Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Piper Rountree's Revenge

A Bitter Breakup

Fredric M. Jablin
Fredric M. Jablin

Rountree and Jablin separated in March 2001 and immediately began divorce proceedings. On request of the court, Edwin A. Bischoff, a Richmond-area attorney was "appointed commissioner in chancery in the Jablin-Rountree divorce" and asked to compile a review of the couple's marriage, Bowes said. Allan Turner of the Houston Chronicle quoted Bischoff who told the court that prior to the divorce proceedings Rountree experienced "significant episodes of mental health problems, drinking and abuse of prescription drugs." It was further reported that she also "circulated false reports of spousal abuse," which eventually "had little bearing on the case."   

Moreover, the court learned that Rountree had run the family into considerable debt, which caused significant problems within the relationship. Within four years, Rountree, who was briefly in charge of the family's finances, amassed a credit card debt of more than $50, 0000, some of which was allegedly used to fund outings with her lover. The court also heard that the ophthalmologist who was having an affair with Rountree often accompanied her and the children during summer activities in 2001. This news greatly shocked and saddened Jablin who wanted to protect the children from the couple's mounting marital problems.

In July 2002, after an emotionally and financially draining battle, the judge overseeing the case granted the couple a divorce on the grounds of adultery. Soon after, proceedings began concerning custody of the children. Jablin petitioned the court for sole custody of the children because of Rountree's mental instability. Jablin's attorney stated in a petition to the court that Rountree had a "history of depression, which is manifested by periods of agitated and distressful conduct [and] impulsive acts, including fleeing from the area or threatening to take the children from Richmond, periods of infidelity, pleas of hopelessness and aberrational conduct including speaking to angels," Bowes reported.

After an eight month-long bitter battle, a Virginia court granted Jablin sole custody of the children and ordered Rountree to pay $890 a month for child support. Akin reported that according to Jablin's friends, "Rountree never came to terms with losing custody" of her children. She was also angered that Jablin "was awarded the bulk of the couple's assets," Bowes said.     

Tina Rountree, Piper's sister
Tina Rountree, Piper's sister

In March 2002, Rountree moved to Houston, Texas where she had a license to practice law. Akin reported that she also moved to the area to be closer to her sister Tina Rountree, 52, a nurse practitioner specializing in menopause treatment and weight management who owned and operated the Village Women's Clinic near Rice University. It was further reported that Tina helped her sister by finding her a one-room office space in which to rent for her legal practice. When her practice proved unsuccessful, Rountree began work at a land title company in August 2003. 

That same year, Rountree filed for bankruptcy in Texas and moved in with her sister. Half a year later, Rountree was found in contempt of court in Virginia for not paying child support. According to Swartz-Turfle, "by late September 2004, Piper Rountree owed almost $10,000 in back alimony." Rountree's financial and alleged mental problems, exacerbated by the fact that she didn't see her children except for a few times a year, eventually caused her to resort to measures that would have deadly consequences.

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