Post by Graveyardbride on Feb 22, 2014 1:04:30 GMT -5
Murder in the Bedroom
Around 3 o’clock in the early morning hours of Thursday, February 21, 2008, Melissa Oxley was awakened by a loud bang at her home in Menden, Nevada. She leapt from bed, glanced at her husband, who appeared to be fast asleep, and rushed downstairs. The front door was open. How could Ben sleep through this? Hurrying back upstairs, determined to wake her sleeping husband, she turned on the light and recoiled in horror. Ben wasn’t asleep, he was dead! Blood was pouring from a gunshot wound in her 36-year-old mate’s head.
Soon the house was swarming with law enforcement officers. With no signs of a break-in, the first suspects were the occupants of the house. Melissa stuck to her story, while her teenage brother, Craig Nichols, claimed he’d slept through the whole thing, despite being in the next room. The only other person in the house was Alyssa, Ben’s 6-year-old daughter from his first marriage.
Checking into the background of the family, police didn’t immediately find anything suspicious. Melissa and Ben had been married only 18 months and friends described the couple as very much in love. Melissa had accepted Ben’s daughter as her own and the little girl was part of the wedding ceremony (above). From all accounts, the Oxleys were gloriously happy. However, there was a $400,000 insurance policy on Ben's life and people had been killed for less.
When shotgun shells were found near Craig Nichiols’ bed, he and Melissa were asked to submit to gunshot residue tests and both complied. Craig had not fired a weapon, but residue was discovered on Melissa and there were specks of her husband’s blood on her hands. Nonetheless, this did not prove Melissa had killed Ben Oxley because she had been lying beside him when he was shot. Still, investigators couldn’t help thinking it strange the man was killed while Melissa was unharmed. And how had she not seen his killer? Whoever pulled the trigger had been standing next to the bed. Why hadn’t he (or she) killed Melissa, too? As police grilled her, Melissa broke down, utterly distraught. If she were crying crocodile tears, they were very convincing and she was pointing the finger of suspicion at someone else ....
Dawn Oxley, Ben’s ex-wife, had recently lost custody of her daughter to Ben and the court ordered her to pay $200 per month in child support. When police interviewed her, Dawn claimed she had been in bed watching movies until 4 a.m. on the morning of February 21. Her boyfriend, James Matlean – a known petty criminal – told investigators he had been hundreds of miles away at the time of the shooting.
Police were stumped. Desperate, they placed Melissa under surveillance. Within months of her husband’s death – a man she claimed was are soulmate – Melissa was dating again. This was unusual for a grieving widow, but it is not a crime for a newly-widowed woman to date.
Both Dawn and Melissa moved on with their lives and it seemed the murder of Ben Oxley would remain unsolved. Then a little more than two years later, in June 2010, police received a telephone call .... Dawn Oxley called police and said her boyfriend, James Matlean, 24, had killed her ex-husband to please her because she had lost custody of her daughter. It turned out Matlean’s alibi was bogus and video footage at a service station placed him near the scene of the crime. The revelation shook Melissa. Matlean had been spending time with Alyssa. “He lived with her [Dawn] for over 19 months afterwards,” Melissa said. “I saw him numerous times. He’d pick her up from my house for visitations together.”
After Dawn spilled the beans, Matlean confessed to the murder, but insisted Dawn orchestrated the crime and was with him the night of the killing. He also claimed Dawn wanted him to kill Melissa as well as Ben, but he became frightened after shooting Ben and fled. “I’m taking full responsibility for what I did,” Matlean said during an interview. “Dawn needs to take full responsibility for what she did.”
Dawn, of course, denied involvement and said that while she had complained about her ex-husband, she would never condone murder. But according to Matlean’s attorney, Ken Stover, “The prosecutor made a deal with the devil.”
Melissa Oxley also believed Dawn was responsible for the murder of her husband: “I’m hoping that the truth just comes out at the end of it all, when it’s all said and done and I believe that she should have a punishment for her part in it and own up to that.”
Matlean entered into a plea agreement in which he was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 20 years. In a statement read to the court, Matlean said he was at Dawn Oxley’s house on February 20, 2008, consuming hallucinogenic mushrooms and drinking Southern Comfort. “Dawn came home from work early. She was very angry. As she kept drinking, she kept saying she wanted Ben dead. I told her I would do it,” Matlean confessed. Later that night he said Dawn asked him to kill Ben and Melissa Oxley. She drew a diagram of the house showing the location of the master bedroom. He claimed Dawn accompanied him to Walmart, where he purchased shells for the 12-gauge shotgun he owned. When they arrived at the Oxley residence in the early morning hours of February 21, they tried to enter through the front door, but it was locked. They entered through a sliding-glass door and Dawn showed him where the bedroom was located. The occupants of the house were asleep. “I shot the gun at the back of Ben’s head,” he continued. “Dawn went to Alyssa’s bedroom and wanted to take her. I told her ‘no.’ I told her to wait in the truck. She came back in the house and we both ran out of the house, got in the truck and left.” He said he hid the shotgun for two days before destroying the weapon.
Following his conviction, 10-year-old Alyssa asked to speak to Matlean. “I told him that I decided to forgive him and that I wanted him to have hope,” Alyssa said.
According to Melissa, from the first, she told Alyssa they would approach her father’s murderer with compassion, no matter who it turned out to be. “I always told her, pretty much from day one, whenever we found out who did this, we’d have to be able to forgive them at some point in order to go on.” The widowed stepmother emphasized the importance of forgiveness as a means of moving forward in her grief and said she wanted Alyssa to be able to grow up without anger in their lives. “I know it’s such a big part to be able to move on and not be so angry and held back by it. We have to still live our lives, so I thought it was super important for her to be able to go on with hers, too.”
In March 2011, Dawn Oxley was arrested for selling prescription drugs and her 15-year-old daughter was with her at the time. She pled no contest to commission of a controlled substance violation in the presence of a child and in October 2011, she was sentenced to 36 months in prison.
Source: Jillian Eugenios, Today; Sheila Gardner, The Record-Courier; and The Nevada Appeal.