"Trust your hunches. They're usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level."
-Dr Joyce Brothers
It was the 24th of August 2011. A Wednesday. Michelle Despain was at work that day but told colleagues she had to head home that afternoon to pick up some bills that needed to be paid.
Michelle lived with her thirty four year old husband Marc Despain in Jonesboro, Arkansas, United States. They were married for fifteen years and had two young sons together. Michelle also had a teenage daughter from a previous relationship and Marc loved her and helped to raise her.
The family lived a lavish lifestyle. But that wasn't always the case. When they met, Michelle was just eighteen years old and Marc was nineteen years old and they were just starting out. Marc's parents, Tana and Jack Despain, purchased a trailer for them to live in and he worked for them in the family real estate business. After a few years, Marc left that business and started his own company. Marc was a property investor and a real estate appraiser. He did extremely well and made a lot of money. They moved out of their trailer and into a beautiful home that had a swimming pool. Marc and Michelle worked hard to give the children anything they wanted. They also went on multiple vacations, to places such as Jamaica and Cancun, every year.
Marc Despain and Michelle Despain
Michelle helped out with Marc's company. She did the book keeping. She also worked at the local bank.
That day, the 24th of August, Michelle got home from the bank around 3pm and found the rear door unlocked. The house was completely ransacked. There were drawers open and their belongings had been thrown on the floor. There was broken glass throughout the house, clothes had been thrown into the bathtub and a jewelry box had been opened in the bedroom. When Michelle walked through the house, she made a devastating discovery. She found Marc lying on the kitchen floor. He had been shot dead. Michelle ran outside and called 911. She told the operator she was afraid for her own safety.
When police arrived, they believed they were dealing with a burglary that went wrong. But further investigation revealed that a number of things seemed out of place.
As police looked at the items that had been left behind, they believed that it didn't appear to be a normal burglary as many of the valuable items were still in the home. They also questioned why a burglar would shoot Marc in the manner in which he was shot. There was one gunshot wound to the left of his chest and one in his head and he had been shot from close range. They believed that it was a planned attack and when Marc returned home that day, he walked into the kitchen, put down an ice cream container on the kitchen counter and somebody walked up behind him and shot him twice. They believed that person was already inside the house when Marc got home. It looked like whoever had entered the home that day wasn't there to steal, they were there to kill Marc. But why?
Police questioned all of the neighbors on the street and were informed that a man, an african american man, who they had not seen on the street before was on the street that day. They also saw a blue Mercedes car that appeared to be circling the neighborhood. Police tried to establish if Marc had any enemies. They were told by some that he was a ruthless and an ambitious man.
Police retraced his steps as Marc wasn't supposed to be home at that time that day so how would a person who wanted to harm him have known he would be home at that exact time?
Michelle told police that she met Marc that day for lunch. They went for lunch at a place close to the bank where she worked. She told police she was back in the office by 1.30pm and left again after 2.30pm to return home to get the bills and that was when she found Marc. When she got there, there were no lights on. She walked through the house and found Marc in a pool of blood. Michelle told police she shook his leg and called his name. She then ran out of the house to call 911 as she was terrified that there was somebody still in the house. She ran to a neighbor's house but nobody answered so she called her mother Kathy. When Kathy arrived, Michelle was outside her own house.
When police asked Michelle if she knew of anyone who would want to harm Marc, she told them that she did. His own father. Marc worked for a number of years with his parents Jack and Tana but after an argument, Marc left the business to start up his own one. Marc wanted a bigger share of the money and when Jack disagreed, he left. Michelle told police that Jack was a cold hearted man. She told them there had been trouble due to an incident between Jack and her daughter who was thirteen years old at the time. Michelle's father, Carl Kelley, also told police that he believed that Jack was involved in Marc's death and that he heard him threaten him in the past. Carl worked at Marc's company with him. He was the rent collector.
Police investigated further and discovered that Jack and Marc fell out years beforehand over money. When police spoke to Tana and Jack, they confirmed there had been a falling out but they claimed that the argument over money began due to Michelle. She always wanted more. Jack told police that they should look into Michelle's movements the day his son was killed as he believed she was involved in some way. He told police that his son returned home that day to get a bow for hunting and Michelle would have been the only person who knew he was home.
Jack told police about the incident Michelle referred to that happened between him and her daughter. Nude photos of her daughter were found on his phone and Jack was initially accused of taking them. It even led to Tana leaving him for a short period. But further investigation revealed that that was not the case. Jack told police that she had been sexting her boyfriend and he found the photos and threatened to tell her parents but she told them instead that Jack had taken the photos that were on his phone himself and as a result, he was accused of child abuse. Even though no charges were brought, the accusations caused a significant amount of pain and stress for Jack. Tana moved back in with Jack when she heard the full details.
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"The criminal justice system will take a hard look at what happened to Matthew Eappen. It is up to the rest of us to take an even harder look at who is minding our children."
- Eileen McNamara, the Boston Globe
"The effects of abuse are devastating and far reaching. Domestic violence speaks many languages, has many colors and lives in many different communities."
- Sandra Pupatello
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