Crimes of Passion: What Really Happens When Love Goes Wrong

By February 10, 2018 Crime

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we are inundated with stories of romance and passion. Everywhere we look, we are reminded of the beauty of love and all the great things that it can bring into our lives. Couples are running around in search of that perfect gift, a way to demonstrate their love and devotion to the one that makes them so happy in this life.

The truth is that while love can be an amazing experience, there is also an incredible dark side to the world of love and relationships.

Passion is an incredibly powerful feeling – fueling us to pursue our greatest dreams, inspiring us to step outside of our comfort zone and rewarding us for engaging in the activities that we believe speak to us the most. It can, however, also be all-consuming. Those who are highly passionate can become short-sighted and fixated on the world around them, blind to even the most basic of situations.

“A consuming passion is the last thing you think about before you go to bed at night and the first thing you think about when you wake up,” explained Brian Schwartz, author of the award-winning ’50 Interviews’ series. “It feels like an addiction, and if someone told you to stop, it would be impossible for you to give up.”

But what happens when that addiction is more than you can handle? When your passion leads you to a difficult situation or trying time in your life. What do you do when the very object of your passion is responsible for hurting you? These are the situations that make the news, gruesome reports of lovers turning on one another and reports of rivals turning to extreme measures in order to ensure that they are the ‘only one’ in their lover’s lives.


Check out the dark side of love with these examples of love gone bad:

Actions of Husband and Mistress Lead to Death Sentence

It sounds like something out of a Hollywood blockbuster, but the story of Emilia Carr is a shocking reality. She and her lover Joshua Fulgham decided to turn to extreme measures to deal with Fulgham’s estranged wife Heather Strong, and this decision would place Carr on death row, a rare verdict for women in Florida.

On February 15, 2009, Carr and Fulgham lured Strong to a mobile home, where they kidnapped her, restraining her by taping her to a chair. First, Fulgham forced Strong to sign documentation relinquishing custody of the couple’s two children. Once he was content that the documentation was complete, the situation would escalate and quickly!

Carr placed a garbage bag over Strong’s head, which was held tight with the tape that Fulgham would then wrap around her neck. Carr was the first to try to end Strong’s life, attempting unsuccessfully to break the woman’s neck. When she failed, Fulgham placed his hands over both Strong’s mouth and nose, suffocating her. The couple buried the body outside the mobile home where it was later discovered, half in a suitcase and wrapped in a blanket.

The trial would cause considerable controversy when Carr was sentenced to death, while Fulgham received a sentence of life in prison.

Open Marriage Turned Deadly

Engaged in an open marriage, Eric McLean and Erin McLean appeared to have reached an agreement in their relationship that would keep both partners happy. Enter Sean Powell, 31-year-old Erin McLean’s 18-year-old lover. Unfortunately, not all open marriages are actually mutually beneficial. In some cases, a partner will agree to open up their marriage to keep their spouse happy, but they aren’t actually prepared to handle the emotional strain of seeing their spouse with another partner, and many believed this was the case with the McLeans.

Neighbors in the Knoxville community that the couple called home described a one-sided relationship. One in which Erin McLean forced her husband into a lifestyle that he wasn’t comfortable with, while Powell taunted him, rubbing his relationship with Erin in Eric McLean’s face. Seen by most as an act of jealousy, Eric McLean shot and killed the teen in his car outside of the couple’s home in March 2007. Eric McLean, however, would claim that he believed Powell was stalking his wife, acting in her defense.

Following the 2008 trial, Eric McLean was found guilty of reckless homicide and would only end up serving 47 days in jail. “The death is going to haunt me forever and I’m just really sorry. I don’t know what to say,” he stated.

Actor and Comedian Killed in Tragic Murder-Suicide

It has been said that you don’t know what is happening behind closed doors, and this couldn’t be more true in the case of actor and comedian Phil Harman. While it was known that the couple was having marital problems, friends, family, and neighbors didn’t suspect that the couple’s conflict would escalate to murder.

In the early morning hours of May 28th, 1998 Brynn Hartman and husband Phil had a heated argument, fueled in part by alcohol and cocaine for Brynn. Upset with her substance abuse Phil had threatened to leave her if she started taking drugs again before going to bed. This angered Brynn, and at approximately 3 AM she walked into the couple’s bedroom and shot her husband twice in the head and once in her side.

Brynn Hartman then left the house and drove to a friend’s house where she confessed. Not believing her seemingly over the top confession, Ron Douglas returned to the Harman house with Brynn (in separate vehicles) where he discovered Phil’s body. After hearing Douglas call 911 Brynn locked herself in the bedroom and committed suicide with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Unconventional Crime Ends Love Triangle

In November 2006 experienced skydiver Els Van Doren would fall to her death at the age of 38 as a result of her parachute and safety failing to open during a jump. Originally believed to be a tragic accident, the day would eventually be acknowledged as the desperate actions of a scorned lover trapped in a love triangle.

Van Doren and a fellow skydiver shared much more than even the 2 imagined. Els Clottemans and Els Van Doren shared the same first name, their love of skydiving and, as the two would eventually realize, a love for the same man – Marcel Somers, also a skilled skydiver.

While investigating Van Doren’s death, law enforcement officials would realize that the cords of both Van Doren’s parachute and her safety chute had been cut, explaining their failure to open during the fatal jump. After a 4-week trial, the jury returned their verdict. Clottemans would be found guilty of murdering Van Doren out of jealousy.

Navy Sailor Kills Cheating Girlfriend

Twenty-year-old navy sailor Sixto Balbuena was excited to return home to visit his 48-year-old girlfriend Tamara Hofmann on the fateful night in 2009, however, the scene he would return home to was incredibly different from what he had expected. Rather than walking in to an excited girlfriend, happy to see him, Balbuena walked in to find math teacher Hofmann in bed with an 18-year-old high school student, Samuel Valdivia.

Acting out of anger, Balbuena is said to have been kicking, punching and throwing things at Valdivia, all while the student was apologizing for what had happened. Stating that he ‘wanted to teach the victim a lesson,’ Balbuena would then grab a kitchen knife and stab Valdivia in the lower side. The sailor claimed that he had no intention of killing the teen, he was merely looking to show him how much he had been hurt by the situation.

Remorseful for his actions, Balbuena would then call 911 reporting the incident. Valdivia died later in hospital. Discovered by police covered in blood, Balbuena was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

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