Real Name: Kristina Gunderson Lee
Location: Pompano Beach, Florida
Date: March 31, 1994
Details: Kristie Gunderson met Jeff Lee in Austin, Texas. The two fell in love and married on March 6, 1993. Jeff had been involved in drugs, but decided to leave that lifestyle behind him. The couple moved to Pompano Beach, Florida, to be closer to his parents. Jeff found a job at a travel agency while Kristie worked as a hairstylist. The two seemed to be living a great life, especially after the birth of their son, Zachary. Tragically, on March 31, 1994, Jeff's parents found Kristie murdered in their home. She had been struck on the head, and then strangled to death.
To date, police have looked into several theories, including: Jeff being involved, Kristie being killed in a burglary gone wrong, and Jeff's parents being involved. However, the case remains unsolved.
Suspects: Jeff Lee was first considered a suspect; the evidence pointed to a crime of passion. However, log-in records on his work computer showed that he was there at the time of the murder. Also, co-workers claimed that he was there the whole morning.
Police next looked into the possibility that Kristie had interrupted a burglary. They learned that she had a habit of leaving the sliding glass door open. Blood was found throughout the house, which indicated that there was a struggle that started in the living room and ended in the bedroom. However, the theory was weakened after police discovered that nothing was missing from the house. They suspected that the crime scene may have been staged to look like a robbery. Only two drawers had been pulled out. A pillowcase with some items was found next to Kristie, but none of the items were valuable. TVs, VCRs, jewelry, and other expensive items had not even been touched.
Suspicion soon fell on Jeff's parents, Kay and Joe Petralia, who had reportedly found Kristie's body. The couple had a key to the apartment and often watched after Zachary. On the day of the murder, they claimed that they arrived at 8:30AM, left with Zachary at 9:30AM, and returned at 10:30AM to find Kristie dead. However, two neighbors reported hearing screams coming from the apartment at 9AM. According to their own accounts, the Petralias were still in the apartment at that time.
The Petralias came up again when detectives questioned Kristie's best friend at work. She told them that Kristie was having problems with her in-laws. Kay was apparently very controlling and was interfering with Kristie's raising of Zachary. Jeff claimed that one of Kay and Kristie's arguments turned into a physical altercation and that he had to step in to keep them from hurting each other. She also told her work friend that if anything ever happened to her, she hoped that Kay would not be allowed to raise her son. Also, Kristi, Jeff, and Zachary had planned to move back to Texas, which angered the Petralias. They refused to take a polygraph test and proclaim their innocence. The police, and their son Jeff, still consider them suspects.
Some also suspect that the murder might have been due to Jeff's past drug habits. However, Jeff claimed that none of his suppliers knew where he lived.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the April 25, 1997 episode.
Some sources list her name as "Kristie Skinner" and "Kristie Gunderson".
Results: Unsolved. In 2000, Joe Petralia was arrested for domestic violence against Kay. However, the charges were later dropped. In 2004, evidence from the crime scene was tested for DNA; unfortunately, the results were inconclusive. Joe Petralia died in 2009; he and Kay are still considered suspects by police.
- Justice for Kristie Blog
- Who Killed Kristie Lee?
- 10 Years Later, Parents Work To Find Daughter's Killer
- (7 News Miami Article) Kristie Lee
- Kristie Lee Unsolved Murder Facebook page
- Kristie Gunderson Lee on Find A Grave