MARCH 3, 1997
Steven J. Ver Woert.
by Jeff Switzer, senior staff reporter
BOTHELL--A woman who allegedly hired a construction worker to kill her ex-husband is being extradited from Arizona along with her alleged accomplice to face first-degree murder charges here in a real-life criminal case that has taken on fictional proportions.
Marty J. Malone, also referred to as Mary J. Malone, 43, of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Jonathan Craig Curtis, 45, of Phoenix, Arizona, waived extradition Wednesday. They have been charged with the stabbing death of Steven J. Ver Woert, who was found in his mobile home at the Lake Pleasant RV Park on Feb. 5.
Bothell detectives and Mesa, Arizona, police made the evening arrest on Feb. 23, taking Malone from Scottsdale, Arizona. The next morning, Mesa detectives and their Special Response Team arrested Curtis, a friend of Malone's believed by police to be the killer.
Police say Malone believed herself to be the sole beneficiary of Ver Woert's insurance policies, which totaled $150,000. They are investigating whether the June 1995 divorce affects the policies or Ver Woert's will, which names Malone as the beneficiary of his entire estate, save $3.
They also say Malone was at the Bigfoot Tavern on Bothell-Everett Highway, across the street from the RV park where Ver Woert lived, and that Curtis won at pull-tabs there on the night of the murder, requiring him to show his identification.
According to charging papers, Bothell and Mesa detectives contacted Malone, Ver Woert's second ex-wife, at her residence in Phoenix on Feb. 8, where she told police she was in Las Vegas at the time of the killing "without inquiring as to the exact time or date of the killing." Police say Malone also commented that "this was bad timing." She later mentioned that she had Ver Woert's original will in her possession and inquired about the way probate worked in the state of Washington. In this will, Malone was named as the beneficiary of the entire estate, save $3.
During the interview, police say, Malone never displayed any emotion.
Charging papers say the detective returned to Bothell later that day. Malone called around 9:00 p.m. and inquired about the death certificate, mentioning the will three times during the 10-minute conversation. Malone also told the detective that she owned two life insurance policies on Ver Woert totaling $150,000, and that she maintained a separate checking account for payment of those life insurance premiums.
Mileage shows possible trip to Bothell
According to the charging papers, Malone's 1996 Nissan Pathfinder was serviced at a dealership in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Feb. 3, showing 10,115 miles on its odometer. According to police interviews with staff there, Malone said she was "going on a trip to the state of Montana in order to collect money owed to her from a previous business associate." Staff at the dealership also noted several suitcases in the Pathfinder.
The vehicle was serviced again on Feb. 13 and showed 13,226 miles on the odometer. "The difference in mileage would be consistent with a trip to the state of Washington," charging papers say.
The charges state that during this trip to Arizona, Bothell's detective had several contacts with Malone, who took the detective out for drinks and meals, "and appeared to be behaving in a romantically or sexually suggestive manner." Charging papers also state that to maintain Malone's confidence, the detective indicated he was unhappy at the Bothell Police Department and wanted to move to the Phoenix area, and also said he would be able to get work at the Mesa Police Department, an idea in which Malone seemed very interested.
On Feb. 22, the detective told Malone he was definitely moving to Phoenix and asked her for $5,000 in moving expenses, to which she seemed agreeable, charging papers say.
Malone tried to hire cop to kill accomplice
According to the charges, the detective picked up Malone the next day after a short phone conversation, and they drove to a nearby secluded spot near Scottsdale, where he told her he was no longer interested in the investigation and wanted her to give him some of the money to be collected from the life insurance.
"Subsequently, [Malone] told [the detective] that she had planned the murder of Steven J. Ver Woert and hired [Curtis] to actually commit the murder," charging papers say. She allegedly agreed to pay Curtis $25,000, driving with him to Bothell to commit the murder, and then offered the detective $75,000 to kill Curtis, which included the $25,000 she planned to pay Curtis for killing Ver Woert.
Ver Woert had previously lived in the Phoenix, Arizona, area and was married to Malone for slightly more than a year. They were divorced in June 1995. There were no children from the marriage.
Ver Woert's body was found by police after concerned co-workers discovered blood just outside the front door after coming from Redmond to see why Ver Woert had failed to appear at work.
"This was excellent detective work, both on the part of the detective down there and those assigned to the investigative team," said Bothell Police Capt. Bob Woolverton. "They had been working around the clock with no days off since this investigation began. It's encouraging at this point that they can focus their attention in one direction."
Woolverton said detectives had followed a myriad of leads in every possible direction, including tracking airline tickets, rental car agencies, motel records, and gas records, even investigating industrial espionage.
Ver Woert worked as a manager at Sprint P.C.S. in Redmond. Police contacted Ver Woert's ex-wife, Barbara Ver Woert, who described the victim as a very non-violent human being who was a devoted father to their 11-year-old son.
Barbara Ver Woert described Malone as "very adversarial, vindictive, and often angry," charging papers say.
No charges in Arizona
While Malone's offer to the Bothell detective to kill her accomplice was allegedly made in Arizona, police officials there have indicated they do not intend to prosecute, as the "charges are really up in Washington state."
Bill FitzGerald, spokesperson for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, said the Mesa City Police Department chose not to prosecute on conspiracy to commit murder because the significant charge was homicide, and what the detective did in Arizona wasn't the issue. "It would be a much lesser charge than what they're facing up there," FitzGerald said.
Malone and Curtis are expected to be arraigned early this week.