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Glen consagra

Glenn Consagra

Real Name: Glenn Fred Consagra
Case: Appeal
Location: Clearwater, Florida
Date: April 16, 1978

Case[]

Details: Forty-seven-year-old Glenn Consagra claims he is innocent of the murders of his best friends, Freddie Douberley and Mary Lou Holmes. Freddie was his former brother-in-law, and Mary Lou was his former employee. He had known them for years and had gone on several camping trips with them.
On the night of April 16, 1978, Glenn, Freddie, and Mary Lou set out by boat for an impromptu party on Honeymoon Island, one mile off the coast of Clearwater, Florida. Freddie and Mary Lou never came back, and they were later found murdered. After a thirty-day investigation, authorities charged Glenn with the murders. Before his trial, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Now, he claims he is innocent.
Assistant State Attorney Doug Crow is certain that Glenn is guilty and claims the evidence is overwhelming. Glenn's attempts to escape punishment for his alleged crimes do not surprise Crow. Glenn maintains that he did not kill Freddie or Mary Lou. He claims they were celebrating a wonderful occasion. He says, "We were best friends out doing our thing together, and it was a special time for us, and it turned to tragedy."
Walk around any cell block in any prison in the United States, and you will find that most inmates claim they are innocent. What is unique about Glenn's case is that his claims are backed by a private investigator in Tampa and a special task force of the public defender's office. They have found information and a witness who supports Glenn's claim of innocence. The prosecution has not been swayed. They contend the new evidence is bogus. Both sides have compelling arguments, making Glenn's case worth a second look.
Honeymoon Island is a popular picnic spot one mile from Clearwater. It was there that Glenn, Freddie, and Mary Lou planned to spend the evening celebrating the birth of Glenn's grandchild. They had gone there several times to camp, cook out, drink, and fish. On the night of April 16, they went to Al Berry's Fish Camp in Palm Harbor and rented a sixteen-foot fiberglass fishing boat. Several people at the camp witnessed their departure from a nearby dock. All three were reportedly drunk at the time.
According to Glenn, on the way to the island, their boat engine broke down. But, at 10pm, they managed to land on a spoil bank – a tiny, man-made island in the St. Joseph Sound. It was about halfway to their destination and 1.5 miles north of the Dunedin Causeway Bridge. Undaunted, they built a campfire and continued to party.
Glenn claims that Freddie and Mary Lou drank "all day every day", and it was their "natural state of mind" to be intoxicated. At one point that night, Freddie and Mary Lou started arguing about something minor. Glenn felt uncomfortable, tired, and discouraged. The evening was not going as he had hoped. It was not "festive" anymore. He decided to lie down and rest, figuring that in the morning, things would be better.
Glenn laid down thirty feet away behind a bait tank and promptly fell asleep. Sometime later, he was awakened by the sound of gunshots. When he heard the shots, he panicked because he knew that they had not taken any weapons with them. He knew something was wrong, so he decided to stay hidden. He later heard a boat motor crank up and fade into the distance. He says he felt like a coward because he did not come out when he heard the shots. But he figures that if he had done that, he probably would have been killed as well.
Glenn is unsure how much time passed between the gunshots and the boat motor cranking up. But after that, he had a "sudden, panicky" urge to leave the island. There was no sign of Freddie or Mary Lou. The campsite was in disarray. It appeared that someone had tried to sink their boat, and its motor was missing. He knew that something had gone wrong, and whatever that was, he did not want to be "part of it".
Glenn fashioned a float from a Styrofoam cooler and set off to swim back to the mainland, about a half-mile away. For most of the night, he struggled from island to island until finally, at around 7:30am, he arrived at the same dock the group had left the night before. At this crucial moment, he decided to invent a story about what happened at the spoil bank.
Glenn told employees of the fish camp that Freddie and Mary Lou had taken the boat to buy more beer and never returned. He said he swam to shore when they failed to return that morning. He did not mention gunshots or his suspicion of foul play. He told the same story when questioned by sheriff's detectives.
Glenn claims he made up the story because he was concerned that the killers would come after him if they knew he was on the spoil bank and was a potential witness. He now wonders if he should have told the truth right away and "let the chips fall where they may". He is not sure if he did the right thing.
Three days later, on April 19, the Coast Guard found Freddie and Mary Lou's bodies floating just off the beach at the spoil bank. They had been stripped of their clothes and tied with rope to the boat's engine and an anchor. Two .22 caliber bullets were found in Freddie's body. One entered through the side of his chest, and one entered through his head. Mary Lou had been shot twice at close range with a shotgun. Their boat was found submerged about a mile away.
Glenn had been seen with a shotgun and a .22 caliber weapon shortly before the murders. He admitted to being on the island. So, he was a natural suspect. Detectives discovered there were "bad feelings" between him and the couple. According to friends, he had threatened both Freddie and Mary Lou. He and Freddie had had several violent fights and disagreements. On one occasion, Mary Lou tried to break up a fistfight between them by hitting Glenn with a ladder. Glenn then threatened to kill the couple and "throw [them] to the crabs".
Detectives learned that Freddie had received a car from Glenn but refused to make payments on it. A few days before the murders, a witness suggested to Glenn that they should "rough Freddie up" and make him pay. Glenn said to the witness, "Don't go over there. I'll take care of it."
Detectives found evidence that suggested that Glenn was in a sexual relationship with Mary Lou. Witnesses said that he had threatened her life and may have even raped her. Experts said that a pubic hair found on her body may have come from him.
Detectives uncovered additional information that implicated Glenn. There were rumors in Tampa that Freddie was a confidential informant for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and that he had identified Glenn as being part of a stolen property ring. At the time of the murders, Glenn bought and sold merchandise out of his home.
A few weeks before the murders, Freddie called a Hillsborough County sheriff's detective and said he had information on some stolen property. However, the detective did not have a chance to return Freddie's call before the murders. A friend said that Glenn was aware of Freddie's status as an informant and that Freddie was going to implicate him in the stolen property ring.
A key witness, who said that Glenn had threatened Freddie, also told detectives that just hours before the murders, Glenn had asked him to provide an alibi for that night. Glenn told several friends in Tampa that he had fought with Freddie on the day of the murders and did not go with him or Mary Lou on the boat. A friend said that Glenn had borrowed a small blue rug and used it to conceal a shotgun in his car. The rug was later found at the crime scene.
A neighbor of Glenn's, Charlie Flanders, said that Glenn had come over shortly before the murders to saw off a shotgun barrel. After using a pipe cutter to shorten the shotgun, he asked Charlie what to do to a pistol to prevent ballistics experts from knowing it had been fired.
Former District Attorney Paul Meissner notes that the case against Glenn was circumstantial yet strong. He says there was a well-connected chain of circumstances, and a jury, in his opinion, would have concluded that he was guilty.
Glenn's former public defender, Paul Barnard, thinks the circumstantial evidence in this case was weak. He notes that a person can be convicted on circumstantial evidence. However, he adds that the evidence needs to be strong enough to remove all reasonable doubt.
On May 23, 1978, Glenn was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder. He spent six months in jail awaiting trial. During this time, a judge removed two of Glenn's attorneys from the case and appointed another one to represent him.
When Glenn's day in court finally arrived (November 13), he made a decision that, in effect, removed all reasonable doubt. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree murder in Freddie's death and no contest to second-degree murder in Mary Lou's death. Through plea bargaining, he had hoped to be eligible for parole in six months. Instead, he received two consecutive life sentences.
Glenn claims he had several reasons to plead guilty. While awaiting trial, his attorneys came to him with statements that witnesses had made. He asked them how the case looked, and they said he had about a one in five chance of winning it. They said that if he lost, he could face the death penalty, and even if a jury recommended life imprisonment, the judge could overturn it and sentence him to death.
Glenn also claims that the prosecutor harassed his wife and threatened to arrest her and take her son away. The prosecutor denies this. Glenn's attorneys told him that the prosecution considered him a suspect in the murders of several prostitutes from the 1970s and believed he was a marijuana kingpin. He claims that they were going to use phony evidence against him and that attorney fees were wiping him and his wife out financially. He also claims that heavy medication and alcohol withdrawal affected his decision-making abilities.
Glenn says he started having nightmares about being placed in the electric chair. His attorneys gave him the option of going to trial and possibly facing the death penalty or pleading guilty. They encouraged him to plead guilty, so he decided to do that. He feels that he saved his life as a result.
According to Assistant State Attorney Doug Crow, Glenn is suggesting he intentionally perjured himself and lied to the court because of a possibility his attorney told him about. Crow thinks it would be ridiculous to plead guilty and face two life sentences if you are innocent. Crow says that type of decision is not to be taken lightly.
In 1981, Glenn's family contacted Steve Millwee, a private investigator and former homicide detective based in Tampa. In 1982, he gave Glenn several lie detector tests, which he says Glenn passed. The prosecution insists the tests are unreliable and dismisses them as evidence.
Millwee continued to pursue his investigation. He canvassed areas of Tampa where Glenn and his friends lived, hoping to find new evidence. He tracked down and spoke to several witnesses from the original investigation. He compared what they said to him with what they said in sworn testimony back in 1978 and found inconsistencies. He claims that some of the witnesses even recanted their testimony.
Millwee also found a woman, "Donna", who told him a startling story that supported Glenn's claim of innocence. She said she went to the island that night with two of Glenn's cronies on a motorboat. One of them, "Ted", was a key witness who had implicated Glenn in the murders and was also part of the stolen property ring. In Donna's version, Ted was angry at Freddie for being an informant and went to the island "to take care of business".
According to Donna, a scuffle occurred between Ted and Freddie. The second man held a shotgun on Mary Lou. Enraged, Ted dragged Donna to the campfire by her hair. He forced a .22 caliber pistol into her hand. She and Ted then shot Freddie, while the second man shot Mary Lou. Donna said there was no sign of Glenn on the island.
After the murders, Donna, Ted, and the other man removed Freddie and Mary Lou's clothing to make it look like a sexually motivated crime. At one point during her interview, Donna said, "I don't want to talk anymore about this. It's going to get me killed." She told Millwee she had been threatened by one of the men involved in the murders.
According to Crow, Donna has been repeatedly diagnosed as suffering from chronic schizophrenia. She has repeatedly and continuously fabricated stories for no reason about things of importance and of no importance.
Barnard notes that people who are "emotionally disturbed" are not automatically disqualified as witnesses. He says if they can relate what they have seen in a rational, believable manner, then they should be believed the same as any other person.
Millwee claims that Donna's descriptions of the crime scene were so detailed that she had to have been on the spoil bank that night. He also claims that from a "line of trajectory" analysis, he determined that one of the shots fired into Freddie had to have come from someone who was either around 6'4" tall and shooting from the hip or around 5'0" tall and shooting from their shoulder. Glenn was not close to either height, but Donna was 5'0" tall and claimed that she shot Freddie from her shoulder.
After confessing to Millwee, Donna was questioned repeatedly by the sheriff's department. She told them six different, conflicting versions of her story. In one version, she said Ted committed the murders because Freddie had taken drugs and money from him. In another, she said they had a contract to murder Freddie and Mary Lou because of a marijuana deal gone bad.
All of these versions contained inconsistencies, most notably that the murders took place on Honeymoon Island instead of the spoil bank. Finally, Donna recanted her entire testimony, claiming she never went to the island. Throughout the interrogation, however, she never backed off one important point: that Ted, a key witness implicating Glenn, was involved in the murders. She took a polygraph test, but the results were inconclusive. She was later released from custody without being charged.
Millwee claims to have obtained sworn statements from witnesses who allegedly heard one of the "real" killers confess to the murders. After Millwee completed his investigation, Glenn's attorneys asked the court to reopen the case. However, the District Attorney's Office has refused to reopen it.
There are other unanswered questions suggesting the murders may have been committed by more than one person. Witnesses on the mainland said they heard just one barrage of shots. Why, then, would Glenn go to the unnecessary bother of using two different guns to commit the murders?
Freddie and Mary Lou's bodies together weighed nearly 300 pounds. With the additional weight of an anchor and a boat engine, how could one person have carried that enormous weight down the beach and pulled it thirty feet out into the water? Even more intriguing, why would Glenn, if he indeed committed the murders, sink their boat, leaving himself at the crime scene with no other way back to shore than a dangerous swim?
Barnard thinks detectives zeroed in on Glenn since he was the logical suspect and excluded all other possibilities. Glenn says the prosecution has "egg on their face" because Ted, their own witness, duped them and made fools of them. He notes that he is in prison while Ted is out there, scot-free. He believes the prosecution is too embarrassed to admit the truth.
Crow notes that Ted is a well-known and close associate of Glenn. He says that if Ted had been on the spoil bank that night, had loudly argued with Freddie, and ordered Donna to shoot Freddie, then Glenn would have recognized his voice and told the police that Ted was responsible. But he never did that.
Glenn says that when he first came to prison, people would laugh at him when he said he was innocent. He thinks he should be believed, not because of what he says but because the record speaks for itself.
Since the murders of Freddie and Mary Lou, the state of Florida has conducted three separate investigations. They have concluded that Glenn is lying and is guilty as charged. Glenn has never denied being on the spoil bank that night, but he insists that he had nothing to do with the murders. He and his advocates hope to find other witnesses who can substantiate Donna's story and set him free.
Extra Notes:

  • This case originally aired on the September 24, 1987 Special #3 episode of Unsolved Mysteries with Karl Malden as host.
  • It was excluded from the FilmRise release of Robert Stack episodes.
  • It was later re-profiled in the Dennis Farina hosted series on the April 26, 2010 episode.
  • To protect her identity, the witness who claimed to have been involved in the murders was given the name "Donna" and had her face obscured. Glenn's associate, who Donna claimed was involved, was given the name "Ted" to protect his identity.
  • Producer John Cosgrove learned of the case while researching crimes and disappearances for the show.
  • In 1979, Glenn and another inmate, Steve Walker, organized a trip to Disney World and other Florida attractions for sick Illinois brothers Kerry and Kyle Wentz. Glenn and Steve went on to help more than 300 children with their program, "Cons for a Cause".
  • Some sources spell Glenn's name as "Glen", Mary Lou's middle name as "Lu" and state: their boat was 14-foot long; Freddie borrowed it from a friend; the dock they left from was in Ozona; they left there at 11pm; the spoil bank was in the Intracoastal Waterway; when Freddie and Mary Lou left the island, they were met by another boat; Glenn returned to the dock at 5am or dawn; an acquaintance discovered their bodies while looking for their boat; the boat was found near their bodies; Freddie was also shot with a shotgun; he was shot three times; the pistol used in the murders was found but did not belong to Glenn; and Glenn was not eligible for parole until 2010.

Results: Unresolved - On December 22, 1992, Glenn was released on parole after serving fourteen years in prison. After his release, he returned to Tampa and worked as a food service manager.
On August 21, 1996, Glenn died of a heart attack at the age of fifty-six. He was never successful in proving his innocence. His supporters believe that Freddie and Mary Lou's killer(s) are still at large. However, the police and the state of Florida consider the case closed.
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