Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Forbidden Love: Steven Colver and Tylar Witt

Discovery and Capture


Nobody at the office had heard from Joanne Witt on Friday, June 12, 2009, but Joanne had taken off work unexpectedly in the past to deal with her daughter. Vincent Catapano believed that Joanne and Tylar planned to go camping over the weekend so was not surprised that his calls went unreturned. But when Joanne didn't show up on Monday, June 15, Catapano started to worry. He told Joanne's boss that she'd been having trouble at home and hadn't been returning his calls. They called police and asked them to do a welfare check on the home. When police found the doors locked and no one answering the doorbell, Joanne's father, Norbert Witt, was called to the scene.

Tylar Witt
Tylar Witt

Norbert let police into the home, and they climbed the stairs to the master bedroom where they discovered a grisly scene: Joanne Witt dead on the bed, in a pool of her own blood, covered with a Spongebob Squarepants blanket. She had been stabbed roughly 20 times around the neck and chest, and it was clear she'd been there for days. Tylar and Steven were immediately deemed persons of interest, and an APB was put out for them. Local media descended upon the scene and photos of the young couple on the run were broadcast all over northern California.

Steven Colver and Tylar Witt checked into a Holiday Inn in downtown San Francisco that weekend. They did some sight-seeing, took drugs, and wrote suicide notes in their room which they later sent to Matt Widman. However, the mechanics of the suicide proved more challenging. They mixed rat poison in a red velvet cake, and in some sugary cereal, but they couldn't eat enough to kill themselves. They even tried cutting themselves with razors, but the blades were dull and Colver couldn't stand the pain. Colver even suggested they jump off the roof, but Tylar complained she was afraid of heights.

So instead, they just walked away. They took the BART, San Francisco's subway, as far south as they could and then walked through the night, stopping to rest for a few hours in a cemetery. On the morning of June 17, 2009, as Witt and Colver walked south on El Camino Real into the town of San Bruno, off-duty South San Francisco police officer Michael Garcia spotted them. He called in his sighting and watched the couple share a quick kiss and cross the street into the San Bruno Town Center mall. They were soon arrested there, near a dumpster where they appeared to be changing clothes. The knife that killed Joanne Witt was never found.

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