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Grave Accusations: A True Story of Lies, Family Secrets, and Death

Grave Accusations: A True Story of Lies, Family Secrets, and Death

by Andrea Egger, Paul Dunn (With)

A Wife and Mother Lie Dead

A shotgun blast blows away beautiful thirty-one-year old Monica Dunn, the mother of three young daughters, in the bedroom of her suburban home. Her husband stands only feet away from her. Was it suicide or murder?

A Husband Indicted

Police officer Paul Dunn is suspected of killing his estranged wife. Maintaining his innocence he is


A Wife and Mother Lie Dead

A shotgun blast blows away beautiful thirty-one-year old Monica Dunn, the mother of three young daughters, in the bedroom of her suburban home. Her husband stands only feet away from her. Was it suicide or murder?

A Husband Indicted

Police officer Paul Dunn is suspected of killing his estranged wife. Maintaining his innocence he is ostracized by his fellow officers and friends, condemned by Monica's well-connected family, loses custody of his children, and is finally indicted for murder by a grand jury.

A Dead Witness

As the trial that gained national attention ensues, Monica reaches from the beyond the grave with an avenging testament. But will her chilling words convict him or free him?

A Grave Accusation

A real-life whodunit, Grave Accusations exposes the shocking secrets of a doomed marriage and a sensational trial that would destroy lives and tear apart a town with whispers of betrayal, obsessive romance, and violent death.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Egger has skillfully combined Paul's and others' memories with a variety of sources, including court documents, interviews, testimony and press accounts into a potent psychological drama." -Publishers Weekly

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.12(w) x 6.76(h) x 0.88(d)

Read an Excerpt

Grave Accusations

By Andrea Egger

St. Martin's True Crime Classics

Copyright © 2004 Andrea Egger
All right reserved.

ISBN: 031298524X

Chapter One


By the time April rolls around Farmington, New Mexico, winter says a hasty good-bye in its dashing way of fur-trimmed coats one day and sleeveless attire the next. Roaring dust devils cause northwestern New Mexicans to chew more earth than chewing tobacco, as the monsoon season has not yet begun. Once overflowing rains turn the swirling dust devils to memory, New Mexico appears to be more of a rain forest than a desert. Flash floods surprise drivers on the interstates and cracked dirt roads. Then, they too are gone and made into another memory as the bone-dry desert sucks in the water and only thirst survives.

Farmington is known for its oil, stunning landscape, the San Juan River and the Rio Grande. Rocky hills surround the small town, which is right at the tip-top of the state in a region known as the Four Corners. If you go to the right place, you can stand in four states at once--New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Arizona. While Farmington has its share of the rich, it also has its share of the farmers and ranchers who make their living off the land. Signs along Highway 64 remind you of that bold, unprofessional-looking writing. "Hay 4 Sale" handwritten in red brightens one whitesign. Another sign for peaches didn't have enough room for the whole word so the sign glares "Peach's" in black letters. Still another sign down the road a piece corrects the spelling error and helps people figure out where the peaches are located by including arrows. Flea markets line the sides of the road.

Many easterners consider New Mexico to be the epitome of the Wild West, filled with cowboys and Indians. But many Native Americans wear cowboy boots and hats, while a lot of Anglos wouldn't be caught dead dressing "cowboy style." A large amount of the population in the state is split between Native Americans, Anglos and Hispanics, with a small percentage of African-Americans. Some New Mexicans try to act as if they're not inherently racist while also striving to erase that racism inherent in all humans and replace it with a culture of tolerance.

Despite modern areas, some of the Wild West image still clings to New Mexico with its vast unpopulated stretches of land. Billboards posted around offer a $20,000 reward for information on one or another killer. Traditional Indian dances with colorful dress and painted faces ensure that Native American heritage will not be forgotten. One of the biggest such displays of Indian heritage is the Inter-tribal Ceremonial, held annually in August in Gallup, two hours south of Farmington, where millions of people worldwide come to view the dances. In fact, Gallup features free Indian dances, with all their bright colors and beautiful velvet fabrics, feathers and face-painting, every evening during the summer. While seemingly ages away from Farmington, Gallup would become an ominous part of Paul's future.

Along some highways, such as Interstate 40, which runs through Gallup, drivers tune their radios to 530 AM to listen to "Hear New Mexico," featuring actor Ricardo Montalban describing the sites. Some listen to the broadcast just to hear Montalban's husky voice or reminisce about his sexy, white suit and manly chivalry on the old television show, Fantasy Island. Others prefer to remember him as the virile villain in the Star Trek film, The Wrath of Khan. Interstate 40 serves as a thoroughfare from the east to the west coast and replaced the famed Old Historic 66, which still exists in Gallup and some other places.

To Paul Dunn, who was born June 19, 1958 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, those roads led home. He lived in Santa Fe during his early childhood. Then his parents, Jane and Harvey "Buzz" Dunn, and his older sister, Robin, moved to a small farm in Nambe, New Mexico when Paul turned thirteen. There, his brother Mark was born.

Paul's boyhood was happy and typical. He went to Pojoaque Junior and Senior High Schools, where he played basketball. After school, he learned to ride horses and take care of the other animals on the farm.

On Paul's sixteenth birthday, while working part-time as an attendant at a gas station, he met some New Mexico State Police officers who stopped in for soft drinks. One of the officers invited the eager teen to go riding along with him to see what fighting crime was all about. Paul accepted the offer and rode with him several times. Those experiences shaped Paul's ambitions and then his career for the next two decades.

After graduating from high school, Paul took law enforcement courses at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces for a year. In late August 1977, the City of Santa Fe hired him as a jailer. He was working there when, at twenty, he met and married Juliet Martinez. In September 1979, to his great pride, he became a Santa Fe police officer.

Beautiful, dark-haired Juliet gave birth to a daughter, April, on June 7, 1981. Though their marriage was troubled, Juliet attested to the fact that Paul never hit her or abused her in any way during their marriage. In 1982, Paul moved to Farmington, New Mexico after being hired by the police department at higher wages than in Santa Fe as well as the opportunity for advancement.

In these years, Paul focused on being the best cop he could be and the best turned out, with polished, high boots and a perfectly pressed uniform with shiny buttons, glossy, well-cut hair and a "can do" attitude. He felt he owed this to the public he served and those who hired him. Though he had some friends, many of his co-workers just tolerated him and in private some labeled him arrogant. Some were jealous of Paul's unusual, virile quality, which often attracted women's admiring glances. Few understood that Paul actually felt lesser, but compensated for that by his confident air. Because he sometimes seemed cocky, some people misinterpreted his actions at times. For instance, while other police officers waved at Paul as they drove past him, the motorcop brushed his hand through the air in what some said disdainfully was a regal manner.

Paul felt it wasn't arrogance--on a motorcycle one must keep both hands on the handlebars, so to ensure one's own safety and the safety of others a wave had to be quick. But Paul worked hard to improve his appearance. He spent hours at the gym, practically bursting his muscles in an effort to put more bulk on an already hulkish form as if the better he looked, the better he would feel about himself and the better others would feel about him. He didn't know why he felt such emptiness. It wasn't until much later in his life that he would come to terms with the black hole of loneliness in his heart and the ways he had tried, and failed, to fill it.

One officer's wife who disliked him didn't mince words: She called him an asshole. Moreover, his hatred for those who broke the law caused him to get into fights with suspects. When he matured, he called it the "beast" in all of us, the "fighter spirit," the "evil." Deeply committed to his job, he worked both patrol and traffic and became an expert in accident reconstruction. To become more proficient, he took courses in firearms training. That was the same year Paul met Monica Sanchez Cortez.

Monica Sanchez had grown from a lovely child into a beautiful young woman. When she became pregnant at fifteen, Monica married the baby's father, Patrick Cortez, her high school sweetheart. Monica divorced Cortez in the early 1980s. Later, Cortez died in a motorcycle accident when a drunk driver crashed into him and his bike. Monica never got over his sudden death. A depressing shadow seemed to spread across her life. Perhaps that is why she clung too tightly to people with whom she was close.

A dutiful daughter, Monica visited her parents' house every day and kept in touch with her siblings. Though some called her standoffish, others said she had a ready smile and a full stash of candy for everyone who passed her desk in the municipal court.

On a Saturday in the early springtime of 1982, Paul Dunn zoomed into the Farmington Police Station on his motorcycle. His dark blue, perfectly pressed uniform and high, polished boots complemented his blue eyes and brown hair, red highlights glinting in the New Mexico sun. That morning Paul had written an excess of tickets and had to go back to the station for another citation book. "Occupational hazard," he murmured as he walked downstairs. He noticed the side door to the municipal clerk's office was open. Puzzled, Paul decided to see what was up. One of the court clerks, Monica Cortez, sat at her desk, tears streaming down her cheeks. She didn't know Paul was there until he spoke.

"Are you alright? Is there anything I can do?"

"My cousin's been in a car accident. He's seriously injured. I don't know if he'll make it."

Paul listened sympathetically, all the while taking in her soft, dark curls curving around her beige, flawless skin--even tearstained. She was crying so hard Paul almost couldn't comprehend her words as he stared at her. He knew she had worked at the courthouse for a long time, but he worked the graveyard shift so he rarely saw her except when he had to appear there. Though Paul and his wife were not getting along, they were still married. So, after Paul murmured soft words of comfort to the distressed woman, he went about his duties.

That afternoon Paul saw fellow motorcop Lawrence "Dusty" Downs, his expressive blue eyes and sparkling dark-blonde hair, as always, perfectly groomed.

"That's some beauty in Municipal Court," Paul commented.

"Oh, you mean Monica. She's dating Hawk, so be careful."

"Hawk" was their sergeant, Mark Hawkinson.

"She was crying her eyes out. Said it was about some cousin who'd been injured," Paul said as he went about removing his uniform and putting on workout clothes.

Later, Magistrate Terry Pearson formally introduced Paul and Monica.

Time passed. One day Paul found himself once again in Municipal Court, this time for a hearing. Once more he saw that vision of beauty sauntering toward him, eyes smiling in recognition.

Monica certainly wasn't oblivious to the attention her looks created, said a police officer's wife who found Monica too obvious. She didn't try to hide her body under rags, that was for sure. She never wore an outfit more than once--or so it seemed. Monica bought new, expensive clothes more often than the rest of Farmington combined, joked another officer's wife. Wherever she went, Monica had to be the best dressed woman and she never dressed in "grubbies," even around the house. She didn't cook or clean very often. To those who knew her well, what she did best was look beautiful and sexy. She turned heads--and took many men's thoughts away, at least temporarily, from their wives.

The only photo of herself Monica allowed people to see was a professional, glamorous portrait she'd had taken. She didn't like being photographed. Even though she was quite capable with hair, makeup and clothes, Monica wouldn't settle for anything less than the expensive photo session in which the photographer used special lighting and touched up any facial flaws.

To men who saw Monica, it appeared she was born to defy the assumption that "Gentlemen prefer blondes." Her voluptuous body was nether fat not model-thin, at least for the 1990s. To some Monica appeared to be a current day, Hispanic version of Marilyn Monroe.

As Monica approached him and smiled, Paul wondered, Is she flirting with me? He couldn't believe it. Not one to mince words, Paul responded bluntly to her coyness.

"You're Hawk's."

"Hawk and I broke up."

Despite telling himself that he should walk away, Paul found himself asking to see her again. This was Paul's first break with his "moral code"--seeing Monica while still married to his first wife. He did not yet know that act would affect the entire course of his life.

Monica's perfection was not lost on Paul. Raised around Hispanic women, he liked their dark, often sultry looks. Monica's thick, luscious brown curly hair shone and her sparkling brown eyes twinkled when she smiled. This precipitated Paul's nickname for her: "Smiling Eyes." He thought her perfectly formed breasts and tiny waist completed the picture. She was twenty-two, he was twenty-five. Their flirting progressed rapidly from subtle, never obvious touching in front of people and maintaining knowing eye contact. Sexual tension burned between them.

On the first evening they were together, Paul drove to a rustic canyon. Each could see fire in the other's eyes. It didn't take long before clothes fell and bodies intertwined in that private haven.

After that, when Paul wasn't on duty, he and Monica were inseparable. Monica even helped Paul through his divorce in 1984. About the only thing Paul felt wasn't perfect about Monica was the way she recoiled from his daughter April, who lived with her mother. She was just a four-year-old when Paul and Monica first met. Monica wouldn't say things directly to April's face, but she'd loudly whisper to Paul in April's hearing, "When is she going home?"

That Monica hated April and treated the little girl horribly was something April kept from her father. Years later, April confessed about all the verbal abuse she received at Monica's hands. Monica always made it clear to April her presence wasn't wanted. April told Paul she kept quiet because she was protecting him from information that might cause a fight between him and Monica.

Paul couldn't understand Monica's jealousy of a child. He tried not to think about it as he and Monica planned for their marriage and the babies he proudly knew they would make together. Paul and Monica were so wrapped up in each other--and in themselves--the world ceased to exist for them. They saw no danger in this; they couldn't predict the precarious future which satisfying their every desire would make a reality. While ecstatic and in love, Paul was beginning to become isolated from his friends, but he didn't really care. Outside of Monica, he didn't want to be with anyone else. Their isolation was the first sign of trouble. Neither knew it.


Excerpted from Grave Accusations by Andrea Egger Copyright © 2004 by Andrea Egger. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Andrea Egger is an award-winning investigative journalist who also has worked as a private investigator in New Mexico. She obtained her journalism degree from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and is originally from Palatine, Illinois. She lives in Gallup, New Mexico.

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