Sharon Kinne murders her husband, her boyfriend’s wife, and a man she met in Mexico.
Weight: 125 lbs.
Defining Characteristics: She has a skin pigmentation disease, has a red port wine scar on the left side of her face
Kinne’s boyfriend found the body
On March 19, 1960, a sheriff's deputy in Independence, Missouri, was summoned by a distraught Sharon Kinne, then 20-years-old. Sharon's husband, James, had been shot once in the back of the head. A .22-caliber target pistol was in plain sight. There was no sign of a struggle. 25-year-old James Kinne died on the way to the hospital.
The next day, Kinne was interviewed by detectives. She said James was in the bedroom cleaning his pistol while she was in the bathroom putting on makeup. James laid down for a nap. Danna, their 2-year-old daughter, wandered into the bedroom and picked up the gun, fired one shot, and killed her father. At the time, James R. Browning was the chief of police of Merriam, Kansas:
"I thought she was credible, and she was very distraught, and it was very genuine. And then, for me, it became the problem of, if the little girl did it, what a shame, what a terrible tragedy."
The murder weapon was found in Mexico
Even though Kinne herself seemed credible, Browning says police did have trouble believing a 2-year-old had fired the fatal shot:
"We were skeptical about the little girl. But unfortunately, they were the only witnesses there. There was no one else to talk to except Sharon Kinne."
James Hays is the author of the book, "The Sharon Kinne Story." He says Kinne was a master confabulator:
"All they could do was just buy into whatever it was Sharon was telling them. And she was very convincing. And that's not to their discredit. When Sharon told you something, you were just expected to believe it. She was that good."
The insurance company bought into Sharon Kinne's story as well, to the tune of $200,000. Kinne used the money to pay cash for a new convertible, and allegedly had an affair with the married man she bought it from. James Hays says it was just business as usual:
"She wanted the salesman to leave his wife and his children and take care of her. She wanted him. In her mind, whatever Sharon wanted, Sharon got."
Age progressed photo of Sharon Kinne
But the salesman apparently had no intention of leaving his family, even though Kinne told him she was pregnant. So Kinne called the salesman's wife, Patricia Jones, and said she was the sister of a woman who was having an affair with her husband. Patricia agreed to meet Kinne, but then never made it home the night they met.
The next day, Kinne herself volunteered to help in the search. She got some help from yet another lover, a man named John Boldisz. They drove around looking for Patricia Jones. According to John, Kinne suggested that they end that evening at a popular lover's lane. While there, Kinne noticed something in the grass and asked John to investigate. James Hays:
"She makes this young man get out and look, and it scares the living bejesus out of him because there is the salesman's wife laying shot and dead in the grass."
Kinne asked John not to tell the police that she was with him when he found the body. But according to James Hays:
"Straightaway, he told them, 'Well, I wasn't out here by myself. I was out with Mrs. Sharon Kinne.' And the name just set off all kinds of bells and whistles in the investigator's head, because they remembered her story from just a couple months before that."
Prosecutors wasted no time. Kinne was charged with the murder of Patricia Jones, and also of her husband, James. Across Missouri, Sharon Kinne became a household name. The Patricia Jones murder trial was first. James Hays says Kinne easily charmed the all-male jury:
"Sharon had control of that courtroom. She had control of the jury. She had control of the spectators. Everybody's attention was focused on Sharon Kinne, even to the point where on the second day after the trial started, Sharon came moseying in late, fashionably late probably in her mind. The trial went on for about 10 days. The jury came back after deliberating only an hour and a half with a verdict of not guilty. The courtroom erupted in cheers. Jurors came out of the juror box and went over and got Sharon's autograph. People in the audience came and got Sharon's autograph."
But Kinne's trials were not over. She still faced the charge of killing her husband, James. The star witness for that prosecution was none other than Sharon's former boyfriend, John Boldisz. He testified that Sharon had once offered him $1,000 to kill her husband. This time, Kinne was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. But in March of 1963, the Missouri Supreme Court overturned her conviction on a legal technicality. Sharon Kinne was released on a $25,000 bond, pending retrial.
Sharon soon had a new lover, a man who listed his occupations as hairdresser and blacksmith. According to James Hays, it was love at first sight:
"They fall in love, decide that what they're gonna do is they're gonna go to Mexico on a pre-marriage honeymoon."
Once in Mexico, a series of misadventures landed Sharon in a seedy hotel room with yet another man. When he turned up dead, she told police she'd acted in self-defense. Mexican authorities didn't believe Sharon's story. Kinne was convicted of murder and sentenced to 13 years in prison. After serving less than five, she escaped in December of 1969 by squeezing through an unguarded window. She hasn't been seen since.
James Hays thinks Kinne had the smarts to really amount to something:
"She could've used her intelligence and used her wit. She could've been a pioneer woman in politics or in academia or anything, but she chose to go the other way around. She let greed, avarice, and promiscuity rule her life."
Some say that Kinne is still alive and well. She may have stayed in Mexico, or she may have gone to Alaska, where she has relatives. Among Kinne's belongings found in Mexico was the .22-caliber target pistol that killed Patricia Jones. But, because of double-jeopardy laws, Kinne cannot be retried for that crime.