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Jeffrey Dillingham - Texas Execution - November 1, 2000
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Thread: Jeffrey Dillingham - Texas Execution - November 1, 2000

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    Jeffrey Dillingham - Texas Execution - November 1, 2000


    Caren Koslow




    Summary of Offense:
    Convicted and sentenced to death for the March 12, 1992 murder-for-hire, of Caren Courtney Koslow, 40.

    In March 1992, Dillingham and his friend Brian Dennis Salter, both 19, were hired by 17-year-old Kristi Koslow to murder her parents. Kristi did not get along with them after her father remarried.

    Dillingham and Salter entered the upscale Fort Worth residence of Jack and Karen Koslow, using a code provided them by their daughter Kristi. The alarm system was disarmed and they came in through a rear entrance. The Koslows were asleep.

    Following the floor plan given to them by Kristi, the intruders went into the master bedroom and began attacking the Koslows. Mr. Koslow ran to his closet to fetch a shotgun, but he didn't get it loaded in time to defend himself. Both were forced to lie on the floor. Dillingham then beat them with a steel pry bar and Salter slashed their throats with a hunting knife. They stole Mr. Koslow's wallet, $200 in cash and a wrist watch worth $1,600. Karen Koslow, 40, died at the scene. Jack Koslow was beaten into unconsciousness and left for dead, but later regained consciousness, staggered to a neighbor's house, and called police.

    At first, the police suspected Koslow of murdering his wife. Later, a tip was received from a friend of Dillingham, who assisted in disposing of the murder weapon. A confession from Dillingham followed. Dillingham wept nonstop throughout his trial.

    Kristi's boyfriend, Brian Salter, testified that they were offered $1,000,000 for the murders by Kristi, who told them she stood to inherit $12,000,000. Christi Koslow and Brian Salter both received life sentences and are eligible for parole in 27 years.

    Victim:
    Caren Courtney Koslow

    Manner of execution:
    Lethal injection

    Time of Death:
    6:28 p.m.

    Last Meal:
    Cheeseburger with American, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, without mayonaise, mustard or onions; large French fries; bowl of macaroni and cheese; lasagna with two slices of garlic bread; four oz. of nacho cheese; three large cinnamon rolls; five scrambled eggs; eight pints of chocolate milk

    Final Statement:
    "Thank you heavenly father for getting me off of death row and for bringing me home out of prison," he said. Looking toward family members, he repeatedly mouthed, "I love you all, you all take care."
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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    Kristi Koslow and Brian Salter


    April 19, 1992

    Murder in Ritzy Neighborhood Plays Like Classic Mystery Novel : Crime: Circumstantial evidence indicated that Jack Koslow killed his wife. Then Ft. Worth police got a telephone call

    FT. WORTH, Tex. — At 3:41 a.m. on March 12, Jack Koslow stumbled to a nearby home. Dazed, bloody and wearing only boxer shorts, he begged the neighbor to call 911.

    Police and firemen entered the Koslow home through a rear door they found pried open. They climbed the stairs and discovered Caren Koslow's body in a pool of blood on the master bedroom floor.

    Her face was mangled, her throat cut.

    Blood was spattered on all four walls. There was an empty shotgun on the bed, and a bloody knife on the floor, across the room.

    Both belonged to her husband, who gave police murky accounts of what had happened--and no clear explanation of how he had escaped her grisly fate.

    All the evidence seemed to point to Jack Koslow. But this case, like any classic mystery novel, had an enormous surprise in store.

    The Koslows' townhouse embraces the fringes of Rivercrest, an area of stately mansions occupied by many of Ft. Worth's oldest and richest families.

    Caren Courtney Koslow, 40, qualified.

    Her grandfather was colorful and wealthy Ft. Worth oilman H. L. Brown. Her uncle, Sonny Brown, is a widely known Midland, Tex., oilman.

    Both she and her husband were active in the Ft. Worth Ballet, and Caren had become increasingly involved with the glitzy Jewel Charity ball.

    Jack Koslow, 48, a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, is a former vice president of the bank where Caren once worked. She quit her job soon after they married; he was laid off in 1990, and had been working on setting up his own company.

    The two lived comfortably, not at the center of Ft. Worth's social whirl, but at its periphery. He's stocky and fastidious, with chiseled features. Friends described her as "a Yuppie American thoroughbred"--blond, beautiful skin, given to wearing Ralph Lauren.

    Kristi Koslow, Koslow's adopted 17-year-old daughter by an earlier marriage, said she could think of nothing that would explain the attack.

    "We were as close as a stepdaughter and stepmother could be," she told reporters. "I don't think anyone truly hated Caren. . . . It's really scary."

    Koslow told police two intruders, carrying flashlights, kicked in the locked door of his bedroom and attacked him and his wife.

    But why?

    The house was not ransacked and robbery did not appear to be a motive, though Homicide Detective Curt Brannan and Sgt. Paul Kratz, among the first at the scene, later determined that Koslow's watch and billfold were missing.

    Although severely beaten and slashed, Koslow suffered no life-threatening injuries. Bruises and abrasions were visible on the backs of his hands.

    Early on, police spotted inconsistencies in Koslow's story. The most puzzling involved the security system, which Koslow said was armed but did not sound; police said it had been deactivated.

    Meanwhile, Koslow provided vaguely conflicting, often fuzzy versions of the assault. And police were puzzled by details they found at the murder scene, like the .32-caliber bullet the assailants fired through the bedroom floor, the empty shotgun and unspent shells scattered on the floor.

    Investigators also considered it strange that Koslow did not dial 911 from his own home.

    The medical examiner's office indicated injuries on Koslow's hands were bite marks, presumably caused by his wife. And an autopsy report suggested that Caren Koslow may have died before midnight.

    If so, that would leave nearly a four-hour gap in the time Koslow said the attack occurred and the time he appeared at his neighbor's home.

    Finally, a Tarrant County grand jury subpoenaed records of a therapist who counseled the Koslow family, fueling speculation the Koslow marriage was shaky and possibly doomed before the attack.

    "Pressure inside the police department was building from the top down," said a source close to the investigation. "Jack Koslow was tried, convicted and sentenced."

    Publicly, police denied that Koslow was the prime suspect in his wife's death, though privately they confronted him with their suspicions.

    Still, Koslow did not hire a lawyer--hardly the response investigators would expect from a murder suspect. And on the Monday after the attack, a weakened Koslow--his neck and throat bandaged, stitches visible in his head wounds--attended his wife's funeral.

    As the circumstantial noose tightened, police received a telephone call from a frightened young man. He said he had a story to tell and wondered why police had not contacted him.

    "I've got some things you need to take a look at," he said.

    Those items included a bloody tire tool and bloody clothing.

    The informant, 20, said a friend had asked him to dispose of them nearly two weeks earlier. He said the tire tool was used to bludgeon the Koslows.

    Acting on the March 24 phone call, police converged on an Arlington video store at midnight and arrested a bright, quiet, hard-working 19-year-old from suburban White Settlement.

    His name was Jeffrey Dillingham, a kid with a good job, adoring parents and a fiancee whom he intended to marry this summer.

    He told police he and a friend named Brian Salter, also 19, broke into the Koslow home, kicked down the bedroom door, killed Caren Koslow and attempted to kill Jack Koslow. The "bite marks" on Koslow's hands were in fact the impression left by the tire tool as it came down on him.

    Koslow apparently tried to load his shotgun to ward off the attack, but could not. He was at his assailants' mercy.

    But then, investigators say, Salter's .32-caliber pistol discharged accidentally, into the floor. Fearing the sound would arouse neighbors, they fled.

    "The gunshot saved Koslow's life," said one of those close to the investigation. "He was real, real lucky the gun went off."

    But there was another conspirator.

    Kristi Koslow had supplied the two with a code with which they could disarm the security system, Dillingham said. She had offered them $1 million to kill the Koslows, he said.

    Before dawn, police staked out the home of Koslow's ex-wife Paula, and arrested Kristi and Salter as they backed a car from the driveway.

    Witnesses said the youngsters surrendered quietly, although Paula Koslow, a passenger in the car, was furious at the gun-wielding officers.

    Like Dillingham, the young couple gave police statements admitting their involvement in the affair. The two men were charged with capital murder and Kristi Koslow with conspiracy to commit capital murder.

    All three were jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail, later doubled to $1 million each when additional charges of attempted murder and conspiracy were filed.

    "This case is solved," Police Chief Thomas Windham said.

    Kristi masterminded the attack, the teen-agers said in their statements and in police interviews.

    According to police, she had planned the attack weeks earlier; she provided Dillingham and Salter with a diagram of the house, as well as the alarm code; the assailants parked their car at her house, five or six blocks from the murder scene, and she had promised them $1 million from the inheritance she expected.

    Friends and associates portrayed the chubby young woman as a troubled teen runaway who bounced in and out of private and public schools, skipped classes and spurned parental control. Though she did not smoke or use drugs or drink excessively, she ran with a wild and weird crowd.

    Some friends were not surprised. Two of her former classmates, John Okray, 17, and Josh Oderberg, 15, told reporters that Kristi offered them money last year to kill her father and stepmother.

    Oderberg said he and his friends talked about Kristi's overtures, but "We never took them seriously, because we never thought they'd do anything," Oderberg said.

    But Dillingham, the son of an engineer, and Salter, the son of an accountant, obviously took Kristi very seriously. Their parents are left trying to understand why.

    "It just breaks your damn heart," said Jack Strickland, Dillingham's court-appointed lawyer. "This is every parent's worst nightmare."

    Dillingham's father, Ray, said his son's arrest was the "earthquake of a lifetime." He recalled that Salter attended high school with his son, but had not been in their home for a month or two. Kristi Koslow was a total stranger.

    "We never even heard her name before," he said.

    But she was no stranger to Salter, who had attended the University of Texas at Arlington for a year. Salter was "crazy" about Kristi Koslow, according to one investigator.

    "Salter killed for love and money," the investigator said.

    Evidently, police said, Kristi killed for money alone.

    http://articles.latimes.com/1992-04-...ntial-evidence
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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