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Wife who killed husband out of prison
Associated Press

Barbara Boyle


Associated Press

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Published: 10/19/2009 12:54 PM | Updated: 10/19/2009 2:35 PM

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EDWARDSVILLE -- A woman convicted in her husband's killing three decades ago but cleared with help from famed attorney F. Lee Bailey in the slayings of her husband's parents is out of prison, and one of her former prosecutors isn't happy.

Barbara Boyle, 67, served about half of her 50-year sentence in the 1979 Madison County slaying of Ronald Gusewelle before being freed last week from the Dwight Correctional Center.

Boyle's dentist friend, Glennon Engleman, admitted killing Boyle's husband, Ronald Gusewelle, in 1979 and Gusewelle's parents two years earlier at their farmhouse near Edwardsville. An accomplice, Robert Handy, admitted helping plot the killings and has served his prison time.

Prosecutors alleged that Boyle and Engleman plotted for her to marry someone wealthy, then kill him for an inheritance and life insurance.

Former prosecutor Don Weber said he was still disappointed that Boyle didn't get a life sentence or the death penalty, remembering that Boyle at her husband's funeral needed a place to set her Pepsi and simply placed the can on the casket.

"That probably describes Barbara Boyle better than anything I can say about her," said Weber, who was the county's state's attorney when Boyle was charged in 1984. "The condition of her soul is between her and God. But between her and the judicial system, she has not paid her debt."

Boyle has professed her innocence, insisting in an unsuccessful 2002 clemency request that she did not help Engleman kill her husband for insurance money.

Her whereabouts Monday were unknown. An Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman said the agency cannot specify where parolees relocate, other than to say Boyle is in parole District 2, which covers northern Illinois, not including the Chicago area.

Boyle married Ronald Gusewelle in 1976, a year before her father-in-law Arthur Gusewelle, 61, and his 55-year-old wife, Vernita Gusewelle, were shot to death at their home. Ronald Gusewelle got half of his slain parents' farm in probate.

In March 1979, Ronald Gusewelle was shot and his head bludgeoned with a sledgehammer at his home. Before his body was found four days later in a car at an East St. Louis motel, police probing the case as a missing-person report went to Gusewelle's home and found Boyle hosing out the garage.

Forensic tests later showed undetectable "blood everywhere" in the garage, recalled Steve Nonn, a Madison County sheriff's detective at the time. Nonn is now the county coroner.

Weber argued that Engleman and Handy ambushed Gusewelle after Boyle greeted him.

At the time, authorities alleged that Boyle and Engleman expected to share about $500,000 in inheritance.

In 1984, Boyle was charged in her husband's killing and was arrested in Florida, where she was staying with a male companion and her two children from a previous marriage. She had a passport and luggage packed in a car, suggesting she may have been trying to get to Switzerland, authorities said then.

Engleman pleaded guilty in 1985 to all three killings and was sentenced to three concurrent life sentences. He was 71 when he died in prison in 1999 in Missouri, where he was serving two life sentences on two unrelated murder convictions that predated his courtroom admissions to killing the Gusewelles.

Engleman's Missouri convictions were related to the 1976 shooting death of Peter Halm of Kirkwood, Mo., and the 1980 bombing death of Sophie Marie Berrera in St. Louis.

Boyle was convicted in her husband's death but was acquitted of killing his parents.

Handy, the accomplice, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit the three Gusewelle killings and was sentenced to 14 years.

Engleman became the subject of a book titled "Appointment for Murder" and an episode of the television show "The FBI Files" titled "Deadly Dentist." A 1993 movie, "Beyond Suspicion" starring Corbin Bernsen, was loosely based on the Engleman case.

Over his storied legal career, Bailey gained prominence for representing clients including Dr. Sam Sheppard, Patty Hearst, O.J. Simpson and Albert DeSalvo, the man who confessed to being the Boston Strangler.