Real Name: Jeanne Tovrea
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Date: April 1, 1988
Details: Phoenix socialite Jeanne Tovrea was originally from a small town in Arkansas. She married in high school, but the marriage fell apart and in 1953 she divorced. She moved to Phoenix and became a waitress. During this time, she studied real estate law. In 1970, she obtained her real estate license and was successful. In 1971, she met Edward Tovrea, a member of a prominent Arizona family who had built a landmark in Phoenix known as the "Wedding Cake Castle" due to its appearance. He was also a veteran of the Second World War who had spent time in an Axis prison camp.
The two married at a private ceremony in Hawaii in 1972. By all accounts, they were happy together, although they had no children with each other. However, Ed's health failed due to respiratory problems, and he succumbed to his illness in July 1983. Prior to his death, where he had spent much of 1982 in hospice care, Ed warned Jeanne that he had been arguing with his children, who did not like his remarriage, and encouraged Jeanne to be civil to her stepchildren.
After his death, Jeanne received a portion of his estate. She remained in the Phoenix social world and tried to move on with her life. On the night of March 31, 1988, she prepared invitations for a party. At 7 pm, she spoke to her sister, who would be one of the last people to hear from her.
On April 1, 1988, Jeanne was discovered dead in her home, shot in the head five times by intruders. Her credit cards were missing, and fingerprints on the scene failed to match anyone on police file. The police suspect that burglary was not a motive; the intruders took her purse, identification and credit cards but left all of her expensive jewelry.
Police believe the true intent of the breaking and entering was solely to kill her, and the murderer helped himself to her purse in order to cast suspicion as a burglary gone wrong. The killer was probably familiar with the house; they were able to enter without setting of the alarm. According to footprints on the carpet, the killer went on a path directly from the entry point to her bedroom. It is believed that the killer also scattered her costume jewelry to make it seem like the motive was burglary. While leaving, the killer set off the alarm while opening a sliding door upon leaving. It is believed that they were alerting the person who hired them.
After reviewing the tapes from her answering machine, investigators found a possible suspect. A man named "Gordon Phillips" called her several times prior to her death, wanting to talk to her about her late husband. The man visited her on at least one occasion in 1987. He has never been identified. It is unknown what, if any, connection he has to her murder.
Suspects: The police would like to speak to a man named Gordon Phillips. He had contacted her several times posing as a writer for Time-Life. In 1987, he visited her, wanting to talk to her about her husband's POW experiences. He claimed that he was doing a profile on POWs during World War Two. Jeanne had said her husband was recalcitrant to share horror stories of his military experience with her, and Edward's first wife would have been a better source, but when Philips kept hounding her, she began to suspect an interview was not the real reason.
When she contacted Time-Life, they stated that they had never heard of him. Over the next few months, he called her multiple times. However, she refused to meet with him. She became convinced that he was following her. To date, he has never been positively identified or located.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the April 15, 1992 episode. Jeanne's case was featured on an episode of Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege, and Justice.
Results: Unresolved. Viewers identified the voice of Gordon Phillips as their relative, James Cornell Harrod. In 1995, Harrod was arrested after fingerprints found at the scene were matched to him. Some of these fingerprints were found on the kitchen window, which was the entry point for the killer. According to his ex-wife, he also confessed to being involved in the murder. He was tried and convicted of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to death in 1998 and re-sentenced to death in 2005. However, he has yet to identify who hired him to kill Jeanne and continues to maintain his innocence.
It is suspected by many that the person who hired the contract hit was Ed Tovrea's son, Ed "Hap" Tovrea Jr. Ed's children did not get along with her, and police believe that they may have hired Harrod because she received most of his money after his death. Authorities did discover that Harrod and Hap Tovrea had been in contact with each other through phone for several weeks up to Jeanne's murder. Hap had also paid Harrod $35,000 around the time of the murder. However, neither Hap nor any of his siblings were ever charged. Hap Tovrea has since passed away.
- Jeanne Tovrea at Unsolved.com
- Another death sentence in Tovrea murder case
- Blood and Money
- James Harrod at Murderpedia
- Jeanne Tovrea at Find a Grave