E. Glen Wolsieffer
On the surface this case is one of your standard, spouse kills spouse, lies about it and gets caught cases. When you look deeper into the case you see that there were a few things different about this case than some of the other ones.
On the morning of August 30, 1986, around 7:20, a call came into 911 dispatchers in Wilkes-Barr Pennsylvania. Some reports say the call was made by Glen Wolsieffer, a prominent dentist in the area while other reports say it was made by Glen's brother, Neil. Regardless of who made the call first responders went to the home and found Elizabeth “Betty” Wolsieffer dead. A later autopsy would determine that she had been strangled to death. Also in the home was Betty's husband, Glen, and their six year old daughter, Danielle. Danielle was left unhurt but Glen would claim that intruder(s) entered the home that morning and “overpowered” him, knocking him unconscious before apparently killing Betty and fleeing. Police were not exactly buying Glen's story. First, they thought the bedroom, where Betty died, looked to be staged. Secondly, despite Glen's brother, Neil, only living a few doors away, they found it suspicious that Glen had called Neil, before calling 911.
Glen was taken to the hospital and the doctor from the emergency room would later tell a jury that Glen had abrasions on his neck, a bruise on the back of his head and that he had suffered a severe concussion. What the doctor could not say was whether or not these wounds were self inflicted or performed by another person.
It appears that investigators took no time in digging deeper into the crime and looking at all who were involved. It does not seem that it took long for them to discover that not only was Glen currently being unfaithful to Betty, but he had done so many times in their nearly ten years of marriage. At the time of her murder Glen was dating his dental assistant and they had been together for several months. Additionally Glen had recently split from a woman named Carol Kopicki who he had been dating at the same time as the other woman, all while still obviously married to his wife.
Investigators wanted to hear more from Glen's brother, Neil and had called him in to be interviewed. On October 16, 1986, just a month and a half after Betty's murder, Neil was expected for his interview. It has been said that just “minutes” before the scheduled interview Neil was involved in a head-on collision that a coroner would later rule as a suicide. Now, first let me state that I do not know that it was within “minutes” of the interview or if that was added in for dramatics, nor can I say for sure how they determined for certain that it was a suicide. But, I can only report what I can find so that is the “official” story. Investigators wanted to obviously talk to him some more and nail him down on a story, likely armed with information they had since obtained.
It seems that it was not until 1988 that investigators officially stated Glen Wolsieffer was a suspect in his wife's murder despite apparently thinking so early on. By that time Glen had rekindled his relationship with Carol Kopicki and the couple moved, with Danielle, to Virginia. It was said that the move was to take him away from all of the rumors and speculation in Pennsylvania. It appears as though while investigators continued to work on the case, it remained in the news. A columnist for a local newspaper conducted an interview with Glen concerning the case. Later in a rare move the columnist, as well as three other employees of the newspaper were charged with a crime for taping the interview without Glen's knowledge, something Pennsylvania prohibits. When word got out, apparently several years later, the newspaper proceeded to publish the entire transcript of the interview. To be fair I did not find any outcome of the case against the newspaper and defense attorney's failed in an appeal when they said they had no knowledge of the tape prior to Glen's later trial.
Then in November of 1989 Glen Wolsieffer was arrested at his Virginia home and charged with the murder of his wife. He was almost immediately released on a $200,000 bond and allowed to go back to his Virginia home. Some of the conditions of doing so was he was to contact the Wilkes-Barr police twice a day, indulge in no alcohol or drugs or have contact with his former wife's family. Information pertaining to what exactly came out that lead to his arrest or even evidence that would later be presented at trial seems hard to find. The best that I can come up with is that Carol Kopicki, who by this time was living with Glen, had refused to be fully cooperative with investigators until they offered her some sort of immunity.
Glen's trial would begin in November of 1990. He would be charged with what was called 3rd degree murder. I am unsure I had ever seen that before and did a search for it's understanding. It appears that while Pennsylvania calls it “3rd degree murder” most places call it voluntary manslaughter. This is common for what is known as crimes of passion that occur without any prior intent. The prosecutor theorized that the murder occurred when Betty confronted Glen over his affairs. Friends had stated that Betty had previously known of affairs and confronted him but that he had continued to be unfaithful. They also stated that Betty had said she believed it was still, or continuing to happen. The prosecutor, although I have no facts as to how they came to this conclusion, believed that this was the last straw for Betty and that once more confronted Glen and that the argument escalated to a point in which Glen had strangled her. They continued to theorize that either Glen had obtained his own injuries either by self infliction or with the help of his now deceased brother, Neil.
The defense argued that Glen's original story of an intruder was in fact the truth. They also apparently told the jury about a palm print on a desk near Betty's body and stated it did not belong to Glen. The problem is that I found nothing to indicate that the print was identified at all as there seemed to be little information available about specifics about the trial.
After a twelve day trial and six hours of deliberation the jury returned with a verdict of guilty. And, while I recently mentioned how rare it is for a judge to allow someone convicted out on bail while awaiting appeals, it happened once again here. Whether he was released on an additional $200,000 bond or in conjunction with the original bond is unclear. However, by June of 1992 all of his appeals had failed and the judge sentenced him to eight to twenty years in the state prison.
In May of 2005, after serving thirteen years of his sentence, and being denied parole five previous times, Glen was awarded parole. How that occurred however has left questions on both sides. Apparently each time he faced the parole board he continued to deny killing Betty. Some reports mentioned him not taking responsibility or expressing remorse. They would ultimately deny parole and recommend a program through the prison in one area or another. When he met with the board in March of 2005 it was said that he admitted murdering his wife, but like much in this case, I found no specifics as to what he did, or did not say. His family, including his mother, sister and daughter had continued to proclaim his innocence. Most believe that he simply admitted committing the crime, and feigned remorse so that he could get out of prison.
Upon his release from prison Glen went to live in a half way house for about two weeks before he was reunited into the community. He was to remain on parole until 2012. I found something that indicated that near the end of 2005 he asked to move to Connecticut bu may have actually moved back to Virginia. Just exactly where he is or where he went seems to be unclear. I also found a report that stated that prior to his incarceration Carol Kopicki gave birth to Glen's child, but again I cannot confirm this.
In nearly every case that I blog about here I obviously have an opinion on whether the accused is in fact guilty or at least about proceedings in the court. The problem here was that there was so little factual information on the case. I like to see all of that to help determine how I feel about guilt or innocence. Also, not knowing anything about his so called admittance to the crime at his last parole hearing leaves me wondering if in fact it was not simply done to be released from prison. That can always be iffy. For decades Jeffrey MacDonald has been in prison for the murders of his wife and children. He continues to maintain his innocence. I personally believe he is guilty, just for the record, but it has often been said if he just admitted to the crime he would likely be released. There are those who say he does not admit to the crime, including MacDonald himself, because he is innocent and will not admit to something he did not do. There are others who say he does not admit to the crime because he's narcissistic. But, if he were to come out tomorrow and admit to the crime, and give details it would be difficult to know if it was true, or he was finally doing it to get out of prison. We all know a theory by a prosecutor is just that... a theory. We also know in cases such as this information and “evidence” have floated around for years. Someone who is simply giving a confession can use all that information to piece together a story that sounds plausible. For those who believe Glen Wolsieffer guilty then thirteen years was hardly long enough for taking the life of his wife. But, on the flip side, considering his prominence and all other things that developed about the case, the fact he was convicted is obviously better than nothing.