was convicted of capital murder.

Courtney Dunkin and her friend, both 16, went after Dunkin's step-grandmother's car and credit cards, to take a shopping spree in Mexico. It was also in the plans to kill their boyfriends. Both girls were put on trial as adults.

Robards poisoned her father in February 1993, killing him. A University of Texas at Austin freshman at the time, Robards said she "wanted to be with my mom so bad."

A juvenile section chief at the Tarrant County district attorney's office handled the Dunkin and Robards cases. He says all these girls have something in common: a manipulative personality and a spoiled rich-girl attitude. Dr. Jack Levin, a sociology and criminology professor at Northeastern University in Boston, has seen many parricide cases that carry a vault of deep, dark family secrets.

Dr. Jack Levin
Dr. Jack Levin

The state district judge at the time of the Koslow trial retired in December 1994 after 29 years, and was unclear why so many children wanting to see their parents in the cold ground was escalating and taking over news headlines. "The violence over the last four or five years has scared me," he said in February 1995 to the Dallas Morning News. "Young people don't have any appreciation for life, their own or others."

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