Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Piper Rountree's Revenge

Shots in the Dark

Professor Fredric M. Jablin
Professor Fredric M. Jablin

In the early dawn hours of October 30, 2004, Professor Fredric M. Jablin, 52, sleepily made his way out of bed. Dressed in his pajamas and slippers he ventured out into the darkness to fetch the morning paper that had recently been tossed on his driveway at 1515 Hearthglow Lane. Most of his neighbors in Tuckahoe Village, a suburb of Richmond, Virginia, were still fast asleep, as were Jablin's two daughters aged 8 and 15 and his son aged 12. They would soon awaken to a nightmare.

Around 6:40 am, neighbors were jolted awake by a frightening sound. According to Mark Bowes' Richmond Times-Dispatch article, they reported hearing a "bang, bang, bang," which one woman hoped "was a [malfunctioning] transformer." Yet, her husband who was also awakened by the noise knew it wasn't "because of the three precise shots," it was reported. There was little doubt it was a gun being fired. Harry Swartz-Turfle of Court TV stated that yet another neighbor, Bob McArdle, was startled by the shots and dashed to his window to see what was going on. McArdle saw a person running down the street, although he could not make out the description because it was too dark. He and other neighbors were prompted to call 911.

The Jablin home
The Jablin home

It took only a few minutes for the police to respond. Several officers searched the surrounding neighborhood but could find no indication of foul play. However, "when the sun rose about a half hour later" Jablin's body was discovered lying dead in his driveway next to his Ford Explorer, Harry Swartz-Turfle reported. He had been shot in the arm and back while retrieving his newspaper.

Jablin's body, discovered by police
Jablin's body, discovered by police

Shock and profound sadness spread across the community with the news of Jablin's death. The rumors quickly made their way around the campus where he worked as an organizational-communications scholar at the University of Richmond's Jepson School. Neighbors, colleagues and student simply couldn't fathom why anyone would want to harm such a beloved man who was devoted to his children, students and job.

Yet those who knew Jablin intimately had their suspicions. The professor was just beginning to get his life back together after a nasty divorce and custody battle with his ex-wife Piper Rountree, 43. Rountree, "a former Texas prosecutor, school board association attorney and amateur artist" wasn't at all happy about losing custody of her children, as well as "the bulk of the couple's assets," Bowes reported. Jablin's family and friends began to wonder if Rountree might have killed Jablin out of revenge. Investigators came to a similar conclusion and promptly arrested Piper Rountree.

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