Do you know of anyone who has suffered from inheritance greed? It is a sad fact of life that the anticipation of receiving an inheritance can lead to appalling behaviour – including murder. The cases below are only examples of people who have been murdered or have murdered others because of their inheritance greed – or the hope of receiving parts of their estate.
The Murder of Jonathan Frankowski Sr
The children of an elderly man who was killed by his nephew, claim that their father’s sisters had him killed for their $200,000 inheritance.
According to the New York Post, the children of victim Jonathan Frankowski Sr, claim in a civil suit that their cousin and convicted killer, Jonathan Roman, 44, was acting at the discretion of his mother, Sandra Roman and aunt, Annmarie Porter.
Frankowski Sr was appointed executor of their mother’s will after she died in 2013.
His sisters wanted him dead so they could inherit another $100,000 apiece along with the $200,000 each they were already getting from their mother’s estate in a clear cut case of inheritance greed.
Frankowski Sr’s daughter, Kim Delaney, told The Post that to her aunts ‘it was a fortune’ and they ‘wanted that money as soon as possible’.
In 2014, Frankowski Sr, who was 71 at the time, went missing for more than a week and was found dead after his nephew confessed to killing him.
Frankowski’s mother, Helen Frankowski, died at age 91 and her family had been slow to divide up her estate, according to John Jr. Their actions would indicate that they tried to speed up the process by having their brother and executor killed.
The Murder of Marina Calabro
Prosecutors say a friend of the elderly lady’s nephew beat and suffocated the 84-year-old Calabro in the kitchen of her Bedford Street home in December 2001 as her nephew, Anthony Calabro, served as a lookout outside the building. Marina Calabro’s lifeless body was later moved to the bottom of her stairs, leading investigators to conclude at first that she had fallen. Prosecutors said the three friends aspired to careers as hired mercenaries and had talked about killing Marina Calabro so he could collect money she had promised to leave to him in her will.
The Murderer, Joseph McAndrew
A man found “guilty but mentally ill” in the murders of several family members will not be able to inherit from his victim’s estate, despite the fact that inheritance greed had led him to commit the murders.
A unanimous three-judge panel of the court recently ruled that the law barred a “deeply mentally disturbed” man who killed three family members with a sword from receiving any inheritance from the estate of his mother, whom he had killed.
“While the guilty but mentally ill verdict will entitle appellant to greater access to mental health treatment while in prison, it does not transform the verdict into a successful insanity defense, which would have resulted in an acquittal,” said Superior Court Judge Patricia Jenkins, who wrote the court’s opinion.
According to Jenkins, in March 2011, Joseph McAndrew killed his father, twin brother and mother, Susan McAndrew, with a sword. After the judge in a bench trial found McAndrew “guilty but mentally ill” of the three first-degree murders, he was sentenced to three consecutive terms of life imprisonment without parole.
Susan McAndrew had died without a will, and her husband and Joseph McAndrew’s twin brother were found to have predeceased her. This left Joseph McAndrew and Susan McAndrew’s father as the only heirs to her estate, Jenkins said. According to Jenkins, the estate was worth more than $837,000.
After the criminal proceedings, the lower court held that the killing was willful and Joseph McAndrew was a “slayer” who was barred from inheriting the estate.
McAndrew appealed, asking the Superior Court to treat his verdict the same as a verdict of “not guilty by reason of insanity,” which would allow him to inherit from his mother’s estate.
According to Jenkins, both parties agreed that the question presented an issue of first impression.
The Slayer’s Act, Jenkins said, defines “slayer” an anyone who “participates, either as a principal or as an accessory before the fact, in the willful and unlawful killing of any other person,” and bars them from inheriting property or benefits from any victim’s estate.
Jenkins noted that prosecutors proved beyond a reasonable doubt that McAndrews committed first-degree murder, and McAndrew failed to prove that he was insane at the time. According to Jenkins, “the fundamental fact is that the appellant was found guilty of first-degree murder,” which by definition, means McAndrew committed a willful and deliberate crime.
“We find the trial court properly decided this matter based on the sound reasons in the Roberts court’s persuasive decision,” Jenkins said. “Accordingly, we hold that a verdict of guilty but mentally ill for first-degree murder bars a killer from inheriting from the decedent’s estate under the Slayer Act.”
In Queensland, the same doctrine is enshrined in common law, known as the Forfeiture Rule. A case in which Mitchells Solicitors acted tested whether the Forfeiture Rule is applied where someone assists the will-maker to commit suicide.
The Chief Justice considered the application of the common law forfeiture rule, in circumstances where Mr Nielsen, named as executor and beneficiary under the will of the deceased Mr Ward, had assisted Mr Ward to commit suicide, and had been convicted of that under s.311(c) of the Criminal Code.
His Honour referred to Troja v Troja (1994) 33 NSWLR 269, and also to the decision of the English Court of Appeal in Dunbar v Plant  Ch 412 in which it was held that the common law forfeiture rule was not confined to cases of murder and manslaughter, and extended to assisting suicide.
Don’t let inheritance greed ruin the lives of your family. Instead, a comprehensive estate planning session can help you to have peace of mind. We offer a free, 10-minute phone consultation. Contact us today!