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48 Hours The McGuire Diaries 02.23.08 Run Dates
  02.23.08 48 Hours The McGuire Diaries
The McGuire Diaries
The Intimate Video Diary Of A Mother And Nurse, On Trial For Murder
Comments 90 | Page 1 of 6
Feb. 23, 2008

(CBS) This story originally aired on Sept. 29, 2007.

On May 5, 2004, John Runge of the Virginia Beach Police Department got a call from a fisherman stating that he had found a suitcase floating in the Chesapeake Bay.

"I opened the bag up, unzipped it, noticed that there were trash bags, black colored trash bags in the suitcase," Runge remembers. "Once I peeled the trash bags back I saw a pair of human legs from the knees down."

Five days later another suitcase washed up on the shores of Fishermanís Island; inside that suitcase was the torso of white male severed from the waist down. His head and arms were still attached. Later, a third suitcase with body parts was found by a fisherman and his wife.

The victim was eventually identified from a sketch: William McGuire, from Woodbridge, N.J.

McGuire was married to Melanie, who tells correspondent Maureen Maher, "When I heard how my husband was killed I was in complete disbelief and I could not imagine what he went through."

But Virginia homicide detective Ray Pickell had doubts. "I did not believe that Melanie McGuire was a grieving widow," he says. "I believe that she was responsible for her husbandís death."

But Melanie insists she is innocent: "I did not kill the father of my children. I did not kill my husband."

Three months after the body of Bill McGuire was found in the Chesapeake Bay, his beautiful wife was not only a widow -- she was also a murder suspect.

48 Hours gave Melanie a video camera to document her innermost thoughts and fears. These video diaries, which she shot in the quiet of her bedroom near the Jersey Shore, captured Melanie in her most private and tortured moments.

Shown on 48 Hours the first time, they are a rare glimpse into the mind of complex woman, who some say is a caring mother, others say a calculating killer.

"I canít help but think if I had made better decisions along the way, and left the marriage earlier, that I wouldnít be sitting here," Melanie confided in one of her video diary entries.

It is the last place anyone -- especially her mother Linda Cappararo -- ever expected to find Melanie. "She was every mother's dream. A good girl. Never got in trouble," Cappararo says. "Very supportive of her family. Happy. Wonderful student."

Melanie became a nurse. "There were several times where she would see an accident on the side of the road and she would stop the car and go over and assist. She was always there for people," Cappararo tells Maher.

It was a quality that caught the eye of then-28-year-old Bill McGuire, a veteran of the U.S. Navy.

Bill's sister, Cindy Ligosh, says Bill and Melanie were a perfect match from day one. "They were equals," Cindy remembers. "They both wanted the same things out of life or so I thought."

The couple married in June 1999. Less than a year later, the McGuires had their first son.

Melanie went to work at a fertility clinic and Bill began teaching computer science at a technical college. Melanie remembers this as a happy time for her. "I saw Bill morph into kind of a family man that he always wanted to be and it really touched me."

But, as with so many couples, the relationship did not withstand the test of time. By the birth of their second son, the couple had grown even further apart. One reason, according to Melanie, were Bill's frequent trips to Atlantic City. She says her husband had a gambling problem.

Melanie says Bill became increasingly erratic, even volatile. She remembers one night he called from the road in a rage after getting a speeding ticket. She hung up on him.

"He called back, cursing any number of obscenities at me. And told me that if I was there when he got home he was gonna kill me," Melanie tells Maher.

Melanie says she didn't believe him, but says she was scared.

Despite the ongoing battles, Melanie agreed to buy a new house with Bill. Why, if she was so unhappy, would she agree to a 15 to 30 year commitment of buying a home?

Says Melanie, "For the kids. Even though we werenít happy we weren't ending this marriage any time soon that I could see."



The McGuire Diaries
The Intimate Video Diary Of A Mother And Nurse, On Trial For Murder
Comments 90 | Page 2 of 6
Feb. 23, 2008


(CBS) They never moved into their new home. On the night of April 28, 2004, back in their apartment after the closing, Melanie says they got into the fight that finally convinced her to leave Bill.

Believe it or not, Melanie says it was all over a simple dryer sheet. "He hated them. And I always left them in the pile of laundry," she says. "And from there the fight progresses to me getting slammed up against the doorway and getting the dyer sheet shoved in my mouth and slapped across the face."

"At this point one of the kids is there. And I grab him; scoop him up lock myself in the bathroom," she adds.

Asked what Bill was saying to her through the door, Melanie says, "'Iím gonna take the kids and youíll never see them again.'"

Melanie says Bill packed his bags and stormed off in his car. Two days later, she filed a restraining order, as Melanie says she feared Bill could pick up their kids and take off with them.

But Bill never tried to contact Melanie, their kids, or anyone else. He simply vanished. As days turned to weeks, Bill's sister Cindy questioned why Melanie hadn't filed a missing personís report.

"It wasn't that out of character for him to have a tantrum, pick up and be gone," Melanie explains.

Three and a half weeks later, with still no word from Bill, Melanie filed for divorce.

While Melanie was taking measures to end her marriage, Virginia Beach police were analyzing those matching suitcases found in the Chesapeake Bay. A fingerprint check confirmed the man inside the luggage was Bill.

But who killed him and how did his body end up more than 300 miles away from his home in New Jersey?

CSI investigator Beth Dunton quickly determined that Bill McGuire was shot in the head and torso with a .38 caliber gun. But other forensic evidence was far more difficult to come by. "The suitcases were saturated with water," Dunton explains. "It just destroyed a lot of the smoking gun type of evidence that probably was in the suitcase. The water became my greatest obstacle."

As investigators continued to search for clues, police informed Melanie her husband was dead. "I couldnít feel the ground under me. I was devastated," she tells Maher.

But there was one clue that caused investigators to question the grieving widow: the blanket found wrapped around Bill's torso was the very same kind of blanket used at the fertility clinic where Melanie worked.

Bill's sister Cindy refuses to believe that Bill had been violent with Melanie. "I know my brother. He would never lay a hand on a woman," she says.

Cindy says she never saw any emotional, physical or verbal abuse aimed at Melanie. "And anyone that knew Melanie knew that no one would get away with that. No one could do that to her," she says.

And Cindy insists Bill would never abandon his children.

Det. Pickell says Melanie reluctantly admitted those suitcases belonged to her and Bill. "We just felt that she was holding some information, a lot of information," Pickell says.

She hinted that her husband's trips to Atlantic City may have put him in contact with some shady characters. "She informed us that her husband liked to gamble. That her husband had a knack for pissing people off," Pickell tells 48 Hours.

Bill's car was found in Atlantic City. Even so, Pickell believed Melanie was misleading him. "When you have a husband that's missing but nobody's reported him missingÖyeah, she immediately becomes a suspect," he says.

Police searched the McGuires' apartment, their storage unit and Melanie's car but found no murder weapon, or a tool used to cut up Billís body. In fact, there was no evidence of a crime scene.

The investigation seemed stalled; police desperately needed more evidence. Working on the theory that Bill was most likely killed in his home state, police in Virginia handed off the case to New Jersey. There, the investigation would really zero in on the prime suspect, Melanie.

New Jersey State Police Detective David Dalrymple checked for weapons purchases, and quickly hit pay dirt: Melanie had purchased a Taurus .38 special revolver.

The McGuire Diaries
The Intimate Video Diary Of A Mother And Nurse, On Trial For Murder
Comments 90 | Page 3 of 6
Feb. 23, 2008

(CBS) The gun was bought just 48 hours before Bill disappeared. Melanie says her husband wanted it for protection. He couldnít buy it himself because he had a felony conviction, the result of a horrendous driving record. "I wanted it to at least be a registered weapon," she says. "So I said, 'Fine.'"

Months passed, and that gun was never found, but Prosecutor Patti Prezioso was determined to make a case against Melanie.

Prezioso believes Melanie concocted an elaborate story to explain Billís absence, beginning with that fight. She tells Maher she believes the story was "wholly made up."

The restraining order, divorce petition, and hints of shady characters, she says were all part of Melanie's cover-up. "There was nothing that we found to indicate that Bill was involved with any criminal element whatsoever," Prezioso says.

The investigation intensified. Melanieís phones were tapped and she was put under surveillance, as were her parents.

The covert operation soon uncovered a secret. His name: Dr. Brad Miller, Melanieís boss. They had been carrying on an affair for more than two years.

"I was looking for attention. Affection. Understanding. And I found it there. And I am deeply, deeply ashamed of that," Melanie says of the affair.

Detectives believed they had finally found a motive for murder.

But Miller had a secret of his own: police had convinced him to betray his lover. With tape recorders rolling, Miller asked Melanie pointed questions about the investigation. On recorded phone conversations, Melanie swore to Miller that she had nothing to do with the murder.

Detectives didnít stop there. Jim Finn, an old friend from nursing school, was also enlisted to secretly record conversations.

Melanie never confessed on those tapes but, through her friends, the police got another big clue: they that learned Melanie was in Atlantic City the night after she claimed Bill left her. She says she went to look for him, found his car, and then drove it to another part of town.

"I wanted to spite him. I wanted to piss him off," Melanie tells Maher. "I should be if not fearful, at least cautious. But I was just so angry at that point. So angry."

But the prosecutor says that story is not believable. "Atlantic City has 13 large casinos, hundreds of restaurants, hundreds of shops, parking garages and parking lots virtually all over the city. To think that she just happened upon his car is simply incredible," Prezioso says.

Prezioso says Melanie made up that story after the media reported police had video of someone parking Billís car. Too much glare however rendered that video useless.

But Melanie had now admitted being the last known person in Bill's car. The evidence was piling up.

Melanie insists she had nothing to do with Bill's murder or with a cover-up of the crime.

Police believed they now had enough, including the blanket wrapped around Bill's torso, the gun Melanie bought, and her secret lover. Thirteen months after those grisly suitcases surfaced in the Chesapeake Bay, Melanie was arrested for the murder of her husband.

Patti Prezioso was confident she could prove that Melanie shot her husband, dismembered him with a reciprocating saw and then drove 300 miles to dump his body.

Prezioso believes it is unlikely Melanie did all that alone. She will not say who she believes the possible accomplice is, so Melanie alone will stand trial. Asked what her biggest challenge will be, Prezioso says, "We had a defendant who is quite beautiful. And is not the type of person, to look at her, to commit such a horrific act."

Nine months after Melanie was arrested, she would stand trial for the murder of her husband, Bill. She admits she is terrified.

"I have to figure out what to wear tomorrow. And that sounds like a completely shallow concern. And I'm reasonably certain that it is. But you know what? It is one of the very, very few things that I can control right now. So that's what I'm going to do," she confided in her video diary.

Melanie was free on bail, but under intense scrutiny. "So when people remark that, you know: 'Oh, she's got cold eyes.' I love that one, that's my favorite, cold eyes," Melanie says in her video diary. "My first as a murder defendant. And I don't quite know what the etiquette is."

The McGuire Diaries
The Intimate Video Diary Of A Mother And Nurse, On Trial For Murder
Comments 90 | Page 4 of 6
Feb. 23, 2008

(CBS) Prosecutor Prezioso was prepared for battle, telling jurors in her opening statement, "She planned for her husband to disappear, and disappear he did."

Melanie is represented by a courtroom star, attorney Joe Tacopina. He and partner Steve Turano say Bill may have tempted his own fate.

"When you have money out on the street and you're behind and you're not making payments, you know what happens? You get shot here and you get shot here," Turano told the court in his opening statement, pointing at his chest and his head.

The state, the defense said, stubbornly focused only on Melanie. "There's no evidence that shows she did this. There's circumstances. There's no hard-core evidence," Tacopino said.

But the prosecutor argued the evidence, like the gun, the blanket, and the suitcases, are all "very compelling."

As the days went by, Melanie watched her life pass before her eyes, as people from her past testified. "They bring in people that I haven't seen in years," Melanie commented in her video diary. "It's like watching ghosts file into the room."

"The one thing that I'm struck by time and time again is that they talk about me like I'm dead," Melanie commented in her diary. When a former colleague said on the stand, "She IS a great nurse," Melanie later videotaped her reaction: "And I almost cried. I really almost cried. I hope it meant something to the jury. But I know it meant something to me."

In this case, the prosecutor says, the crime was cruel, and calculated. Prezioso believes Melanie drugged Bill before shooting him. She claims Melanie used a powerful sedative, chloral hydrate, obtained with a prescription that someone forged on the pad of Melanieís lover, Dr. Brad Miller.

But no evidence of the drug was found in Billís body; the state argues his body was found too late to test.

Then there's the matter of the searches conducted on the McGuire home computer, just days before Bill disappeared. Search engine search terms, an investigator testified, included, "instant undetectable poisons," "how to purchase guns?" and "how to commit murder."

But, as the defense showed, that may not be as bad as it seems - the investigator acknowledged they had no idea who made those searches. "There are other searches. Seconds after the so-called incriminating search. Where it's a Web site or a site that only Bill McGuire could access. It's password protected," Turrano explained.

Prezioso admitted she cannot pinpoint when or even where the murder occurred but she has a theory that it happened in the apartment.

That apartment, particularly the bathroom, was painstakingly searched several times. All, to no avail: no forensic evidence was discovered. Prezioso shrugs that off, suggesting Melanie did a thorough cleaning job. "We have somebody who is very bright, who was doing computer searches and research on how to do this effectively," Prezioso argues.

Perhaps the strongest evidence against Melanie is the very story she herself has told, especially that part about coming to Atlantic City, looking for her husband. Remember, Melanie said that she found Billís car and moved it out of spite. That would have been just hours before she filed a restraining order against him.

Why would she go down there?

"It's not logical. It's not logical at all. And I acknowledge that," Melanie tells Maher.

"Me moving his car is something that, you know, to anybody who knows me seems so natural and so me, you know. So passively spiteful. Yet at the same time not overtly confrontational. I just gotta wonder will the jury believe it, you know," Melanie said in her video diary.

Four weeks into the trial, Cindy Ligosh takes the stand. By now, she is Melanieís bitter enemy, and has temporary custody of Melanie and Billís children.

"It was incredibly frustrating because she came off very sympathetically," Melanie noted in her video diary of Cindy's testimony. "To the point where when she was crying I started to cry."

The trial is taking its toll on Melanie, and she is feeling the wrath of the prosecutor. "With her, Iím scum. Did I sleep with her boyfriend in high school? Did I beat her for a role in the high school play?" she asks in her video diary.

But Prezioso says this was was not personal at all. "This was a murder trial. It wasn't a tea party. I wasnít there to become friendly with her. I was there to do my job," she says.


The McGuire Diaries
The Intimate Video Diary Of A Mother And Nurse, On Trial For Murder
Comments 90 | Page 5 of 6
Feb. 23, 2008

(CBS) In the course of the trial, a situation Melanie had been dreading came true: she'd have to face off in court with two men who betrayed her.

First up was her old friend Jim Finn, who described how Melanie told him Bill was dead. "I felt like I was the director saying action and she went 'Heís dead.' It sounded phony to me," Finn testified.

Finn had been in love with Melanie since nursing school, a feeling she never returned. Of his testimony, Melanie commented in her diary, "Finn was just so sanctimonious and self-righteous."

In his secretly recorded phone conversations, Finn pumped Melanie for information.

But then, Tacopina dug a little deeper and exposed Finnís real reason for interrogating his friend. "You felt betrayed when you found out that the woman you were madly in love with was having an affair with a doctor that she worked with. Correct?" the defense attorney asked.

"Thatís correct, Sir," Finn replied on the stand.

Next on the stand was her ex-lover, Dr. Bradley Miller. It was the first time in two years that Melanie came face-to-face with Miller, whom the prosecution claims was a motive for murder.

On the stand, Miller testified that his relationship got more intimate with Melanie when she was 38 weeks pregnant.

What was Melanie thinking?

"I'm thinking, 'Here is somebody who thinks the sun rises and sets over me anyway,'" she tells Maher.

Miller also testified that he was in love with Melanie at the time and that she had also told him she loved him. "Just to hear him get up there and say how much he had loved me," Melanie commented in her diary on Miller's testimony. "I just died all over again."

"We were hoping to be together in the future, to buy a house and have kids together," Miller testified.

It became even more painful as she listened to his secret tape recordings in court.

On cross examination, Tacopina used Dr. Miller's own words to poke holes in the state's theory that Melanie murdered her husband to be with him. "Never once not before the death of her husband or after, did she ever ask you to leave you wife, correct?" Tacopina asked.

"No she did not," Miller replied.

He also testified that he had made it clear to Melanie that he was not planning to leave his wife anytime soon.

After two days on the stand, Miller returned to his new home in Michigan, with his wife, his children and his job at another fertility clinic.

After five weeks of prosecution testimony, the defense got its turn.

Tacopina came out of the gate confident, saying the state not only failed to find the murder weapon, a motive, or an accomplice, it also failed to prove its own theory that Melanie shot and dismembered Bill in their apartment.

"Impossible for that crime to have occurred in that apartment without there being a piece of evidence," Tacopina told jurors. "Impossible for a neighbor not to hear gun shots. Impossible for neighbors not to hear a reciprocating saw sawing through bone."

Impossible, says Tacopina, for this loving nurse, mother and friend, to commit such a ghoulish crime.

A parade of fiercely loyal friends and patients took the stand to drive home that point.

But would the jury get to see that side of Melanie?

"I need to be prepared to testify. If I were a juror I would want to hear it from me," Melanie said in her video diary. "But I understand the concerns that the attorneys have which is why? You've already been cross examined by two people you loved and trusted. It's just -- surreality -- is a little much today."

In the end, Melanie did not take the stand.

After seven weeks and more than 70 witnesses, closing arguments began.

"They saw what they wanted to see; they heard what they wanted to hear. No one but Melanie McGuire, no one was investigated besides Melanie McGuire," Tacopina told the court.

Not even those shady characters Bill supposedly angered in Atlantic City, the defense attorney said. "He was a big gambler, ladies and gentlemen," Tacopina said. "He gambled beyond his means. There's no question about that."

But Prezioso said Bill's only real enemy is sitting in the defendant's chair. "Donít let drama, donít let looks, keep you from doing what may be an unpleasant task," Prezioso told jurors.

The McGuire Diaries
The Intimate Video Diary Of A Mother And Nurse, On Trial For Murder
Comments 90 | Page 6 of 6
Feb. 23, 2008

(CBS) In the privacy of her bedroom, Melanie McGuire prepared for the worst while she waited for the verdict. "To the boys. I hope you never see this. I hope you don't have to. I love you more than life itself and I would never have taken your father from you," she said in her diary.

"I loved my husband. Was I in love with him anymore? No. But, we had kids together. We had a life together," Melanie tells Maher.

Asked why she thinks people should believe her, Melanie says, "Because thisÖis not who I am. I have spent my life, my professional life giving people life. Trying to bring life into the world."

Then came the verdict: guilty.

Joe Tacopina didn't expect this. "That 12 people were able to say, 'Convict her beyond a reasonable doubt' based on that record was shocking to me," he says.

"Melanie's literally pulling on my lapel and my arm," he recalls. "She's telling me, you know, time and again, 'I didn't do it. I didn't do it. My kids, my kids!'"

"I felt responsible. Not because I killed my husband, because I didn't. But because if I hadn't stayed with him this long, if I hadn't had the affair, if I hadn't moved the car, if I hadn't bought the gun, that these people I love, let alone me, wouldn't be in this kind of pain right now," Melanie says.

Melanie's mother Linda says hearing the verdict was the worst moment of her life. "It was like a death, hearing those words, and seeing her face. And just knowing that these 12 people could think that she killed her husband," she says.

Prosecutor Patti Prezioso was grateful. "My ears started buzzing once I heard guilty. And I didn't hear anything else," she recalls. "But just tremendous, tremendous relief."

Melanie was taken into custody, and put on suicide watch.

Three months later, at her sentencing hearing, Melanie did not make a statement, before the judge imposed the maximum sentence of life in prison.

"It's absolutely indescribable. The hell for me, the hell for my family. This is my life now. This is what I have to deal with," Melanie tells Maher.

But she remains defiant. "I can't make anybody believe who's convinced that I've done this that I didn't," she says. "All I can continue to do is to tell the truth, and it's not the most flattering truth. But, it's the truth."


Melanie McGuire will be eligible for parole in 2073. She would be 100 years old.

Melanie McGuire's parents are fighting her husband's family for custody of the children. 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6






















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