In February 1991, local Battle Creek, MI news anchor Diane King was fatally shot twice in her driveway when she arrived home with her two small children from visiting family. Diane was married to Bradford King for about six and a half years. They lived in a quiet farmhouse somewhat away from the hustle and bustle of the world with their two children, son Marler, age 3, and daughter Kateri, who was three months old at the time of her mother’s murder.
Diane was a strong, independent and successful local news anchor who had worked her way up from the bottom rung of the ladder after a mid-life career change. She was a beautiful and vibrant thirty-four-year-old woman with a radiant smile and a fantastic delivery for television. She loved her news career and she loved being a mother. She was close to her family and friends and though some co-workers felt her style in the workplace was coarse and aggressive, the vast majority of people saw her as compassionate and caring, kind and giving. And no one could deny her drive or commitment to her career or to her family.
Brad on the other hand…Brad was a forty-three-year-old Criminal Justice Instructor at Western Michigan University. It wasn’t so much a full-time gig. He was teaching one class at the time of his wife’s murder. The previous term, her had taught three. There, on the college campus, Bradford King was known as a friend to the students, his door always being open for students to ask questions and in particular, it was always open to students of the female persuasion. Although Brad wasn’t in the running for “Sexiest Man Alive”, he apparently made up for it with an impressive amount of charm affording him the ability to effectively sweet talk practically any female student he chose. Brad was not liked by Diane’s family because they either knew of or suspected his multiple affairs. They also thought he was somewhat of a leech, living off of Diane and her success without going out into the world and carving his own. He had already held down several jobs, military service, twelve years as a police officer and now as a Criminal Justice Instructor but, he went through his share of rough times just like anyone else.
Still, there was some conjecture about the marriage between Brad and Diane. Diane had recently been receiving creepy phone calls after she turned down a fan for a lunch date. Then she received a threatening letter like the ones people get in movies, the ones where they are comprised of letters cut from magazines and newspapers and glued to a page to spell out a message. Diane was basically being told she should have gone to lunch with this person.
Now, while Diane and Brad had told a number of people about this harassment, they decided they would work out a security system so that whenever she got home, she would NOT exit her vehicle until she saw Brad on the property. This meant sometimes she would wait in the car for a couple hours until he got home at night. But they had this completely worked out, no way she was to get out of the car without Brad being there.
So, on February 9, 2001 at (by my best guess) around 6:15pm, Diane pulls into her driveway with her two kids in the backseat. Her mother has called ahead to tell Brad Diane was on her way home. She is surprising him with the kids as she was supposed to leave them overnight with a family member. She gets out of her car, leaving her two small children in the back. Before she knows what is going on, she is shot once in the chest, the fatal shot. Then, moments later, a second gunshot rips through her abdomen right at the top of her pubic region. Behind the scenes, the off-the-cuff term for this is “the bitch shot” as in “Take that, Bitch!”. Her son is the only child that is old enough to know anything is going on and all he sees is his Mommy fall down to the ground.
According to Brad’s initial statement, he was home most of the day, received the call from his mother-in-law that Diane was on her way home, took a nap, ran a couple errands, ate lunch, worked outside for a bit and went for a walk. He says he went for his walk around 6:00pm. This was about the time he should have been expecting Diane home. He said that he returned to find her on the ground in the driveway. He phoned 911 Emergency Services at 6:40pm.
What followed next was over a year of frustration, setbacks, disappointments and undermined hard work at seemingly every turn. From the very beginning the police seemed to subconsciously work against themselves. Either they weren’t trained and equipped to handle the situation at hand OR they were and just didn’t use their training and equipment.
Many things in the investigation went wrong or were mishandled. The crime scene wasn’t taped off at the start of the investigation. That means anyone could have entered an exited the scene at any time. The husband and friends were allowed back at the scene before it had been released. There were no casts taken of the footprints at the scene. The list goes on and on.
This made for a tough case for the prosecution. It also made it very easy for the defense to try to raise reasonable doubt at trial.
Brad was a suspect from early on. It was very suspicious to everyone that Diane would have exited her vehicle if she hadn’t seen Brad. Plus, it was hard for anyone to believe that some stalker could have gotten on the property and lay in wait for her without Brad or the dog being alerted to their presence. Nothing was adding up. Additionally, months into the investigation, Brad told a number of people that the cops were, and I’m paraphrasing here, screwing things up and too stupid to ever find out who did it and they’ll never get it right.
Eventually, they DID get it right and after over a month of trial, Bradford King was found guilty of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison with no parole.
His defense attorney was a real piece of work and honestly, even though the guy has tons of people saying he’s one of the best there is, I wouldn’t have paid for his opening statement and closing argument. What a waste. He babbled as if he didn’t know what to say and being in a courtroom was new to him. Awful.
At his sentencing Brad criticized everyone involved with the entire process from the investigation to the trial EXCEPT his lawyer. He insulted the judge, the police, the detectives, the lawyers, the jury, the victim’s family, the system, everyone. The only TRUE victim in his eyes…was him. No matter what he claimed in his final statement.
In the end, his in laws got custody of his children, which he didn’t want to happen. He’s sitting in jail exhausting appeals with a public defender because the high priced attorney from his trial dropped him the day he was found guilty due to the fact that Brad had no money to pay for the appeals process…and this big time lawyer doesn’t work for murderers for free. King has lost support from the bulk of his family and friends. There may be one or two that still support him but they are few and far between if they are.
I found this book in a thrift store. I saw the word “stalking” and grabbed it. I actually had to look it up online to see what it was about when I decided to read it and was thrilled when I saw that it was about a true crime that happened in the 90s.
The book didn’t take long to read and it was interesting. I think there was a little too much time spent on the whole entire life history of the main players. I don’t know about other people who would read this but, me personally, I don’t really care about the suspect’s summer job as a teenager or his college student career. I think that may be going a little far. I think the author could have just started at where Diane and Brad met and went from there but, hey, to each his own I guess.
I also think the timeline layout of the book could have been a little more organized. We go from the day of the murder to a rundown of Diane’s life to the day of the murder again then we learn about Brad’s whole life, then back to the murder scene, then marital discord…the author just hops all over the place. The last third of the book is where the real meat of the story seems to be because that’s where we get the majority of the trial and the interrogations of Brad. I would have liked to have the life history stuff together after the introduction and then all the crime stuff together with the trial. That, I feel, would have flowed better. I found myself looking back toward the front of the book to refer to the beginning once I got to the trial portion of the story. Other than that, it was a good read.