- Rod Kackley
The Suitcase Killer: A Shocking True Crime Story
Happy New Year, (here's hoping you survived the holidays) and welcome to another year of Shocking True Crime Stories….
I finished off last year talking with Jim Sulanowski on his podcast, Murder Most Foul. It’s an episode entitled, “Murder Potpourri,” during which we discussed some of my shorter, Shocking True crime stories, articles, and books.
Jim even let me talk about the night when, as a teenager, I met Jane Fonda and how that changed my life.
Click here to listen to Murder Potpourri with Jim Sulanowski on Murder Most Foul.
One of the Shocking True Crime Stories we discussed is one of my shorter books, Kalamazoo’s Suitcase Killer. This is the tale of a college student who kills his girlfriend, then stuffs her body into a suitcase before tossing the luggage into a river.
Yes, Donnovan Terrell Lewis disposed of his girlfriend’s body by putting the remains of Aniya Mack in a suitcase and tossing it into a river.
But, you know he wasn’t the first to use luggage to dispose of a body nor will he be the last.
Take, for instance, the story of Melanie Lyn Slate.
Melanie, hardly lacking for brainpower, graduated from Rutgers University with a double major in math and psychology in 1994. And, she was second in her class at the Charles E. Gregory School of Nursing where she graduated with a nursing degree in 1997.
Two years later, she married a U.S. Navy veteran, William T. McGuire, “Bill” to his friends and loved ones.
Happily married, you’d think.
Five years down the road, Melanie’s a fertility clinic nurse and Bill’s a computer programmer. They have two sons and a nice one in Woodbridge Township, New Jersey.
It’s an apartment, however, and this family of four needs their own house, which Melanie and Bill find in nearby Warren County.
Happy times, right? The American Dream comes true.
Wait. This is a Shocking True Crime Story, so you gotta know it’s not going to have a happy ending.
Here it is:
The McGuire’s will never move into their dream home because — and this is where the excrement hits the whirling blades of a household appliance used by many in the summer — on the night they close on the new house, Melanie kills Bill.
Yup. Mrs. McGuire drugs Mr. McGuire, then shoots him dead, and then — you think that would be enough?
Mrs. McGuire cuts up her dead hubby into not so little pieces and gets a nice three-piece suitcase set out of the closet.
Into the luggage goes the bits and pieces of Bill McGuire, and southbound goes Melanie, traveling with her suitcases, stuffed with Mr. Bill.
What did she do with the suitcases?
Well, a month later, May 5, 2004, two people are fishing with their children in Chesapeake Bay, a couple hundred miles south of the McGuire’s home in New Jersey. They snag the first valise, containing a pair of human legs.
Six days later, a graduate student cleaning litter on the beach of Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge discovers a suitcase — larger than the first — containing Bill’s head and torso. These body parts suffered three bullet wounds; a double-tap to the chest, and a .38 caliber hole in the head.
Another five days go by before the third case, the smallest of the set, is found floating in the water of Chesapeake Bay. This one contains Bill’s arms.
So, like we sang in grade school — the leg bones are connected to the…well you see where I am going.
New Jersey state police take over the investigation after one of Bill’s friends IDs a composite sketch, and Melanie is suspect number-one.
Just like the suitcases, a boatload of evidence surfaces implicating Melanie. To begin with, Bill’s torso and head had those three bullet holes, each caused by wadcutter bullets, fired from a .38 caliber gun.
Guess what Melanie purchased from a store in Pennsylvania on April 26. You’re right. She bought a .38 caliber handgun that day. On her receipt it shows she bought the gun and something else for $9.95. There were only two items for sale for that price in the store, and one was a box of wadcutter bullets.
I am not one to give (free) advice to murderers. BUT if I was, it would be this: Now listen closely because I am going to whisper.
My advice is: If you are going to shot someone. Don’t buy the gun legally. Find somebody on a street corner somewhere. Why would you think leaving your name, address, credit card info, etc is a good idea when you are purchasing a murder weapon?
Okay. Now back to the story of Melanie McGuire.
There was the gun and ammo purchase. Then, there was this: a couple of video tapes of Bill’s car being moved after he was murdered.
Then Melanie’s E-Z Pass showed she had driving to Delaware two days after the murder.
Now, Melanie could explain that. She was shopping for furniture in Delaware. But she didn’t buy anything. Okay.
However, prosecutors could also see that first Melanie, and then her stepfather, contacted E-Z Pass and tried to get the 90 cent charge for driving in Delaware erased.
More free advice: Oh never mind. It seems so obvious.
Let's get back to the story.
Plastic bags that contained Bill’s body parts (Yuck!) and bags that contained his clothing that Melanie gave to a friend, (Double Yuck) were manufactured on the same assembly line within hours of each other.
Whispering advice again: Don’t give away the dead guy’s clothing to a friend, especially not in a plastic bag that’s just like the bag you used to pack the pieces and parts of his body.
Yeah. There’s more.
Melanie admitted she and Bill owned a three-piece set of Kenneth Cole luggage just like the suitcases that carried his body parts.
And, green fibers found on one of the bullet’s lodged in Bill’s chest were just like the fibers from a green couch in the McGuire’s home. And then, investigators found a medical towel stuffed in one of the suitcases, that was similar to there towels that Melanie used to protect furniture when she was getting ready to move to that new house.
As you can see, the evidence was piling up faster than your colon after Thanksgiving dinner.
Then came this bombshell: Melanie had been sleeping with a co-worker for years. Wow!
Well, you can see where this is going.
Melanie was accused off first degree murderer as part of a four-count indictment. She pled not guilty, but come on!
Almost three years after Bill McGuire was parceled out into the three pieces of a Kenneth Cole luggage set, Melanie stood trial and was convicted
But wait. You know there’s gotta be more, and there is.
A convict claims from his prison cell that the Atlantic City mob put out a hit on Bill because he was a degenerate gambler who owed big money.
New Jersey State Police investigating and found nothing to substantiate the story. Detectives also discovered this jailhouse snitch had a history of “entirely incredible and routinely and habitually fabricated stories.”
In other words: Liar, Liar, oh whatever.
Rather than face even more prison time for perjury, the inmate recanted his story.
So, at the age of 34, on July 19, 2007, Melanie McGuire began serving the rest of her life behind prison bars for killing her husband, Bill.
And, using three pieces of luggage to hide the evidence of his murder.
Again, thanks to Jim for offering me the chance to join him on Murder Most Foul and thanks to you for reading this blog post.