The Justice Files: The fishpond murder Pt.2

Justice Files

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – The day after Pam Mead died, police suspected it was no accident.

But proving her husband, David Mead murdered her was a different matter.

“It was never who done it in the traditional sense,” said former Salt Lake deputy district attorney Howard Lemcke.  “It was how do we prove that he did it.”

In 1994 the Mead’s backyard fishpond was either a crime scene or a place where Pamela Mead accidentally died.

Police found a hysterical husband tearing the fishpond apart when they arrived.  He kept repeating the fishpond killed her. He later told police he returned from work and found her lying in the fishpond.

Pam Mead recently had foot surgery and was wearing surgical boots when she fell into the fishpond.

The medical examiner determined it was an accident noting she ” slipped and fell, hitting her head on rocks and drowned.”

But the day after Mead died, someone dialed the Salt Lake police and asked for the detective investigating the case.

“The phone call came first from her sister and she (claimed David) was having an affair and he did it for the insurance money,” said former detective Jill Candland.

Her parents took their suspicions to the press. At the heart of the alleged motive was a half-million-dollar life insurance policy David Mead took out on his wife.

Candland said the day after Pam died, David sought to collect it.

“Before he answered any questions from me or talked to me, a claim had been made,” Candland said. “He told the insurance agent not to tell police.”

During that same time period, two others came forward. Winetka “Winnie” Walls and James Hendrix both contacted authorities that bolstered the suspicions of police.

“Hendricks was David’s cousin who originally paid him,” said Lemcke. “He wanted James to go kill pam and he paid James off in cocaine.”

Walls turned out to be Mead’s mistress and even paid for her apartment. During their relationship, Walls claimed Mead was planning to end his relationship with his wife. Walls told Candland of his plan.

“(Mead) said ‘don’t worry, it will all be over by Christmas,’” recalled Candland. “(Mead said) ‘she’ll have a nasty accident.’”

Pam’s family sued Mead over the insurance policy. The civil trial ended in a hung jury and later settled with David getting $75,000.

Candland continued gathering information as she built the case for possible charges. During the civil lawsuit, another person came forward. Mead ran a business at the Salt Lake airport. It originally was his own family that began a janitorial service for airplanes. But the business was headed to bankruptcy when Pam’s family bankrolled him and placed it under Pam’s name.

A colleague at the airport notified police that there was another entrance to airplanes with video cameras. Police viewed the recording and spotted Mead arriving at work.  

But Candland found it odd that Mead would use this entrance which was out of the way to where Mead needed to arrive at his work.  

She later learned Mead wanted to be recorded near the time Pam was murdered.

Investigators timed the drive from the airport to Mead’s home and realized he could have made it to the home, murdered Pam, and return to work and not be detected.

Over three years since Pam’s death, Candland presented her findings to Lemcke in hopes of filing charges. But each time it was rejected because the evidence was circumstantial.

“If we lose the criminal case, we can never go back,” said Lemcke.

Finally, Candling had all of the pieces of the puzzle. Hendrix and Walls laid out premeditation theories. An airport employee proved that it was possible for Mead to commit the murder despite his claims that he was at work. Then there was the half-million dollar insurance policy and Mead couldn’t divorce his wife because he would lose the business to her.

In 1997, Candland presented the case to Lemcke and first-degree murder charges were filed against Mead.

But during the preliminary hearing, Lemcke got a surprise call. Stormie Simon had some damaging evidence against Mead.

“That day (Mead) came to the office, I was pretty sickened, and I thought he did it and I was scared and I thought he may not be convicted.”

Thursday as the fishpond murder continues, Simon’s testimony about Mead is explosive and the defense is caught off guard.

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