Real Name: Beverly Ann McGowan
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Pompono Beach, Florida
Date: July 17, 1990
Details: In early July 1990, thirty-four-year-old bank clerk Beverly McGowan began advertising for a roommate to live with her in her Pompono Beach condo. She soon found a potential one, a British woman named Alice. She drove a nice car and appeared to be a successful career woman. They also shared an interest in the New Age movement, particularly numerology.
Alice agreed to do a chart for Beverly, using numbers from her personal life. She soon asked for her passport number and birth certificate information. After the chart was completed, Alice told her that she would find true romance and accumulate great wealth. However, she also claimed that a man and woman that were close to her would deceive and hurt her.
On July 17, a few days after Alice moved in, Beverly vanished. On July 19, several of her family and friends received letters from her, claiming that she had sold her condo and was planning to start a new life. Her loved ones, however, were suspicious. Her brother, Steve, and sister, Jane, went to her condo. Her car was gone, the phone was disconnected, and she had not been seen at work in two days. Her nightgown was on the bed, which had not been made.
It appeared that Beverly had just left, planning to come back. Other than her car, the only things missing were her two cats, address book, birth certificate, and passport. They later learned that she had sent a telegram to her mortgage company, authorizing them to foreclose on her condo and dispose of her personal belongings.
On the same day that her family and friends received letters from her, Beverly's mutilated body was discovered. She had been dumped in a remote canal in Southern Florida, 100 miles from her home. Her killer had slit her throat, removed a portion of her head and hands, and cut a tattoo off her abdomen to delay identification. However, they missed a second one of a yellow flower on her ankle. Dental records positively identified her body.
Police were confused by the letters that Beverly had sent to her family and friends. They were written in her handwriting and there appeared to be no evidence that she was forced to write them. Police immediately set their suspicion on Alice, who was seen using Beverly's credit card after her murder. She also apparently used her identity to escape to England.
After Beverly's murder, a man posing as her also used her credit card to reserve a rental car at London's Heathrow Airport. He later picked it up there, using her name. The two suspects have yet to be identified and Beverly's murder remains unsolved.
Suspects: The woman known as "Alice" is the prime suspect in Beverly's murder. She was believed to be a British woman who was staying in the United States, working for IBM in South Florida. She had told Beverly that she was working at their Fort Lauderdale office. However, they stated that they did not have an office there or had anyone from England working for them.
On the day Beverly's body was discovered, Alice was seen using her credit card at several shops in the area. The day before, it is believed that she used it to withdraw $300 from an ATM.
An unknown individual calling himself "Sam" is also suspected of being involved in the case; he apparently was a man dressed as a woman, wearing a black Cleopatra wig. He had a British accent and appeared to be familiar with London. On July 20, the day after Beverly's body was found, he used her credit card to reserve a rental car at London's Heathrow Airport. He told the travel agent that he was flying there on British Airways Flight 292, which departed on Sunday, July 22, at 6:30pm.
Police searched the passenger list for the flight and other similar ones, but Beverly's name did not appear. It is believed that either Alice or Sam was on it. On Monday, July 23, a person matching Sam's description and using Beverly's name picked up a car at Heathrow Airport.
On July 25, Beverly's car was found at a motel near Miami International Airport. It had been there for five days. In it, investigators found Cleopatra wig hairs.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the November 13, 1991 episode.
Results: Unresolved. After rechecking the British Airways Flight 292 manifest, authorities discovered that "Alice" had used the name Sylvia Ann Hodgkinson to purchase her tickets. Through this name, authorities were able to identify her as a con artist named Elaine Antoinette Parent. She had previously been acquainted with Hodgkinson and had stolen her identity. In May 1991, she was arrested while holding identification for both Hodgkinson and another woman. However, she was released without charge. Forensic evidence in Beverly's car and handwriting on a tablet in her condo was also linked to her. Over the years, she became known as the "Chameleon Killer" as she had stolen more than twenty identities. However, because of this, she was able to elude capture for over a decade.
In April 2002, police finally caught up with Elaine with the help of an anonymous tip. At the time, she was living at an apartment in Panama City, Florida. After detectives arrived there, they allowed her to change clothes. During this time, however, she took her life with a .357 Magnum to the heart to avoid capture.
Although Elaine's death might bring a sense of closure to Beverly's family, it left much of the secrets of her bizarre lifestyle and criminal career unanswered. Also, some suspect that she may be responsible for other murders that she has yet to be connected with. As for "Sam", he was never identified. However, some believe that he may have actually been Elaine.
- '90 Murder Trail Leads to Woman
- Hunt for the Chameleon Killer
- "Chameleon Killer: cheats the Florida police by ending her many-faced life
- Elaine Parent at Murderpedia
- Murder suspect 'Chameleon' a suicide victim - News - The Ledger