Stephanie Tate was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana December 2, 1967. Pretty and coquettish, she was already a handful for her parents. By her teens, Stephanie was a beauty but she lacked friends, which her mother attributed to the jealousy of her peers. Stephanie was a frequent target of rumours. For her part, Stephanie won dozens of beauty pageants but she wasn’t content. She wanted more than a humble living in her small town. After graduating high school, Stephanie married Michael Kennedy, a utility worker. When Stephanie was 17, they married and moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Soon Stephanie and Mike had two beautiful daughters and not long afterward, Stephanie enrolled in a nursing program at the University of Southern Mississippi.
In 1988, R.N. Stephanie took a job in Forrest General Hospital. She worked with a heart surgeon named David Stephens. David was 52 years old and had been married for 34 years to his high school sweetheart, Karen. It wasn’t long however before rumours circulated that David and Stephanie were having an affair. The affair didn’t endear her anymore to the women in Hattiesburg than in Bogalusa. Most of her colleagues described Stephanie as a “tramp” or a “hussy.”
Eventually Karen learned of the affair, loaded a gun, placed it in her mouth and encountered David outside their house. Karen tripped and accidentally shot herself in the head. Her death was ruled an accident. Stephanie accepted no responsibility for the accidental death and ignored gossip that she was partly to blame. By the following May, Stephanie divorced Mike and became Mrs. David Stephens. He was 56. Stephanie was 33. She revelled in her new lifestyle, living in a mansion, hiring a nanny to care for her daughters, buying expensive cars, and diamonds. However, in 1999, David developed Hepatitis C and was forced to resign from his position as a medical doctor and to hand in his licence to practice medicine. A severe financial decline plagued the Stephens household. Worse, during this time, David was diagnosed with severe diabetes. Stephanie tended to her husband as best as she could but on November 1, David succumbed to his illnesses.
Stephanie called the coroner. Something about David’s death bothered the coroner. He conducted an autopsy, checking for an insulin overdose. The toxicology report was alarming. There was no insulin present in David’s blood but there were high doses of a drug named etomidate, a drug used in emergency rooms to put people to sleep. Police called Stephanie into a Hattiesburg police station for interrogation. Foolishly, Stephanie denied knowing anything about the drug. She was a nurse and it was highly unlikely that she didn’t know about etomidate.
Investigators didn’t rule out suicide, however they researched his financial documents and discovered Stephanie stood to gain a $732,000.00 pay-out from MetLife Insurance, in the event of David’s death. There was no evidence that Stephanie committed the crime and she could not be arrested at that time. The Hattiesburg community formed their own opinion about Stephanie, and rumours spread that she was to blame for David’s death. One year later, the unaffected Stephanie married a former handyman, Chris Watts and spent $80,000.00 on a lavish wedding and honeymoon. Upon hearing the news, David’s daughter Kristin filed a civil suit and a judge froze Stephanie’s accounts. On Stephanie’s 35th birthday, she was arrested and charged with murder.
Stephanie faced the largest murder trial ever to take place in Hattiesburg. Hundreds of locals attended Stephanie’s trial. Prosecution insisted that when David became too ill to work, Stephanie saw her privileged lifestyle slipping away. Panicked, she took out an insurance policy against her husband then put the deadly drugs into David’s insulin pump. A crucial witness, Karen Burnett, told the court that Stephanie had admitted to killing her husband. Stephanie’s defence lawyer tried to convince the jury that David had committed suicide, but his daughter Kristin, rebutted this argument.
On September 15, the jury found Stephanie Stephens guilty of murder. Stephanie insisted she didn’t kill her husband and was the victim of a town that never accepted her. On October 14, 2006, at the age of 39, Stephanie died from double pneumonia at the Central Mississippi Hospital just outside of Jackson, Mississippi. Having served only 2 years of her life sentence in the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl, Mississippi, Stephanie again escaped responsibility for her pathological behaviour.