Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

10 Worst Killings Committed in the Name of Love

We all know love can make you do some crazy things, but killing in the name of love is a whole other story. Every day there are plenty of murders committed out of passion, jealousy and obsession. It’s truly hard for the average person to wrap their brains around murdering anyone, let alone your husband, wife, children or anyone you love, but it happens more than you’d expect. Here are the 10 worst killings committed in the name of love:

  1. Man Kills Wife’s Teen Lover: In March 2007, Eric McLean committed a murder out of love — in an effort to save his marriage. McLean shot and killed 18-year-old Sean Powell, who was having an affair with his wife. McLean claimed he accidentally killed the young boy when he was waiting in his car outside of McLean’s house so that he could see his former high school student teacher and married lover. McLean felt that Powell was stalking his wife, and when he refused to leave his property, McLean threatened him with a rifle by pointing it at him inside the car. Then, Powell grabbed the barrel of the gun and McLean accidentally shot him. McLean called 911 and admitted to killing Powell. Although prosecutors pinned McLean as a cold-blooded killer, his defense was strong. In 2008, McLean was convicted of reckless homicide with probation, and in 2009 he won a custody battle over his sons.
  2. Skydiver Falls to Death by Love Rival: Els Clottemans and Els Van Doren had more in common than just their love for skydiving. The two Belgian women also shared a lover, Dutchman Marcel Somers. On Nov. 18, 2006, Clottemans, Van Doren and a plane full of skydivers went for a jump over eastern Belgium at 30,000 feet. Van Doren jumped a second too late and did not participate in airborne stunts with the others, but when it was time to open the parachutes, Van Doren’s parachute and safety chute did not open, and she plunged to her death. It became apparent that Clottemans was a suspect when she tried to kill herself hours before talking to the police for the second time. She sent anonymous letters to Van Doren’s husband, made anonymous phone calls to Somers and attempted suicide before trial. The parachute bag and helmet that Van Doren wore that day were investigated and used in court as evidence that the equipment had been tampered with. Video footage from a camera mounted on Van Doren’s helmet was viewed in court, as well. In October 2010, the jury agreed Clottemans killed her out of jealousy and with hopes to have Somers all to herself. They found her guilty of the murder and she was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
  3. Teen Love Triangle Turns Deadly: Girls have fought for boys’ attention for the longest time. But catfights that turn deadly don’t usually happen to teenagers. Florida teens Sarah Ludemann and Rachel Wade knew about this all too well. The two girls had been fighting over 19-year-old Josh Camacho, who was two-timing them for months. Ludemann and Wade had it out for one another, participating in vicious taunts and harassing text messages, voicemails and Facebook posts that led to the final fight. In April 2009, Ludemann received a violent threat from Wade that was left on her voicemail. Wade threatened to murder Sarah in the message. Ludemann and her friends got in her father’s minivan to go fight Wade, but she wasn’t aware that Wade was armed. The two girls charged each other, and Wade pulled out a steak knife and began stabbing Ludemann, eventually piercing her heart and killing her. Wade’s attorney claimed that she brought the steak knife as a means of self-defense, but the jury didn’t buy it. In September 2010, Wade was found guilty of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 27 years in prison.
  4. Mother Kills Brain-Damaged Son: Mothers will do anything for their children, but this woman took her love to the extreme. In 2008, Frances Inglis, a London resident, killed her 22-year-old son Tom by injecting him with a lethal dose of heroin. Before his death, Tom was in a vegetative state and had severe brain damage from falling out of a moving ambulance in 2007. Inglis felt that her son was suffering from severe pain and the only way to end his "living hell" was to take it into her own hands. After one failed attempt to kill her son with heroin, Inglis tried again. While Tom was lying in his hospital bed, Inglis injected her son with enough heroin to make him overdose and die. She was found guilty of murder and attempted murder and was given a life sentenced and ordered to serve a minimum of nine years. However, her sentenced was reduced to five years in 2010.
  5. Mother Kills Children by Rolling Car into Lake: In an attempt to mend a broken relationship and be with the man who didn’t want a ready-made family, Susan Smith killed her two sons by rolling her car into the John D. Long Lake in South Carolina with her children inside. Smith made up a story for police, saying that a black man carjacked her and drove away with her children in the car. She and her husband appeared on TV several times and asked the community to join forces to look for her vehicle and the man that Susan had described as the carjacker. During police investigation, Smith became more and more suspicious because of her demeanor, inconsistent stories and failed polygraph tests. Lead investigators believed she knew where her children were and that she was responsible for their disappearance. Just nine days after the disappearance of her two sons, Susan Smith admitted to what she had done. Smith was charged with two counts of murder and sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.
  6. Mom Kills Three Children in Murder-Suicide Pact with Husband: One of the worst murder-suicides done in the name of love happened to a Saguenay, Quebec family on New Year’s Eve in 2008. That night, Cathie Gauthier and her husband, Marc Laliberté, killed their three children by poisoning them with a mix of Gravol, an anti-nausea medication, and a tranquilizer. Marc Laliberté committed suicide by slitting his wrists and died of blood loss. On January 2, Gauthier was found in the family home with her right wrist slashed after she called 911. Although Gauthier claimed the murder-suicide pact was completely her husband’s plan and he was responsible for the children’s deaths, prosecutors argued that she was the one who bought the medication that poisoned her children and was just as much of an equal participant as her husband. Gauthier was found guilty in the premeditated murders of her three children and was given a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.
  7. Mom Attempts to Kill Three Kids for Lover: With hopes of getting back with a man who never wanted children in his life, Diane Downs shot all three of her children, killing one. Downs came with a plan to tell police that a stranger had tried to carjack her, shot her in the arm and shot her three kids near Springfield, Oregon. She was able to escape and get to the McKenzie-Willamette Hospital with her children in the back. Her second child was already dead when they arrived at the hospital. Downs was treated for a gun wound in her left forearm. During police investigation, Downs retold the story and retraced her steps in a peculiar manner. Video footage captured her laughing as she described the traumatic details and her story didn’t seem to add up. Police discovered that Downs had been seeing a man in Arizona, who made it very clear he did not want to be with someone who had children. Police started to think this was Downs’ motive for murder and attempted murder. The key testimony that put Downs behind bars was her oldest daughter’s words that confirmed her mother was the one who shot all of them and killed her sister. Downs was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
  8. Woman Kills Love Rival: Things can get deadly when two women are fighting over a man. This was the case for Shawna Nelson and Heather Garraus, who both were involved with a Fort Collins, Colorado, police officer, Ignacio Garraus. Ignacio Garraus had a three-year long affair with Nelson and even fathered a child with her, but broke things off one month before the shooting. On Jan. 23, 2007, Heather Garraus was brutally shot execution style by someone wearing a mask, who yelled, "You ruined my life. Get on the ground." Soon after Garraus was found dead, police immediately started focusing on the only person who would have a motive to kill her — Nelson. DNA tests, gunshot residue, matching tire tracks and a number of other compelling evidence linked Nelson with the murder. In 2008, Nelson was found guilty of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
  9. Woman May Get Death Penalty for Killing Love Rival: Some love-triangle slayings involve more than just the love rival. In 2009, Joshua Damien Fulgham and his mistress Emilia Carr kidnapped his wife, Heather Strong, by strapping her to a chair and suffocating her with a plastic bag. The duo then buried Strong’s body in the backyard of Carr’s mother’s home. Her body was discovered about a month later. In 2010, a jury found Carr guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping and recommended that the Florida woman get the death penalty. Fulgham is on trial for the same charges and awaits his sentencing.
  10. Teen in Student-Teacher Love Triangle Killed: A love triangle turns deadly when an Arizona teenager was caught in bed with his high school teacher by her fiance, Sixto Balbuena. Balbuena, a Navy sailor, found Tamara Hofmann and Samuel Valdivia naked in her home and he proceeded to stab Valdivia. He claimed that when he entered the home he heard a noise and grabbed a kitchen knife, fearing for Hofmann’s safety only to find them together. Balbuena said he never meant to kill Valdivia, and only wanted to teach him a lesson, but a fatal stab to the stomach left him dead. Balbuena was guilty of second-degree murder and received a 10-year prison sentence in 2010.