May 5

This Day in History

Crime

May 5, 2004:

Human remains found in suitcase near Virginia Beach

On May 5, 2004, a suitcase holding what is later identified as the partial remains of William McGuire, a 39-year-old Navy veteran and computer analyst is pulled from the water near Virginia Beach. A second suitcase of body parts was found nearby on May 11, and a third washed up near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel on May 15.

McGuire was last seen alive on April 28, 2004, shortly after closing on a house in New Jersey’s scenic Warren County with wife Melanie, 34, a nurse. According to Melanie, William had packed his bags and left after the couple had a fight, leaving Melanie with the couple’s two young sons. Soon afterward, she filed for a restraining order and divorce.

In the course of their investigation, though, police discovered that Melanie was having an affair with her physician boss at the Morristown, New Jersey, fertility clinic where she worked. The couple’s computer revealed internet searches for "murder and suicide" and "undetectable poison." Records also showed that Melanie had purchased a .38-caliber revolver two days before her husband’s murder, the same caliber of bullets with which her husband was shot twice. Melanie was arrested on June 2, 2005 and released on bail five days later.

After a seven-week trial, which began on March 5, 2007 and involved 76 witnesses and 1,200 exhibits, prosecutors laid out a theory of how they believed Melanie plotted and carried out the murder. After lacing her husband’s wine with a sedative, prosecutors alleged that Melanie shot her husband, and then dismembered his body with a power saw in a shower stall. She then stuffed the pieces of his corpse into garbage bags and then into the couple’s luggage set, which she threw into the Chesapeake Bay. They believed Melanie wanted to be rid of her husband to pursue her relationship with her boss, without the cost of a divorce or the possibility of losing custody of her children. The defense, meanwhile, argued that William had been shot because of Atlantic City gambling debts.

After 13 hours of deliberation, a jury of nine women and three men found Melanie McGuire guilty of first-degree murder, desecrating human remains, perjury and unlawful possession of a weapon. She faces 30 years to life in prison.

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