The Murder of Robert "Bob" McClancy

Today, being blog day for me, started out different than most days that I plan to sit down and research a case.  More often than not I do not have a case in mind and rack my brain to find one to catch my attention on any particular day. Today was not like that.  I knew going in I wanted to research two cases as my next two blogs.  The biggest issue I had to decide was which one I wanted to do first. Both cases were ones that I had heard about on different crime shows this week and both peaked my interests very much.  Ultimately I decided to do the Bob McClancy murder case first because, for one, it had so many twists and turns in it that it nearly seems impossible to be true and secondly, part of the case involves the issue of fraud and bilking the government of benefits.  

On May 15, 2006 9-1-1 dispatchers in Monroe County Tennessee received a call from a man named Charles "Chuck" Kaczmarczyk.  They were told that Chuck had gone to the home of his friend, Robert "Bob" McClancy, and had found him unresponsive.  While police and an ambulance were dispatched it was suggested that CPR should be started but even then Chuck insisted that his friend was already dead and that CPR would not help so he refused to try.  Officers would arrive and immediately thought things looked a little odd, almost as if the man in the reclining chair, who was obviously dead, looked as if he had been placed in the chair.  His body position just did not sit right with investigators.  In one hand Bob had a bottle of prescription medication and in the other was a .38 caliber revolver.  It did not appear that the gun had been used.

Looking around the home, investigators found some other things that seemed rather odd. There were more pills scattered around the floor and the kitchen counter and they also found a living will placed on the kitchen counter, out in the open that was all but a Do Not Resuscitate order.  In another area they found a digital camera.  Believing that the camera likely belonged to the deceased man in the chair investigators did not hesitate to look at the pictures.  The pictures told them again that what they were looking at in the home was not all that it seemed.  The pictures were of Bob, in his chair, but exactly as they had found him. In some pictures the bottle of pills would be in one hand and in another picture they would be in the other hand; sometimes the gun they found next to the body was there, and sometimes it was not.  In one picture the gun was visible but the pill bottle was not.

Investigators obviously could not prove a murder at that point but they did take Chuck Kaczmarczyk into the station and they would charge him with tampering with evidence of a crime scene.  But, those charges did not go anywhere because a judge would rule that it had been discovered that the camera belonged to Kaczmarczyk and considering that a search warrant had not been obtained the pictures were not allowed to be used as evidence.  The case crumbled..... at least for now.

An autopsy was performed on Bob McClancy and it was discovered that he had two anti-psychotic drugs in his system.  Both were apparently prescribed to Bob as he had been diagnosed with PTSD from his time in the U.S. Marine Corp and combat in the Vietnam War.  However, his system showed that he had four times the recommended dose of one of them and twenty times the recommended dose of the other.  The question now was, had he taken these pills himself or had he been forced in some way to do so.

So often we hear of cases in which a death has been ruled a suicide and the families are unaccepting of the ruling and fight to have the case re-opened. I will admit that while there are some cases in which a death has been staged to look like a suicide when a murder has actually occurred, a vast majority are actual suicides in my opinion. Regardless, that does not stop families from digging deeper, and despite the fact that Bob's death was not apparently ever really ruled officially a suicide, the lack of substantial evidence to prove otherwise was not really there, his family had their own ideas.

It is true, and nearly everyone agrees, that Bob did suffer from PTSD from his military time. He had been in different sorts of veteran support groups and had obviously gotten medication to help control his issues.  Most family members say that Bob did not like to take the medication that was prescribed because of either the side effects or because he really did not feel that it helped.  They also agreed that he did have bouts of depression associated with the PTSD.  But, one of the first things that jumped out at his family was Bob's apparent Will. According to family members the Will that was presented not only completely left Bob's daughter (who admittedly he had a strained, if not non-existent relationship) out, it used a tone of wording that no one believed Bob would have used to express himself.  The Will itself left all of his possessions to his wife, Martha Ann.  Now of course "feelings" by others and claims of how people express themselves, especially in writing, is by no means any sort of evidence of a wrongdoing but it did open up more suspicion. 

There was the proof that he had in fact suffered from PTSD and had been prescribed the medication.  There was also medical reports, as well as the words from Chuck and Martha Ann, that Bob had overdosed in the past from his medication.  They even indicated that the over dosing may have been intentional. That being said, for the next, nearly six years, despite any suspicion, anyone, including family and law enforcement had, the case was all but inactive.  

Soon after Bob's death people began noticing that Bob's widow, Martha Ann and his "best friend" Chuck Kaczmarczyk were getting very close it seemed.  Many passed it off believing they were all but consoling each other through the loss of their husband and friend.  It made a few uncomfortable, but again they brushed it off.  Many of her friends tried to simply be happy for her that she was moving forward. Then it seemed as if she rather quickly not only moved on, but moved away.  Five months after Bob's death (and apparently the day after her 57th birthday) Martha and Chuck were married in Las Vegas.  This came as a surprise to many people, including Martha's son, Sean McGavic.  Over the next five years or so family and friends only heard from Martha sporadically but it was explained as being very busy working in the Washington D.C. area, as well as traveling and touring areas of, not just the country but the world.  Martha and Chuck had bought a very elaborate motor home to travel and were known to have taken several different cruises over the years.

Then in late 2011 they, as the saying goes, screwed up.  Apparently Chuck, with Martha by his side, had been giving lectures and speeches around the country, mainly at colleges in their ROTC departments on his military career.  He was a decorated veteran who had been involving in some way with several different high profile events including a tour in Vietnam and involved in rescue efforts during 9/11.  Martha was even known in some groups as having her own Air Force career and had some believing she too had received a Purple Heart after the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.  At one of these particular speeches a reporter was in the audience and wrote a news article on the couple, more specifically Chuck.  A group of veteran's who knew Chuck personally became very suspicious. Many of these said veterans had not seen Chuck in many years but his stories did not ring true to them because they had known Chuck during his military time.  Several would say that Chuck had pretty much been a "blow hard" and an exaggerator of stories even back in his military time and they never really gave him a second thought but now it seemed he was officially, at least in some areas, misrepresenting himself and his career.  For true military veterans this is a huge issue for them.  

The Department of Veteran Affairs was contacted to look into Chuck Kaczmarczyk's claims. At first glance everything seemed to be just as Chuck had proclaimed.  It looked as if all his paperwork was in order and he was the decorated soldier he had claimed to be.  The investigator in charge of the case however, felt he needed to look deeper because every other veteran he had spoken to that knew Chuck was adamant that his claims were false.  Soon it was discovered that Martha was also claiming to people that she too had a military career.  I am unsure that she had the "documents" to back up her claims though, and while not illegal per se as long as she herself was not benefiting from these claims made the case against Chuck "smell" even worse.  So, more digging was required.  Through that it was discovered that both Martha and Chuck were receiving benefits in several areas, some coming from the Veterans Department and others from the Social Security administration that they may not have been entitled to.  

Let's start with the Veteran's benefits.  First, it looked suspicious that Chuck and Martha had married one day after her 57th birthday.  This was significant because according to Veteran benefit rules if she remarried after her 57th birthday she was entitled to Bob's benefits for the remainder of her life.  Chuck was also receiving benefits based on the paperwork and documents the investigator had found.  If they were in fact true then all was right with the world, but, if they were not, that meant he was receiving benefits that he was not completely entitled too.

A further look discovered that not only was Martha receiving Bob's veteran benefits but she was also receiving his Social Security benefits also.  According to their rules she would only be entitled to those if she was over 60 years old when she remarried.  So, apparently Martha and Chuck had a second wedding date..... exactly three years after the first one.  This one was apparently given to the Social Security Administration.  On top of this it was discovered that both Martha and Chuck were receiving disability benefits through the SSA.  At this point the couple was being watched.  

We've all seen it a thousand times on the investigative journalist shows.  Investigators are assigned to follow people around who claim to be disabled and catch them in doing things they have claimed to doctors and others they cannot do.  This case was no different in that respect but as the investigator I saw interviewed said, the extent that Martha and Chuck took it was almost comical.  They were both claiming to be wheelchair bound apparently, with the other spouse being their sole caregiver.  This latter part is important because not only can it offer more benefits to a caregiver, it also prevents any other government agency from requiring the "caregiving" spouse to work and qualify for other benefits.  Now, to be clear I do not think that their motive behind showing the other person as a caregiver was to bilk yet another government agency out of money but likely more so that their bigger scheme (that they were both collecting disability benefits) was not revealed.  

As the spouse of a disabled person who does collect, legally I might add, disability benefits I was a bit confused as to the next bit of information the investigators revealed.  They indicated that Martha and Chuck had regular visits to the Social Security Administration basically as a status report.  Then again, considering the sting that was going on, those visits may have been part of the "set up."  After first video taping the couple doing yard work, walking around, and picking up heavy things, all things they had claimed they could not do, they also taped them as first Chuck, and then Martha had an appointment at the Social Security office.  They observed that the couple had one wheelchair and depending on who's appointment they were going to that person used the wheelchair while the other person (who remember by their own claims cannot do this) pushed them.  In my opinion this was an extremely risky move considering the person behind the desk could likely have easily discovered the "caregiver" was also receiving their own benefits, but then again, I do not scam people so I am not a risk taker in that department.  Seeing how they operated the investigators got an idea.  

By the time May 2012 had rolled around investigators were certain not just that the Kaczmarczyk's were faking their own disabilities but that they had also, at the very least, faked documents pertaining to Chuck's military service to receive more benefits.  But of course they felt they needed more proof.  Knowing that the couple only had one wheelchair that they seemingly shared to use at their visits to the Social Security Administration they decided to see what would happen if they both had an appointment at the same time.  As I stated earlier, an investigator stated, and I agree, if it was not so infuriating what they were doing it would have been almost comical.  The couple got to the office and apparently had decided that Martha would use the wheelchair.  They seemingly had also gotten a walker and a cane, both of which Chuck used.  And, for added affect Chuck also had an oxygen tank with him.  The couple was arrested in June of 2012 for fraud.

As with most cases, especially cases such as what the investigators had at the time, Chuck and Martha had their initial court visits and charges presented and were released awaiting the outcome of their case.  By September of 2012 they had both pleaded guilty.  Chuck was sentenced to 30 months and while I cannot find it officially I believe Martha's sentence was 21 months or there about.  Before she was to turn herself in to serve out her sentence Martha began the process of cleaning out their home.  Along with their prison sentences they were obviously required to pay restitution from the money they had received for nearly six years. What that amount was seems to vary depending on the articles that I read.  I few said it was over $500,000, others said just over $100,000.  My guess is that it was somewhere in between.  One reports says that Chuck alone was bringing in $3,200 a month solely from his fraudulent veteran's benefits.  This would not count his faked disability nor Martha's.  And, for the record, within her plea Martha apparently admitted to helping falsify documents, especially for Chuck, to obtain more money.  At any rate either they were required to sell the house for restitution or it was just simply the smart move since they could hardly make payments without income, let alone being in prison. In the process of cleaning things out of the house Martha sent a lot of things to her son, Sean McGavic, including thousands upon thousands of documented papers and at least one computer.

At this point many people who had been friends with Martha over the years had ended that friendship due to her criminal actions.  One of her former friends was interviewed on the episode of Dateline that I watched and for her, as it was for many, the fact that Martha and Chuck had stolen benefit from veteran's was a huge thing for them, just as it had been for the veterans that had pushed for the investigation.  Of course people were also upset that they had faked disabilities and seemingly were living "high off the hog." They also realized that the couple had made up stories about jobs they had seemingly to explain some of the high end things they had such as the motor home they had bought as well as their many travels. And yet still, aside from Bob's family, no one else seemed to connect any dots to Bob's death.

Soon after his mother had sent all the items to his home, Sean McGavic was in the process of wiping the computer his mother had sent and had insisted his kids used.  He was doing what most responsible people do when they obtain a computer, especially one that will be used by minors, checking what was on the hard drive and making sure it was appropriate.  It was then that he came across picture of his stepfather, Bob McClancy.  These were not just any ordinary pictures of the stepfather he had adored.  These were seemingly pictures of him taken after his death.  At first Sean thought maybe they were the police photos.  I mean really, who wants to think that their parent could have been involved in a murder?  Then he not only realized that it was unlikely his mother would have gotten police photos, but he examined what he was seeing more closely.  These ended up being the exact same pictures that investigators had found on the digital camera in the house the day Bob McClancy died. It was the same pictures that a judge had ruled inadmissible when charges were filed against Chuck Kaczmarczyk for tampering with evidence. Sean was left initially wondering not only where the pictures came from but why they would have been uploaded to his mother's computer.

For his part Sean contacted the investigator from the Department of Veteran's Affairs who had been a part of the fraud case against Martha and Chuck.  It is reasonable to believe that while those investigators may not have known a lot about Bob's case and his death, they had discovered that Martha had been drawing not just Veteran benefits but also Social Security benefits after Bob's death, through his name. It is likely that when they were investigating the fraud case they had already determined that Martha had married Chuck the day after her 57th birthday, to legally obtain the veteran's benefits but had purposely remarried him exactly three years later to show a date to legally obtain the social security benefits.  One has to wonder why Martha would have married Chuck in the first place considering she could have received the benefits legally at those ages without ever being married.  Her lawyers would later claim in court that she had married Chuck in order to receive medical benefits though his veteran's policy.  They would also claim that the marriage was "in name only." And to be fair, at some point she did divorce Chuck but I could not determine just when that divorce occurred.  

So, while they were digging around once again into the couple it came about that these pictures, now found on Martha's old computer had in fact been seen over six years earlier but could not be legally used.  This time around however, they had been obtained legally as Sean was now the owner of the computer, as well as the content and it was he who had turned them over to authorities.  Working with the investigators Sean had a conversation with his mother about the pictures to see what her reaction would be.  She would simply tell Sean to get rid of them.  Never once did she claim not to have ever seen them; nor did she seemingly come off as being suspicious of Chuck in anyway.  What she did seem like was angry, an emotion that Sean says he knew all too well from his upbringing, and all but demanded that he destroy them.  

To investigators her reaction seemed odd to them if they wanted to clear her from being involved in the death of her husband.  Reasonably an innocent person would have claimed to not having seen the pictures and likely immediately become suspicious as to just how they got on her computer as well as how the "love of her life" as she would later call Bob had actually died.  This would mean she would have been suspicious Chuck considering it was well known that he was the person who not only found Bob in the house (at least as was portrayed) but had also called 9-1-1 reporting his death.  And yet, not once did she react or ask the questions a person who had no idea of what may or may not had really happened would have.  Before we go any further... I know, I know... everyone reacts to trauma and grief differently, I have heard it a million times.  Feelings and reactions to them are obviously not proof of anything but it does open the doors or the minds of people to look further.

Since investigators believed they were not likely to get very far discussing things about Bob's death with Martha, especially considering she knew her son had found the pictures they decided to go talk to Chuck.  It appears he began to "sing like a canary" as the saying goes. In the end, as so many involved in criminal acts that testify against others, he would claim that Martha was not only the instigator, but also the perpetrator in the death of her husband Bob.  He agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and to testify against Martha in court as to his version of what happened to Bob McClancy.  

In November of 2015 Martha Ann McGavic McClancy Kaczmarczyk (now going by McClancy) went on trial for 1st degree murder, attempting to commit 1st degree murder and conspiracy to commit 1st degree murder.  For their part the prosecutors went with Chuck's story.  And just what was that story?  According to Chuck he had met Bob at a live-in therapy course that they had both taken to help with PTSD and they had become fast friends. Sometime later he had met Martha through Bob and they had become romantic.  He had quickly become intertwined in their lives, visiting often and even helping Martha take Bob to doctor and emergency visits.  As the attraction between the two intensified Bob claimed that he had seen Martha mix what he says she called "magic dust" into Bob's food.  He of course would claim that he was not certain what she was really doing but he suspected.  He also said that he would notice Bob very lethargic the day after one of her "magic dust" potions. Then again out the other side of his mouth Chuck would say that  Martha eluded to if Bob was gone they could be together.  He stated that on May 14, 2006, the day before Bob died Martha told Chuck what he should do if he were to ever find Bob dead, which was to set the stage to look like a suicide.  According to Chuck either he, or Martha, or both believed that a suicide ruling would result in bigger benefit money, but I am unsure this is accurate.  Chuck would claim that while he did not supposedly know when his death would occur he assumed that it would be soon when Martha had this conversation with him.  Chuck says Martha called him on the 16th and simply told him to go to the house, he also admitted to not only positioning the body but also planting the pills and the gun at the scene before calling 9-1-1. 

For their part, Martha's defense attorney placed all the blame on Chuck.  They would claim that Martha was no different than many other people (and administrations) had been fooled and conned by Chuck and that she had played no part in the death of her husband.  The defense had a little going for them it seems.  Chuck did have a bit of a shady past.  The only real charge it seems that he had faced, aside from the fraud charges that the defense likely downplayed since their client was admittedly involved, was for the theft of some radios from a few Air Force bases in 2000.  He had apparently served a short jail term for that.  But, there had been suspicion and rumor surrounding him for years and even another case in which charges were filed, and later dropped, against him regarding an arson.  In 2001 Chuck had been employed as a firefighter and there were rumors swirling that not only was he battling the fires with his job, but he was also setting them and reporting them before hand. Apparently, much like the legalities over the pictures found on his camera, there was not enough other evidence against him to prove anything.  The only witness that the defense put on the stand was Martha herself who would staunchly proclaim her innocence when it came to the death of her husband. The defense did not really necessarily accuse Chuck of murdering Bob, although of course they did not leave out that possibility.  They focused some attention on Bob himself.  They pointed out that according to them, and apparently reported records, Bob had overdosed on his medication twice prior to his death.  As with many defense attorney's they would not be doing their job if they did not throw out every possibility there was that did not involve their client and hope that one of them would stick with a jury.  Remember, all they have to do is create "reasonable doubt."

So, when it came to trial it seemed to be mainly the word of Chuck against the word of Martha as to who was involved and how, and that alone is not going to, or at least it is not supposed to anyway, be enough to convict anyone.  However, there were other things that may not have pointed to Chuck's exact story being true, which in reality it probably was not completely on the up and up, but did point that Martha was likely involved in, knew about or participated in the death of her husband. While the defense had brought up the issue of prior dates of supposed overdose attempts, the prosecution had their own suspicions on those incidents.  On the stand in her defense Martha would claim that Bob often "confused" his doses of medication and that he refused to allow her to help monitor this doses.  Yet, the prosecution had records from his VA file stating that Martha herself had told officials that she herself was regulating his intake of medication.  Additionally it was pointed out that during one of these supposed "overdoses" Martha and Chuck both had taken Bob to a hospital nearly three hours away (presumably a VA Hospital) rather than drive him to the closest available emergency room for help.  

From the prosecution's prospective these supposed claims of overdose were created to falsely show a pattern in Bob's behavior so that later the suicide theory would not be questioned.  Of course Bob's family also testified at the trial and many of them claim that he told them he was not taking the medication at all near the time of his death.  What this amounted to is that whether Chuck's story of Martha feeding Bob the "magic dust" and slowly overdosing her husband, or not, there was no way that Martha had not been involved or know what was going on prior to his death.  They were able to determine (although admittedly I am uncertain how) that the Will they found in which Martha was given all rights and possession of Bob's estate and nothing to his daughter had been forged by Martha. 

In the end the jury just could not convict Martha of 1st degree murder with the evidence they were given and rightfully so. But, they did apparently agree with the prosecution that between the Will, the documents they had, the pictures that ended up on her computer, and her efforts to make sure she got Bob's veteran as well as social security benefit, there was little question that she was involved and/or knew exactly what had happened to her husband.  She was ultimately convicted of the other two charges.... attempting to commit 1st degree murder and conspiracy to commit 1st degree murder. 

Chuck had already made a plea deal and had been sentenced to 25 years for his "admitted" role (although again, I don't believe his story was completely true).  He began serving his sentence for that case in August of 2013.  He is eligible for parole in July of 2017 but that does not mean that it will be granted.  Apparently in Tennessee you only have to serve 30% of your sentence to be eligible.  The longest he can serve for this crime itself is until the year 2037.

When Martha was sentenced in June of 2016 she was still proclaiming her innocence but the judge apparently was not buying it.  He sentenced her to 50 years (25 for each charge), the maximum he was allowed under the law.  In fact, he stated if he had been allowed to give her more, he would have.  Officially her time began in June of 2014.  She is not eligible for parole until November of 2022.  Like Chuck, her parole is not automatic and her listed end date is in November of 2063.

I should point out that while the defense was obviously eager I am sure to make sure everyone knew of Chuck Kaczmarczyk's shady past they would have fought hard not to have things that made Martha look bad entered into the court.  In fairness, the things I found were not things she had ever legally been charged for anyway (aside from the fraud case from 2012) and would not have been allowed in the trial, but in my opinion show us another side of Martha.  According to my research at some point Martha's son, Sean McGavic, who she had adopted when married to her first husband had been hurt in an auto accident.  I cannot say how old he was or find any other information about the accident other than apparently Sean was severely hurt and was wheelchair bound for nearly a year.  Martha sued (I am unsure who) and won an out of court settlement that was put in an account showing Martha as the guardian of the account.  It was said that Sean had to sue Martha at some point later to obtain these funds.  It was also reported that Martha filed a case against the local sheriff's department pertaining to the day that Bob McClancy was found dead in their home. In her claim Martha states that a deputy sheriff had pushed her when she tried to re-enter her home that day.  Again, there was an out of court, unspecified settlement made.  These were just the cases that I hear about but there was speculation that there were others that were not mentioned.  Of course there is nothing wrong necessarily with filing a court case if you were wronged or injured and entitled.  However, in the first case it seems extremely odd that she would sue, seemingly on behalf of her son, and he had to sue to access the funds (and one has to wonder how much of the funds were still available then) and in the second one it just seems rare for someone to sue so quickly after the death of a spouse against the local police department.  

Of course neither of these cases have anything to do with the death of her husband, but it also eludes to the fact, when you add it to her admitted crimes involving the fraud to government agencies that she likely was not the naive and easily conned person her attorney's made her out to be.  In fact, those who know Martha claim she was not a meek and easily manipulated person they made her out to be, actually quite the contrary as they claim she was a manipulator herself. 

In the end it was Martha's own actions that got her caught in death of her husband. Between the fact that she and Chuck had been caught bilking the government she had given her son the computer that had the pictures of Bob on it.  She had not been the nice, cookie making mother to her son who already apparently had a bit of a strained relationship with his mother due to her personality and finding the pictures likely opened up more wounds and suspicion.  She did nothing to deter those suspicions with her continued attitude.  Gladly however she was finally unable to continue to manipulate those around her and is serving her time, to what will likely amount to the rest of her life in a Tennessee prison for her crimes.


Comments

  1. I watched this story last night on Saturday dateline and had a couple of questions. One, an early picture of Mrs. McClancey showed her with a husband and two sons: what happened to the other son and why was he never mentioned as part of the story? Also, what happened to the first husband, father of the sons? The story didn't mention what the father-son relationship was.

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