Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Piper Rountree's Revenge

Mounting Evidence

In the week after the murder, Rountree gave police the number of a bar patron whom she claimed would provide them with an alibi as to her whereabouts on the night of October 29th, twelve hours prior to the murder. Rountree said that Kevin O'Keefe, a 51-year-old electrical engineer, saw her that evening at the Under the Volcano bar in Houston, which if substantiated would make it difficult to prove she was at the murder scene in Virginia. When police interviewed O'Keefe on November 5th, he said that he recalled seeing Rountree, although he wasn't entirely sure it was on the night in question. O'Keefe claimed to have been extremely busy that week and that he "didn't know which way was up," Bowes quoted him as saying. 

Witness Kevin O'Keefe
Witness Kevin O'Keefe

O'Keefe told investigators that on November 3rd, Rountree came to the bar looking for him in a distraught state, claiming that "her boyfriend, who she lived with four years ago had been stabbed" and the police needed to confirm she was at the bar the evening of October 29th, Akin reported. When O'Keefe suggested it was possible that he'd seen her that evening, Rountree disappeared only to return a short while later with two men, one of whom was a notary, asking for him to sign a statement to substantiate her alibi, Bowes reported. O'Keefe refused and instead gave her his number to give to police in case they needed his testimony.

He later realized that he hadn't seen Rountree on the evening in question but actually on a different day during that same week.  A bartender substantiated his story. It was evidence that proved to be damaging to Rountree's already shaky alibi.

Back in Virginia, investigators interviewed rental car service employee Tarra Waterford near Norfolk International Airport who claimed that someone resembling Rountree rented a minivan from her on October 28th. That same day, a Henrico, Virginia hotel manager also said she remembered a woman fitting Rountree's description registering for a room on October 28th for two nights. The hotel was approximately 5 miles from Jablin's home. The manager said that the woman produced identification under the name Tina Rountree but specifically asked to sign in using a different name, which struck the manager as unusual. Rountree checked out of the hotel on October 30th, hours after Jablin's murder.

Moreover, investigators tied Rountree to a bank debit card that a former boyfriend named Jerry Walters, acquired for her after she declared bankruptcy. He opened the line of credit for her so that she could pay her bills, although he never contributed any money. The card was used to purchase items including the wigs she allegedly worn while on route to Virginia from Houston and the Southwest Airline plane tickets registered in the name Tina Rountree. She also used the card to secure reservations at the Henrico, Virginia hotel where she signed in under an assumed name, to withdraw cash at several locations in the same area and to make a purchase at a CVS pharmacy, also in Henrico, which included a pair of latex gloves.

The overwhelming evidence against Piper Rountree eventually led to her arrest on November 8, 2004 for the murder of her ex-husband and the felony use of a firearm. Piper Rountree's arrest came soon after a custody hearing, where she lost guardianship of her three children to Jablin's brother of northern Virginia. Rountree was held in the Henrico County jail to await trial scheduled for January 2005. She faced 20 years behind bars, if found guilty. 

Henrico County Jail
Henrico County Jail

Also on November 8th, Tina Rountree was arrested "on suspicion of tampering with evidence in the case," Melanie Mayhew reported in The Collegian. According to Akin, authorities said that she likely "helped Piper Rountree destroy evidence related to Jablin's murder, including a wig, makeup and computers." Her court hearing for the third-degree felony took place in July 2005 in Harris County, Texas where the offense allegedly occurred.

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