AN OFFICE PARTY ENDS IN MURDER, BUT WILL THE CLUES LEAD TO THE TRUTH? "48 HOURS MYSTERY," SATURDAY, OCT. 8
In the early morning hours of March 21, 2003, Ramona "Mona" Krotine left an office party just outside Cleveland, Ohio and was never seen alive again. Nearly 24 hours later, she was found in the trunk of her car, beaten and shot to death. At first, police suspected a botched robbery because Mona was carrying the cash receipts from working at a concession earlier that day. But then, Mona's husband, Jeffrey, started behaving suspiciously, according to police, and the focus of the investigation shifted from a carjacking and robbery to a domestic murder. Correspondent Susan Spencer reports for 48 HOURS MYSTERY: "Strange Truth," to be broadcast Saturday, Oct. 8 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Mona, 53, was a wife and mother to three fully grown children. Her husband, 57, was a successful insurance agent who enjoyed sailing. After 33 years of marriage, the couple was drifting apart and spent very little time together.
When Mona never arrived home from the party, the Krotines' daughter, Jennifer, thought her mother had just stayed with friends rather than drive home. Jeffrey, though annoyed that his wife hadn't come home, says he, too, thought she probably spent the night with friends, and he went about his business as though nothing had happened.
But Mona's family was worried from the very beginning. When Mona still hadn't returned home later the following evening, her brother, Greg, went searching for her. He came upon what looked like Mona's car, in a commuter train parking lot. Greg called 9-1-1 and, during the call, he broke into the car and found his sister's dead body.
Did Mona Krotine ever make it home from the party? Her husband Jeffery says no and daughter Jennifer agrees. Her room was only a dozen feet from her parents' room, and, she says, she never heard anything that night.
Police started zeroing in on Jeffrey after hearing reports of strange goings-on in the Krotine home. They heard he had chopped up the headboard from the couple's bed and burned it in the fireplace. Then, police heard that Jeffrey re-carpeted the home, repainted the bedroom and hired a professional cleaning service to scrub the house clean. Did Jeffrey have something to hide or was he just mourning in his own way, as he claims?
Authorities believe Jeffrey was covering up a crime scene and tampering with evidence. And, after getting a search warrant and discovering drops of Mona's blood, police charged him with his wife's murder. The case, largely circumstantial, went to trial twice, both times resulting in a hung jury. Now, Jeffrey will stand trial for his wife's murder a third time. The couple's three children believe their father is innocent, but Mona's family is convinced Jeffrey is the killer. Some crucial new witnesses will testify this time -- and this time, the jury will reach a verdict.
48 HOURS MYSTERY: "Strange Truth" is produced by Paul LaRosa and Taigi Smith. Anthony Batson is the senior producer and Susan Zirinsky is the executive producer.