Conniving Coit Conned and Killed an Old Codger

Jill Lonita Billiot
Steamboat Springs
is a sleepy, picturesque little ski town in Colorado. In 1990, it was home to pretty single mother Jill Coit (née Billiot), a gold-digger and serial wife. Coit hopped from husband to husband after draining each one of their finances. Well, a girl’s gotta make a jill-coitliving. Coit set her sights on Gerald Boggs, a 50-year-old man several years Coit’s senior. Although he wasn’t a wealthy man, Boggs owned a hardware store and his earnings gave him a reasonably comfortable life. She and her two sons were renovating a bed and breakfast, hence the reason for her fateful visit to Cobb’s hardware store. A natural flirt, Coit showered attention on the flattered Boggs who fell head over heelsin love. Coit had a peaches and cream complexion and long black hair. For a time she even modelled. Coit dressed provocatively, attracting a significant amount of male attention. Beauty notwithstanding,  clearly Jill’s modelling wasn’t enough to pay the mortgage. She needed a man. And fast.

Enter Boggs. It wasn’t long before they tied the knot, a first (and last) for Boggs. However, Boggs wasn’t merely smitten. The two had a “shotgun” wedding. Silly Coit had gotten pregnant by Boggs. How many more children was she going to have anyway? Never fear. Boggs was excited about becoming a father. Good old Boggs. Not so Coit. She was irritated by Boggs’ glowing demeanor and taunted him about his excitement. That may be because Coit wasn’t pregnant and had used that excuse to convince Boggs to marry her. At that point, Boggs became a little concerned about his decision to marry Coit. Well, that’s why they call them shotgun weddings.

Boggs isn’t the only one who noticed the change in Coit. His brother, Doug Boggs, became worried about Bogg’s well-being and Coit’s true intentions. Coit somehow acquired documents that detailed finances pertaining to the family business. Doug hired a private detective to investigate Coit and the news was devastating. Jill Coit was actually Jill Lonita Billiot. When Boggs discovered Coit had been married 11 times, he nearly fell over. She was a massive fraud with 14 aliases. The P.I. told the Boggs brothers that Coit “is cut from the same cloth as ‘The Black Widow,  (or perhaps spun from the same web), in reference to a 1987 thriller about a woman whose husbands died shortly after marrying her. After 7 days of blissful marriage, Boggs worked on getting the marriage annulled, not just because of her aliases and marital history, but because Coit was still married to someone else. Tsk tsk. That is pesky. Not to be outdone, Coit sued Boggs for the deed to the bed and breakfast venture of hers. She worried that if Boggs had the marriage annulled before her lawsuit was finished, she might never get a penny from him. Uh-oh. What to do? Of course! Resort to murder, like every cold-blooded spouse who marries for money.

The Origin of Evil
No one is really certain when Jill Billiot was born. She was prone to lie about the date and her age that it makes it difficult to know for sure; but most believe she was born on June the 11th of 1943 or 1944. The Billiots weren’t rich, but Jill Billiot had everything she wanted. The little brown-eyed girl who lived near the canals of The Big Easy gave no inkling that she would one day become a famous American black widow. An irony that she lived a state known as the “Big Easy”, considering the movie with Ellen Barkin and Dennis Quaid was about a deceitful couple who murder Barkin’s husband. During her sophomore year of high school, Billiot moved in with her maternal grandparents in North Manchester, Indiana. Clearly, there was trouble at home and it was likely that Billiot’s parents were unable to control their pretty daughter. Billiot easily fit in especially with the boys, who were “just tickled” by her Louisianian accent and the tall tales she told about life in the bayous.

Larry Eugene Ihnen – Husband # 1
One of the boys especially enamored with Billiot was Larry Eugene Ihnen. At this point in her life, Billiot actually married for love. She dropped out of high school at 17 and the two eloped on July 24, 1961, but by March 1962, Inhen moved back home with his mother. Billiot filed for divorce and obtained a restraining order, alleging Ihnen treated her in an “inhumane” manner. 

Steven Moore – husband #2
Billiot returned to The Big Easy, shunning the midwestern life she lived in Indiana. Instead, she wisely completed her high school diploma. That’s one thing in her favour, at lejill-coit-book-1ast. Afterward, Billiot enrolled at Northwestern State University of Louisiana in Natchitoches, where she met Steven Moore, her next husband. O
n May 5, 1964, the two were wed in Mississippi. Before their first anniversary, there was trouble brewing. The birth of a baby boy, Steven Seth Moore, on March 28, 1965, seemed to exacerbate the problems and eventually the Moores separated.

William Clark Coit Jr. – Husband # 3 – A Fatal Attraction
William Clark Coit, Jr., was a wealthy gas pipeline worker and a bit of a transient. He enjoyed traveling and he wasn’t one for a wife and kids. Clark, as he was called, was enjoying a drink in of the French Quarter’s bars the Saturday night he first met Jill Lonita Moore. Clark took one look at Billiot and his bachelor days were over. For a while Billiot seemed to be the answer to a prayer however
she was already someone else’s wife. The Moores were only separated, not divorced. On August 27, 1965, she filed for divorce and moved into Clark’s French Quarter apartment. The same year, Billiot met Clark’s family in Ohio. She left baby Seth behind in Louisiana. The Coit family were quite unaware of her son and pending divorce, and Jill charmed the pants off them (much as she had Clark, I should imagine). They happily welcomed Billiot into their family. You can imagine their sigh of relief, “we thought Clark would never settle down!” Coit and Billiot married on January 29, 1966, in Orange County, Texas. Clark had no clue that his bride’s divorce from Moore wasn’t complete.He also had no idea how much danger he was in.

Slightly beyond 9 months into her third marriage, Mrs. Coit gave birth to a second son she named William Clark Coit III. Clark adopted Seth whose name was changed from Steven Seth Moore to Johnathan Seth Coit. Mrs. Coit(us) never stopped running around with men. By 1972, she bragged about her sexual escapades to her heartbroken husband. On March 8, 1972, Mrs. Coit filed for divorce. Clark withdrew a hefty sum of money from his bank and told friends it was “a little bit of money Jill can’t get her hands on.”  Clark underestimated his greedy wife. On March 29, 1972, Clark’s body was discovered cold and stiff sans cash. Homicide detectives knew that the widow Coit was responsible for Clark’s death, but they barely had enough circumstantial evidence, let alone something more viable, to bring before a Grand Jury. Eventually they did but by the time police found what they needed Coit was long gone. To ensure the police couldn’t get her extradited back to the jurisdiction, Coit committed herself to a mental facility for “acute hysteria and emotional distress.” Hysteria was a huge step backward for feminists everywhere. The term has been in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mood Disorders by the American Psychiatric Assocation) since just after WWI. It applied strictly to women at one time and was believed to be caused byfemale problems.” If anyone had female problems it had to be Jill Coit.

Louis A. DeRosa – Husband Number 4
Coit’s hospitalization proved a significant barrier to bringing her before the Grand Jury: think not guilty by reason of insanity.
Clark Coit’s homicide became a cold case and the mentally disturbed Mrs. Coit inherited all of his estate. She made a remarkable recovery; Coit discharged herself from the nuthouse within hours of inheriting Coit’s wealth. She then fled Texas following Clark’s death and the attorney she hired to fight extradition, Louis A. DiRosa of New Orleans, was also the attorney who handled her adoption by her 5th man. Adoption you say? We’re getting there. Then, jumping on the bandwagon with everyone else, DiRosa married and divorced Coit twice.

Bruce Johansen – Sugar Daddy 
In August 1973, Coit met wealthy retiree Bruce Johansen. He was interested in marrying her but Coit managed to get him to “adopt” her. Seriously. Johansen died the following year and naturally Coit inherited a significant amount of his estate. Natural causes were cited as Johansen’s cause of death 
 and there appeared to be no foul play but  the “adoption” certainly happened at an opportune time.

Donald Charles Brodie – Husband Number 5
While coaxing her sugar daddy to adopt her, Coit married U.S. Marine Corp Major Donald Charles Brodie. Brodie didn’t allow Coit to manage the household funds. What a drag. Coit delivered a son to Brodie on October 18, 1974, and named him Thadeus John Brodie .Brodie however wasn’t as gullible as Coit’s previous husbands and, baby or no baby, he filed for divorce. As it turned out, Jill paid people to “borrow” their baby and this was the infant she used to get child support from Brodie. Accepting payment to loan out one’s baby seems about as twisted as offering payment to borrow a baby in my opinion. Fortunately, Coit’s scheme didn’t work and she got not a penny fjill-coit-book-2rom Brodie.

Eldon Dane Metzger – Husband Number 6
During one of their numerous separations, Coit married Indiana auctioneer Eldon Duane Metzger.  Coit traveled to Haiti to file for a quickee divorce from DiRosa on November 4, 1978. I suppose they were booked up in Nevada. However, the  divorce was not recognized by the United States, making Coit a bigamist under U.S. law yet again. If nothing else, Coit was never bored.

Carl V. Steely – Husband Number 7
Coit wasn’t divorced from Louis when she married Carl V. Steely, a teacher at Culver Academy in Culver, Indiana. This invalid marriage lasted for nine years, although they lived together as man and wife for seven years. Impressive, considering Coit’s track record. Years later, Steely claimed he was lucky to be alive: he believed that on at least two occasions Coit tried to kill him, once by poison and once by having him run him over. Clearly, it wasn’t Steely’s time. Toward the end of the marriage, Steely and Coit vacationed in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. They were impressed with the area and decided it was where they wished to retire. Coit wanted to purchase the quaint Oak Street Bed and Breakfast, and Steely agreed. Coit was to stay on after the purchase of the B&B, and  Steely would join her after school ended for the summer. While they were married, Coit told Steely that husband number five (DiRosa) was her mentor interpreting and using the law to her advantage. Steely must have been as gullible as the others since he appeared to buy into that bull.

Gerry Boggs – Husband Number 8
It was after Steely that Coit made her move on Gerry Boggs. Boggs had no idea she was still married to Steely when they were wedded in 1944.

Roy Carroll – Husband Number 9
Busy bee, that Coit. At this point, Boggs was still alive. On February 22, 1992, she and Carroll were wedded in, where else, Nevada. Carroll was a retired U.S. Naval Petty Officer. nm0001694What did Carroll have to offer? Nothing. He wasn’t affluent, he wouldn’t let her handle the household budget and he wasn’t the most exciting man who ever crossed Coit’s path. Perhaps Coit had developed an uncontrollable addiction for marriage. Lucky for Carroll, she ditched him within a few months of their blessed union. By that time she had  married Michael Backus, a telephone repairman.The picture on the left is Meredith Salenger starring as Jill Coit in Legacy of Sin: The William Coit Story

Michael Backus – Husband Number 10
No evidence exists to prove that Coit and Backus were married. It is believed she simply assumed his surname. Meh. For all intents and purposes, I believe he was her husband (he certainly was in her mind), so I have listed him among her former spouses. Backus was perhaps the most important husband to Coit; it was he, along with Coit, who murdered Boggs. In October 1993, the pair were the prime suspects in Boggs’ murder. Coit met Backus, a telephone repairman, while still married to Gerry Boggs, exactly when she was looking to off her unhappy husband. Boggs lived by his self-disciplined rigid schedule.  On October 22, 1993, when Boggs didn’t arrive for work, brother Doug went to his home and found Boggs dead. He had been shot and beaten. Poor Boggs was stunned with a stun gun, shot with a .22 caliber gun, and beaten with a shovel. Ouch. Determined, much? It didn’t take a rocket scientist to identify Coit and Backus as the prime (and only) suspects in the sick slaying. Coit gave the sensational story that Boggs was murdered when she and Backus were in Kelly Flats in the Poudre Canyon. To add insult to mortal injury, Coit informed detectives that her husband had been a “closet homosexual and they should search for a mysterious gay lover.” Investigators didn’t believe the gay lover thing for a minute. Coit might as well have said the Vietnamese Mafia offed her husband. That would have been more believable.

Let’s see now. Jill Billiot was first Jill Ihnen when she was a teenager. Soon afterward she legitimately re-married Steven Moore. After Moore there was Clark Coit. After poor Coit was pushing up daisies, she wed Johansen and DiRosa. Somewhere in there she married Brodie and Steely. Metzger was next and eventually there was poor Boggs, her second doomed spouse. Second last was Roy Carroll, a retired US Navy Petty Officer. Coit liked a man (men) in uniform. Bringing up the rear was, drumroll, Backus. Keep in mind these marriages were often founded on bigamy, making them illegal. There was a lot of overlap in these marriages. Her divorces were sometimes illegal, too. Coit was first widowed at the age of 28; first divorced at 17. Have I missed any? That’s 10 husbands. Liz Taylor would be green with envy.

Naturally, Coit did what she did second best: she skipped town with Backus. In fact, she skipped out of the country all the way to Mexico, that tried and true land of non-gerald-boggs-and-jill-coitextradition. It wasn’t as unique as voluntarily committing herself to a nuthouse, but Jill Lonita Billiot Ihnen Moore Coit Brodie Dirosa Metzger Steely Boggs Carroll Backus might have gotten away with yet another murder except for her Achilles heel: Coit was terrible with managing money. This was one of the reasons Coit husband-hopped for so many years. Idiotically, Coit moved back to Colorado sans Backus to figure out a way to stockpile more funds….most likely through bigamy. However, such a thing was not to be. Her own son, Seth Coit, had suspected his mother of murdering William Clark for 20 years and he went to police with this information. Who knows why it took him so long? People are a mystery. Then again, as pathological as she was, Coit was Seth’s mother. It was an emotionally difficult situation for a young man. Police learned that Coit had told planned to kill Boggs and after the murder she had the typical Jill Coit audacity to call her distraught son and tell him, “Hey, baby. It’s over and it’s messy.” Was she looking for her son’s approval? Why would she contact him to deliver that morbid information? On December 23, 1993, Backus and Coit were finally arrested. The killing and marrying sprees was over.

The Trial

Jill Coit 2008By the time Coit was brought to court for the murder of her husband Gerry Boggs, the beauty was long gone. Coit was now a stocky woman with heavy eyebrows and curly hair and dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, hardly appeared the seductress and former model who had convinced 10 men to marry her and 1 to adopt her. Her defence was a bit weak. Asked why she married every man she became involved with, Coit’s curt response was I sleep with them, I marry them, okay? I could just sleep with them.” Such an old-fashioned girl, insisting her lovers make an honest woman out of her. Just before she made mincemeat out of them, naturally.

Troy Giffon, a court witness for the DA and a former friend of Backus, stated that Backus offered him $7,500 to kill Boggs. After Boggs’ death, Giffon reminded Backus of his offer and Backus said, “I was hoping you would forget that,” and, “This is the only thing that could hang me.”. Giffon said Backus, a fellow veteran, put his hand on his shoulder and said, “Vietnam buddies don’t rat off their buddies.”  That must be the most extreme case of PTSD ever.

The Verdict
On March 17, 1995, Coit and Backus were convicted of the first degree murder and conspiracy to murder Boggs They were sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. For his part, Doug Boggs stated to the press,
“She picked the wrong town, she picked the wrong man, and she picked the wrong family.” She also underestimated her son. In April 2006, Coit filed a civil suit against multiple defendants while incarcerated. michael-backusNaturally most of the defendants are correctional officers. Coit claims she has been sexually abuse. Now, at 65 years old and a lifer of the Colorado Department of Corrections, I feel it’s a sure bet to say that men everywhere are safe from this serial-marrying femme fatale.

Aftermath
Bakus’ latest appeal was denied in October 2009. He remains a prisoner of the Colorado Department of Corrections. In May 1998, Coit got the bright idea to post an online personal ad reading, “Want U.S. Citizenship? Marry an inmate.” The United States Department of Immigration shut the site down before Coit could find any takers. I have to give her points for her audacity if not her intelligence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to Conniving Coit Conned and Killed an Old Codger

  1. Kari Kybele says:

    One question: Where is Jill Coit now? If moved to an out-of-state prison, what is the name she is incarcerated under?

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