An Ordinary Family, Extraordinary Murder Story

For 17 years, Rob and Brenda Andrew led a seemingly ordinary suburban life.

They raised their two children, Tricity and Parker, in a house at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac in Oklahoma City. Then, one night last November, shotgun blasts shattered everything.

"I've been shot," Brenda told the 911 operator. "My husband and I, we've been shot."

Police rushed to the scene to find Rob on the floor, lying on his back with gunshot wounds in his torso and near his neck. Brenda had been shot in the arm. She told authorities the couple had been attacked by intruders wearing black masks.

Nothing was missing from the house, there were no clues about any masked gunmen, and police could determine no motive for the shootings.

Rob, an ad executive whose life revolved around his children, died immediately.

New Life Insurance Policy

From the start, Rob's parents say, they knew something was wrong with their son's storybook romance.

"Right after the honeymoon," said Lou Andrew, Rob's father, "he said she told him she wished they hadn't gotten married. That it wasn't the right thing to do."

Rob's best friend, Ronnie Stump, described the marriage as "unbalanced," saying that Rob was more affectionate toward Brenda than she was toward him. "It was one of those relationships that … they would stay together because of the kids, and work their way through it."

Over the years, the family became very involved in their small Baptist church on the outskirts of the town. That is where Rob and Brenda met Jim Pavatt, a twice-married life insurance agent in his mid-40s.

Rob and Pavatt became friendly, and at the same time, Pavatt and Brenda started teaching Sunday school together.

In March 2001, Pavatt and Brenda suggested to Rob that he change his life insurance policy, and that their new friend, Pavatt, could write it. Rob listened, and his new $800,000 policy named Brenda as the sole beneficiary.

A Bitter Separation

By summer, people were talking: Pavatt and Brenda seemed to be spending a great deal of time together.

"Several couples had spotted Brenda and Jim out eating lunch together," said Stump. Another couple, he said, had seen them "getting way too close after church."

By early fall, friends say, Rob accused Brenda and Pavatt of having an affair. She denied it, and from there, the marriage very quickly began to fall apart.

Within days, according to Rob's father, "she took the keys away from him and told him to leave." Stump said Brenda changed the alarm code and the locks on the Andrews' house doors.

In early October, Brenda filed for divorce. It was a bitter separation full of confrontations, mostly over the children, 7-year-old Parker and Tricity, 11.

"She had taken some rather extreme positions in dealing with the children," said Craig Box, Rob's divorce attorney. "Not letting him see the children, not letting him have the children even overnight or alone."

It was heartbreaking for Rob, according to his father. "He wanted to be with his family. He wanted to be with his children. He wanted to be with his wife. He didn't want to lose any of that," Lou said.

Brake Lines Cut?

On the morning of Oct. 26, Rob got into his black Nissan — only to discover his car had no brakes. He made it to the dealership, where he called 911.

"He said that he believed that his wife and her boyfriend … Jim Pavatt, were responsible for cutting the brake lines," said Sgt. Mike Klika, who was dispatched to the dealership.

Rob rented a car, and at his office, he picked up an urgent voice mail message telling him to go to Noman Regional Hospital, where his family ostensibly was.

He raced to the hospital in the rental car, only to find out that it was a hoax. It seemed someone wanted Rob to get in his car and drive it at high speed.

"They were just trying to get him on the highway so that he'd crash," said Stump, "with his cut brake lines. They didn't know that he'd already changed cars."

That same day, Rob decided to remove his wife from his $800,000 life insurance policy and name his brother as beneficiary in trust for the children. But Pavatt told him he couldn't change the plan. So Rob went over Pavatt's head to complain, and began making the changes.

A week later, Rob filed a police report claiming that his wife and Pavatt were conspiring to kill him for the insurance money, because they still believed Brenda was the beneficiary. Police apparently did nothing.

Murder Charges and Manhunt

On the afternoon of Nov. 20, Rob was driving to the house he had shared with Brenda for a decade, when he left Stump a message, saying he was on his way to pick up his kids for the long Thanksgiving weekend. He waited in the driveway for his children, and called Stump again. Stump answered, but their call was interrupted.

"I heard what I believe was the garage door coming up," said Stump. "He said, 'I'm going to have to let you go. They're coming out.' … And that was the last I heard from him."

Rob then apparently stepped out of his car and into the garage. Moments later, someone with a shotgun opened fire with 16-gauge pellets that ripped into Rob's neck and torso. Brenda, shot once in the arm, went back into the house and called the police.

Police interviewed Brenda following Rob's slaying but did not make an arrest.

"We looked at her with suspicion," said Roland Garrett, one of the lead detectives on the case, referring to Brenda. "But we did not have enough probable cause to place her under arrest."

"To me, it was blatant. It was obvious that these are the people that took this man's life," Stump said of Brenda and Pavatt. "And nobody was doing anything about it."

Investigators met briefly again with Brenda the next day, and she said she would call to set up a formal interview. But then she disappeared.

Authorities say that on the day of Rob's funeral, Brenda, Pavatt and the two Andrew children crossed the border into Mexico on a tourist visa. Police issued warrants charging Brenda and Pavatt with Rob's murder, and the FBI joined the manhunt.

Pair Arrested on Re-entry to U.S.

Three months later, on Feb. 28, the pair were arrested while trying to re-enter the United States. On July 18, a judge ordered them to stand trial on first-degree murder charges for the killing of Rob Andrew. Oklahoma City District Attorney Wes Lane has said he will seek the death penalty for both Brenda Andrew and Pavatt. The pair have pleaded not guilty. The two children are now living with their father's parents.

Asked why Brenda would kill her husband — rather than just divorce him — Stump hypothesized: "She did not want to lose control of the kids, and she knew there would be a custody battle. And I believe Brenda thought that if he was just out of the picture, that would be the end of it."

Police have a different theory. "Greed," said Gary Dameron, a lead investigator in the case, adding that he believes Pavatt and Brenda thought she was still the beneficiary on her husband's insurance policy.

This story originally aired on Primetime on Feb. 7, 2002.