Some of you may know, or not, that I’m obsessed with true crime/murder shows and podcasts. Obsessed! To the point at least one friend has told me “you scare me!” (I think she was joking.) Anyway, what is so fun and fascinating about true crime is you could NOT make some of these stories up. You couldn’t make up the motives or the ridiculous alibis and lies criminals can come up with. We’ve all heard the Mark Twain quote that truth is stranger than fiction, and it really IS! This story I’m going to tell you about is a perfect example of that. It is the quintessential “truth really IS stranger than fiction” story.
In November 1999 a Huntington Beach, California couple were murdered. Dr. Kenneth Stahl was an anesthesiologist and Dr. Carolyn Oppy-Stahl was an optometrist. You would think they’d have a pretty wonderful life, right? You’d be wrong. Apparently Kenneth was having an affair with medical secretary Adriana Vasco. As police investigated the murder, they came across phone logs showing multiple phone calls between Dr. Stahl and Ms. Vasco specifically on the day of the murder. Her explanation was they were just calls about computer issues. Eh, ok, maybe plausible. Further investigation uncovered the two were indeed having an affair. Apparently not Dr. Stahl’s first affair. What differed from previous affairs he’s had was this time he decided he wanted to be with Adriana and no longer with his wife Carolyn. Ok, fair enough. That does happen. But what doesn’t generally happen is instead of simply divorcing his wife, Kenneth decides he’ll ask his mistress to hire a hitman to kill his wife. Because that makes complete sense, right?
What Kenneth isn’t aware of is that Ms. Vasco is also seeing a man by the name of Dennis Godley AKA Tony Satton. Mr. Godley happens to be a man with a criminal past. And for whatever reason, Adriana decides to ask her boyfriend to be the hitman who kills her other lover’s wife. My mind doesn’t work in any way that makes that make any sense, but apparently it did to her.
So Dr. Stahl and Dennis the hitman make plans for Dr. Stahl to be driving on a highway with his wife and pull over off the highway. Dennis Godley will be following then and be prepared to murder Carolyn. As far as anyone can tell, at this point Kenneth had no idea of Adriana’s very personal involvement with Dennis. The plan goes as arranged and Dennis performs the “hit” he was hired for. But… here’s the part you couldn’t possibly make up… Dennis wants his competition for Adriana’s affections out of the way and murders Kenneth as well! So to sum it up, Dr. Kenneth Stahl was murdered by the hitman he hired to murder his wife. Really?! When I first heard this story I was shaking my head at that final twist.
Ms. Vasco and Mr. Godley were arrested and charged with two counts of murder approximately a year after the murder. Ms. Vasco went on to be convicted of both counts and is in prison for life without the possibility of parole. Mr. Godley pleaded guilty and later died in prison. So no one at all in this story got their happily ever after ending.