I’m not disappointed with Wisconsin. Just as long as the snow only accumulates on the yards and not the roads, we would be ideal. Since that doesn’t happen, I have to find other ways to enjoy Wisconsin in winter. Enter true crime sites. Today I found a unique true crime case that was new to me. If you haven’t heard of it, sit back and enjoy, if you have, then please share more of your thoughts on the case.
On March 11, 1980, Lane McIntyre returned home from working third shift at the paper mill in Columbus, Wisconsin. First thing that he noticed was that the dog was outside on a chain. This was unusual. When 23-year-old Lane entered the house, he was shocked at what he saw. There on the floor was his 18-year-old wife, Marilyn, dead. A steak knife was protruding from her chest.
Being in shock, Lane was unable to move immediately, when he had processed the sight in front of him, he immediately ran to his 3-month-old son’s room to ensure he was okay. Baby Christopher was asleep and unharmed. Lane then raced to the phone, called his parents and begged them to call the police. This made little sense to me, as if he was calling his parents why not simply call the police himself?
Police arrived shortly after being called. They reviewed the crime scene and noted a few points of interest: there were no signs of forced entry, so whomever did this to Marilyn was someone she knew and would have allowed into the home. The steak knife was plunged into her chest postmortem. Because of the level of rage and the violence, police believed it was someone that was angry with Marilyn. Lane was immediately a person of interest.
Lane informed the police that he had been at work all night, and his timecard supported his denial. But Lane often worked by alone and was allowed to take breaks, Lane’s alibi was not ironclad. Another suspicious motive was that Lane had taken out a life insurance policy against his wife only days before she died.
The police were able to narrow down the time of murder to around 3 a.m. The neighbor mentioned that the dog had started barking then and had woken her. After speaking with Marilyn’s other family and friends, it was learned there was another person who held a grudge against Marilyn, family friend Curtis Forbes. Someone she would have been comfortable with in the house.
Curtis was furious with Marilyn as she had encouraged his girlfriend, Debra Attleson, to break up with him. Curtis also had an alibi but not an airtight one. He had informed police that he had been out drinking at a bar and then went to see a friend, Lori Beattie and her boyfriend around 1 a.m. Lori Beattie confirmed he was there but added something that Curtis had omitted.
Lori stated that Curtis had eventually offered to go get beer, and never returned to the house. Police spoke with Curtis again regarding this new information.
Curtis said he had decided to go back to see Debra Attleson, and she confirmed that he had spent the night with her, but he hadn’t arrived until 4 a.m. There were missing hours to Curtis’s story that he couldn’t account for.
After he had spoken to police, Curtis fled town. Since there was no hard evidence there were no arrests. The case went cold.
Twenty-seven years passed. In 2007, Marilyn’s niece contacted the Columbia County Sheriff’s office instead of the Columbus Police. Marilyn’s family were dedicated to solving her murder and family members would periodically contact the police for any updates. Sheriff’s detectives were intrigued by the unheard-of case and decided to reinvestigate it, especially since they had more DNA technology.
When reviewing the case, there was an odd blood sample from the bathroom sink. It was sent to the lab and came back mentioning it was Marilyn’s blood and a mystery person.
For twenty-seven years, Lane had lived with the rumors about the possibility of his involvement in the death of his wife and his reputation was ruined in town. This also led to an estrangement with his son, Christopher. He offered a DNA sample, and the mystery person’s DNA, did not match Lane. With this evidence he was finally exonerated.
Debra Attleson had told Lori Beattie about that night when Curtis had come over, Lori hadn’t told police as she assumed that Debra had mentioned it, but what Curtis did when he arrived at Debra’s house was ask her to wash his shirt as it had blood on it. And she had done it.
But it wasn’t enough, police needed to tie Curtis to the crime. They made the difficult decision to exhume Marilyn’s body to see if any DNA remained under her fingernails. Now the police decided to turn up the heat and not only exhume the body, but they highly publicized it. Their hope was that the killer would be rattled and make a wrong move.
And it worked.
What they didn’t publicize is that any DNA that may have been there was too deteriorated for them to get a sample. Curtis had been under surveillance, and they had learned he was contacting a carpenter’s union in Hawaii. He was planning to disappear by faking his own death on Lake Michigan.
Because Debra Attleson stated she did see blood on his shirt that morning, the police had enough probable cause to arrest him. And when his phone call in jail to Debra was recorded and Curtis didn’t deny he had blood on his shirt, police felt he had cemented his guilt.
The jury believed that as well. Three hours of deliberations and they came back with a guilty verdict, and a sentence of life in prison.
That my friends is the case of young Marilyn McIntyre. I’m entirely glad that her family didn’t give up otherwise it’s possible that Curtis Forbes would have gotten away with murder. I hope she and her family can now find peace. I also hope that Lane and his son have rebuilt their relationship.
Stay Curious my Friends!