Estranged wife shoots husband, sets up phony murder-suicide scene on Valentine's Day
04/16/2018 1:28 pm PDT
The saying goes "The evidence never lies." In the death of one Michigan man, it was the evidence that unraveled one of the most bizarre cases we've ever seen.
In Michigan, a married postal worker took a lunch break at home. That decision left one person dead and the other in the hospital.
On the surface, Janel and Greg Boer seemed to live a storybook life. Janel worked days at the post office; Greg worked the third shift at a major pharmaceutical company.
It was the second marriage for both. Greg's daughter Lily from his first marriage lived with them.
Together Greg and Janel had a young son named Jason. Their combined annual income of $100,000 meant they could live on 12 acres in Scotts, Michigan, where they could practice their hobby: guns.
They ended up eloping to Las Vegas.
"I didn't really like her that much at the time already because she just seemed super-distant. It was strange," Greg's daughter Lily tells Crime Watch Daily. "It very soon became that she didn't want anything to do with me, and ignored me most of the time. She wouldn't look at me or speak to me or anything, she'd walk right past me and pretend like I didn't exist."
Greg Boer's mother Sharon says Janel took a scary turn once the ring was on the finger.
"After they got married and after my grandson was born, things started changing pretty rapidly," said Sharon. "She had managed to act like a different person up to a certain point and then look out, here came the monster."
Four years after the wedding, Greg filed for divorce, citing a "breakdown of the marriage relationship." He asked for joint custody of Jason and moved downstairs, sleeping on a mattress in what they called "the gun room."
But on the fateful Valentine's Day of 2017, Janel came home for lunch and the couple got into an argument -- one that will end their marriage forever. Janel calls 911 to report Greg shot himself.
Kalamazoo County sheriff's deputies sped through traffic on the highways and the back roads to get to the Boers' remote property. As they pulled up to the house at the end of the dirt driveway, Janel is already outside waiting for them, nursing her bloody and injured arm
Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Detective-Sergeant Warren Misner was one of the first on the scene.
"I remember quickly them loading her in the ambulance and me providing that security for a victim of an attempted murder-suicide," said Sgt. Misner.
Once inside the house, investigators take dozens of photos in the gun room. With so many guns, rifles and ammunition, it looks like an armory. A pool of blood marks the spot where Janel says Greg shot himself.
As detectives processed the crime scene, Janel was in an ambulance on the way to a hospital in nearby Kalamazoo, consenting to a recorded interview with Sgt. Misner.
"I just came home on my lunch break. I was, I've been trying to beg him to not get divorced. And he got really mad, really angry with me because I've, I had told my attorney, I showed them pictures of my husband had been abusing our son, and he'd been abusing me. He just started shooting, like a whole bunch."
Accusations were flying, but Sgt. Misner was suddenly taken aback during the ride.
"I was surprised right from the just asking basic, biographical questions, her calmness, her demeanor, it just struck me," said Sgt. Misner.
The next day, from her hospital bed, Janel gave Sgt. Misner and his colleague a second recorded interview explaining her version of events.
"I slapped him across the head with a open, with my open hand like that. He just got crazy and grabbed the gun and shot at me."
"How many times?"
"I don't know."
"How many times do you think?"
"At least two, maybe three. He said 'I'm gonna kill you for what you've done.' And I assume that that is for me telling my attorney and people that he abused our child. And he abused me mentally, physically and emotionally. And I kicked it and it fell like off to the side."
"You don't look like a karate master. Can you can you explain that?"
"I just kicked it. I just kicked it with my foot."
Janel claims that's when Greg grabbed a second gun off the shelf and shot at her several times.
"I think he was in the middle of the bed."
"In the middle of the bed with both feet on the bed or one and one?"
"I think he had both feet on the middle of the bed. Like, he shot me, killed me, and he took his own life. That's what it looked like to me. He must have thought 'OK, I shot and killed my wife, so I'm gonna take myself out.'"
It all sounded plausible at first. But as the interview wraps up, Janel motions for the detective to hug her.
"My partner and I left the trauma room and I turned to him and I said that was my 'Ah-ha moment.' 'She's trying to sell me this story,'" said Sgt. Misner.
Janel claims her estranged husband Greg Boer, whom family members call an expert marksman, shot at her three times before putting the gun to his own head.
Did you believe Janel's story that Greg tried to kill her?
"Not for a second," said Greg's daughter Lily Boer.
Lily wonders how her sharpshooter dad could have delivered only a single non-life-threatening flesh wound to Janel's bicep.
"Not that he would have tried to kill her, but he was a very good shot, he would not have missed if he had tried to kill her," said Lily.
That's the first thing that Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Detective Warren Misner thought too.
"I found it strange that two feet from each other, he missed her every time," said Sgt. Misner.
Strange things do happen during a fight to the death. Janel told Sgt. Misner after the bullet hit her, she fell back, banged her head on the floor and passed out.
If she passed out and she was bleeding, where was her pool of blood?
"There was no injury to the back of her head," said Sgt. Misner. "If someone falls back and hits their head hard enough that they pass out, there's going to be some evidence of that, and she had zero."
That makes investigators suspicious, so they call in the crime-scene investigation team.
Sergeant Jim Dunlop and the crime lab technicians enter the so-called "gun room" armed with the tools of their trade, including protractors and lasers -- and a secret spray.
"As I walked into the room, the first thing that I noted is is that Greg had sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the head," said Sgt. Jim Dunlop. "Greg Boer was right-handed, and the entrance wound in this case is on the left side of his face. He could not have used his right hand. It's physically impossible."
Scientific facts are about to put a hole in Janel's story.
"I noticed a lot of stippling on Greg's face," said Sgt. Dunlop. "What stippling is is that when a firearm is discharged, it's not just the bullet or the projectile that comes out from the muzzle, there's also a tremendous amount of hot gas and burning and unburned gun powder.
"We generally then look at the pattern of the stippling and see how tight or how loose it is, and use that to make a determination study as to how far away the muzzle was from the target," said Dunlop. "We determined that the muzzle could not have been closer than 15 inches, could not have been further away than 21 inches. Around a foot and a half. We came up with 18 inches."
Dunlop demonstrates his theory showing us actual gunpowder stippling on control test panels.
"Couldn't have shot himself with his right hand," said Sgt. Dunlop.
But in the interview Janel gave from her hospital bed, she says she found Greg in bed with the gun in his right hand.
"If he were to use his left hand, he cannot use a conventional grip on that pistol and still accommodate that angle and get 18 inches away," said Sgt. Dunlop
Sgt. Dunlop says there's another impossibility with Janel's story: although Greg was in the bed, investigators found the pistol Janel claims Greg shot himself with several feet away from his body.
"She admitted to moving it or knocking it onto the floor. But again, she indicated it was in his right hand. We know that's a physical impossibility, he couldn't have shot himself with his right hand," said Dunlop.
So now the crime lab measures the angles of the trajectories of the bullets to determine if Janel is telling the truth.
"By doing what we call 'bullet back-tracking,' we're actually able to determine the exact flight path of two of the different bullets that were fired of the four," said Sgt. Dunlop. "The first thing we determined was the shot that killed Greg was a single gunshot wound from the .40-caliber pistol that entered the left side of his face. That bullet stayed in his head.
"The second round, that bullet clipped a piece of the door before going into the east wall," said Sgt. Dunlop. "That bullet and the doorway spread a tremendous number of the particles from that door all throughout the room. But when we were looking at Greg Boer, what we found is these particles were on his eyelashes, they were on his neck, they were on his arm, they were in his hair. And that these particles were sitting on top of the coagulated blood, which means that it had to have happened after Greg was shot and killed.
"We use a laser emitter to show the flight path of the bullet," Sgt. Dunlop said. "We just use an aerosolized dust, and we're able to see exactly what the flight path of that bullet was."
So based on your investigation, Greg Boer could not have shot himself?
"Correct. Greg Boer didn't shoot anybody that day," said Sgt. Dunlop.
Another inconsistency: investigators found trace amounts of gunshot residue on both Janel's and Greg's hands. And if he had just shot himself there would be way more than just trace amounts on his hands.
"Janel and Greg both had approximately the same amount of gunshot residue on their hands, maybe somewhere between 10 and 30 particles," said Sgt. Dunlop. "Certainly when you look at the fact that they both have basically no GSR on them, that one of the two had the opportunity to wash up, to try to clean the evidence away. It wasn't Greg Boer. Greg Boer's laying dead on the bed. He didn't wash his hands or anything. She forgot that we're gonna check his hands too."
Which tells you what?
"That Janel was the shooter," said Sgt. Jim Dunlop.
Janel Boer tells one story about what happened the day her estranged husband Greg was shot and killed and she was wounded. But the evidence tells another.
The angles are all adding up, and they're putting a box around Janel Boer and her claim that her husband Greg shot her before turning the gun on himself.
Crime lab Sgt. Jim Dunlop believes Janel shot Greg. Dunlop says the laser beams showing the trajectories of the bullets prove that Janel shot and killed Greg while he was asleep -- and then she began the big cover-up.
"After she had shot Greg, she then began doing things to stage the crime scene in order to sell it as this murder-suicide attempt," said Sgt. Dunlop.
Doing things like actually shooting herself in the arm to make it look like she was the intended target.
So she basically had to shoot up the room to make it look like there was a shootout between a husband and a wife on Valentine's Day?
"Correct, and fortunately for us, she had no idea on how we investigate shooting scenes, or our ability to figure out who is standing in which position, and able to really back-track the flight path of these bullets," said Sgt. Dunlop.
As Det. Warren Misner investigates further, he tracks down Janel's ex-husband, who he says makes a stunning revelation.
"He told me how he was arrested for domestic [violence], she had claimed that he told police, responding officers, that he has assaulted her and he said 'No, that was never the case,'" said Det. Misner. "He said that she had hit herself so hard in the face that she had done some type of facial damage to an eye orbital. Anyone willing to go to that measure, certainly is willing and capable of shooting themselves in the arm."
And Det. Misner says investigators found no evidence supporting Janel's claims that Greg had ever abused her or their young son Jason.
"I was certainly very confident of as far as the amount of the evidence we had to clearly demonstrate her guilt," said Sgt. Jim Dunlop.
When it's time to confront Janel, deputies bring her into the station for questioning. Once the interrogation gets underway, Janel drops a bombshell.
"I've been instructed by my attorney not to say anything without him present."
"I thought your attorney was a girl?"
"That was my divorce attorney and she referred me to another attorney."
"And who is that? What's his name?"
"So you've actually retained Randy?"
"I'm not asking questions, we'll just tell you a few things. I'll tell you that I think it's highly suspicious, to me, that you would be contacting a criminal attorney when your husband tried to kill you and killed himself."
"Is that what he is?"
Yes he is: Randy Levine is a prominent criminal defense attorney in Kalamazoo.
"What'd you go to Randy for?"
"He just asked me what happened."
"I read most of Detective Misner's interview with you, OK? And then I also reviewed the forensic notes. I can tell you that it is not lining up, OK? I'm going to consider you to be a suspect at this point, in this, OK?"
Despite her attorney not being present, Janel continues talking.
"I'd like to talk with you, I just don't feel good enough to talk right now. I feel like I'm going to pass out. So I feel like, uh, it's almost like I'm not here, it's almost like, 'Am I really dead?' You know? 'Did he kill me? Am I dead?' That's what I feel like."
Janel then bizarrely announces her dinner plans.
"We're ordering pizza tonight."
Janel Boer is arrested and charged with murder and felony firearm use -- a possible life sentence if she's convicted.
Prosecutors believe the motive was Janel's unwillingness to share custody of their then-4-year-old son Jason.
At Janel's arraignment, attorney Randy Levine tries to get her released without posting a bail bond. But a court date will never happen. In a shocking development, Janel cuts a deal, pleading guilty to second-degree murder.
"When we found out that the other side might be amenable to a plea to second-degree murder, we went to the victim's family and talked about that, and ultimately decided that that was the best way to resolve the case for everyone," said prosecutor Jeff Williams.
Janel's case now goes straight to the sentencing phase, and fireworks were about to explode in the courtroom. Janel, in an orange jumpsuit and shackles, listened as Greg's parents gave their victims' impact statement.
Janel negotiated her sentence in the plea bargain to 17 to 19 years in state prison.
"I thought she was a monster. I also wanted the public to understand -- there are still people who believe her that my son was abusive, and he was not in any way abusive, ever," said Greg's mother Sharon Boer.
The family was torn apart forever when rage killed romance on Valentine's Day.
Little Jason now faces growing up without his parents. His killer mom is in prison and his beloved father dead and buried.
And as for Greg's older daughter Lily, she will forever cherish her final conversation with her dad.
"He told me he loved me and 'good night,' 'cause he was headed off to work," said Lily Boer. "There's such a big part of us missing now. Just another good person that's not in this world anymore."
One final note on this story: Janel and Greg's young son Jason, who is now 5 years old, has since been adopted by Greg's brother Chad and his wife. Janel is set to get out of prison when Jason is 22 years old.