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Kelley Cannon was living the American Dream. The former prom queen had three beautiful children with her successful, handsome husband, Jim, and an elegant home in well-to-do Nashville. But when their housekeeper found Jim murdered, strangled to death as their children slept, the fairytale collapsed. Behind the facade, Kelley's glamorous lifestyle was being torn apart by infidelity, alcohol, and drug abuse. When she went from prime suspect to accused, a jury had ...
Kelley Cannon was living the American Dream. The former prom queen had three beautiful children with her successful, handsome husband, Jim, and an elegant home in well-to-do Nashville. But when their housekeeper found Jim murdered, strangled to death as their children slept, the fairytale collapsed. Behind the facade, Kelley's glamorous lifestyle was being torn apart by infidelity, alcohol, and drug abuse. When she went from prime suspect to accused, a jury had to decide--How could a 90-pound woman overpower a grown man to death? Their finding: premeditated murder, a life sentence--and a storybook life that masked a dark, violent truth . . .
"What caused petite, pretty Kelley Cannon to snap? Find out in this page-turning account of a woman who killed her husband." --Burl Barer, Edgar Award-winning Author of Body Count and Head Shot
"A gripping true-crime shocker."--Burl Barer
Case seen on Dateline
Includes 16 Pages Of Photos
Although Kelley hadn't talked to Amy for quite some time, she had called her earlier that evening. Kelley was distraught and depressed and needed a friend. She was at the end of her rope and didn't know what else to do. Already in her pajamas, Amy was in bed reading the newspaper. She was tired from a trip to Atlanta and just wanted to relax before going to the office the next day. But hearing how upset Kelley was, Amy agreed to meet her.
When Kelley arrived at BrickTop's, she parked across the street. She walked inside, where Amy was already waiting. The two women hugged; then they sat down. Kelley ordered macaroni and cheese and a piece of key lime pie. During the evening she ate a bit of the pie, but she asked the server to pack up the macaroni and cheese to go. Amy had already eaten dinner, so she just ordered a glass of wine. She ordered another glass later. Kelley also ordered a glass of wine—the first of three she would have that evening.
As they talked, Amy couldn't help but notice the Band-Aid on one of Kelley's thumbs. Despite the Band-Aid, Amy could still see the cut. It was unusual—sort of a straight-line razor cut down her thumb.
The two discussed the problems Kelley had been having with her husband, Jim, who had asked for a divorce earlier that year. Jim and Kelley, who had married in 1996, had three children—two boys, nine-year-old Tim and seven-year-old Henry, and a girl, eighteen-month-old Sophie. And Kelley wasn't about to lose custody of them.
As Amy listened, Kelley went on and on about her marital problems.
"I just don't know what to do. How dare he? How dare he divorce me? I'm the primary caregiver," Kelley told Amy, sounding more angry than distraught.
After hearing Kelley's tale of woe, Amy suggested she get a job. Amy thought if she had a job, at least she could pay her attorneys' fees. Amy also figured, since Kelley said she was no longer taking the sedatives and painkillers she had been prescribed, she wouldn't have to worry about getting drug tested. As could be expected, Kelley wasn't too thrilled with Amy's suggestion.
Kelley and Amy talked and drank for about an hour. At about ten-thirty, Kelley's cell phone rang. Amy couldn't see the number that came up on the caller ID; but from Kelley's end of the conversation, she knew it had to be Jim. During their brief conversation they argued about custody of their children, who were living with Jim.
"I don't know what to do. I can't get up in the morning, and, you know, you can't—they're mine," Kelley told her husband.
As Kelley and Jim argued over the custody of the children, Amy realized that Kelley never once asked him how they were. And she thought that was a bit odd. Although Amy didn't have any kids, most of her friends did. And she knew that if they were out for the evening and they called home, they always asked how the kids were doing. And what, specifically, was she saying on the phone call to the person about not being able to see her children or taking her children?
After about five minutes Kelley ended her call. Amy had the distinct impression that Kelley was planning to continue the conversation with Jim later because she didn't want her friend to hear what she was saying.
The friends sat at BrickTop's for another ten or fifteen minutes. They paid the check and walked out of the restaurant together around eleven o'clock. An obviously agitated Kelley crossed the street to her car, and Amy walked to the parking lot behind the restaurant, where she had parked her car.
When she pulled out onto the street, she could see that Kelley was still sitting in her car. Amy thought that Kelley was talking on her cell phone, but it was hard to tell in the dark.
Shortly after Amy drove past, Kelley made the four-minute drive home, changed into black jeans, a light-colored silky top and a dark sweater. Then she got back in her car and drove to the Walgreens located at the intersection of Charlotte Pike and White Bridge Road.
Carrying a light-colored purse, Kelley entered the store and casually walked to the aisle where the latex gloves were displayed. She picked up a box of store-brand latex gloves from the shelf, tucked the box in the crook of her right arm, then walked to the patient-consultation window of the pharmacy to speak with someone. A short time later, Kelley walked toward the front of the store, the box of gloves still tucked in her arm. She passed the checkout counter and left the store, around eleven-thirty, without paying for the gloves.
Kelley then went to Jim's house on Bowling Avenue—the house she once shared with her husband and children. When she arrived, she realized she didn't have a key. She went to the back door and noticed it was slightly ajar. She opened it farther and called out Jim's name. No answer. She went inside. All the lights were on downstairs, and the house was in total disarray. There were beer bottles everywhere. The kitchen was a total mess; there were towels all over the floor. The baby was crying, so Kelley went upstairs to get her. All the while, she was calling out for Jim—still, no answer. The upstairs was dark, except for the light in the bathroom.
From the hallway Kelley could see into the boys' bedroom, where Jim often slept. His briefcase was on the floor, as were a number of water bottles. The chest of drawers had been knocked over on its side. She was scared to death. Not knowing what was going on, her first instinct was to protect her children. She already had Sophie, so she went to the master bedroom, where the boys were sleeping, and woke up her sons. She gathered as many of their things as she could and put everything in the car. She drove as fast as possible to her apartment. She never thought about calling the police. All she thought of was getting her children to a safe place.
At least ... that's what she said.
The first thing she noticed when she went inside was that the house was a complete mess. Granted, she hadn't been there for three days, but still. And it was quiet, eerily quiet. There didn't seem to be anybody around—not the three young children or their dad, Jim Cannon. They were usually up by the time she got there.
And something else was strange—the door that led to the backyard was opened fully. Jean went to the back door and looked outside. There were two cars in the driveway, and there was a beer can on the lawn. Not sure what to make of the situation, Jean decided she'd just start her chores, like she did every morning. She grabbed some dirty clothes out of the hamper in the laundry room and threw them in the washing machine. Then she went to the kitchen, picked up the trash and did the dishes.
At about nine, Maria Cross, one of the children's nannies, showed up. Now Jean was getting a little concerned. Where was everybody? Certainly the baby, Sophie, should have been up by then. Jean told Maria she was going upstairs to check on her. But when she got to Sophie's room, her crib was empty. She went to the bedroom that the two boys shared, but there was no sign of Tim or Henry. Something else was odd—the chest of drawers in their room had been moved in front of the closet—the drawers facing the door. And everything that had been on top of the chest, a lamp and other items had fallen to the floor.
There was no one in the master bedroom, either. But it, too, was a total mess. Jean walked into the master bathroom. The wastebasket had been tipped over, spilling trash all over the floor. There was a dirty wineglass on the counter. She grabbed the glass and went back into the bedroom. That's when she saw the bloody towel on the floor beside the bed. Shaking her head, Jean picked it up, took it downstairs and threw it in the washer with the rest of the clothes. She put the wineglass in the kitchen sink. Then she told Maria about the total destruction upstairs.
"What the hell is going on here? Where is everybody?" Jean asked Maria. "The two cars are here, but there's no sign of Mr. Cannon or the children. Maybe one of the children got hurt and he had to call an ambulance to take them to the hospital. That would explain the bloody towel and why there's nobody home. Maybe we should try calling Mr. Cannon on his cell phone."
Maria took out her phone and dialed Jim's number—no answer. She left a message.
"Let's go back upstairs and look around," Jean said.
When the two women got to the boys' bedroom, Jean asked Maria to help her move the chest away from the closet because she was afraid she'd break something if she did it herself. Once they had moved it partway, Jean told Maria she could finish the job herself.
When the chest was out of the way, Jean went back to the closet and opened the door. It was dark inside. She squinted a little; then she saw it—the palm of Jim Cannon's hand. It was as black as charcoal. Shocked, Jean slammed the door shut again. Then she turned around and just stared at Maria. Her heart was racing.
"What's wrong?" Maria asked. The horror in Jean's eyes startled her.
"Jim's in the closet," Jean said.
"I'll call 911," Maria said as she bolted out of the room.
All kinds of thoughts went through Jean's mind. What if Jim was passed out? Maybe she should try to wake him? She didn't want him to be embarrassed when the police and paramedics arrived. Jean cautiously opened the closet door again. A strong odor of bleach hit her nose. She leaned down to check on Jim. She moved a pillow out from under the side of his face. It was then she knew he'd never be embarrassed again. Jim Cannon was dead.
* * *
"Nine-one-one. What's the address of the emergency?"
"We need an ambulance immediately," Maria told the dispatcher. "He's upstairs in the closet and he's not breathing."
"Is he conscious?"
"'Is he conscious?' No. No."
The nanny handed the phone to Jean, who had just come downstairs.
"He's dead," Jean told the dispatcher.
"All right. Well, why do you think he's dead?"
"Something's happened, and there's ..."
"Is he cold? Is he stiff ?"
"I hadn't touched him."
"Can I give you instructions on how to do CPR?"
But Jean knew there was no need for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
The first policeman on the scene was Officer Albert Gordon, a nineteen-year veteran with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD). When he arrived, he saw Jean and Maria waiting on the front lawn. When Gordon went into the house, he was met by two paramedics, who were both walking down the stairs from the boys' bedroom. They stopped and briefed Gordon on the situation.
Gordon then went to the boys' bedroom and briefly looked into the closet. After seeing Jim's body, he notified his sergeant and the sector detectives responsible for investigating crime scenes. Then he went outside to keep everyone else—except the crime scene investigation (CSI) team—from entering.
While Gordon was inside, Jean asked Maria to call Kelley Cannon's mother, Diane Sanders. Maria spoke to Diane for a couple minutes; then she handed the phone to Jean. Diane asked Jean what was wrong. Not sure what to say, Jean blurted out that Jim was dead and told her to come to the house as soon as possible. Suddenly Jean went into a state of shock. She couldn't move. She couldn't speak. She didn't know how or why, but something Diane said convinced Jean that Kelley's mother already knew that Jim was dead.
Diane, who only lived about ten minutes away, arrived at the Cannon house shortly after she ended the call with Jean. By then, other investigators had arrived. Diane immediately asked one of the officers if her son-in-law was really dead, but the officer said she couldn't release that information. During her conversation with the officer, Diane asked about her grandchildren. She gave the police their names and ages and said they were probably with their mother—because that was the most logical place for them to be.
After speaking with the police Diane called her son Bobby, who was visiting a local university with his son, and asked him to meet her at Jim's. She also called Jim's work, as well as his divorce attorney, John Hollins, to tell them that Jim was dead. But she never called Kelley, nor did she drive over to her house to tell her the horrible news.
Hollins acknowledged that Kelley's mother called his office around noon on June 23.
"I'll never forget as long as I live," he said. "I had walked out of my office to go to lunch and I heard one of my legal assistants scream in the kitchen. I go running in there. She said, 'Jim is dead.' I asked, 'Jim who?' She said, 'Jim Cannon is dead. Kelley killed him. This is Diane on the phone.' I told her to put the call into my office. I run back to the office and pick up the phone. Diane says, 'Kelley killed him. She finally killed him.' That's the first thing she said. Then I heard, 'He's in the house.' She was talking to the Metro Police. Then one of the detectives got on the phone with me, because Diane had told him I represented Jim in the divorce. He asked me if I could bring him copies of the court orders. I had my legal assistant make copies of all the orders that the judge had entered in the divorce case. Kelley was not supposed to have contact with the kids. That day she had all three kids with her. They wanted to know what was going on. Jim's body was still in the house upstairs. I went over there and I met with the detectives downstairs."
When Metropolitan Nashville Police Department detectives Brad Putnam and William Stokes arrived at the Cannon house, they were briefed by other police on the scene. After speaking with Jean and Maria, they walked through the house, looking for potential evidence. They noticed that a window in the front of the house was partially opened.
They walked upstairs and into the boys' bedroom, where they found the body of Jim Cannon lying on his right side in the closet. He was naked, and it was obvious he had been dead for quite some time. He was cold to the touch and rigor mortis had set in. His body was positioned in such a way that his right arm was above his head and his left arm was hanging down, leading the detectives to believe that he had been dragged to the closet.
Blood and fluid were coming from his nose and mouth. There were marks on his neck that appeared to be parallel to each other, as if something had been wrapped around his neck a couple times. It appeared that he had been strangled. There was also a superficial scratch on the front left side of his chest. Police didn't see any other signs of trauma on Jim's body. They did notice a very strong odor of bleach emanating from inside the closet, as well as from Jim's body. Just to the left of Jim's head, Putnam and Stokes saw an open container of bleach. The lid was on the floor of the closet, close to the bottle. There was a small blue pillow in front of Jim's face, and children's clothing was underneath the lower part of his body. The clothes were discolored, as if someone had poured bleach on them.
Behind the door, which opened inward, there was a white latex glove near Jim's feet. And there was a fingertip of a latex glove on the floor outside the closet. A Motorola cell phone charger was also lying on the floor. Its cord had been ripped off. The detectives also saw several spots of blood on the floor in front of the bunk beds.
Putnam then walked down the hall to the master bedroom. He saw a spot of blood on the floor next to the bed. He also noticed what appeared to be a blood spot on the dust ruffle.
Putnam went downstairs to talk to Jean. He wanted to know whether there were any latex gloves in the house. She said there were some in the pantry and showed him where they were. The box of American Red Cross gloves in the pantry was half empty. Putnam also asked if there were any bleach bottles. Jean explained that the bleach was kept in the laundry room, above the washer and dryer. In the laundry room Putnam saw one opened bottle of Clorox bleach on the back shelf. Jean said there had been a full bottle on the shelf when she left the previous Thursday.
Excerpted from House of Lies by Linda Rosencrance Copyright © 2013 by Linda Rosencrance. Excerpted by permission of PINNACLE BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted February 4, 2013
Mostly trial transcripts, no background info or analysis. Very superficial. I paged through the last two-thirds.
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Posted January 6, 2013
Well written..my heart goes to the children, left without a father and mother.. this family had it all, and now nothing..im sure Kelly beats herself mentally everyday !! Why ? Life wasnt that bad !! .... Bn
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Posted July 15, 2013
My feelings towards this book are ambivalent. I led a similar life so I can sympathize. Never take anything for granted.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 24, 2013
No text was provided for this review.