Mystery-Murder Game Becomes Real

Kimberly Hricko married her handsome college sweetheart, Steve Hricko at Penn State. They had a beautiful daughter, Anna, and a brand new home in the suburbs of Laurel. Kimberly and Steve were introduced to each other by friends; both were late bloomers and had never had serious girlfriends or boyfriends. A good marriage was not something Kimberly ever thought she would have. Kimberly had suffered a traumatic childhood. She had a distant relationship with her father. After her parents divorced, her mother married a man who sexually and physically abused Kimberly. Oddly, after 7 years of a comfortable stable marriage, Kimberly became bored. She was used to the drama of an unhappy childhood, a consequence that is often repeated as a cycle within families.

Kimberly obtained a job as a surgical technician in Silver Springs. Steve worked as a greenskeeper at a golf course. Women frequently gravitate towards a nurturing field; they receive accolades and are accepted into an elite social circle. Her acquaintance with surgeons and physicians caused her to yearn for large houses and a lavish lifestyle. Steve however didn’t like Kimberly’s hospital friends. Working at a golf course, he didn’t have a high opinion of arrogant doctors and surgeons. Inevitably, Kimberly wanted out of their marriage. For his part, Steve was devastated and he vowed to do anything he could to keep the marriage together. The couple began seeing a marriage counsellor and by the winter Steve felt his marriage could succeed.

On February 14, 1998, (Valentine’s Day), Steve drove Kimberly to Harbourtowne Resort in St Michaels, Maryland, for, what would prove to be ironical, a fun game of murder-mystery. As the staged murder came to an end, a real one was just begun. It was Kim who uncovered the mysterious murderer, a woman whose glib name was Sherry Chardonnay. As everyone retired for the night, no one knew it was the last time they would see Steve alive. At midnight, Kimberly walked into the lobby of the hotel and said calmly, “my room is on fire.”  The hotel staff raced to Kimberly and Steve’s bungalow but found it dreadfully quiet.

There was no fire, no smoke, but there was the odd smell of rubber.  The staff entered the room and found Steve face up surrounded by beer cans with a pack of cigars. When the news was broken to Kimberly that her husband was dead she reacted in a grief-stricken manner: crying and very upset. She informed police officers that Steve got very drunk and they began to fight, so she left the bungalow. The police had no reason to doubt Kimberly’s story. Paramedics removed Steve’s body and Kim was brought home by a friend, Maureen O’Toole Miller. Miller found Kimberly to be cold and distant. Kimberly repeatedly stated, “I gotta get outta here.”

The next day, the Maryland Crime Lab discovered some unusual developments. Steve had not drunk much alcohol the night before, and he was not known to smoke cigars. Very occasionally he chewed tobacco. Most disturbingly, there was no sign of asphyxia from smoke inhalation, as one would expect in a fire. Valentine’s Day at a murder-mystery theatre had yielded an actual murder.

A number of Kimberly’s neighbours came forward to police and revealed that Kimberly had told them repeatedly that she wanted out of her marriage. She even went so far as to tell her friends that she would be able to kill her husband and make it look as though his death was the result of a fire. When police attended Kimberly’s residence to arrest her, she attempted suicide by drug overdose. She was taken to the hospital and after she was stabilized she was placed in a psychiatric hospital. The question still remained: why would Kimberly kill her husband?  Without a motive, the prosecution was reluctant to move forward.  A Grand Jury hadn’t indicted Kimberly and by the spring she was certain she would be going home.

At the last minute however, the indictment came down. Kimberly’s trial began in 1999. The Valentine Murder-Mystery caused a media frenzy.  Television and radio stations blocked off streets. People attended the trial who were intent on writing books and movie scripts about Steve’s odd death.  The D.A. revealed that Kimberly was having an affair with a man 10 years younger than her. She was excited by him, bought him gifts, and found him more alluring than her husband. She wrote a Valentine’s card to her lover, indicating how much she looked forward to seeing him after her weekend away with Steve.  However the young man was in the military and soon shipped out.  Even so, Kimberly’s affair proved she had no intention of remaining in their marriage. Kimberly had hatched a plan to get more than what her marriage could offer.

She doubled Steve’s life insurance and put her plan into action. She poisoned Steve then set the room on fire to make it look like an accident. The defence stated the medical examiner was unable to determine the cause of death, poison or otherwise. Prosecutors replied Succinylcholine.It causes rapid paralysis of the skeletal muscles and is undetectable in the human body. It is the perfect agent to use for a homicide. Because it is so lethal, it is very difficult to obtain, unless a person has knowledge and access through a medical community.. Clearly, that pointed to Kim’s job as a surgical technician. She had access and she had knowledge about how to kill her husband with the poison.

The prosecution still couldn’t determine the cause of the fire. There was no detectable accelerant. But then, Kimberly’s friends took the stand and delivered what was probably the most damning evidence in the case. Kimberly had told her friends in some detail how she planned on killing her husband. She told Miller she was going to set fire to the curtains in the room, and she told a friend, Rachel McCoy, she was going to inject Steve with Succinylcholine. Now and again, Kimberly made rude gestures at her former friends and the judge warned her she would be removed from the courtroom if she continued.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty of arson and guilty of the murder of her husband. Kimberly Hricko was sentenced to life in prison. A woman who kills wants to “get rid” of the problem. If Kimberly let Steve live, there might not be enough money for her to live on. Kimberly wanted an idyllic life and she didn’t want trouble from Steve in divorce court. He paid for her strange reasoning with his life. She is paying with 30 years to life in prison

n.b.  final 2 pics are of an actress portraying Hricko on a Deadly Women episode

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3 Responses to Mystery-Murder Game Becomes Real

  1. Jen says:

    I was in prison with Kim. I worked very closely with her as clerks in the kitchen. We did the dietary charts, handled the recordings of which inmate had what diet and why…anyway Kjm was just a nice lady. There is a tiny part of me that felt there was a strange air about her, but honesty I think it was the fact that I knew she was in there for supposedly murdering her husband. Kim was sweet and kind and when other people were unkind, she was usually there to help you out. I’ve really struggled with whether I believe she is innocent or not. I think I want to believe she’s innocent…but I guess a tiny part of me believes she did it. But I hope she didn’t and I hope she gets out one day if she truly didn’t do it…that’s a hard place to be let alone live for the rest of your life.

  2. ron farber says:

    She is guilty as hell. She was also a slut and whore.

  3. Smg says:

    That gives sluts a whores a. Ad name

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