You all know my mother is an avid ID TV watcher. Every TV in the house is tuned to that station as she makes her way from room to room.
I used to be an avid ID TV watcher but not so much anymore. It kinda bums me out and I just don’t want to see people begging for their lives or hear some of the awful stories you hear on that channel. I am, however, lazy. So when my mother has been upstairs and has turned the channel onto ID TV I don’t usually change it. I don’t deliberately watch a bunch of TV and when it’s already on I don’t go to the trouble of changing the channel.
Anyway, all of this prologue to tell you I was sitting at the dining room table doing something, don’t remember what, when the story of Lee Hartley came up on the TV. Let me give you the background.
Lee Hartley was a 35 or 36 year lieutenant in the Navy. As his daughter was quoted saying in an article, “My father and my mom were very happy at one time… And then my dad went through a mid-life crisis and fell in love with his secretary, Pamela Johnson.” He had an affair with, and married, his 23 year old secretary. Shockingly, trouble was afoot. It seems that young Pam very much enjoyed drinking and flirting with the other men at the Officer’s Club when her husband was out to sea and her husband didn’t like that so much.
Huh. Who would have thought that a woman willing to sleep with another woman’s husband might not have the best moral character? I’m shocked. Who would have thought that a woman in her early 20s would want to go out dancing and partying instead of staying at home, counting down the days until her beloved older husband came home from sea? Again, I’m simply shocked.
Lee was labeled terribly jealous and it was said that he did not like Pam talking to other men. Pam, on the other hand, quite enjoyed it and wished her husband would stay out to sea so she could have her fun.
Since this is ID TV you know a murder occurs. They’re not peddling weddings and puppies on this channel. After less than a year of marriage Pam decides she wants out. Over a period of months she sends her husband care packages onboard his ship. They’re laced with arsenic. When she flew out to Spain to meet him in port (I think that’s the correct terminology) she poisoned his dinner. She continued sending him poisoned care packages. Finally, in the hospital where he was being treated after months of being slowly poisoned, she gave him one last lethal dose- in the apple juice she helped him drink. He finally succumbed to a cardiac arrest.
According to one source Pam did it because while she didn’t want to be married to him anymore, she certainly liked the status that being a Navy officer’s wife brought her; she decided it would be easier to kill him and be a Navy officer’s widow as opposed to being a Navy officer’s ex-wife.
According to the show I was watching, however, her purpose behind killing was much more altruistic… and bizarre. She claims she killed him because she knew he was so crazy about her and loved her so much that she didn’t want to hurt him by divorcing him… so she slowly poisoned him over a period of months which resulted in an agonizing death instead.
Huh. Again, I am floored. That is a new one. I killed him to spare him the heartbreak of me leaving him. Something tells me he would have been able to recover from the heartbreak a little easier than he could recover from being dead. But I’m no doctor.
That’s the story. Older, successful guy dumps his loyal wife for the shiny new secretary who is approximately 15 years younger. She turns around and kills him. When asked why she used poison her response was that women had been poisoning their husbands for thousands of years.
Oh yeah. Forgot this part. She got away with it for 14 years. She was only caught because someone decided to re-open his cold case. They discovered the polygraph test was read wrong which led to them looking at her as a suspect once again. This led to conversations with other people in the Officers Wives Club with Pam, and who admitted she had told them she was miserable in her marriage, wanted out, and she was trying to find someone to kill him. Why that wasn’t more closely examined 14 years prior is beyond me. Once finally convicted she was sentenced to 40 years in prison but ended up only serving 15 and a half.
I was only half listening to this story when something caught my ear and I realized this was an affair that went horribly wrong. I’ll admit when I realized his mistress turned wife killed him I let out a little bit of a laugh. I felt bad at first because this man left behind a daughter who adored her father, but the reality is I don’t really care. He left his wife for this person and she ended up killing him less than a year after they wed. He dumped a devoted spouse for a murderer. Maybe that’s not karma, but it’s something.
I don’t think a person who cheats, whether they’re the spouse or the accomplice, deserves to die; however, I don’t feel bad for them when it does happen, especially considering that the duped spouse is usually the murder victim in these triangles. Either the affair accomplice is trying to take them out so the spouse can be with them (or they’re pissed because the spouse won’t leave) or the spouse is killing them so they can be with the accomplice and not lose any of their money or possessions. It’s refreshing to see them killing each other off for once.
I think overall this story serves a big eye opener. Oh, not to the cheaters. They’ll never learn; they will never believe something like this could ever happen to them. No, it’s an eye opener for those who were left. It’s not always sunshine and roses despite what it may look like on the surface. We always want to convince ourselves that they’re living this amazing life and they’re so happy while we have to rebuild piece by piece. But what really happened in this story? Lee got his hot, young secretary; I’m sure all the men around him thought he had hit the jackpot. But the reality was he married a woman much younger than himself and she still wanted to act single- while retaining all the perks of an officer’s wife. She wanted to dance and drink and flirt with all the other cute, young officers and her husband got in the way of that. People might have seen them, or heard about them, in Spain and thought they were living the life- laughing, partying, drinking sangria every night. The reality was the new wife was poisoning the meals she was serving to her husband- and his friend! And while it may be true that Lee was madly in love with Pam which would definitely be painful to the discarded wife, it was also true that Pam was plotting his death and deliberately poisoning him. From all sounds of it neither one of them was happy, almost from Day One. Pam didn’t seem to realize what marriage meant. She wanted to party with other men and while her husband was out to sea it was easy to do that; she could pretend that everything she had wasn’t because she was married to him. Less than a year into her marriage she was sending him poisoned care packages. Lee discarded his wife for a woman who would soon kill him. He may have been besotted by her but he was also described as being jealous and controlling. Pam liked to flirt with other men and surprisingly Lee did not like that. It was reported that one of the reasons he wanted to get off the ship early was so that he could “keep an eye on” Pam. To the outside world they might seemed to have had it all but in the end she killed him. And before that they made each other miserable- poor Pam not being able to go out and #$#% other guys without her husband getting upset with her and poor Lee always wondering what, or who, his much younger mistress turned wife was doing. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
I’ll leave you with Pam’s own words regarding the murder:
I’ve known a lot of people to divorce. And divorce hurts. I didn’t think past my actions… When the officers’ wives started talking about… not wanting the husbands to come home, that- planted a warped seed into a warped mind. And that’s how that seed got planted and started growing, how to get rid of Lee?… It was difficult watching what I was doing to Lee… I knew that poison was in him and that… I had done it to him. And it broke my heart.