Everyone says Susan Hamilton was the love of her husband's life.
John Hamilton, a prominent doctor in Oklahoma City, showered his wife with gifts, starting with a Porsche he gave her the day they married. The couple had exotic vacations and a beautiful house, and after 14 years of marriage, friends and family say they were inseparable, and very much in love.
"I think John was so astounded that he had her ... that he had such a wonderful, perfect — almost perfect — wife, in his opinion," said Shary Coffey, Susan's best friend.
Then came Valentine's Day 2001. John Hamilton, 53, ordered an expensive arrangement of red orchids for his wife, but he never got the chance to give them to her.
Instead, he says, he came home between surgeries that morning to pick up his datebook and was horrified to find his wife lying on the bathroom floor in a pool of blood. She had been strangled with two of his ties, and her head had been smashed so badly that parts of her brain were exposed.
Hamilton, an obstetrician-gynecologist, started performing CPR and called 911. When rescue workers arrived they found him hysterical and covered in his wife's blood. He told them he had been frantically trying to save her life.
The distraught doctor managed to give police an account of his movements that morning. He said he performed a surgery around 7 a.m., then came home to exchange Valentine's cards with his wife. Around 8:50 a.m., he said, he was beeped because he was late for another procedure. After the second surgery, he returned home to pick up his datebook, and found his wife, he said. The doctor was then ushered away, as police wondered who might have committed such a brutal attack.
Card Arouses Suspicion
An important clue came in the card Susan had written to her husband, which had a handwritten note reading: "I bought my cards two weeks ago, so I guess maybe they don't seem as appropriate now. But I do love you. Have a good day. Susan."
The note made police question whether the Hamiltons' marriage was as happy as it had seemed, and they began to regard Hamilton as a suspect. There was no sign of forced entry in the house and nothing was missing, making it unlikely Susan Hamilton, who was 55, was killed by a burglar.
The Hamiltons did have enemies. In addition to delivering babies, John Hamilton performed abortions at his clinic, and Susan worked there too. Antiabortion protesters had picketed the clinic and, friends said, even their home.
The doctor had been targeted by a militant antiabortion group, the Army of God, whose members have expressed support for the 1998 sniper killing of an abortion provider in New York State. The group had faxed Hamilton a "wanted" poster the same week as the murder, and the doctor told Primetime he and his wife had both received threatening phone calls the week she was killed.
"I always took threats like that seriously," he said. "You have to with what has happened in this country."
Friends Say Wife Was Considering Divorce
But suspicion began to point closer to home. Neighbors told police that in the weeks before the killing the Hamiltons had been having marital problems. Investigators uncovered evidence that Susan had found records of dozens of calls from her husband's cellphone to a topless dancer, and prosecutors say Susan told friends she was thinking about asking John for a divorce.