A PROMINENT HEART SURGEON'S WIFE IS MURDERED, BUT WHO WANTED HER DEAD? A "48 HOURS MYSTERY," SATURDAY, JAN. 8
Dr. Richard Illes, a successful heart surgeon, and his wife, Miriam, a homemaker and mother to their young son, were a prominent couple in their small community of Williamsport, Pa. Then, on Jan. 15, 1999, Miriam, who seemingly had no enemies, was shot as she stood in front of her kitchen window - a bullet went straight through her heart. Who wanted the surgeon's wife dead? Correspondent Susan Spencer reports for 48 HOURS MYSTERY: "A Shot in the Dark," to be broadcast Saturday, Jan. 8 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Prior to Miriam's murder, the Illes' marriage began to unravel. Miriam's friends say that Illes was distant and demanding of his wife and that he was having a well-known affair with his assistant. Miriam moved out of their mansion, but her lawyer thinks she was hoping for reconciliation with her husband.
Then, one snowy night, Miriam was shot dead through her kitchen window as she was talking on the phone. Several clues were left outside the house - a cigarette butt, a homemade gun silencer, size 14 shoe prints and some hairs, but they all led nowhere. Then, anonymous letters were sent to Illes' lawyer proclaiming that their author had killed Miriam.
"It's a real-life 'CSI,'" says Lycoming County District Attorney Michael Dinges, referring to the popular investigation dramas.
Investigators theorized that Miriam's husband was responsible. He was going to be ordered to pay Miriam $13,000 a month and to split property with her along with custody of their five-year-old. Illes claimed he was innocent and said he had an alibi.
Eventually, the killer's gun and sneakers were found in a wooded area not far from where Dr. Illes had been the night of the murder. Even with all of the physical evidence, investigators couldn't arrest Illes for murder. In the meantime, Dr. Illes married his assistant and moved to Spokane. He had difficulty getting heart surgeon jobs because someone was sending packets of press clippings about his wife's mysterious death to prospective employers. So, Dr. Illes began performing plastic surgery, something he wasn't licensed to do.
Eventually, Williamsport investigators got a warrant to arrest Dr. Illes and went to Spokane to do so. While searching Dr. Illes home, they came upon a manuscript that Illes was writing about Miriam's murder. In the manuscript, Illes did not claim to kill her, but investigators looked at it as a confession. Illes was tried for Miriam's murder, but claims he's innocent. If he is, then who killed the surgeon's wife?
48 HOURS MYSTERY: "A Shot in the Dark" is produced by Paul Ryan and Martin Zied. The senior producer is Anthony Batson and the executive producer is Susan Zirinsky.