Real Name: Marilu Serrato Geri
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Houston, Texas
Date: February 14, 1986
Details: At 10:06AM on Valentine's Day 1986, a thirty-three-year-old affluent Houston resident named Marilu Geri was discovered shot four times in her home and rushed to the hospital where she died of her injuries soon after. Her parents believe that she was killed by her husband, Stephen Geri. He is adamant that he is not involved and claims to have a minute-by-minute alibi for the morning of the crime.
At 8:15AM that morning, Stephen called his mother-in-law Maria Serrato and asked her to go to the Geri home to help Marilu prepare for a lunchtime party. After hanging up the phone, Maria called Marilu. However, she did not answer. This concerned Maria because she believed that Marilu was already up and preparing for the party. She decided to drive to the Geri home. When she arrived, she knocked on the back door and received no answer. She went to the front door and found it ajar. This was strange because Marilu always left the door locked. In the bedroom, Maria found her daughter's body. It was clear to her that she was dead.
At 10:30AM, the paramedics tried to revive Marilu, attempting to restart her heart with an injection. However, she was already dead. This procedure made it impossible to determine an exact time of death. It was determined that she had been shot four times with two different guns: a .380 and a .22. There was no signs of a gun in the house, nor were there any physical signs of a break-in. In the bedroom, her jewelry box was open. It appeared that she had laid out jewelry to wear. Her family does not believe that the motive for the murder was robbery since jewelry and other expensive items were not taken.
Stephen disagreed about the motive. He claimed that several items were stolen from the house. Specifically, he stated that $25,000 to $40,000 worth of jewelry was stolen. Fur coats and other valuables were stolen, according to him. However, Marilu's family claimed that there were many valuable in the house and nothing was disturbed. They believed that her death was a well-planned crime.
Marilu and Stephen had been married for three years. He was an insurance agent and she worked for him. The couple went on vacation to Hawaii and Europe. They appeared to be living the good life. He claimed that their relationship was "exciting" and "fulfilling". However, her family claimed that the marriage was "torment". Her mother claimed that during the last two years of the marriage, she constantly cried about the relationship. Her mother also claimed that the couple constantly fought over money.
As Marilu's husband, police naturally viewed Stephen as a possible suspect. They requested permission to inspect his handguns. A ballistics report proved that his guns were not used in the shooting. He also gave police a detailed account of his movements on the morning of the murder. Normally, he worked in his office at home in the early morning. However, on the day of the murder, he changed his routine.
Stephen claimed that he woke up around 5AM and went upstairs to do some work. When he left at around 6:25 or 6:30, Marilu was still in bed. He told her that he would call her at 7. He was certain that the security system was on when he left. He claimed that he went to 7-11 to get a cup of coffee. He then went to the post office and picked up their mail. After that, he went to a donut shop and picked up donuts. He then went to Precision Glass and talked to the owner, Don Richardson, for a few minutes. As he was about to leave, he realized that he didn't call Marilu. He went back in and called her from the reception's desk at 7:30. According to him, she was awake and busy, getting ready for the party. From 7:30 to 10:06 (when Marilu's body was found), he was often in the company of witnesses who corroborated his alibi.
Marilu's parents hired private investigator Bill Elliot to examine Stephen's alibi in detail. He interviewed witnesses who stated that Stephen normally did not leave the house until around 9 or 10AM. It seemed suspicious that Stephen would change his routine on the same morning his wife was murdered. It was also discovered that his first stop was just two blocks from the Geri home. Although the drive would normally take about five minutes, he did not arrive there until about 7AM. This was almost a half hour after he supposedly left home. Elliot believes that he spent this time disposing of evidence.
Strangely, the day after the murder, Stephen went back to all of the places he had been to on the morning of the murder and reminded the witnesses that he had been there. He also apparently asked for receipts from these places (including the donut shop). Unfortunately, the evidence regarding time of death is clouded because of the paramedic's attempt to resuscitate Marilu. Her time of death is questionable. Therefore, insurance investigators were unable to determine if Stephen's alibi was legitimate.
Two years prior to the murder, Stephen purchased life insurance policies for himself and Marilu. Each policy had a total of $435,000. According to Elliot, Stephen was known to be a big spender and liked to live the "high life". However, his income was apparently unable to support this lifestyle. An insurance investigator also discovered over $125,000 of hard cash judgments that Stephen had against himself. This led some to believe that he killed Marilu for the insurance money.
Ten months after the murder, Stephen filed to collect the $435,000 life insurance policy. Outraged, Marilu's parents went to court to prevent him from collecting the money. They claimed that he was the cause of Marilu's death; they intended to prove it in court. Stephen, however, believed that the Serratos wanted the money for themselves. Just as the trial began, an out-of-court settlement was reached between Stephen and the Serratos. However, it is not known which side requested the settlement. Both sides claimed that the other made the request. The court documents cannot reveal who ordered the settlement, as the judge ordered the records sealed for two years.
After Marilu was buried, her headstone was smeared with mud and vandalized. It was later stolen. Her headstone was later replaced; it now reads "Marilu Serrato". Her family hopes that the case will one day be resolved. Stephen maintains his innocence.
Suspects: Stephen Geri remains a "person of interest" in Marilu's murder. Her parents are convinced that he is responsible. There was no evidence of a break-in, but there was conflicting reports on whether anything was stolen from the home. Her family claims that their marriage was troubled and that they often fought over money. He had taken a $435,000 insurance policy out on her. Prior to her death, he had money problems. Her family believes that he killed her for the insurance money.
Stephen's routine on the morning of the murder was significantly different from his normal routine. He went to several different places that morning; the next day, he returned to those places and reminded witnesses that he was there the day before.
Stephen's guns were tested and none of them were determined to have been used in the murder. Police hope to find more information about the two weapons that were used. The weapons were a .380 caliber and a .22 caliber pistol.
Extra Notes: This case originally ran on the December 21, 1988 episode.
Results: Unsolved. In 2018, a $20,000 reward was offered for information leading to the resolution of Marilu's case.
Sadly, Marilu's father Miguel has since passed away. Her mother and siblings are still searching for answers.
- Marilu Geri at Unsolved.com
- Texas Rangers Unit To Probe Unsolved Murders
- Family of woman killed Valentine's Day 1986 pleads for public's help
- Reward increased to $20K in 1986 Valentine's Day murder of woman in Fort Bend Co.
- Valentine's Day murder: 1986 victim's family sparks new search for answers
- $20K reward offered in Valentine’s Day cold case murder of woman killed 32 years ago
- SitcomsOnline Discussion of Marilu Geri (includes articles)
- AMW fans discussion forum
- Marilu Geri Facebook Article
- Marilu Geri at Find a Grave