Poisoned dessert no treat in life-insurance murder

By James Quiggle
January 29, 2013

poisonpuddingAlan Duvall went to his maker peacefully, dying in a drug-induced stupor while slumped in a lawn chair on his estranged wife’s back patio.

He was separated from Tami, but had come over to fix an air conditioner. He drank a lot then went outside to the chair and passed out, she said.

She found him the next morning and called 911, but he was dead, she said. The Indianapolis-area man died of alcohol poisoning, investigators first ruled. He had an inhumanly high alcohol content of .436 percent.

But the deeper investigators looked, the more proof they discovered that revealed a darker truth: Tami had poisoned Alan’s dessert pudding with huge doses of morphine and muscle relaxants for $100,000 in life-insurance money. She received 60.5 years for murder, insurance fraud and other crimes in 2011. Her appeal was denied in 2012.

Tami wanted to divorce him. But still, she’d convinced Alan to buy the life-insurance policy only a month before he died. She was the beneficiary. That seemed odd because they were separated. In fact she’d lied to him that it was a mortgage-insurance policy.

Alan’s blood also was packed with massive amounts of medical drugs — 82 times the maximum therapeutic level of morphine and 89 times the max for muscle relaxants. All in all, the drug and booze cocktail guaranteed Alan would pass out and never wake up.

Tami offered a convenient excuse: Alan poisoned himself to death because “he wasn’t willing to live if he couldn’t move back home and have free reign to do the things she wanted to do,” she lied to investigators.

The massive drug doses triggered a homicide investigation.

Alan’s caring relatives voiced their own suspicions.

No way Alan would’ve taken the stuff, his brother said. He liked to drink but never touched drugs.

The morphine and muscle relaxants also were easy for Tami to obtain; she was a nurse’s aide at a local nursing home.

And Tami was anxious to have Alan’s body quickly cremated to cover up the evidence. She also kept asking officials when the investigation would end so she could collect her $100,000.

Her financial life was in shambles as well. Creditors were hounding her, college tuition for their daughter was due, and her home was being foreclosed. Alan was little financial help. He’d just begun working at a glass installation firm after several job changes, and Tami’s salary at the nursing homes couldn’t cover her large expenses.

She also was having an affair with the insurance agent who issued the life policy. Tami needed Alan out of the way.

The agent advised her not to file a claim while investigations were underway. The claim would look suspicious, he said, but Tami rushed a claim into motion anyway. She also was anxious to cremate Alan and kept asking when the investigation would be closed.

A neighbor saw a large bottle of the muscle relaxant on a table inside her front door.

There also was bad blood between the Tami and Alan. She considered him a slacker and unreliable, and told others that she “hated” him. Alan suspected she was plotting to kill him. He told relatives to make sure officials investigated if he suddenly died.

Eerily, her former boyfriend Steve Brown testified that several years prior she arrived at his own home with a meal, including a pudding she insisted he eat. He took two bites and almost immediately felt dizzy.

Duvall also brought along a life-insurance policy. She urged Brown to sign it. He refused, so she left with the food.

The evidence took investigators and prosecutors three years to assemble. And the jury agreed: Tami fed Alan a wholesome dinner of fresh salad and vegetables. Next came his favorite dessert called “dirt pudding.” It was a rich mix of Oreo cookies, vanilla instant pudding and whipped cream. How could Alan say no?

But Tami had laced it with killer drug doses that ensured Alan’s dirt pudding was the last dessert he ever ate.

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