A Texas woman is murdered and her family suspects her husband.
Her mother found Marilu’s body
Paramedics attempted to save her life
On the morning of February 14, 1986, Marilu Geri, a young, affluent Houston woman, was found in her home, shot four times. She was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead soon after. Marilu Geri had been murdered and her parents are convinced that her husband, Stephen, was the killer. However, Stephen has repeatedly maintained his innocence.
Marilu’s body was discovered shortly after 10 AM. At 8:15 AM, Stephen Geri called Marilu’s mother, Maria Serrato, and asked her to go over and help Marilu prepare for a lunchtime party:
“As soon as I hung up with him, I dialed Mary’s number, and she didn’t answer the phone. And it got me very concerned because I thought how strange, she’s supposed to be already running around the house doing the last things for the party. But where is she?”
Maria immediately drove to her daughter’s house. She searched the back of the house, where she found Marilu lying on the floor:
“She looked like she had fainted or something, and I started to kiss her in her face, and touching her, and she looked like she was dead. And it got me completely, I was just like, a wild person. I thought I was in a nightmare.”
Stephen Geri insists he is innocent
At 10:30 AM, the paramedics tried to revive Marilu. They injected her heart with medication, but she was already dead. This procedure later made it impossible to determine the exact time of death. Marilu had been shot four times with two different guns—a .38 and a .22. But there were no guns found in the house, nor was there any physical evidence of a break-in. In the bedroom, Marilu’s jewelry box was open. Could robbery have been a motive? Marilu’s mother believed it was a well-planned murder:
“There was jewelry lying there, like she had been selected jewelry or something that she was going to wear. Whoever killed Marilu didn’t come in the house to steal anything.”
However, Stephen Geri disagreed:
“Well, there were many things taken. The gross value was about 25 to 30, maybe 40 thousand dollars worth of jewelry.”
Marilu and Stephen had been married for three years. Stephen was an insurance agent and Marilu worked for him. The couple enjoyed vacations in Hawaii and Europe and appeared to be happily living the good life. But according to her mother, Marilu’s marriage was anything but happy:
“It was a torment of a marriage. The last two and a half years of her life, it was nothing but crying about one thing and another. They were fighting over money.”
Marilu’s maiden name is now on her gravestone
Investigators viewed Stephen Geri as one of the possible suspects. He owned several handguns, which were tested in the police ballistics lab. However, the results proved that Stephen’s guns were not used in the shooting. Stephen also gave the police a detailed account of his movements on the day of the murder. Normally, he worked in his home office during the early morning. But according to Stephen, on that particular day he changed his routine:
“I woke up at about five that morning, I went upstairs and worked on the computer. I had an extremely busy day, there were some things that I had to finish up. Marilu was still in bed. Told her that I would call her at seven. I know that the security system was on when I left the house, at about 6:25, 6:30. I went down to 7-11 and got another cup of coffee. I left there and went to the post office, picked up our mail for the day. From there, I went to the donut shop, picked up donuts. Then I went to Precision Glass, Don Richardson’s company, and talked with them for a moment. I started to leave, realized that I had forgotten to call Mary. I went back in at the reception desk and called her at almost 7:30. She was up, she said she was busy, busy, busy, so I told her goodbye.”
From 7:30 when he called Marilu, to 10:06 when Marilu’s body was found, Stephen spent most of his time with witnesses who confirmed his alibi. A private investigator, Bill Elliott, hired by Marilu’s parents, examined Stephen’s alibi in detail:
“The witnesses that we interviewed indicated to us that it was not his habit or pattern to leave the house before nine or ten in the morning. And this particular day he claims to have left the house between 6:00 and 6:30.”
When Stephen left home, his first stop was the 7-11, only two blocks away, and less than a five-minute drive. But according to Bill Elliot, there is a conflict as to the actual time Stephen arrived:
“We interviewed the people at the convenience store where he went first, and it was their recollection and very positive recollection that Stephen did not get there until three minutes until seven o’clock. A variation in the alibi that would have given him time to do things as far as getting rid of evidence and that kind of thing. The curious thing is that Mr. Geri had not only gone to these places that morning, but the following day, he went back and reminded these people that he had been there the day before, which is something that I found unusual.”
Bill Elliot also discovered that two years before Marilu’s death, Stephen had purchased insurance policies on both their lives. According to Bill, each policy had a total value of more than $400,000:
“Mr. Geri was a big spender, liked to spend a lot of money and liked to live the high life. At a higher level than his income was capable of supporting.”
Ten months after the murder, Stephen tried to collect on his wife’s policy. Outraged, Marilu’s parents went to court to prevent him from collecting the money. They claimed he had been the cause of Marilu’s death and would attempt to prove it in court. However, Stephen Geri believed there was another reason that the Serratos filed the lawsuit:
“Well there are two things that make the world go round, and that’s sex and money. And it definitely wasn’t sex, was it?”
Strangely, just as the trial was beginning, Stephen Geri and Marilu’s parents reached an out of court settlement. But which side had requested the settlement? Stephen claimed that the Serratos approached him with the offer:
“I was adamant that when my attorney presented this to me, that it would not be as an admission of guilt and that rather that the Serratos would realize that I was not involved, or why would they make the offer? And that we would settle on it. If it had been my daughter and I thought that person was involved, there was no way I would ever take the settlement… but they did.”
The court documents can’t reveal who asked for the settlement, since the judge ordered the records sealed.
The police continue to search for information about the two weapons that were used in the murder. They feel these guns will lead them to the killer. Stephen Geri remains a person of interest. But through it all, Geri has consistently maintained his innocence:
“No, I did not kill my wife. Marilu was the perfect woman for me. We had a wonderful life together, exciting, we traveled, we built one hell of a business, and were a fantastic complement to each other.”
Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season one with Robert Stack and season five with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.
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