Real Name: Daniel John Montecalvo
Location: Burbank, California
Date: March 31, 1988
Details: Convicted bank robber Dan Montecalvo met his forty-three-year-old wife, Carol, through a group at her church that wrote letters to prisoners, and in 1980, they were married. After he was released, the couple moved to Burbank, California. Everything seemed fine in their lives; he joined her Bible study group and was actively involved in the church. However, Dan was later diagnose with a bleeding ulcer. Unable to work, he drank heavily and began to gamble. In March of 1988, she won a contest through her job; the prize was a trip to Hawaii. On the evening of March 31, 1988, they both were shot in their home by intruders. Although he survived, she died from her wounds.
Dan said that at 10:30PM on the night of the shooting, he and Carol took a break from packing for their vacation and went on a walk around the neighborhood. When they returned, they changed the registration tag on Carol's car since it was about to expire. Carol went inside to get a towel to clean Dan's hands. As she went inside, he heard her say something. He then heard a gunshot, so he ran inside. As he entered, one assailant, a Hispanic man with a mustache, grabbed him from behind. As the two struggled, the assailant shot him in the lower back. No vital organs were hit and there was almost no bleeding.
He found Carol lying dead in the hallway; she had been shot once. He then went and called 911. The office phone was broken, so he went and called from the living room. The call was placed at 11:01PM. Five minutes later, officers arrived at the scene. They proceeded cautiously, unsure if the assailant(s) were still inside. Dan went to the door and pleaded for the officers to come inside. However, the police could not hear what he was saying. They yelled for him to come out with his hands up. Police entered the home at 11:11PM; Carol was pronounced dead at the scene. Dan claimed that she might have survived if police acted quicker.
That night, the bullet was removed from Dan's back. Gunshot residue tests on Dan's hands came back negative. For the next four days, detectives searched the Montecalvo home. At first, they suspected that Carol and Dan were attacked by the same home intruders that murdered Deputy Charlie Anderson in Burbank a few months earlier. Evidence in the home seemed to support the burglary theory: there was a small slit in a screen door; a cash box and the filing cabinet containing it had been jimmied open. Police also found the shell casing from the bullet that hit Dan; it was a .25 caliber.
However, other evidence at the scene did not make sense. Carol's purse remained untouched. The police did not think that a burglar would break into a house with all of the lights on and two cars in the driveway. They became suspicious of Dan when they learned of his criminal past. They also discovered that he had large gambling debts with several casinos. He also apparently flirted and went out with other women while Carol was work; sometimes, he would even bring them home with him. One bartender said that Dan had once brandished a revolver and pointed it at him.
Police learned that Carol had approximately $600,000 in life insurance policies on her. Authorities theorized that Dan may have killed Carol in order to get the life insurance money, which he would use to pay back the debts. This theory was substantiated when two men came forward; they were acquaintances of Dan's. Each claimed that Dan had talked to them about getting large insurance policies for their wives and then killing them.
After the murder, Dan moved out of his home and placed most of his belongings in a storage locker. About a year after the murder, Dan was pulled over on suspicion of DUI when he fled the scene. He was soon arrested; in his trunk was a handgun and a bizarre manuscript written by him. He was arrested because he was a felon in possession of a handgun. He allegedly threatened officers who had arrested him.
While in jail, authorities searched his new home. They found a book in which he detailed the actions of authorities. They also found a paper that was for a storage unit that he rented. When authorities investigated the unit, they found rubber gloves, ammunition, and a hollowed-out book. On the felt of the book, authorities noticed the impressions of two guns: a .25 and a .38. These two types of guns were used in the shooting. Based on this evidence, in March of 1990, Dan was arrested and charged with Carol's murder.
During the trial, prosecutors claimed that Carol had saved money for the trip and kept it in a locked box. They claimed that Dan stole the money to help with his debts. The motive for the murder, along with the insurance money, was to cover up that he had stolen money from Carol. In November of 1990, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to twenty-seven years to life in prison. Seventeen days after his sentencing, he married one of Carol's close friends from church.
However, in January of 1991, his neighbor Suzan Brown confessed that she and a friend were the ones who had broke into their home, believing that they had already left for their vacation. They planned to steal money for drugs when Carol entered. Carol asked Suzan "What are you doing here?" Suzan's friend then shot and killed Carol. Moments later, she shot and wounded Dan. He believes she was one of the robbers, but he is adamant that she wasn't the one who shot him, as his shooter had a mustache. He believes that Suzan doesn't want to admit that she was the one that killed Carol.
According to Dan's attorney, Suzan knew that Carol had lost a flip flop, which was only verified through police reports. Also, she apparently knew the color of the cash box and that $800 had been taken. She also knew the type of weapons used and that the screen door had been slit. Her confession prompted a month-long investigation by the D.A.'s office. However, he refused to reopen the case. The prosecution and many police officers believe that Suzan is lying. She allegedly has a history of mental illness; they say she made up the story to get attention. She maintains that she and her friend were responsible.
Along with Suzan's confession, Dan claims that there is other evidence to suggest his innocence. Authorities were never able to tie a specific murder weapon to him or the crime. Dan had also filed a lawsuit against the police department a few months prior to his arrest. He believes that he became a prime suspect after the lawsuit was filed. Also, unidentified fingerprints were found in the home that did not belong to Dan or Carol. However, the fingerprints also did not belong to Suzan or any of her associates. Partial footprints on the kitchen floor could not be tied to either of the Montecalvos.
Neighbors also reported hearing people running from the Montecalvo home on the night of the murder. One man said that they had knocked over the ladder in his backyard. Interestingly, Suzan said that her woodpile had been knocked down when someone jumped over her fence. Dan hopes that the case will be re-opened and that the real killer can be found.
Suspects: Suzan Brown confessed that she shot Dan and that her friend shot Carol. However, she has never been officially charged in the case. Another possible suspect in the case is the unidentified intruder(s) that killed Charlie Anderson.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the October 16, 1992 episode. Karen Kingsbury wrote the book, "Fatal Vows", about it. It was also profiled on The Perfect Murder in 2016. It comes to the conclusion that Dan was, indeed, responsible for Carol's death.
Results: Unresolved. Suzan Brown eventually stopped cooperating with authorities; the District Attorney later determined that her confession was not credible, as she repeatedly changed her story and even admitted to lying about certain aspects. Dan continued to appeal his conviction until his death from sepsis in September 2013. However, he was never able to uncover any new evidence to dispute his conviction. It is unknown if anyone else is still working to prove his innocence.
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