A Missouri woman who told cops she was in the shower when her boyfriend was shot and killed in the driveway of their home 17 years ago is now charged with murder in his 2004 death.
Alice Patricia Weiss of Columbia, Missouri, was arrested at her home Thursday by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for murder in the second degree, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced. Authorities believe Weiss, who is now 65, shot her then-boyfriend James Summers in the head and back with a .22-caliber pistol on April 7, 2004. Summers, 47, was found dead in the driveway of his home in Dittmer, Missouri, about two hours from where Weiss now lives.
Police questioned Weiss in the days after Summers died, but never filed charges. Weiss was always the prime suspect, according to investigators, who said no other credible suspects had emerged in nearly two decades. The AG’s office has not revealed what specifically led to charges being filed against Weiss now, saying only that the case was advanced by investigators who looked at evidence through “a new set of eyes.” Authorities have not revealed a possible motive.
On April 7, 2004, police responded to reports of a shooting at Summers’ home. There, they found Weiss standing outside in a pink bathrobe and towel. She told deputies that Summers had just left to pick up his daughter from a gymnastics class and that she had been in the shower when she heard “two pops,” according to a probable cause statement filed by prosecutors. The only other person there at the time was Weiss’ father, who had advanced dementia, and “was not able to provide any coherent statements about the events that evening.”
Weiss gave conflicting accounts of where she stored the gun, and when she shot it last. She then speculated that Summers encountered a thief in the driveway who somehow “obtained her firearm from inside the residence without her knowledge and used it to shoot Summers,” states the document. “Weiss was confronted with the improbability of this scenario and she agreed it did not seem possible.”
Investigators recreated the event to test Weiss’ story, which further undermined her claims: When they set up an audio recorder in Weiss’s shower and fired her .22 outside, "the sounds were barely audiable [sic] and investigators concluded that unless you knew exactly what to listen for, a person would likely not recognize the sounds as gunfire,” according to the document.
Investigators later spoke to Weiss’ cousin, who had picked up Weiss at the Sheriff’s Office on the night of the shooting and drove her home. During the ride, Weiss repeatedly told the cousin, who is not identified in court filings, that she “fucked up” by changing her story about the gun to detectives. She also claimed to have heard an “intruder” in the garage before getting into the shower, which the cousin said didn’t make much sense.
Four years later, in 2008, the cousin said he was shopping with Weiss at Walmart when she told him that she “always wanted to know if killing someone was as pleasurable as sex,” according to the probable cause statement. “Weiss further stated if she was charged with shooting Summers, she could now say her father did it because he was dead and would not be able to face prosecution.”
The cousin told police he then asked Weiss why she had shot Summers.
“He stated Weiss replied that there was ‘little difference between love and hate,’” the filing says. “She then went on to compare Summers to her older brother whom she hated.”
Weiss’ attorney, John Schleiffarth, confirmed to The Daily Beast that Weiss is presently being held without bond. She will appear for a court hearing later Friday, and Schleiffarth hopes to convince a judge “in the near future” to free Weiss pending trial.
In a statement he dictated over the phone, Schleiffarth said, “My client Ms. Weiss firmly maintains her innocence. The Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office chose not to file charges 17 years ago for a reason. I have every expectation that the circumstantial evidence portrayed in yesterday’s unusual and theatrical press conference will prove to be misleading.”
Schleiffarth said he couldn’t comment on Weiss’s reaction to the charges, nor would he describe her present state of mind.
One woman who lives a few doors down from Weiss in the Shalimar Gardens development told The Daily Beast that Weiss is roundly disliked by others, and regularly sticks her nose where it doesn’t belong.
“She’s a pain in the ass,” the neighbor said. “She’s on the board of the homeowners’ association, and she constantly picks on people… I call her ‘Little Hitler.’”
The resident, a grandmother who asked that her name not be used for fear that Weiss would come after her if she is released on bail, recounted numerous incidents in which Weiss, who is listed in public records as the director, treasurer, and secretary of the Shalimar Gardens HOA, made life more difficult for her and others. The neighbor said Weiss has called the police on her son for parking his car in front of her house—a public road—and has locked horns with families living across the street and next door.
“You’d think she’d stay under the radar if she killed somebody,” said the neighbor, adding, “She’s not a likable person, let’s put it that way… She’ll argue with you about the color of the sky.”
In a statement, Schmitt said, “While getting the current violent crime issue under control is incredibly important, it’s also crucial that we do not neglect or forsake the often forgotten victims of violent crime whose cases have not been solved or have gone cold. The passage of time does not, in any way, diminish the importance of certain cases.”