In 1998, he tracked down a curly haired petty criminal named Kristopher Harvey, who admitted his brother had stolen and sold the pistol that had wound up in Pellicer Creek. According to that interview, Harvey said, the Larzelere family had been targeted because they were rich. "Virginia Larzelere wasn't the one who bought any of our weapons, nor her son," he said. "Virginia Larzelere wasn't the one who did [the murder]. The guy who [got] the .45, he wasn't going to [rob Larzelere] and just get a little bit. He went there to get everything he could. And whatever happened, happened."

McDaniel asked Harvey if he knew Heidle, and Harvey responded that he did. Then, McDaniel recalls, he showed Harvey a picture of Heidle and asked, "Did your brother sell the pistol to this person?" Harvey nodded yes.

On December 17, 1999, Heidle hanged himself with an electrical cord. His mother, Patricia, found him near the family pool and cut him down with a knife. "I tried to catch him, but I couldn't," she told police, adding that he'd tried to kill himself seven times before that.

Virginia Larzelere smiles at her defense attorney, Jack Wilkins, during a pause in her 1992 trial.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal
Virginia Larzelere smiles at her defense attorney, Jack Wilkins, during a pause in her 1992 trial.
Norman Larzelere
The Daytona Beach News-Journal
Norman Larzelere

Larzelere suspected the suicide was related to her case, but there was nothing she could do. So she acclimated to a new life. "Death row is the last stop," she says. "Everyone is your friend. It's a sisterhood, because you never know when the death warrant will be signed. We share everything." She and the other women ate, showered, and took walks together every day. Everyone but Wuornos, that is. She sometimes screeched deep into the night, bathed only every other month, and referred to Larzelere as Cher.

Soon, however, the sisterhood broke apart. On March 30, 1998, Buenoano became the first woman Florida had executed in 150 years. Next went Wuornos, who once whispered to Larzelere that she'd actually killed 17 men, not six. Larzelere was eventually left alone inside the pink-paneled X Dorm — as Florida's only female death row inhabitant — with nothing but memories. "I never thought for one minute I'd be found guilty of murder," she told New Times. "Not for something I didn't do. I'm guilty of a lot... I cheated on my husband. I was a home wrecker. I only cared about money. But I'm just not guilty of this. Do I deserve to be punished for the things I've done? Yes. But do I deserve this? No."

She added: "My reputation convicted me, and I never got the benefit of the doubt."

But in 2008, she finally did. Citing the fact that Larzelere's attorneys hadn't called a single witness to testify on her behalf at her sentencing, the Florida Supreme Court removed her from death row. "In the years that I've been up here, I don't remember a situation in which we have had as many problems with the lawyers," said Justice Charles Wells, who had then sat on the high court for 13 years.

Larzelere's attorney, David Hendry, had pushed the court to vacate her conviction, but on February 28, 2008, it rejected that appeal, ruling that experts at trial wouldn't have saved Larzelere. "Given the overwhelming evidence of Larzelere's guilt, even favorable testimony by these sorts of experts would not have undermined our confidence in the verdict," the court said, remanding her case back to a lower court for sentencing.

That August, Circuit Judge Joseph Will gave her a life sentence. And, perhaps, that modicum of leniency will be enough. She's up for parole in 2015 and then, finally, the system may set her free. Helping that cause, while incarcerated, she's been disciplined only once, on September 23, 2004, for a minor infraction, according to her prison record.

Hendry isn't satisfied, though. "This is an unsolved murder," he tells New Times. "There were inconsistent verdicts. One jury acquitted the alleged shooter, but another jury convicted Ms. Larzelere of masterminding that same shooting. So what really happened? Who was the shooter? We don't know. But the bottom line here is there was more than enough reasonable doubt. If we don't know who the actual shooter was, we have doubt."

On a recent Thursday afternoon at Homestead Correctional Institution, inside a room bathed in blue and pastel, Virginia Larzelere, now 61, contemplates her fate. Hands stitched together on her lap, she laughs softly and shakes her head. She hasn't seen her son, Jason, or daughter, Jessica, in more than a decade.

So she finds satisfaction in the small things. She crochets, prays, and teaches English. She also nurtures hope. "One day, it will all come out," she sighs. "People will know what happened and know that everything they've heard about me wasn't true."

Then, slowly, she withdraws a letter. It arrived last year without a return address, she says, signed by someone named Kris and addressed to "Ginny" — which is what Kris Palmieri once called Virginia. (Repeated attempts to contact Palmieri weren't returned, and New Times couldn't verify the letter's author.) "I know you didn't have Doc killed," it says. "And I never thought you would be convicted. Then it was too late to say anything to correct it. I am sorry. I tried to find Jason to apologize, but couldn't. I lived a lie all of these years. I understand you are fine and hope you'll accept my apology."

After reading the letter out loud, Virginia carefully folds it up. She isn't sure it's genuine. But she hopes it is.

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8 comments
leejean21
leejean21

This woman is not a victim of injustice.  She had an incestuous relationship with her son and used him to kill her husband.  The ONLY reason her son is not in jail is because his face was covered and there was not enough evidence to show that he was the shooter beyond a reasonable doubt.  Eye witnesses at the crime scene all heard the victim call out his step son's name before he died(i.e.Jason is that you? Jason!), and they testified that she began to press her mouth to his, so he could not get any more words out. Not to mention she gave the murder weapon to her house staff and told them to clean it and dispose of it. She is disgusting and belongs where she is.

CheckpointCharlie73
CheckpointCharlie73 topcommenter

Most criminal defense attorneys do tons of drugs, drink like fish, and are involved with court personnel if they can, and are usually robbing some client or another. This guy was a typical lawyer. Additionally, if he was screwing the court reporter, that could only help his client, since she could interpret the transcript in the client's favor. 


jamjamaa
jamjamaa

What the hell is a "nude bottle club"?

Kzm Ufc
Kzm Ufc

That status sounds an awful lot like government and religion.

cooperschuler
cooperschuler

just as Carol implied I am startled that anybody able to make $5040 in 1 month on the computer. find more information == > w­w­w.B­a­y­9­3.ℂ­o­m

Betty Perez
Betty Perez

And yet the smell of a dead body in the trunk of a pathological mother whose missing daughter was later found dead was too circumstantial. Oh yeah Florida...

Chard Beauregarde
Chard Beauregarde

Not an actual like, but an upvote of support for this to be seen.

leejean21
leejean21

@Chard Beauregarde Larzelere is guilty. She confessed to her personal assistant and house staff at the time and they advised police that she made them clean and dump the murder weapon (which was found where they said it would be). Also, she took out 2.1 million in life insurance policies on her husband and called to make sure they were payable days before his murder.

 
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