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When a businesswoman is murdered, her family believes it was not a random crime.
On the night of November 29, 1994, in Webster, Texas, 58 year-old Joan Jefferies died alone and scared in a suburban parking lot. The killer shot her twice in the head at close range. Then, he fired two more times. Both bullets pierced her heart. No one has ever been charged with the murder. But Joan’s family is sure they know exactly who killed her: a former business partner named Sam Patel. Kelley Walker is Joan’s daughter:
Sam Patel denies any involvement:
Joan was a clerk at an aerospace firm in Houston. Sam Patel worked there as a software engineer. But he had bigger plans. The company would be called Best Aviation — a commuter airline for gamblers. In April of 1994, he asked Joan to help him start the company. Joan’s daughter said her mother was thrilled:
Patel also put Joan on the company’s Board of Directors. Although Patel was married, he and Joan often held meetings at the home of his girlfriend, Richie Guyote:
Patel told Joan that overseas investors would be funding Best Aviation within a few months. Meanwhile, he wanted to get life insurance for the company’s key employees. Joan was insured for a quarter of a million dollars. Sam Patel explained:
Joan’s son, Darrel Jefferies, thought the move was suspicious:
Patel agreed to pay Joan a monthly salary. But in the next seven months, she received only one check and it bounced. Kelley claims that her mother wanted to quit, but Patel convinced her to stay. Patel says that’s not true:
By then, Joan’s back wages totaled close to $4,000. Two weeks later, Patel showed up at her apartment late at night. According to Joan’s daughter, Kelley, he told Joan he had a certified check for her:
Sam showed up later claming he couldn’t find a Xerox machine and that he needed to use Joan’s phone. Patel told Joan that he was on foot that night, and if he couldn’t get a ride, perhaps she should take him home. When Kelley heard this, she said she warned her mother:
According to Kelley, she was on the phone with her mother when Patel showed up a third time that night. Joan refused to let him in. Patel says Kelley is wrong:
Kelley believes Sam was conducting a dry run for the murder:
Two weeks later, after a business dinner with Sam Patel, Joan Jeffries was murdered.
Patel and Joan left the restaurant together around 10 PM. But Joan never made it home.
Sam said after he and Joan parted, he went to his girlfriend’s house, then road his bike around the block a few times. Richie told investigators:
Sam explained being shirtless:
Richie believes he was hiding evidence of blood:
Sam claims he still has the shirt:
Investigators say that Patel has never been willing to give them that shirt. For Joan’s daughter, Kelley, Patel’s refusal is just one more sign that he pulled the trigger:
Patel insists this accusation is completely groundless:
The case of Joan Jefferies’s murder is still open.