“Well, that was fun, but it wasn’t at all realistic!” is an often shared opinion by readers after snapping closed an engrossing though twisty thriller. I always find those kind of assessments amusing because:
- Don’t we read fiction to escape reality?
- No matter how far-fetched the plot, I bet I could find a real-life example that is even more outlandish because “Truth is stranger than fiction,” as Mark Twain once said.
When I decided to begin researching for my book The Three Mrs. Greys—a novel about Cyrus Grey, a conman who marries three different women and lies unconscious in the hospital room while his wives are left to unravel his secrets and solve his attempted murder—I quickly stumbled upon plenty of real-life inspiration. It wasn’t hard to find true crime examples of bigamy, jealousy, and foul play with plotlines that would leave even readers shocked by the twists and turns.
A Wealthy Doctor, His Two Wives, and a Murder Plot
Like Cyrus, Dr. Jean-Claude Dominique’s house of lies crumbled in April 1999 in a hospital room when it was revealed that he had married two women and had two different families—one in his native Haiti and the other, in New Jersey. While Dr. Dominique lay dying in his hospital bed after a hit-and-run accident, his first wife, Eliette Dominique, and his second wife, Betsy Dominique, met in-person for the very first time.
After Dr. Dominique’s death, Eliette and Betsy were left to wrestle over his estate. A New Jersey judge ruled in Eliette’s favor, accepting the argument that she’d married him first and Dr. Dominique was only able to marry his second wife, Betsy, due to a forged divorce decree.
The judge’s ruling seemed like it would have been the logical end to Dr. Dominique’s story: A doctor’s long-held secrets are revealed, wives spar in court, and both families go their separate ways and try to rebuild their lives. But like all twisty thrillers, the story continued, taking an unexpected turn when Dr. Dominique’s brother, Aly, came on to page and decided to get involved. According to reports, Aly believed Betsy was the rightful heir to Dr. Dominique’s estate—but this belief may have been motivated by some self-interest: Police suspected that Aly thought he could gain access and control of his late-brother’s estate through Betsy, an alleged childhood friend.
From there, Aly hatched a plot to eliminate Eliette. With $10,000, he hired two hitmen to murder her, and in October 2000, the hitmen, Marvin Geden and Alexander Exama, ambushed Eliette as she left for work from her home in New York. Though seriously injured, Eliette managed to survive the shooting, and Geden and Exama were soon arrested.
Like his brother’s lies, Aly’s plans quickly unraveled. Geden and Exama pointed to him as the grand orchestrator of the murder plot, and in July 2002, Aly was found guilty of second-degree attempted murder and conspiracy in the second-degree. He was sentenced to eight to 25 years in prison, Geden received 19 years, and Exama got a 12-year prison sentence.
Link to the rest at CrimeReads