When a businesswoman is murdered, her family believes it was not a random crime.

Smiling Joan Jefferies in a turtle neck with short blonde hair

Joan Jefferies

A man leaning up against the passenger side window of a car on a misty night

Joan was shot twice in her car


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:

“I think Sam Patel had the motive. I think he had the opportunity. And I think the facts speak for themselves.”

Sam Patel denies any involvement:

“I did not kill Joan. I had no reason to kill Joan. I had no reason whatsoever.”

Kelley slightly opening a door revealing a man waiting on the other side

Kelley says he showed up unexpectedly

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:

“When Sam initially offered this position to my mother, she was, of course, flattered and excited because the money was very good.”

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:

“Sam had an arranged marriage. He had told me that he could not get a divorce and so we lived as boyfriend and girlfriend.”

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:

“The initial idea was presented from the investor group because they wanted assurances that if something happened to one of the key people in the organization, that the company could function and that they would recover their investment.”

Joan’s son, Darrel Jefferies, thought the move was suspicious:

“Basically, she’s a secretary, and I can’t see that as a key point person. Nothing sounded right about that.”

Hands holding a check over a manila envelope

A check for Joan’s back wages

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:

“Joan never approached me and said that she wanted to leave the business. There was a time when she said, ‘Hey look, this isn’t working out and I don’t like it.’ She did come up and say that. And the compromise we came up with was, ‘Fine, you can continue to be part-time until you feel comfortable and we’ll go out and get somebody else to work part-time, also.’”

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:

“She said that he had to get this certified check Xeroxed, which was odd to her and me.”

Police investigators crouching down picking up evidence from the floor

Investigators found potential evidence

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:

“When she told me that he mentioned getting into her car, that, I think was the firmest I have ever been with my mother, saying over and over, ‘Absolutely not, do not ever let him in your car.’”

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:

“I had never met Joan like that, in the manner that Kelley had described to the police, never, ever.”

Kelley believes Sam was conducting a dry run for the murder:

“I truly believe it was a trial run. And I think because I was on the phone and my mother continued to say ‘Kelley, it’s Sam,’ I stopped it that night.”

Two weeks later, after a business dinner with Sam Patel, Joan Jeffries was murdered.
Joan told Kelley she planned to meet Patel and his wife, Penny, for dinner. Joan expected to get a check for her back wages. She also planned to hand over the company files and sever her ties with Best Aviation. But Patel insists that Joan wasn’t planning to quit:

“I asked Joan to meet with me, ‘I can give you the check, you can give me files. We can arrange for our meeting with the investor group for you to be there.’ And that was the purpose of the meeting.”

Patel and Joan left the restaurant together around 10 PM. But Joan never made it home.
By 9:00 AM, detectives were at the parking lot crime scene, trying to piece together what happened. Joan’s purse and keys were missing, but she was still wearing her gold and diamond necklace. According to Det. Sgt. Charles Probst of the Webster, Texas Police Department, robbery didn’t seem to be the motive:

“Because of the multiple gunshot wounds to the body, it would indicate that the offender is known to the victim or had a grudge or something of that nature. The first interview that we had with Sam Patel, he told us that he had not been in Joan Jefferies’ car. Later in a second interview, he changed his story and said that he had in fact been in Joan’s car and that we would find evidence of such in her car.”

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:

“I opened the door and Sam was there with a shirt wrapped around his neck. And I said, ‘You know, what are you doing without your shirt, you know, it’s cold out there, you’re gonna catch a cold.’ And he said ‘I’ve been riding my bicycle.’”

Sam explained being shirtless:

“I was hot, you know, I hadn’t, I hadn’t ridden a bike, I hadn’t done any exercise in months and months. And you know, I was going into the house. I took my shirt and I had it over me and I was walking into the house.”

Richie believes he was hiding evidence of blood:

“That shirt has never been found. I think it’s a very crucial piece of evidence because he would’ve had to reach across Joan to take the keys out and that shirt would’ve had a smear of blood all up the arm.”

Sam claims he still has the shirt:

“There are no blood stains on it. I have it in my closet. And if whoever wants it, if the Webster Police Department would send me a real nice note saying, ‘Please, could we have the shirt,’ I would be glad to hand over the shirt to them.”

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:

“I think Sam is responsible for the murder of my mother because he had a life insurance policy out on her life for $250,000. She was ending her business relationship with him that night. So he needed to do it that night while she was still an employee.”

Patel insists this accusation is completely groundless:

“The very next day after her death, the board of directors all got together and we decided that we would take the entire proceeds from the insurance and either give it to the family, donate it to some local charity that would leave a lasting memorial for Joan, or a combination of both.”

The case of Joan Jefferies’s murder is still open.

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




  1. Anon

    I guess Metropolitan Life Insurance sued Sam Patel. Related to Joan’s death?



  2. ¿Question?

    Where is the suspect now? Hmmm


  3. Patrick

    Always shocked me how this episode just ends with no update. So obvious this creep was involved.


  4. Charles

    How in the world is this not solved? I just knew it would have an update, but nothing. If Sam didn’t kill her, he is certainly involved in a conspiracy to have had her killed. He changed his story, and how could this be random…she wasnt even robbed.


  5. Johan



  6. Johan

    Kelly is a baby!


  7. Leslie

    Hi – trying to watch this episode but it doesn’t seem to be available on any of the platforms the show is on – can anyone confirm where to watch it? And what exact episode it is? Thanks!


    • Unsolved Mysteries Post author

      Hi Leslie – Joan’s case can be seen in season 8, episode 16 with Robert Stack and season 4, episode 11 with Dennis Farina. For a full list of places to stream episodes, please go to unsolved.com/watch


    • Alan finney

      It comes on unsolved mysteries I saw it july 25th 2022 at 1am it always comes on just watch the show


  8. Mantack

    Obviously, I am new to this case. Today, April 24, 2020, I saw the story on TV; and, I am truly confused. Based on the evidence and statements made so far, are the police not capable of procuring a search warrant for the shirt? Why do they have to ask Sam Patel (with a nice note) to produce the shirt? Did the police ever subject Patel to a paraffin test? Did they ever question any of the alleged investors as to whether it was their policy to have Joan insured? It seems to me that this was sloppy police work.


    • Moldyimposter

      I agree, this case seems it can be solved. They should try and get a confession from the spouse. That night she was supposed to have dinner with them but ironically she couldn’t make it. Coroner him in a lie.


    • Joe

      I just saw it tonight.
      Crazy that LE cant push harder for more evidence.


  9. Karma

  10. Michael Fontaine

    This is the one case, I’m going to have to say you need to either fire the investigators or the District Attorney. They have a good, logical suspect (Sam Patel). He told at least two different stories about being in her car (first time he said he wasn’t, and the 2nd time he said he was), etc. Sooooooo…why wasn’t a search warrant issued? He has that coat or jacket the police wanted and he said in the Unsolved Mysteries segment they could send him a nice letter and get it, so why hasn’t this happened? It’s easy, they have a good suspect for this case. They should have gotten the search warrant, searched the house, his car, everything. Did they even get a DNA sample from Sam? Totally botched investigation on this one. Either there was an issue with the DA or the investigators, or both. Not sure, they might have backed down if Sam Patel had some business or political connections, but it didn’t seem likely. Investigators, why haven’t you gotten the search warrant? What’s holding this up???


  11. Mickey

    Sam Patel is a con artist, not a very good one, but nevertheless he got away with conning women and murdering another. Is there really a Wife? Where did the insurance money go? If Sam was a big business guy why in the world is he on foot? Why didn’t he drive his girlfriend’s car? He rode a bicycle around the culdesac that late at night after eating dinner? Red flags everywhere. GUILTY


  12. Yo

    Patel was killed years later by a man he did business with! How crazy is that! He got what he deserved


    • WebsterTX Resident

      So is the Sam Patel from this case deceased? Why haven’t the authorities followed up on the case in 25 years? The advanced technology in DNA can surely allow them to get a DNA match from the vomit found at the scene? Also, the segment from Unsolved Mysteries also stated samples from the vomit at the crime scene happened to match exactly what Patel had had for dinner that night? Shouldn’t that be enough for probable cause to get a search warrant, to look for the blood stained shirt? Sounds like Webster PD botched the investigation, why has the family not ask HCSO to do an independent investigation?


      • poopoo

        stomach acid prohibits examiners from gathering DNA from vomit. however, they surely could have compared what they found in the vomit to what was ordered at the previous night’s meal (which Sam and Joan attended together). Sam was not a killer, and when he heard the loud shots, saw what he’d done, the smell, the splattered brain matter, the realization that he just took a life combined with the prospect of getting caught (did someone hear? who’s that? is someone coming?) he threw up on the spot. probably ate too much anyway, stalling Joan about her money before the murder. smh there was no wife lol


  13. thinkingoutloud

    sam did it. super obviosu whether they have the shirt as evidence or not. crazy how joan was murdered the last ngiht of her being the employee and sam was the last to see her. hes so guilty. this case makes me angry. so obvious so obvious. joan’s daughter and sam’s girlfriend even know he did it. so annoying


    • Val Whitt

      He’s such a disgusting worthless POS—-and SUCH a LOUSY LIAR—-I can’t believe he got away with it…..Probably fled the country. So sad for Joan & her family & friends.


    • Mike J McNulty

      It didn’t help either that the lab failed to
      find any DNA. They bungled the investigation as well as the police. 100% sure that Patel was the lone killer; they should have convicted him from circumstantial evidence at least!


  14. Anonymous

    In case anyone is interested, the potential evidence found picture, was of vomit the investigators found on the ground. They mentioned in the original Unsolved Mysteries episode that it could be a link to Patel since they just had dinner. If they only could have found out what he ordered and judging by the regurgitated food, they could pin point him. I think i remember them trying to do that in the original episode, but it was all inconclusive or something like that. Its been so long i cant remember.


  15. Anonymous

    An indian getting away with killing a white woman in TEXAS almost unheard of!


  16. Marci

    He’s positively smirking as he defends himself. All these years later, what else has he done?


  17. DJ

    Sam was the prime suspect in this case. This policy could not be paid out to a prime suspect. He got nothing


  18. lime

    good job none of the commentators who have convicted this guy on the back of this tv show are lawyers…


  19. kevin adam kanzer.

    i think patel is guilty as sin.


    • Michelle C

      So do I! He has not cooperated with the authorities and “everyone is lying, but me” attitude makes me sick. He got away with murder. Hopefully, a cold case detective from Houston will reopen this case so the family can have some resolution.


    • Patrick

      Thanks for the link Karma. Maybe Unsolved Mysteries will update this down the road in some form on the episode.


  20. Johnny

    This should have been an easy Unsolved Mysteries to solve. Sam had the motive and opportunity to murder Joan. He was the last person with the victim and the insurance money was important. She still had to be an employee to collect the money. I’ve seen cases brought to court with less evidence. Justice for Joan and her family.


  21. Lin

    Why hasn’t the PD or prosecutor insisted on the shirt and searched his house and business. Something isn’t right here.


    • Loosewheel

      I find the whole thing very odd too. I didn’t see what year it happened but all the info can be checked. Thinking that an insured person that was murdered, would not get a pay out from the company. Fishy.


  22. AlwaysSearching69

    “Joans life was insured for a quarter of a million dollars and she recieved a monthly salary, but over seven months, she only got one check and it bounced.”He owed her around four thousand dollars in back wages and showed up at her place late at night with what he claimed to b a certified check that apparently needed to be xeroxed. If that wasn’t strange enough apparently it was just one of three times that he showed up at her place that night. Saying that he was on foot and suggesting she give him a ride home was pretty suspicious, especially seeing as Joan is shot to death two weeks later after having dinner with Patel, it seems as if he was trying to get her alone.
    I also love how around the time Joan is murdered Sam Patel decides “hey you know what, I’m gonna get on my bicycle and ride around shirtless for a few blocks”.
    I mean this is a guy who admitted that he hadn’t ridden a bike or excersised in months and months and all of a sudden he decides to take a bike ride late at night.
    Another thing… In regards to the shirt he was wearing that night “there are no blood stains on it. And who ever wants it. If the Webster PD would send me a real nice note ‘please can we have the shirt, I would be glad to hand over the shirt to them”.
    Webster PD claims that Patel has never been willing to hand over that shirt, hmnnm…. Wonder who I believe at this point. I wonder what really happened to that shirt and I wonder if Joan and her family will ever find justice. I also wonder how its possible for Sam Patel to still be free when it seems so obvious that he was responsible. The family has to be frustrated, hell Im frustrated just reading this and can tell that people that have posted on this site r frustrated but I guess as annoying and inconvenient as it may be we have to remember that criminal investigation in real life is no where near as simple or easy as actors in TV shows n movies portray it to be. I mean its not like Law & Order where something terrible happens, the cops show up and in a space of forty to fifty minutes, the case is solved, everything makes sense, the victims and their family’s get closure and justice while the perp gets what’s coming to them.
    Yes Patel seems very suspicious and I like the rest of u belive he is guilty but if the cops had any concrete evidence n not just the fact he was acting guilty n seems like a very good suspect he’d be spending the rest of his miserable existence rotting away in a cage where all low lives belong.
    Another thing I find interesting is that Joan told her daughter that she planned to meet both Patel and his wife Penny for dinner that night, however having read the details of the case here, it seems that Joan n Patel were at and then left the restaurant alone. Is it possible Patel told Joan that his wife would be there to make her feel more comfortable meeting with him. Could it be that this was a ruse he used to try and get Joan alone, something similar to how he showed up at her house three times in.one night with an alleged check suggesting she give him a lift home seeing as he was on foot. This is also suspicious seeing as the guy has a bicycle and didn’t have to go on foot. So why go to her place with some lame reason for being there and try to get a lift home.
    I think Kelley was right. I think Sam Patel went to Joans place three times that night two weeks before she was murdered as some kind of dry or trial run. I think he was waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike and when time started to run out seeing as she was leaving Sam Patel got desperate. Desperate enough to create his own opportunity. Let’s say maybe inviting her for dinner under the pretence of wrapping thinks up and payying her the money she was owed. I can see the motive here plain as day and let’s face it this terrible crime while motivated by greed reeks of desperation, cause clearly Sam Patel is no Criminal Master Mind. He’s an arrogant jack a** of a clown that got away with this from the looks of it due to dumb luck not criminal genius. None of this seem methodical or well planned and if it was, well that just makes this tragedy even worse seeing as the bastards still free.
    I mean first of all he took out a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar life insurance policy on her stating the “Board” deemed it necessary to do so for all key employees. So where the hell are the rest of the employees and this so called board.
    He visited her place late at night two weeks before she was murdered not once not twice but three times.
    If your a suspect in a crime u cooperate and hand over any alleged evidence I.e your shirt u don’t go on national TV and say that if u were to receive a polite note requesting the shirt u would hand it over. Who does this jack a** think he is. Where does this clown think he is, no body talks like that.
    If some one u knew was murdered, some one u admitted having dinner with the same night that person was murdered, u don’t go to your girlfriends then go for a bike ride only to return to said girlfriends shirtless.
    More importantly muggers or robbers if u will don’t shoot their targets twice in the head then two more times, before taking the victims keys and purse only to leave valuable jewellery behind. Even the most strung out drug addict looking for their next fix and resorting to robbery wouldn’t over look jewelry. Oh and my favorite part, he is married but has a girlfriend because his marriage was arranged and he can’t get divorced. Everything about this guy is not only a joke but so f***ing fake.
    Its so sad and scary that Joan lost her life the way she did and what makes it even worse is how idiotic her killer was and he still got away with it.
    It so tragic to think of how scared she must of been in those final moments and I hope that one day Joan and her children get the justice they deserve. Her soul and her children deserve peace.


    • Gitterman

      And it’s not idiotic for some gal to blindly work for a year under some obviously sleazy moron while not getting paid and continuously getting bounced checks. Law enforcement people obviously are generally idiots, but mind boggling why she continued to work for this goofball without getting paid.


  23. Miranda shortt

    I hopeone day that guy gets caught


  24. milty

    It would be interesting to know if Patel and the board did turn over the life insurance to the family or a charity.


    • Anonymous

      There was never a “board” it’s just more of Patels B.S. and the “board” is just his attempt to make himself seem more important than the nobody lowlife he is.


  25. johnson

    did they ever find out where the insurance money went to? Did they actually do what Sam Patel said he was going to do?


  26. Amina

    The fact that this man Sam Patel has not been charged with the murder of this woman is a disgrace. He killed her in cold blood and justice needs to be served. So sad for her family.


  27. Lorry

    So obvious dude killed her but they have to have evedience to indict him


  28. rachel

    Is this murder solved did they find the killer


  29. Nicki Coury

    It sounds quite obvious that this guy Patel committed the murder. I don’t understand why they don’t charge him, take him to trial and let the jurors decide. It might help her family gain some closure


    • Indeed

      I thought the exact same thing. People have been convicted based on much less and far weaker circumstantial evidence.
      My heart breaks for this family. I can’t imagine their frustration.