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Jimmy Michael“I count myself in nothing else so happy as in a soul rememb’ring my good friends.” ~ William Shakespeare

Today is National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. I remember my high school classmate Jimmy Michael who was murdered by his wife Michelle Michael in November 2005, in his own home in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Watch the 48 Hours Mystery episode: Death Without Mercy.

In November 2005, I was living in Denver, Colorado and nursing my son who was just a few months old. Each morning I would go online and read news from my hometown back east. I scanned the obituaries and was shocked when James Michael’s name appeared. It seems he died in a house fire. I was in denial. I couldn’t believe a healthy guy of 33 could just die in a house fire. Why hadn’t he tried to escape? He was alone. It’s not like he was trying to save someone. I was sick to my stomach to think his family and friends had to spend the holiday season mourning his loss. I held my son tighter and mourned with them. It just seemed too incredible to believe.

Months passed and I soon learned that his wife (his wife!) was arrested for his murder. Honestly, I did not want to believe the news. I didn’t want to believe that someone could murder their own husband, someone they vowed to love and honor and cherish for life. But 6 years ago, I was not aware that 4% of our population consists of sociopaths, people who lack a conscience, people who can not empathize with others, people who will lie, cheat, manipulate and fool good people every chance they get.

Six years ago I didn’t know what I know now. I didn’t know that there are people walking among us wearing masks. Wolves in sheep’s clothing.  I had no idea that sociopaths were so good at hiding among us, waiting to pounce on anyone who proved to be an obstacle. Jimmy Michael was an obstacle that his wife needed eliminated. Remorseless. Still denying her involvement (just like Scott Peterson). Still crying crocodile tears and begging for an appeal.

This story can not die until Michelle Michael is dead. She is eligible for parole when she is 55 years old. Being paroled at that age would give her far too many “good” years to be free among the rest of us. I don’t want to ever see her free. She took away the life of someone’s son, someone’s father, someone’s brother, someone’s friend. I am unable to forgive her. I think of my own son. I think of how I would feel as a mother. It’s in her God’s hands to forgive her, but she needs to confess first, right?

Please keep Jimmy and his family in your thoughts today and every day. In 2010, along with the help of my high school graduating class, I established the James Michael Memorial Scholarship and fund at Fort Hill High School in Cumberland, Maryland. Each year, a deserving college-bound, graduating senior is selected as the recipient of a $1000 scholarship in Jimmy’s name. Please consider contributing to this fund:

Make a tax-deductible contribution by mailing a check payable to:

Fort Hill Scholarship Fund
c/o Fort Hill High School
500 Greenway Avenue
Cumberland, Maryalnd 21502

Be certain to write “James Michael Memorial Scholarship Fund” on the memo line of the check.


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