Barbara and richard minns

Richard Minns

Real Name: Richard Minns
Aliases: Richard O'Toole
Wanted For: Attempted Murder
Missing Since: 1982


Details: Back in the Seventies, Richard Minns was a tycoon with a young girlfriend, Barbra Piotrowski. They were a glamorous presence on the Houston social scene. Minns was a charismatic, youthful-looking health club tycoon when they met on a Colorado ski slope. Barbra was a bright and beautiful California pre-med student and part-time model 24 years his junior. Their relationship went well until Minns's wife showed up one day looking for him. Minns explained to Barbra that he and his wife were separated, and she accepted his explanation. He later bought an expensive townhouse for her, but the relationship became strained after Minns learned that Barbra was pregnant. He wanted her to get an abortion but she refused.
Eventually, Barbra ended the relationship, but Minns refused to accept that they were finished. Barbra took several pieces of furniture and jewelry that Minns had given to her. Later, Minns had Barbra arrested for stealing these items, even though she insisted that they were gifts. While in jail, Barbra miscarried. She was eventually released, but Minns continued to harass and stalk her.

Janni Smith

Barbra Piotrowski (now Janni Smith)

On October 20, 1980, Barbra was shot four times in the back while parked in a Houston doughnut shop lot. Barbra was paralyzed from the waist down. Despite her injuries, she remained conscious and claimed that Minns was responsible. Nathaniel Ivory and Patrick Stein were arrested within minutes of the shooting. They denied Barbra's claims that Minns had hired them to shoot her. However, a former bodyguard of Minns claimed that one month earlier a contract had been put out on Barbra's life. Authorities determined that the car used in the shooting belonged to Robert Jess Anderson; Ivory and Stein later identified Anderson as the person who had hired them to kill Barbra.
Minns's private detective Dudley Bell was also connected to the shooting after his ex-wife gave police a handwritten note. The note had been written on Minns's hotel guest stationary. The note had a list of guns owned by Anderson that were used in the shooting. Eight days after the shooting, Anderson was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Anderson agreed to cooperate with authorities; he confirmed that Dudley Bell had hired him and the other two men to commit the shooting. However, Bell and Minns were not indicted in the case.

  • Ivory (left) and Stein
  • Robert Jess Anderson
  • Dudley Bell

In March of 1981, Ivory and Stein were convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to thirty-five years in prison. Barbra later field a wrongful injury suit against Minns, Bell, Anderson, Stein, and Ivory. However, before depositions could begin, Minns fled the country and has been in hiding ever since.
Anderson was found guilty of soliciting a murder in 1984. Bell was also found guilty of soliciting a murder in 1987 after one of his employees testified against him. Both were sentenced to thirty-eight years in prison. However, in 1991, Bell was released on parole.
A jury has since ordered Minns to pay Barbra $58 million for wrongful injury. Minns is wanted for questioning in the attempted murder of Barbra Piotrowski. The injuries she suffered left her bound to a wheelchair. Fearful for her life after the shooting, Barbra changed her name to Janni Smith. She now works with people who are paralyzed.
Extra Notes: The case served as the inspiration for a movie based on the case. The case was featured as a part of the March 18, 1992 episode.
Results: Captured. In July 1994, Richard Minns, 64, was arrested at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on suspicion of obtaining several passports with fraudulent information and names. He received a four-month sentence and fined $100,000.
Minns has never been charged in the attempted murder of Piotrowski although police have said they believe he was involved. Piotrowski did win a $58-million dollar civil judgment against Minns and others for the attempted murder.

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