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THE BIGAMIST CONMAN - POISONER & MURDERER RICHARD K. OVERTON
Dorothy Boyer was married to Richard K. Overton, who worked for an Aerospace contractor (Top Secret level clearance).
While he was married to Dorothy, Overton committed bigamy. He'd met Karoline Wallace and using a co-worker's identity, he wooed and married her. Overton began living a double life. He'd tell one wife he was away on a few weeks business trip, but in reality he was with the "other" wife. So every few weeks, one wife would drop him at the airport so he could leave on his "trip" and the other wife would arrive to pick him up from his "trip" away.
He continued this lifestyle successfully for a year and a half.
But then Karoline Wallace needed to get in touch with him. She called his employer and asked to speak to her husband. The man who answered the phone was Overton's co-worker, the one who's identity he'd used to marry Wallace. He was dumbfounded at finding his name and identity used in such a manner. Since he also had a top security clearance, he immediately contacted Security and an investgation began.
Karoline Wallace immediately sought, and received, an annulment. Dorothy obtained a divorce from Overton, and as a part of the settlement, received the house.
1973 - THE POISONING OF DOROTHY BOYER
It was her usual morning routine. She'd take the coffee can from its shelf, measure, pour into a filter and switch the coffee pot on. Once it was done she'd enjoy her freshly brewed coffee before going on to work.
One day however, after drinking the coffee, she became ill with aches, intense stomach pain and vomiting. She was so sick she couldn't get out of bed, but by the next morning, she was feeling better.
By noon that day, she was sick again with the same symptoms.
Dorothy went home from work that afternoon. When she entered her kitchen she realized the coffee can wasn't where she'd placed it before leaving to go to work that morning.
By the next morning Dorothy again felt much better. Before leaving for work she deliberately placed the can into position and left. Returning home she checked the can. It had been moved. Dorothy had her suspicions and she contacted police.
The can had Richard K. Overton, her ex-husband's prints all over it. Overton confessed to police that he had been poisoning Dorothy's coffee, shampoo, and cosmetics with selenium, a heavy metal. His reason? Revenge. Dorothy had sued for divorce and had been awarded the house in their divorce settlement and he was angry about it.
At that time Boyer decided not to testify against Overton, and he was referred to county mental health services and set free...to poison another woman.
THE POISONING DEATH OF JANET L. OVERTON
1988 - January - Richard K. Overton, 63, a computer consultant and college lecturer, at the University of Southern California had remarried. This marriage, like his first & second (bigamous) marriages wasn't going as well as he thought it should.
In fact, Overton had discovered that Janet, his 3rd wife, had cheated on him. Overton tried to humiliate his wife publicly by distributing a handbill about the affair and then began slowly poisoning her with selenium in her eyeliner.
Janet L. Overton, age 46, who worked as a trustee of the Capistrano Unified School District, collapsed in the driveway of their home, and died. On the day of her death, Overton had decided to finish her off and poisoned her with cyanide in her coffee.
In this instance, investigators were unable to determine a cause of death and the case ended up being a "cold case."
The book "Final Affair" by Frank McAdams and Tim Carney chronicle the investigation in to the cold case. It tells of their dogged persistance to find the truth.
Dorothy Boyer told investigators how Richard Overton had poisoned her. They re-examined documents in her case. Overton had already had Janet's remains cremated, but investigators ordered an analysis of Janet's ashes. What they found confirmed what they'd suspected, traces of cyanide. Richard Overton was arrested.
Orange County California's District Attorney's office began preparing for what would become one of the county's most infamous, notorious, and twisted murder cases.
A search warrant was issued and a thorough search of Overton's possessions was conducted. Police found computer floppy disks, and those were confiscated as evidence. On one of the disks was discovered a diary. Richard Overton's diary.
Investigators interviewed a married man who said that he had been Mrs Overton's lover. He told investigators Overton had became suspicious of them in 1984 and Overton had tried to humiliate Janet publicly by distributing a handbill about the affair.
1992 - June 9 - TRIAL
Computer evidence expert Joe Enders "All the clusters on the disk were used. It appeared that he tried to copy his personal diary from the hard drive onto a floppy, but the diary wouldn't fit on the disk, so he probably got a message that there was not sufficient space on the disk to hold the diary. He must have replaced the disk with a new one, which he probably hid or destroyed."
What Overton didn't know was about a "new area" of law. Forensic Computer Science.
Joe Enders "While there was no indication of a file on the disk, if someone tries to copy something onto a disk, the computer writes one cluster after another. "If there isn't enough space to copy the entire file, the machine tells the user there's not enough space. It goes back and deletes the file entry in the directory, but leaves all the information it had already written to the disk. So except for the very end of the diary, which there wasn't space for, all the information was still on there."
Richard Overton began to testify and appeared to experience a heart attack or feigned a heart attack when he came off the stand, so they stopped the trial. While Overton was "recuperating" Overton's attorney became ill, having a mental breakdown, and the trial was again delayed. This time the Judge ruled a mistrial and a second trial scheduled.
1995 - March 28 - RETRIAL
Overton testified that he and Janet were happy and their marriage was without problems.
The prosecution presented his computer diary to refute his testify.
Joe Enders "While he didn't spell out that he was going to kill his wife, the diary did reveal his state of mind, and that there were problems between them and it wasn't a lovely marriage as he was pretending."
1995 - Sept. 01 - CONVICTION
Richard K. Overton was convicted of killing Janet, although he continued to maintain that Janet had died of heart failure. Overton was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
1997 - July 02 - CONVICTION UPHELD
Richard K. Overton’s Poisoning Conviction was upheld by the the 4th District Court of Appeal.
DEATH OF DOROTHY BOYER
1999 - Dorothy Boyer died of cancer - believed to be connected to the poisoning.
A movie was made of the case "LETHAL VOWS" with John Ritter in the role of Overton.
FORENSIC FILES did an episode "Sniffing Revenge" The Janet Overton Case - Episode 40, first aired 11/14/2002