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Debra Lynn STARR

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: She feared being prosecuted for embezzlement
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: March 12, 1984
Date of arrest: October 21, 1998 (14 years after)
Date of birth: April 27, 1958
Victim profile: Paul Lingnau, 62 (her ex-boyfriend)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Royal Oak, Oakland County, Michigan, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on March 30, 1999
 
 
 
 
 

State of Michigan Court of Appeals

 

People of the State of Michigan v. Debra Lynn Starr

 
 
 
 
 
 

Michigan woman convicted of first-degree murder in 15-year-old murder mystery

Court TV

June 3, 1999

PONTIAC, Mich. Prosecutors believed that Debra Lynn Starr had her 62-year-old ex-boyfriend Paul Lingnau murdered because she feared being prosecuted for embezzlement. But ultimately, Starr's actions led to a first-degree murder conviction and a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

When Lingnau was shot to death days before his scheduled testimony against Starr in 1984, prosecutors and relatives suspected Starr's involvement in the murder.

Starr seemed to have motive to kill Lingnau: he had accused her of embezzlement, and she feared being prosecuted because she was already on probation for previous crimes. Starr knew an embezzlement conviction could send her back to prison as a habitual offender with a lengthy sentence. Despite the suspicion, police did not have enough evidence to link Starr to the murder, and Lingnau's death remained a mystery for 14 years.

Lingnau's relatives did not approve of his relationship with Starr. A widower, Lingnau met Starr in 1984. Then 24, Starr was a reputed heroin abuser and alleged prostitute. Her friends described her as manipulative and "having a way with men," prosecutors say Starr convinced Lingnau to convert his $10,000 savings account into a joint account. She would later cash in the joint account and spend Lingnau's money.

At one point, Starr also took Lingnau's car and reported it stolen to police and tried to collect the proceeds from the car insurance. Starr also made up and tried to collect the proceeds from phony car repair bills, but was thwarted. Police arrested Starr on "false pretenses" charges.

Starr also convinced Lingnau to change his life insurance policy and replace his brother and sister-in-law with her as a beneficiary. But before Lingnau's sudden death, his family convinced him to change his policy back to its original terms.

Lingnau was killed on March 12, 1984, the night of his 63rd birthday. He was returning home from a night out with his brother and his brother's wife. As he was about to open the door outside his apartment, a gunman emerged and shot him five times. The gunman, later suspected by police as Starr's other boyfriend Steven Steiner, ran across the street into a parking lot, got into a car, and fled. Although the murder weapon was never retrieved, prosecutors believe the gun used belonged to Starr's stepfather, Argil Dennis.

Starr may have been able to get away with a "perfect crime," but prosecutors say she got sloppy. Acquaintances overheard her bragging about Lingnau's murder and make statements like, "I'll kill you like I knocked off that other guy."

Then, in 1994, Starr and her mother, Betty Dennis, had Argil Dennis attacked and stabbed 18 times. Argil survived the assault and the attacker implicated Starr and her mother in the attack. Starr pleaded guilty to solicitation and conspiracy to commit murder. Betty Dennis was convicted at trial. The mother-daughter team's motive was two-fold: Betty Dennis was a bigamist, had married a man to scam him out of money, and wanted Argil killed to avoid being caught for bigamy. Starr solicited Argil's murder because she feared he would approach authorities about her involvement in Lingnau's murder.

Prosecutors succeeded in indicting Starr for first-degree murder in 1998. At the time of her conviction, Starr was already serving a 15 to 30-year sentence for her previous convictions.

Bryan Robinson

 
 

Michigan woman faces first-degree murder charges for 15-year-old murder mystery

CourtTV.com

May 10, 1999

PONTIAC, Mich. (Court TV) When 62-year-old Paul Lingnau was shot to death days before his scheduled testimony against his ex-girlfriend Debra Lynn Starr, prosecutors and relatives suspected Starr's involvement in the murder.

Starr seemed to have motive to kill Lingnau: he had accused her of embezzlement, and she feared being prosecuted because she was already on probation for previous crimes. Starr knew an embezzlement conviction could send her back to prison as a habitual offender with a lengthy sentence. Despite the suspicion, police did not have enough evidence to link Starr to the murder, and Lingnau's death remained a mystery for 14 years.

Lingnau's relatives did not approve of his relationship with Starr. A widower, Lingnau met Starr in 1984. Then 24, Starr was a reputed heroin abuser and alleged prostitute. Her friends described her as manipulative and "having a way with men," prosecutors say Starr convinced Lingnau to convert his $10,000 savings account into a joint account. She would later cash in the joint account and spend Lingnau's money.

At one point, Starr also took Lingnau's car and reported it stolen to police and tried to collect the proceeds from the car insurance. Starr also made up and tried to collect the proceeds from phony car repair bills, but was thwarted. Police arrested Starr on "false pretenses" charges.

Starr also convinced Lingnau to change his life insurance policy and replace his brother and sister-in-law with her as a beneficiary. But before Lingnau's sudden death, his family convinced him to change his policy back to its original terms.

Lingnau was killed on March 12, 1984, the night of his 63rd birthday. He was returning home from a night out with his brother and his brother's wife. As he was about to open the door outside his apartment, a gunman emerged and shot him five times. The gunman, later suspected by police as Starr's other boyfriend Steven Steiner, ran across the street into a parking lot, got into a car, and fled. Although the murder weapon was never retrieved, prosecutors believe the gun used belonged to Starr's stepfather, Argil Dennis.

Starr may have been able to get away with a "perfect crime," but prosecutors say she got sloppy. Acquaintances overheard her bragging about Lingnau's murder and make statements like, "I'll kill you like I knocked off that other guy."

Then, in 1994, Starr and her mother, Betty Dennis, had Argil Dennis attacked and stabbed 18 times. Argil survived the assault and the attacker implicated Starr and her mother in the attack. Starr pleaded guilty to solicitation and conspiracy to commit murder. Betty Dennis was convicted at trial. The mother-daughter team's motive was two-fold: Betty Dennis was a bigamist, had married a man to scam him out of money, and wanted Argil killed to avoid being caught for bigamy. Starr solicited Argil's murder because she feared he would approach authorities about her involvement in Lingnau's murder.

Prosecutors succeeded in indicting Starr for first-degree murder in 1998. If convicted of first-degree murder, she faces mandatory life in prison without parole. Starr is already serving a 15 to 30-year sentence for her previous convictions.

Bryan Robinson

Reported by Court TV's Laurie Gindin

 
 


Debra Lynn Starr

 

The victim


Paul Lingnau, 62.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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