Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Piper Rountree's Revenge

The Investigation

Soon after Jablin's body was discovered, investigators turned their attention to Rountree, who clearly seemed to have a motive to murder him. However when questioned, Rountree claimed that there was no way she could have killed her ex-husband because she was halfway across the country at the time, in Texas. Suspicious of her story, investigators began to piece together Rountree's movements at around the time of the murder. It didn't take them long to find holes in her alibi.

A forensic team seized several objects from Jablin's house, which they hoped would provide clues to aid in the investigation. Some of the articles included, "two cell phones, information from a Caller ID, photos, a pair of glasses and a 1999 Ford Explorer, Bowes reported. Other items were confiscated from Rountree back in Houston, which included a wig, a computer and her cell phone records, among other things. Investigators also interviewed numerous witnesses, including a Southwest Airlines employee, employees at the Houston Hobby Airport, a rental car service employee near Norfolk International Airport, a hotel manager in Henrico, Virginia and a patron of a Houston bar, as well as family members, friends and colleagues of Jablin and Rountree.   

A significant piece of evidence that initially tied Rountree to the murder involved calls made from her cell phone. After reviewing the call records, investigators discovered that she was in the Richmond area the day before the murder up until the time around Jablin's death. From that moment on, the evidence began to pile up against Rountree.

Investigators learned that at 4:30 pm on the day of Jablin's murder, a woman checked in on a Southwest Airlines flight to Houston under the name of Tina Rountree. They interviewed airport employees at the Virginia and Houston airports to see if anyone could identify a picture of Piper Rountree as the woman traveling under the name Tina Rountree. Several people claimed to recognize the picture, although the woman they saw had blonde hair unlike the woman in the picture that was a brunette.

Based on the information they pieced together, investigators eventually determined that Piper Rountree did indeed travel to Richmond for a couple days before leaving on the afternoon of Jablin's murder. They also determined that she traveled in disguise, wearing a blonde wig and using her sister's identification. After further investigation, it was discovered that Rountree bought two wigs on October 21st on the internet ordered from an e-mail account in her name. The wigs were mailed to a Houston post office box that bore the name of a former boyfriend of hers and were delivered prior to her flight to Virginia, days before Jablin's death, Bowes stated in an article.

After traveling to Houston, Henrico County investigators interviewed a Southwest Airlines clerk who remembered Rountree traveling to Virginia on October 28th. Kathy Mollie said that Rountree declared an unloaded gun at the time of check in. Akin quoted Mollie who said that Rountree appeared nervous and that "it seemed that there was something on her mind, that she was very much in a hurry," almost as if she was "trying to distract" her. It was further reported that soon thereafter Mollie involved a baggage screener named Allan Fenestrate who worked for the Transportation Safety Authority in Houston who also recalled Rountree and the fact that she was "a bit nervous and fidgety" about the gun that she claimed belonged to her father. Bowes suggested that the gun she carried was a ".32- or.38-caliber revolver," which had the ability to shoot the bullets that killed Jablin. The gun that Rountree allegedly carried was never found.

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