A SUCCESSFUL WIFE IS DECLARED DEAD FROM NICOTINE POISONING - IS HER "JEOPARDY!"-WINNING HUSBAND SMART ENOUGH TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER?
"48 HOURS: TO CATCH A GENIUS"
SATURDAY, APRIL 18, 2015
Paul Curry is considered a genius and is smart enough to become a "Jeopardy!" champion. But is he smart enough to use nicotine to poison his wife and get away with it?
Erin Moriarty and 48 HOURS investigate the case against Curry for the murder of his Orange County, California, wife in "To Catch a Genius" to be broadcast Saturday, April 18 (10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Linda Curry was found dead on June 9, 1994 after her husband, Paul Curry, called 911 to report he awoke to find his wife barely breathing. EMS responded and found Linda lifeless. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. The coroner attributed the death to nicotine poisoning, which friends found odd because she didn't smoke. She also had a generic form of Ambien in her system. But at the time, investigators had no direct evidence linking Paul with the crime. After collecting the proceeds of several of his wife's life insurance policies, Paul moved out of state.
Beginning in 2002, investigators from the Orange County Sheriff's Department, including Sergeant Yvonne Shull and Detective Mike Thompson, took another look at the case. "This isn't an accident. This isn't an 'oops.' It's not a suicide," says Thompson. "It's a homicide."
"If you just look at this case and you go, 'this is a man who killed his wife for money,' that doesn't tell you half the story," says Orange County Prosecutor Ebrahim Baytieh who got the case in 2006.
There was more - much more, Baytieh suggests.
Linda and Paul Curry married in 1992, three years after they began dating. He was a well-respected and reportedly brilliant engineer teaching nuclear power plant workers about safety. She was a twice-divorced manager at the plant. Friends of Linda Curry's had a hunch early on something was wrong with the couple's relationship when just a month into their marriage, Linda told friend Merry Seabold that Paul wanted her to take out a $1 million life insurance policy.
"I don't think passion played into this relationship," says Seabold. "I think it was comfort. But it wasn't passion."
And then Linda was always sick, something friends believed - though couldn't pinpoint - had something to do with Paul. In fact, at one point she was hospitalized for 21 days. She had a stroke and nearly died. While there, however, lab workers discovered lidocaine - a numbing agent - in a contaminated IV bag. The hospital reported the incident to police, who launched an investigation focusing on Paul.
Police interviewed Linda at the hospital and asked her who might try to poison her. "Well, the only person I could think of that would have a motive to do it would be Paul and the only motive I can think of is money, but I don't want to really even believe that or think that," she told police in an audiotape to be broadcast on 48 HOURS.
The couple also ran into money issues early on. It would become clear later that Paul Curry had been supporting two ex-wives and three children he kept hidden. That was just one of many things, police say, Paul Curry had hidden.
However, was there enough evidence two decades later to convict him?
Moriarty and 48 HOURS tell the Curry story through interviews with Shull, Baytieh and Thompson, as well as Linda Curry's friends Seabold, Frankie Thurber and Bill Sandretto, co-workers and more. 48 HOURS: "To Catch A Genius" is produced by Paul LaRosa, Gayane Keshishyan, Doreen Schechter and Joan Adelman. Anthony Batson is the senior broadcast producer. Susan Zirinsky is the senior executive producer.
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