Melanie McGuire

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Melanie Lyn McGuire
Born Melanie Lyn Slate[1]
(1972-10-08) October 8, 1972 (age 43)
Ridgewood, New Jersey
Criminal penalty Life in prison
Spouse(s) Bill McGuire (deceased)
Children Two sons
Conviction(s) First degree murder

Melanie McGuire (born Melanie Lyn Slate on October 8, 1972) is a New Jersey woman best known for being the perpetrator in the media-dubbed "suitcase murder." She was convicted of murdering her husband in April 2007 and was sentenced to life in prison on July 19, 2007. McGuire is serving her sentence at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Union Township, New Jersey. Barring post-conviction relief, she will not be eligible for parole until she is 100 years old.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Melanie Lyn Slate grew up in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and graduated from Rutgers University in 1994 (she had studied statistics) before enrolling in nursing school.[1] She graduated from the Charles E. Gregory School of Nursing (now called Raritan Bay Medical Center) in 1997 with a nursing diploma.[3]

She married William McGuire in 1999.[1]


In April 2004, Melanie McGuire and her husband Bill had been married for five years. She was a nurse at a fertility clinic and he was a computer programmer. The two were raising two sons in a Woodbridge, New Jersey apartment. That month however, the couple planned to move to a larger home in Warren County. Melanie and Bill closed on their new house on April 28, 2004, but never moved in. That night, Melanie McGuire drugged her husband, shot him twice to death, and then dismembered his body. Melanie McGuire later put his dismembered remains into three matching suitcases, which were later found in the Chesapeake Bay. The day after Bill's murder, Melanie McGuire started covering her tracks. She began establishing an alibi, claiming after a domestic argument, her husband slapped her with an open hand in their bathroom, stuffed a dryer sheet in her mouth, and stormed off. On April 30, 2004, Bill's 2002 Nissan Maxima was found outside the Flamingo Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Five days later, the first suitcase containing Bill's remains was found near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. A murder investigation was launched.[4]


On May 11, 2004, a second suitcase with McGuire's remains was found, containing his head and torso. A third suitcase was recovered on May 16. Virginia Beach police released a composite sketch of the victim, which an acquaintance of Bill McGuire's recognized as being him. Melanie McGuire became the prime suspect in the investigation. Because the murder did not occur in Virginia, however, authorities turned over their investigation to New Jersey State Police.[4] During the investigation, much incriminating evidence was uncovered against Melanie. The police discovered a video of Melanie parking Bill's car at the Flamingo Hotel. Melanie claimed she had done this as a "prank" even though she had applied for a protection from abuse order days earlier based on the alleged "slapping" incident.

On April 26, 2004, Melanie purchased a .38 caliber handgun from a store in Easton, Pennsylvania with unusual wadcutter bullets. Bill was killed with a .38 caliber handgun with wadcutter bullets. In addition, police also learned that Melanie had been having a long-term affair with a co-worker at the fertility clinic named Bradley Miller. Melanie's EZ Pass tag was recorded at a toll in Delaware two days after Bill's murder. Melanie claimed that this was the result of her going furniture shopping in Delaware since it has no sales tax. Before she was charged with murder, Melanie called EZ Pass and attempted to have the $0.85 charge removed from her account history. Days later, an unidentified man, believed by many to be Melanie's step-father, also called and attempted to have the charge removed. The plastic bags that contained Bill's body were demonstrated by forensics to be from the same roll of bags that Melanie had in her home. The luggage that Bill's body was found in matched a set that Melanie had in her basement, which was missing the same size bags as the ones Bill's body was found in. Police believed that Melanie used a prescription from her work to drug her husband.[5]

Charges and trial[edit]

On June 2, 2005, more than a year after the murder, Melanie McGuire was arrested at her new home in Brick, New Jersey and was charged with first-degree murder.[5] Melanie was immediately booked into the Middlesex County Adult Correctional Center, but made her $750,000 bail. Through her attorneys, Joe Tacopina,[6] Steve Turano, and Marc Ward, she pled not guilty to the charges.

After being released on bail, Melanie faced additional charges on October 11, 2005. A four-count indictment came down from a state grand jury. Melanie's bail was raised to $2.1 million, but was again released. More than a year later, on October 26, 2006 Melanie was charged with two counts of hindering apprehension for allegedly writing letters to police aimed to get them off her trail. She again pleaded not guilty and was released after posting $10,000 bail.

Almost three years after the crime, Melanie McGuire's murder trial commenced at the Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick, New Jersey on March 5, 2007.[4] Prosecutors contended her motive for murder was to take up a new life with her lover, Bradley Miller. Melanie still persisted in claiming she was innocent, however, and claimed her husband was a compulsive gambler who owed money, and believed her husband was killed by the Atlantic City mob.


On April 23, 2007, Melanie McGuire's murder trial jury found her guilty of first-degree murder. She was also convicted of the lesser charges of perjury, desecration of human remains, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. However, Melanie was acquitted of the two counts of hindering apprehension, as well as tampering with evidence and possession of Xanax without prescription.[7]

Shortly after her conviction, but before sentencing, McGuire appealed for a new trial on the basis of the story of a jailhouse informant that William McGuire was deeply in debt and may have been killed by mobsters. However, prosecutors established that the informant, was "entirely incredible and routinely and habitually fabricates stories", according to a New Jersey State Police investigation before recanting and accusing Melanie's attorney of suborning perjury. With the story debunked, the request for a new trial was withdrawn.[8]

On July 19, 2007, the 34-year-old mother of two was sentenced to life in prison.[9]


Following her arraignment on murder charges, McGuire's case was dubbed the "Suitcase Murder" by various media outlets. Author John Glatt wrote a book about the case, entitled To Have and To Kill.[10] The case has been profiled on Snapped, Dateline NBC, Investigation Discovery's Deadly Affairs, and TruTV's The Investigators, among other true crime television shows.

Her conviction was affirmed by an appeals court on March 16, 2011. She must serve more than 63 years before she is eligible for parole.[11] On September 20, 2011, the New Jersey Supreme Court declined to hear her further appeal.[12] On April 29, 2014, McGuire filed a motion for post-conviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel and newly discovered evidence.[13]

On September 25, 2014, McGuire appeared in court with her new attorney Lois DeJulio, a public defender, to try to get a hearing that could overturn her 2007 murder conviction, on the grounds that her previous legal representation (by Joe Tacopina) was inadequate or ineffective.The request was turned down. [14][15]



  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ . State of New Jersey Department of Corrections. 2011-06-11 Retrieved 2011-06-15.  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c Reid, Beverly M. (2007-07-17). "McGuire timeline". The Star-Ledger Archives. Retrieved 2011-06-15. 
  5. ^ a b "Wife arrested in gory dismemberment murder". The Edison/Metuchen Sentinel. 2005-06-07. Retrieved 2011-06-15. 
  6. ^ New York Criminal Attorneys
  7. ^ Craven, Laura (2007-04-23). "Jury: 4 guilty, 4 not guilty". Star-Ledger Updates. Retrieved 2011-06-15. 
  8. ^ O'Neill, Jim. "McGuire's mystery witness is a fraud" Newark Star-Ledger (July 18, 2007)
  9. ^ Din, Suleman E. (2007-07-19). "McGuire sentenced to life in prison for suitcase murder". Star-Ledger Updates. Retrieved 2011-06-15. 
  10. ^ "Author to sign copies of Melanie McGuire book". 2008-11-26. Retrieved 2011-06-15. 
  11. ^ "N.J. appeals court upholds life sentence for convicted suitcase killer Melanie McGuire". The Star-Ledger. March 16, 2011. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  12. ^ "N.J. Supreme Court won't hear appeal of convicted 'suitcase killer' ,". The Star-Ledger. September 28, 2011. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  13. ^ "Convicted killer Melanie McGuire seeking post-conviction relief in June hearing,". My Central Jersey. April 29, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  14. ^
  15. ^