Wife Watches 'Practical Magic' and Decides to Kill Husband Jul 9, 2017 3:08:37 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on Jul 9, 2017 3:08:37 GMT -5
Wife Watches Practical Magic and Decides to Kill Husband
Heather (above right) and Kevin Miller first met in 1993 while working as a server and manager, respectively, at a seafood restaurant in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. Kevin was an ex-Marine with a degree in accounting from Philadelphia’s St. Joseph’s University, while Heather was a struggling single mother with a daughter from a previous (and abusive) relationship. The two struck up a romance, married in 1995 in a typical fairy-tale wedding, had their first child and bought a townhouse in Richlandtown. But just two weeks after purchasing their new home, Kevin lost his computer consulting job and Heather discovered she was pregnant again.
“The stress was starting to build enormously,” Heather told People Magazine in 2000. “The relationship went downhill from there.” Kevin eventually found two jobs, but the 80-hour weeks kept him out of the house quite a bit, causing him to neglect housework and spending time with his wife and children. The couple fought so loudly and aggressively that it became obvious to neighbors something was seriously wrong. One of them, Sandy Miller (no relation), recalled taking in Heather while she was pregnant after Kevin threw her out following an argument: “You could always hear him screaming, always venting on somebody,” Sandy Miller said. Heather tried to get help from a women’s shelter, but was allegedly turned away because there was no physical abuse. She didn’t have the money for an attorney, so divorce also seemed an unlikely option.
Naturally, Heather began telling friends she wanted out of her marriage. Mindi Robbins (above left), her best friend at the time, happened to be a practicing Wiccan and suggested the two watch a movie about witchcraft called Practical Magic as a means of helping Heather take her mind off the chaos at home. In the film, Nicole Kidman’s character, Gillian, falls in love with a man named Jimmy, but their relationship hits the skids when he becomes physically abusive. While attempting to help her sister escape the grip of her lover (whom they also find out is a serial killer), Sally (Bullock) and Gillian are kidnaped by him. Sally puts a poisonous plant called belladonna (atropa belladonna, aka deadly nightshade) into Jimmy’s tequila, which inadvertently kills him. This certainly resonated with Heather, who was so inspired by the scene that she wanted her husband to suffer the same fate . . . in the same way.
Belladonna means “beautiful lady” and was so-named because in Italy, the juice from the purple berries was used by women to enlarge their pupils, making them more attractive. The atropine drops ophthalmologists use to enlarge their patient’s pupils to this day are derived from the plant. Belladonna has been used for centuries to treat abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and excessive nighttime urination, and rubbed on the skin to relieve joint pain, sciatica and neuralgia. More recently, belladonna has been used to control tremors, excessive salivation and sweating caused by Parkinson’s Disease. The plant’s purple berries are sometimes called Devil’s berries and some believe belladonna was the poison Romeo and Juliet drank in Shakespeare’s play.
At some point, Heather got it into her head that by mixing belladonna into one of Kevin’s meals, he would have a heart attack and die. But instead of hatching her plot and keeping it to herself, she decided to tell both Mindi Robbins and another neighbor, Diane Zielinski. Heather detailed her plan to send Kevin off to his night shift with a poison-laced bowl of mashed potatoes, call his office a number of times before “finding his car” in the parking lot, and acting distraught after finding him keeled over on his desk from an apparent heart attack. The family babysitter, Nathan Bleam, testified in court that Heather also told him Kevin “was worth more dead than alive” and spoke at length of her plans to give Kevin a military funeral after collecting his $750,000 life insurance payout.
In April 2000, Heather, now a mother of four, went to a health food store and purchased a bottle of belladonna caplets. While the herb can certainly be deadly in high doses, the amount in the tablets wouldn’t have done anything more than possibly put her husband to sleep and give him a headache, if that. Nevertheless, she crushed 100 pills into a fine powder and asked neighbor Diane Zielinkski to hold on to the vial of crushed belladonna for a couple days because she didn’t want to risk Kevin’s finding it. Zielinski later testified that Heather told her about her foolproof plan and said, “Hopefully it would kill him.” She was obviously rattled by Heather’s plot, as well as the fact she was now involved after accepting the crushed belladonna caplets. She called their mutual friend, Mindi Robbins, the following day – why she waited 24 hours isn’t clear – and informed her of Heather’s plan. After comparing notes, the two women contacted the authorities and officers convinced Robbins to wear a wire while encouraging Heather to talk about murdering her husband. Not only did Heather go on and on about the belladonna, the mashed potatoes and the insurance settlement, she was also recorded discussing her multiple extramarital affairs – including an ongoing sexual relationship with Mindi Robbins. Twist number one!
The next day, Heather was arrested by state troopers while on her way to Zielinkski’s home to pick up the bottle of belladonna. She told police she couldn’t take Kevin's verbal abuse any longer and had decided the only way she could feasibly split from him was to kill him. Police told Kevin his wife was in custody for plotting to murder him. He did not press charges and appeared to be more apologetic to his wife for making her want to kill him than upset or terrified by her scheme. They arrived hand-in-hand for her trial in September 2000 – twist number two! – even though his family was convinced that Heather would have gone through with her plan and Kevin was “blinded by love.”
After a four-day trial, during which she attempted to blame her former girlfriend Mindi Robbins for coming up with the idea to kill her husband, Heather was found guilty of attempted murder and sentenced to up to 10 years in state prison. She and Kevin spoke on the phone several times a day and wrote daily letters to each other. He visited her in prison once a week and concerning his loyalty, Heather told People, “In one aspect I love him for it. But in the same breath, he must be completely insane. This shows me he actually, truly does love me,” she added. “For the very first time I can say that I feel loved.”
Heather served five years, after which she returned home to resume her life with Kevin and their children. In a 2016 episode of Oxygen’s Snapped, Kevin revealed that despite his attempts to keep the family together, he and Heather divorced. “I still struggle to process what happened,” he said. “Yeah, we all make mistakes, but it’s a matter of owning those mistakes and moving forward from them. Looking back on it now,” he continued, “there are probably things that I wouldn’t have done . . . it did not go the way I hoped it would. It made my life a whole lot more difficult than I would have rather [it was], but it is what it is.”
Sources: Brittney Stephens, PopSugar, April 26, 2017, and Poisonous Plants: A Handbook for Doctors, Pharmacists, Toxicologists, Biologists and Veterinarians by Dietrich Frohne and Hans Jürgen Pfänder.