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Man Faces Charges in Wife’s Death; Insurance Cited as Possible Motive

April 28, 1992 GMT

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Less than a month after Jesse Anderson reportedly reviewed his wife’s life insurance policy, she was fatally stabbed outside a restaurant. Anderson, who also was stabbed, said two men attacked them.

Police now believe Anderson did the deed. Prosecutors said Monday they were considering whether to charge him with first-degree intentional homicide.

″We have cause to question the initial facts as presented,″ Police Chief Phillip Arreola told a news conference Sunday. ″Physical evidence has been recovered.″

Anderson, who was arrested after being discharged from a hospital Saturday, remained jailed in lieu of $1 million cash bond. The couple’s three children, ages 5, 3, and 1, were staying with relatives.

The Milwaukee Sentinel on Monday quoted unidentified police officers as saying Anderson called his insurance company less than a month before the stabbings to ensure a $250,000 insurance policy on his wife was updated.

A police spokesman did not return telephone calls seeking comment on that report.

Anderson, 34, a diesel fuel salesman from suburban Cedarburg, initially told police that two black men attacked him and his wife Tuesday night in a parking lot outside a restaurant on Milwaukee’s northwest side. Anderson is white.

His 33-year-old wife, Barbara, was stabbed five times in the face and died two days later. Anderson had four stab wounds to the chest.

Police and black civic leaders have compared the incident to the Charles Stuart case in Boston in 1989.

Stuart told police in a gripping call from his car phone that a black man robbed and shot him and his wife, Carol, who later died. He later picked out a black man from a police lineup as the attacker.

But police eventually came to suspect Stuart of killing his wife to collect $300,000 in insurance, and he plunged to his death from a bridge after learning he was a suspect.

Anderson told police the attackers struck without warning and without demanding anything. While no one at the restaurant saw the attack, witnesses told police they saw men in the area fitting Anderson’s description of two black men in their early 20s.

Police found a black Los Angeles Clippers cap at the scene. A youth who saw a television report about the stabbing told police a man matching Anderson’s description approached him and his two friends last week at a mall and paid one of the boys $20 for a Clippers hat.

At a memorial service for Mrs. Anderson, Jack Costa, who attended several church retreats with Anderson, said he didn’t want to believe Anderson had killed his wife. He said Anderson had just taken a second honeymoon with his wife to Jamaica, and was active in many civic and church activities.

″It seemed like the ideal marriage,″ Costa said. ″I have no idea what could have happened.″