Man beats his wife to death, inherits her estate

A proposal aims to close this obvious legal loophole

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – He beat his wife to death and inherited her entire estate. It’s the case of David Messenger, formerly of Chaplin, Connecticut. By law, convicted murderers cannot profit from their misdeeds, but this case points out a major flaw in that law.

David Messenger, who’s now 64, is free to walk the streets everyday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. under minimally supervised release after 14 years at the State Mental Hospital at Middletown. He was found ‘innocent by reason of mental defect’ fifteen years ago.  In 1998, he had beaten his pregnant wife Heather, to death with a piece of wood while their five year old son watched.

Psychiatrists from Yale had said it was time to let him out although it was hard to predict if he might have another psychotic episode.

During the time he was institutionalized at Middletown, he actually inherited his wife’s estate estimated to be in excess of a million dollars. “We are absolutely disgusted by the fact that he inherited the money,” said Heather’s sister Hannah Williamson who lives in Michigan. “As far as we’re concerned, this adds to our thinking that he masterminded the whole thing.” Hannah says the family lives in fear, and the fact that Messenger is confined to Hartford and Middlesex County is of little solace.

Seeing this all as a great injustice, the family is helping to push a proposed law that would prevent this from ever happening again.

Attorney John Klar has been representing the family for over a decade and testified before state lawmakers today.  “This will was drafted in accordance with the law and permitted him to inherit everything that Heather owned, including proceeds from a homeowner’s policy for the very act of killing her.”

The Judiciary Committee is considering a proposal that would close this obvious legal loophole.  “It would prevent people who kill and are found not guilty by reason of insanity from collecting from the estate of the victim,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Doug Dubitsky (R) Chaplin.

The son, who is now 23, is living with Heather’s brother in Illinois and has received no benefit from his mother’s estate. The family notes that David Messenger has never apologized.

Copyright 2016 WTNH

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