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Jul 4 09 10:12 PM

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2009 - March - The North Carolina  Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission DENIED PAROLE for Barbara Stager.

Prison Photo: Barbara (Terry, Ford) Stager

 2012 - Next Parole Review Date
                                          CASE  BACKGROUND
                                                  LARRY FORD
College - Larry Ford and Barbara Stager get together and later marry. They have two sons Brian and Jason.
During their marriage, Barbara engages in infidelity through several affairs. She also has to keep up with the Joneses and spends more money than is coming in. Despite counseling and attendance at church (keeping up appearances), Barbara keeps both her legs and her pocketbook open, spending freely.
                                         THE WIDOW CLAIMS "ACCIDENT"
 1978- March - Larry Ford is murdered.

Larry Ford is found dead in the marital bed. His widow, Barbara (Terry) Ford claims he'd accidentally shot himself. Larry Ford's death is ruled an accident. Police have no other evidence to file criminal charges.

Barbara Ford collects the insurance on Larry Ford's life. 

Less than a year after Larry Ford's death Barbara Ford remarries. 

                                             RUSSELL STAGER


Russell Stager and his first wife Jo Lynn Snow divorce, but remain on friendly terms.

1979 - Russell Stager marries Barbara (Terry) Ford. Russell is a well respected coach at the Durham High School. He's also on good terms with his step-sons.

Both Russ and Barbara overspend, but Russell attempts to curtail their financial excesses.
Barbara doesn't like being thwarted and opens up credit cards without his knowledge and keeps spending. She's always the first to get the mail before Russell can, in order to keep her activities a secret. She lies to him and to others.

Russell becomes suspicious of Barbara but remains married to her. But his suspicions become so overwhelming that he tape records himself speaking about his concerns. He asks questions such as "Why if I was asleep at 3 or 4 in the morning, would Barbara wake me up to give me sleeping pills?"
He spoke his concerns about Barbara's first husband's death, and states that if something happens to him, for police to look at her.

Barbara forges his signature on a will and ensures that Russell is well insured.

1987 - December - Russell Stager has already had several conversations with Jo Lynn Snow, his first wife about his troubled second marriage, the financial problems and his wife's promiscuity. 
This time though, Russ asks Jo Lynn a favor.

Jo Lynn Snow "He asked me, if anything ever happened to him, would I please look into it."

Russell discovers that Barbara is stealing from his personal accounts. He already knows she's a liar, a cheat, and now a thief. She's been kiting checks, forging his name to his checks and other documents.

Barbara forges Russell Stager's signature on a will. She also purchases more insurance on his life.
                                                           MURDER TWICE DONE

  Feb. 1, 1988Russell Stager is murdered.
Barbara tells police that Russell always slept with a gun under the pillow. She claims that she awoke upon hearing a noise. Afraid that Russ would accidentally shoot one of the boys she reached over to pull out the gun and accidentally fired the pistol under his pillow, shooting him in the back of the head.
Investigators are surprised at her lack of emotion. The shooting is ruled an accident.
Barbara Stager puts in for Russell's life insurance right away.
Russell Stager's family, friends and former wife don't believe the shooting is an accident.
It's pointed out to police that Russell Stager was in the National Guard and was well trained in weapons and never would have slept with a loaded gun under his pillow. 
Then, Russell Stager's tape is found in the gym at the school where he taught. 
Investigators re-open the investigation and ask Barbara to re-enact the "accident" and videotape it.
A handwriting investigator determines that the writing on Russell Stager's will was a forgery. 
Jo Lynn Snow "He loved life. He gave an awful lot to his community and to his family," she said. "Whenever we talk about Russ or we act on his behalf, he sort of comes alive again for us, and then when that is over, we have to bury him again."
""I believe Barbara is a serial killer."
Photo: Jo Lynn Snow

Capt. Ricky Buchanan (Durham County Sheriff's Office)  "She got away with the first one. She thought she could do it the second time, and she didn't make it."
 "The former Sunday school teacher has a way of gaining trust that makes her especially dangerous. She's the pillar of the community during the day, but behind closed doors at night, she's another woman. She's evil."
                         INDICTMENT - TRIAL - CONVICTION & SENTENCE

Photo: Barbara Stager

Barbara Stager is indicted for murder. She believes she'll be acquitted of the chrages because "I'm just isn't capable of such an act."
1989 -May - Barbara (Terry, Ford) Stager is convicted of the 1st Degree murder of Russell Stager. The jury sentences her to the Death Penalty.
1993 - The State Supreme Court affirms the conviction, but overturns the death sentence and Barbara Stager is sentenced to "Life."  Life means serving a minimum of 20 years before parole eligibility.
                                    AN OPEN INVESTIGATION 
Authorities are still investigating the case of Larry Ford. The North Carolina Supreme Court has noted that there are 8 similarities between Larry Ford's shooting and Russell Stagers.
Investigators also note that residue tests show that Larry Ford did not fire a gun the day he died, even though Barbara Stager claims he shot himself accidentally.
                                    RUSSELL STAGER MEMORIAL FUND  
The Russell Stager Memorial Fund is maintained by money Jo Lynn Snow raises by appearances on television shows. The fund supports underprivileged youth and provides the funds for the $5,000 reward money for information in the case of Larry Ford.
Jo Lynn Snow is determined to keep Larry Ford's murder in the public eye and fights to keep Barbara Stager behind bars. She is joined in that goal by Larry Ford's, and Russell Stager's families.

Jo Lynn Snow "I think folks are frightened at the thought that she might get out," Snow said recently. "I'm not a supporter of the death penalty, but I think anybody who murders in cold blood like that, well, I will fight to keep her behind bars."

                                      BOOKS/MOVIES ABOUT THE CASE
"Till Death Do Us Part: The Barbara Stager Story", A&E's American Justice
 A&E's City Confidential "Durham: Dangerous Housewife"
 "Before He Wakes" by Jerry Bledsoe (1994), also made into a Tv movie (1998) with the same title. 

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#1 [url]

Jul 25 09 3:02 PM

just read the novel "before he wakes" what an injustice that she did not get the death penalty. Only consillation (I hope) that the she did not receive the insurance monies from Russ Stager life policy.

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#2 [url]

Jul 31 09 6:36 PM

I just finished Jerry Bledsoe's book "Before He Wakes". I think it is a crime that a jury can sentence a cold blooded, money hungry, murderer to death and due to a regulation that became effective after the sentencing, she gets a second sentencing hearing and convinces the jury that she is a good christian woman who needle points, sews & make crafts. What else does she have to do, she was sitting on death row. Tell Larry Ford and Russell Stager what a good christian woman she is. . . I am glad she was denied parole. She should rot in prison

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#3 [url]

Aug 1 09 10:46 AM

I don't feel that her sentence should have been overturned and commuted to life. But that's the courts decision and that's what it is. I don't believe she'll ever get paroled and I sincerely hope she doesn't.

I agree Trick, she has nothing else to do with her time, and she should continue doing crafts and sewing in prsion until the day she dies.

She claimed to be a "good christian woman" before she shot each of her husbands, and claiming to be such while behind prison bars still doesn't make her one.

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#4 [url]

Oct 25 11 3:07 PM

The movie was very good, if anyone has seen it, I enjoyed it. Just saw another program about her on and decided to look her up and found this site. She needed the death pentalty for sure. She is one sly woman that broke alot of hearts. She is evil. She don't look so good anymore, hopefully will not fool any more people. I hope her children have gone on with their lives.

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#5 [url]

Oct 28 11 9:53 PM

I watched cold case files and deadly women..She is by far the most sorriest excuse 4 a human being..2 husbands..dead..She's where she needs 2 be 4 the rest of her damn life..

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#7 [url]

Nov 4 11 11:15 AM

Hi everyone, Happy Post Halloween, anyway, I like your comment jowls, lol but wasn't Barbara supposed to be a "CHRISTIAN" singing in the choir, making their robes and all that other jazz before she KILLED Russ? Like you said "Big Red Flag"

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#8 [url]

Nov 5 11 6:44 AM

Happy halloween back atcha Desty. As far as ms Stager and God is concerned i believe they have several points of contention. Besides murdering people, adultery is generally not a good way of ingratiating yourself with the church either.

I'm starting to think that banning life insurances - or at least limiting the pay-out options to specific purposes - could save many lives... 

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#13 [url]

Nov 16 15 11:52 AM

Thoughts on Barbara's stage of mind

I've just read Jerry Bledsoe's book "Before He Wakes" and the TV movie.  What struck me about her story is the incident at college where she had an "episode" where she became incoherent and made gurgling noises.  Her roommate was very alarmed and called the doctor.  Barbara was eventually hospitalised.  When her roommate informed the parents, they didn't seem at all surprised.  I wonder if she had had episodes before?  Apparently just before this happened her boyfriend Larry (who became her first husband) tried to back off from their relationship.  Was this a coping mechanism?  Was she the sort of person who couldn't cope with rejection?  It might explain a lot of her behaviour.

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