Did a successful accountant hire a hit man to kill his wife?

Anita Green

Composite of the man on the motorcycle

CASE DETAILS

Anita was found dead in her car

On October 25, 1990, Anita Green was shot once through the head while waiting in the parking lot of her husband’s accounting firm in North Hollywood, California.  After two days in a coma, she died.  Now Anita’s friend, Michele Samit, who has written a book about Anita’s murder, believes the same man has targeted her:

“The knowledge that this guy’s out on the streets terrifies me every day, whether it’s the person I think did it or not, because any person who did it knows that I know a lot about this case that they don’t want me to know.”

This is a chilling story of two innocent women—one of them murdered, the other apparently stalked.  The saga began in 1974 when Anita Green met her husband.  At the time, Anita worked as a bookkeeper in Mel Green’s accounting firm. Both were married to other people. After nearly seven years, they left their spouses to wed one another. Michele Samit was shocked—not only because Mel weighed more 500 pounds, but also because he convinced Anita to sign an outrageous prenuptial agreement:

“Basically, there was a provision in it that he wore the pants in the family and he was the supreme boss, the god, the absolute ruler.  And if they ever had a disagreement, he’d automatically win just because of that rule.”

A witness saw a man shoot Anita

The marriage was difficult for Anita and she became active at her synagogue as a much needed refuge.  Most of the time, Anita made excuses for her husband.  But according to Michele, she occasionally let her guard down:

“She’d say she was afraid of her husband, but then she said, ‘Oh, you know Mel’s just a loudmouth.  He likes to hear himself talk.  He’s a blowhard.  He’s not really going to do anything to me.’  She had all the classic symptoms of an abused woman—thinking they were in control, thinking they knew what they were doing, but really frightened and scared.”

Eventually, Anita was elected president of the synagogue.  As a result, she and her rabbi spent a lot of time together, eventually becoming romantically involved.  When Anita asked Mel for a divorce, he was furious.  But despite his bitterness, Mel Green insisted that Anita continue to work at his accounting firm.  Anita’s attorney, Janis McDonald, handled their divorce proceedings:

“Mel was inconsistent. One minute, ‘I don’t need you.  You’re not worth anything.’ The next minute, he’d absolutely be insistent she had to work for him.”

Throughout the divorce proceedings, Green bombarded Anita and her lawyer with threatening letters.  Only after Anita was murdered were the letters turned over to the Los Angeles Police Department.  Detective Ray Hernandez was the lead investigator on the case:

“Melvin Green did send some letters where he threatened to kill Anita Green. In my mind, it gave more credence to him being involved in her shooting.”

Detective Hernandez found three different witnesses to Anita’s murder.   One was a man who worked across the street from Green’s firm.  According to Detective Hernandez, the witness observed Green emerge from the building minutes before Anita drove up in her red Corvette:

“That’s a door that is not used very often.  So it was unusual to this witness across the street to see this. After he observed Melvin Green looking, he observed Anita Green turn the corner closely followed by a motorcycle.”

Melvin Green was tried and convicted

A second witness was working on a nearby roof.  According to Detective Hernandez, this person saw even more:

“And what caught his attention was he heard a motorcycle arrive, parked on the wrong side of the street. He observed the individual approach Anita Green, fire one shot, immediately ran to his motorcycle, and at a high rate of speed, go northbound on the street.”

Finally, a third witness helped police come up with a composite drawing.  The witness had seen the motorcyclist without his helmet on just after Anita’s murder.  Investigators now began to suspect that Green had hired a hit man to kill his wife.  Their suspicions increased when they heard about Green’s behavior at the hospital.  Only moments after Anita died—with her body still in the room—Mel reportedly had a bizarre exchange with Anita’s friend, Phyllis Baltin:

“He was talking about how much weight he had lost and how good he looked. It was absolutely nauseating. There was not one moment of remorse, not one tear shed. He was as talkative as if she was wide-awake and sitting there watching us.”

The day after Anita was shot, Detective Hernandez tried to interview Green at his office. Green refused to cooperate but the investigation continued.  According to Detective Hernandez, the scenario of Anita Green’s murder began to gel:

“We were able to piece together the fact that Melvin Green specifically controlled the date and time Anita Green was supposed to be at his office. That would allow Melvin Green to have somebody hired to follow her and shoot her, and that’s how Anita Green was shot.”

Ultimately, Mel Green was arrested for conspiring to kill his wife, even though there was no physical evidence that he had hired someone to shoot her.  On March 4, 1992, a jury convicted Green of first-degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  In May of 1992, Michele Samit visited Mel Green at the Los Angeles County Jail, where he was awaiting transfer to a state prison.  Against his lawyer’s advice, Green had agreed to be interviewed for her book.  Michele conducted the interview with an open mind:

“I started to listen to him. And for the first weeks of our visits, I wasn’t certain of anything anymore.  But as our visits continued, Mel himself made me more certain of his guilt than ever before.”

Michele continued her investigation, but one thing nagged at her.  How and when had Mel paid the hit man?  Michele claimed she uncovered evidence that Green sold off a $30,000 coin collection just three weeks before Anita was murdered.  Michele told the police about her discovery and continued to interview Green.  Then, according to Michele, one of their subsequent interviews was interrupted by an unusual visitor:

“Mel had visitors come every day during our visits. My visits were all day long. Mel had never asked me to leave during his visits before, and that alone I thought was unusual. And I went downstairs and went into my car. I knew I’d have about a half hour until this guy came out. My mind started to run away with me that this guy looked a lot like the police composite of Anita’s shooter.”

According to Michele, when the visitor left, he got on a motorcycle which fit the description of the one driven by Anita’s killer:

“When I went back to the jail, I made a very stupid mistake. I said to Mel, ‘I’ve got this theory.’”

Michele claimed that when she told Green her suspicion that he hired the motorcyclist to kill Anita, Green threatened her:

“I knew Mel liked to talk like that. This is just a blowhard, just a man talking. Then I realized, ‘God, how stupid can you be, Michele?’ That’s exactly what Anita said, and she’s dead.”

The next day, June 17, 1992, Melvin Green was transferred to a prison east of San Diego.  From there, he sent a stream of frightening letters to Michele:

“He’s threatened to harm my children. He’s threatened to hurt me. But I couldn’t stop because I knew I had the potential to find the answer.”

Michele said that over the next few months, someone began to stalk her. The front gate to her house was ripped from its hinges.  The house itself was vandalized.  And finally, Michele says that an unidentified man hit her in the face, breaking her nose:

“A lot of that has stopped now that the book has come out. But of course, you always live your life fearing what you’ve uncovered might lead to some potential danger for your family.”

Michele Samit believed the man she saw visiting Green in jail was the same man pictured on the police composite.  He had blond hair, dark eyes, a muscular build, and may own a red or maroon Suzuki motorcycle. Investigators think Michele’s theory concerning the gunman has merit and they are anxious for new leads about his identity.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season six with Robert Stack and e in season five with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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13 Comments

  1. The French Criminologist

    I didn’t find when Mel Green is deceased. Is that normal ?

    Reply

  2. Anonymous

    Yes, it seems the jail would have a sign in log. Was it checked?

    Reply

  3. Mean mystery

    And the answer to everyone’s questions, drumroll please…because she’s lying (the author that is). She’s writing a book. She wanted to drum up publicity and put herself in the story to sell books so she made up a story about how she became the target of Mel’s furor. The hitman wouldnt be stupid enough to visit Mel in jail and Mel wouldn’t be stupid enough to let him visit. Mel, that loud mouthed choad, still had hopes of being acquitted so he wouldn’t want the hitman identified either. The hitman couldn’t be dumb enough to visit and he couldn’t be dumb enough to do it while driving the same bike which he used in the hit. All of your suggestions are good but also obvious and I am certain LE would have followed them up. If the author was telling the truth I am sure LE did what you’ve all suggested and either cleares the visitor or just couldn’t connect him.

    Reply

  4. Brett

    How and when did Melvin Green die?

    Reply

  5. krulls house

    Man. So interesting.

    Reply

  6. Johnny

    This should be a solvable case. The guy had an eyewitness description plus only so many people have motorcycle licenses. It’s a shame Anita Greene died shortly from the shot. She could have provided more of a description. This suspect will be caught 1 day. Might be in prison now for another offense.

    Reply

  7. A smart black woman

    I’ve been watching unsolved mystery for some time and I seem to have questions about a lot of this stories in this is one of them like it was said why didn’t the police check the log? Now my suspicions are right a lot of these stories is just to entertain and that is what TV does entertain us.

    Reply

  8. mariah

    Very good detectives in the unsolved mystery audience it seems. All those ideas are good. Mel made the comment his “best friend” was a homeowner because of him. Mel’s gold coins $30K “disappeared” and title can search for homes bought with that amount of down or cash and narrowed to single white male. Also could have identified through Mels other friends who his “good friend ” was. Eerie he is still out there and he knows he got away with murder. Hopefully he will not “get mad” at some unsuspecting girlfriend.

    Reply

  9. Max

    It’s very odd and irritating they didn’t get that guy. That shooter drove around on that motorcycle, so there’s no reason the cops couldn’t have spotted him at some point knowing his description

    1. checked visitors log?
    2. Why didn’t that lady get his licence plate#?
    3. surveillance cameras in prison?
    4. stake out woman’s home and hospital?
    5. Did they search Mel’s home for info?

    Reply

  10. stu

    Didn’t the prison have the guy on the motorcycle sign in

    Reply

  11. Nick

    Why didn’t police check his visitor logs for the date she saw the killer with Melvin Green they be able to figure out some type of alias he’s using or his name

    Reply

  12. Trevor

    Was the person who shot Anita Green ever found and is Melvin Green still in prison?

    Reply