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Teresa L. STONE





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Admits conspiring with her minister and lover to kill her husband - To collect insurance money
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: March 31, 2010
Date of arrest: May 27, 2011
Date of birth: December 6, 1971
Victim profile: Randy Stone, 42 (her husband)
Method of murder: Shooting (.40-caliber Glock)
Location: Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, USA
Status: Pleaded guilty. Sentenced to 8 years in prison on June 14, 2012

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Teresa Stone sentenced to eight years for conspiring to kill husband

By Brian Burnes - The Kansas City Star

June 15, 2012

Teresa Stone had dreamed of a life of “glory and luxury” with her new husband and perhaps as much as $800,000 in life insurance payouts, prosecutors said.

Instead, Stone left an Independence courtroom Friday with her hands cuffed behind her, sentenced to eight years in prison for conspiring with her minister and lover to kill her husband, Independence insurance agent Randy Stone.

“She wanted a perfect life with David Love, no matter the cost,” said Tammy Dickinson, assistant Jackson County prosecutor.

But, Dickinson added, “Today is not about what Teresa Stone wants, it’s about what she deserves.”

The eight-year term was the third and most severe option recommended to Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Marco Roldan in a pre-sentencing assessment.

Stone’s two children pleaded with Roldan to show their mother mercy, as did Stone, who stood and struggled, sobbing, to read a prepared statement.

“I am so sorry … if I could do anything to change it.… I ask you today to show mercy.… I am totally responsible for my actions,” she said.

But prosecutors described a much different Teresa Stone.

“Her lover was her hit man,” Dickinson said.

Stone, she added, schemed with former Independence minister David Love to commit the 2010 murder, allowed him access to her husband’s collection of guns (one of which Love used to shoot him), mistakenly believed she would be the beneficiary of several life insurance policies and then — after Love killed her husband — allowed the killer to preside over her husband’s funeral.

That Randy Stone quietly had made their children the beneficiaries of his life insurance policies suggests he might have harbored doubts about his wife, Dickinson said.

“Randy Stone didn’t trust her, and do you blame him?” Dickinson said. “The man was on to something.”

The sentencing closed a case that had attracted national attention.

Teresa Stone, 40, pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy to commit murder, with the understanding that her maximum sentence would be 10 years.

Love admitted last year that he shot Randy Stone in Stone’s Noland Road insurance office. He is serving life in prison after pleading guilty in November to second-degree murder and armed criminal action.

During Friday’s 90-minute sentencing hearing, spectators saw evidence made public for the first time, including transcripts of text messages sent between Teresa Stone and Love, as well as photographs of the body of Randy Stone, who was killed March 31, 2010.

Teresa Stone, Dickinson said, had a 10-year affair with Love, without the apparent knowledge of her husband.

But by January 2010, Stone and Love had begun thinking in more specific terms about their future, sending messages back and forth that included details of a pending marriage ceremony. “I would love an outside wedding, with lots of flowers,” Teresa Stone wrote.

By that February, Love had purchased her a ring.

At the same time, they plotted the deaths of their respective spouses. Independence police detective Keith Rosewarren testified that Love had intended to kill his wife by breaking her neck and staging a car accident to disguise her death.

Then animosity surfaced between Love and Randy Stone.

On March 16, 2010, Randy Stone sent an email to Love, resigning from New Hope Baptist Church in Independence, where Love had served as pastor for about 10 years.

On March 31, Teresa Stone placed a 911 call saying that she had found her husband shot.

Investigators responding to the agency recovered a .40 caliber shell casing and a one-page handwritten letter in a wastebasket at the office. “You are the center of my world,” read the letter, which her husband didn’t write.

Teresa Stone denied knowledge of the letter to investigators.

Officers found no evidence of struggle, suggesting that Randy Stone knew whoever shot him. They also found about $100 in cash on a desk in the office, indicating Randy Stone was not killed in a robbery attempt.

Police later matched the .40 caliber shell casing to others recovered on an eastern Jackson County farm where Stone, a former Marine, liked to take target practice. Investigators concluded that Stone had been killed with his own gun.

Teresa Stone, meanwhile, had proved “very calm, talkative, showing little emotion,” Rosewarren said. “There were no tears coming down her face,” he said.

She insisted to investigators that she was happily married and had no idea who would want to kill her husband. She had spent March 31, she said, running errands, making a bank deposit, seeing a chiropractor, picking up her daughter at school at about 3:15 p.m., and then going to a Sonic restaurant.

“The times were verified by receipts or video,” Rosewarren said.

As for the torn-up letter in the wastebasket, Rosewarren said, she said it had been left on her car about a year earlier. But, while being left alone in an interrogation room at the Independence police department, Stone said aloud: “I forgot about the letter.”

In April, Teresa Stone told investigators that Love had written her the letter. She considered herself in love with him, and added that she believed she had been pregnant but had miscarried. Her husband Randy, she said, had a vasectomy some time before.

Also testifying was Robert Davis, a Farmers Insurance district manager who went to the Stones’ home after Teresa Stone called and told him of her husband’s death. At the house, Davis said, he met a distraught Teresa Stone with her parents.

“She suggested that we go out on the front porch,” Davis said. “She immediately regained her composure and started asking about the life insurance.”

When Davis examined three insurance policies that had been placed on a desk in a basement office, the policies suggested that Randy Stone had carried about $725,000 in life insurance benefits. But Davis later learned that the amount was closer to $575,000. He also learned that Randy Stone, in 2005, had made his children the beneficiaries of the policies, instead of his wife.

When Davis called Tersea Stone to tell her this, her reaction, he said, was of “shock” and “disbelief.”

Shelly Bell, Randy Stone’s niece, told Roldan that her uncle would have been 45 years old this week and asked him to impose the maximum sentence to reflect “the cold-hearted decision made by this woman.”

John P. O’Connor, Stone’s lawyer, told Roldan that Stone had no prior criminal record and since her husband’s death had gone back to school in an effort to seek a new career as a medical technician.

After the sentencing, O’Connor said he accepted Roldan’s sentence. “I believe it was a fair sentence under all the circumstances,” he said.

The Stones’ children, Michael, 21, and Miranda, 18, still live in Independence, said their grandmother, Clara Koehler.

Koehler, Randy Stone’s mother, said the eight-year sentence satisfied her.

“More than anything, I wanted her to have time to think about what she had done and consider whether it had been worth it,” she said.


Killer Love

For this six-day series, Kansas City Star reporters reviewed more than 4,000 pages of police and laboratory reports and about nine hours of recorded witness and suspect interviews. Much of that material only recently became available and provided new insights into one of the area’s most prurient homicide cases. Reporters also interviewed lawyers, police officers, friends, family members and fellow church members of David Love and Randy and Teresa Stone. Love and Teresa Stone declined to speak with The Star. Dialogue in the series is taken from official reports, recorded police interviews and from the recollections of participants in the conversations.

Mark Morris, 58, covers courts and joined The Star in 1984. To contact him, call 816-234-4310.

Brian Burnes, 58, covers eastern Jackson County and joined The Star in 1978. To contact him, call 816-234-4120.



A story of couples, success, faith and murder

A respected insurance agent, his beloved wife and their charismatic pastor: This tale of sex and murder seems like a movie but played out for real in Independence.

The Kansas City Star

September 16, 2012

Detective Keith Rosewaren got the call around 6 p.m., letting him know that the dead man’s wife was waiting for him downstairs. He knew she might be his last chance.

Inside the Independence Police Department, where the buzz had been constant for three weeks, an interrogation room sat empty for the moment — soon to play main stage in the city’s most sensational homicide drama in years.

Rosewaren had been accustomed to interrogating detainees in Afghanistan. Now, he would be questioning Teresa Stone, wife, mother of two, obstinate witness and, unknown to her, a suspect in her husband’s murder.

On the last day of March 2010, with spring’s arrival still hanging in the air, Randy Stone was found dead in his insurance office, a bullet in his head.

At Stone’s funeral, as detectives watched outside, his longtime pastor had given a moving eulogy for the 42-year-old Marine veteran, respected businessman and church leader.

But almost immediately there were whispers and suspicions. Rumors of illicit sex and betrayal. A torn-up love note discovered at the crime scene. Not enough, though, for police to make an arrest.

As Rosewaren hung up the phone, he tucked a Miranda waiver form in a folder and walked out to meet Teresa Stone, hoping she would open up without a lawyer. If she didn’t like the questions, she could leave at any time.

“This is a one-shot deal,” Rosewaren thought to himself. “You gotta get her to talk.”


Randy and Teresa Stone had known each other since they were kids growing up in the Northeast area of Kansas City but didn’t begin dating until after he returned from Marine duty in 1990.

Randy, a tough guy with a soft side, wed Teresa, an attractive and flirtatious woman, later that year. They soon began a family that would grow to four.

A fitness fanatic, Randy thrived in competition — whether on the basketball court or in the office, where he built his Farmers Insurance agency into one of the most successful in the region.

But he also wrote poetry for his wife, kept a journal, drove his church’s Sunday school bus and advised the congregation on financial issues.

Teresa worked in his Noland Road office, first as a customer service representative, then as a licensed agent. She proved to be a steady business partner, opening the office every morning and allowing Randy to manage both the clients and the relationship with Farmers Insurance, whose products they sold.

Both spent many hours at Teresa’s longtime church, New Hope Baptist at 18000 E. Lexington Road in Independence. Randy and Teresa married there. Teresa helped in the church kitchen and occasionally sang in the choir.

The Rev. David Love — articulate, attractive and partial to dark suits — arrived in 1999 and immediately proved a hit with the congregation. Reared in the Midwest, the son of missionaries, he’d polished his preaching skills at a Baptist college in the South and as a youth minister and pastor at two previous churches.

Randy Stone became one of his most devoted followers. Though the two occasionally argued about church business, Randy considered Brother Love the most influential person in his life.

Randy particularly liked the demanding interpretation of Baptist Christianity that his pastor preached, once telling a friend that the more mainstream Southern Baptist Convention was too liberal and willing to compromise.

A smooth and charismatic speaker, Love adhered to the expository preaching style, in which he laid out a chunk of Scripture and then systematically explained it, bit by bit.

“I love the word of God,” Love assured during a 2003 sermon. “I’m glad the Lord called me to preach, and it’s a delight and a privilege to be able to come before you.”

Yet he’d battled financial issues that split a Virginia congregation in the 1990s. Similar trouble arose early in his Independence ministry when he wouldn’t account for about $30,000 missing from a fund for missionary salaries.

Confronted, Love recoiled in anger.

“I will not let a church checkbook run my ministry,” he said.

Still, Love presented the face of a perfect preacher and doted on his wife, Kim, a talkative woman with a lush Southern accent who relished her role as a mother, pastor’s spouse and church secretary. She exhibited such a fierce Christian faith and truthful and forgiving nature that others sometimes thought her a phony.

They’d met during their college years in Chattanooga, Tenn. One day he took her out on a high hill overlooking the city.

“Kimberly Joy Turner,” he said, “I could search the whole world over and I’d never find anybody like you. Would you marry me?”

She answered rapturously — “Yes, yes, yes, yes” — and David tugged a ring from his pinky finger and handed it to his new fiancée. They wed June 26, 1982.

David treated her “like a queen,” Kim later said.

Yet as their marriage grew, so did Kim’s wariness of other women attracted to handsome preachers. More than once, she shooed her husband away from other women, Teresa Stone among them, who she thought were too friendly.

Her relationship with Teresa could be friendly, dramatic, brittle and competitive, all within the space of a single day.

But no day was as bad as March 31, 2010 — the day of Randy’s murder.


As Teresa pulled into a parking space late that afternoon next to her husband’s blue Chevy Malibu, the only other car in the lot, she immediately noticed that someone had closed his insurance agency’s blinds.

That’s not normal, she thought.

Late getting back to the office, Teresa had been shopping and running errands all afternoon. She remembered opening the blinds that morning, a couple of hours after arriving for work. Randy never closed them before dark.

Teresa keyed the lock, which turned easily. That meant that the harder-to-manage deadbolt had not been engaged.

“Honey, where are you?” Teresa called.

She looked in a storage room and saw the usual clutter but not her husband.

Teresa checked Randy’s office and found nothing out of the ordinary.

Reaching her smaller office down the hall, Teresa looked down.

Her husband lay motionless on the floor next to her desk, near a copy machine. Blood that had streamed from his left ear had begun to dry, and his head lay in a moist puddle of bone splinters and brain. A space heater that had toppled behind him bore a crimson smear. Blood spatter dotted furniture and walls.

Randy’s eyes had blackened and his lips were blue.

“Randy!” Teresa yelled. “Wake up!”

She stepped over him and reached for a wireless telephone headset.

She called her parents, told them Randy had been shot and asked them to come to the office.
Then she called 911.

“Oh my God,” she said.

“911,” the call-taker responded. “Do you need police, fire or medical?”

“Yes, I do please.”

“OK, take a breath. Where are you at?”

“I — I just walked into my office and my, my husband’s lying on my floor in my office.”

“OK, listen to me, listen to me, where are you? I need the address of where you’re at.”

“It’s 13912 Noland Court.”

“OK, what’s the suite number?”

“Suite A, as in apple.”

“OK now, what’s wrong with your husband?”

“He’s, he’s been, I don’t know. There’s blood everywhere. It’s coming out of his ear.”

Obeying the call-taker’s instructions, Teresa left the office and waited for patrol officers to arrive.

The first on the scene happened to be a member of her church. He darted inside, determined Randy was dead, went back out and told Teresa.

“No!” she shrieked before collapsing in his arms.

The call to her parents had energized the New Hope grapevine. Pastor Love heard word of it during a hospital call in south Kansas City. Soon, a church youth minister appeared outside the insurance office.

And within minutes, Kim Love pulled into the parking lot.

Spotting Teresa, Kim wrapped an arm around her and said, “I’m here for you. I’m praying for you. This is terrible.”

Pastor Love soon appeared, about a half-hour quicker than expected. He sized up the situation, left the comforting to others and, from the parking lot, intently watched the detectives.

As officers strung crime scene tape between utility poles to secure the front of the office, and a half-dozen detectives began investigating inside, someone asked Kim to drive a shaky Teresa to a nearby restroom. Kim submitted to duty, as she had throughout her marriage.

But Kim also assessed her passenger coolly.

She thought: “Did you do this?”


Kim and Teresa soon returned to the parking lot, where shocked friends, family and church members grieved as investigators came and went from the insurance office.

Tapped to lead the investigation, Rosewaren waited outside while crime-scene technicians and medical examiners worked. Already he’d learned that Randy, like him, was a veteran, immensely proud of his military service.

Rosewaren suspended his police ID on a “Go Army” lanyard. He had 20 years service in the active-duty Army, National Guard and Reserve and had served both in Iraq and Afghanistan, investigating crime.

During his tour in Afghanistan, Rosewaren had sent his colleagues a framed American flag that had flown on an F-15 fighter jet during a mission. It was a small way of thanking detectives in Independence for picking up his slack while he was overseas.

Rosewaren felt an immediate kinship to Randy Stone.

“His life course is not much different than mine,” he thought.

The Stones’ daughter, Miranda, arrived with her maternal grandparents, who had told her only that her father had been shot. She learned of his death in the parking lot.

Teresa took a call from her son, Michael, at college in Florida. She only had time to tell him of his father’s death before resuming a conversation with a detective.

During a quiet moment, Pastor Love pulled his eyes from the crime scene for a quick word with Teresa.

He reminded her of something in her purse.

“Get rid of the TracFone,” he said.

“And if police ask you about Randy’s gun, tell them he sold it three months ago.”



A passionate, hidden relationship surfaces

A homicide scene tells a story, and the one at the Noland Road insurance office told Detective Keith Rosewaren: Randy Stone likely knew and trusted his killer.

Nowhere, in any of the offices, could police detect signs of a struggle. Not even a hint.

Stone appeared to have been ambushed — shot in the head while he had his back turned.

The location argued against the killing being opportunistic random violence. It’s highly unusual for someone to be gunned down during the day in a business on Noland Road, one of Independence’s busiest commercial streets.

And forget robbery. Detectives found $151 in cash sitting on a desk. Plus, Randy’s wallet remained in his back pocket.

But other questions emerged.

Police hadn’t found the murder weapon but recovered a .40-caliber shell casing from the floor near Randy’s feet.

It didn’t match the only firearm they’d found at the office, a .380 Ruger sitting in a drawer.

And then there was the birthday note, ripped into nine pieces and discarded in an office trash can.


“You are so very precious to my heart.… I care for you more than anyone on Earth….

“I’m not in control of things yet, but when we are fully together your birthday will always be exciting, full of surprises, romantic and all about loving you! You are the center of my world. I praise you. I adore you. I’m blessed by you. I need you. I love you.…”

As police combed the office for more clues, detectives Steve Schmidli and Jerry Stewart conducted Teresa Stone’s first interview at police headquarters.

They learned the couple had been about to go through some financial strains because of business changes they had planned. But, despite some recent stress, the marriage was strong, Teresa insisted.

“We were very much in love,” she told them.

The detectives asked her about a large handgun, a Glock, that one of Randy’s police-officer friends had seen him with.

Teresa remembered only the “little” .380, guessing that Randy must have sold the bigger pistol about a year earlier.

“I don’t think he had that one any more ’cause this little one is the only one I’ve seen for a very (long) while,” she said.

Schmidli brought up the birthday letter.

“It was at the bottom of your trash can,” he said.

Teresa didn’t recall it.

Schmidli and Stewart hustled out to see if crime scene techs had returned with a photo of it.

Alone in the interview room, but monitored by a hidden camera, Teresa agonized.

“Oh, great,” she whispered to herself. “I forgot about that.”

When the detectives returned, she conjured a story about an unknown “secret admirer” who left the note on her car years before.


Though Teresa could appear casual and fun, she knew that keeping secrets was serious business.

And the detectives’ questions already had nicked a dark spot — one she steadfastly refused to reveal: a forbidden relationship with David Love, her pastor at New Hope Baptist Church.

About a year after Pastor Love arrived, he invited her into his office.

The birthday note cheerfully recalled the moment:

“I remember nine years ago telling you I had something for you in my office. It was me. I wanted to give you me. That kiss you took and then you gave me one back. I felt like it was my birthday.”

The spontaneous and passionate affair began slowly, with weekly meetings wherever the opportunity presented.

Sometimes, when she knew her husband would be away from the insurance business for at least an hour, Teresa called Pastor Love. Their meetings increased to three times a week, and then to even one or two times a day.

Teresa also had to fulfill her husband’s need for affection.

“It wore me out,” she reflected later.

In 2005 Teresa became pregnant with David’s child, a condition she could not hide from Randy, who had undergone a vasectomy. The news shocked Randy, but he had seen other couples conceive after vasectomies, so the idea of a physiological “malfunction” wasn’t completely alien to him.

The issue faded after Teresa miscarried. In Teresa’s mind, God spared her that day.

Yet gossip occasionally spilled through the church.

In 2008, Randy told a church staffer he soon would leave New Hope because he suspected his wife was having an affair with the pastor.

“Randy, that’s ridiculous,” the staffer said. “You need to be careful of the accusations you make when it comes to those kinds of things because that’s a life-changing accusation for a pastor.”

Randy stuck with his wife and minister, even submitting to weekly “counseling” with David after Teresa caught him watching pornography.

The porn troubled Teresa, and she responded by falling more deeply into her pastor’s arms. And he responded in sometimes reckless ways.

David posed in front of a digital camera for 30 profoundly intimate photographs, which he sent to Teresa and then deleted from his computer.

In January 2009, Pastor Love tapped out a series of fervent emails to Teresa.

“I long for the touch of your hand as you walk by, and the twinkle in your pretty blue eyes as you smile at me. You are my doll. Your encouragement is all that keeps me going.…

“Thank you for being so wonderful, beautiful, sexy and smart. I live to please you. I am so totally in love with you.”

The couple imagined what it would be like to be married.

“I cannot wait to watch you walk to me knowing that we are officially about to be married publicly,” David wrote in January 2009. “I love your ideas. … I love your plans. I think you can collect wedding info and file it as if you are planning for your daughter.”

Teresa responded that she would love an outdoor wedding.

“Maybe a rose garden or something like that. My dress, I am not sure. When I find the perfect dress you will be the first to see it.”

As they sought to understand their love, David Love reminded Teresa Stone of the biblical King David, Israel’s warrior king who demonstrated that no man’s depravity was beyond God’s forgiveness.

He was not even above murder, the pastor observed. King David, for example, orchestrated the death of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, so he could take her as his wife.

“And God still blessed him,” David told Teresa.

Teresa tried to dissuade her own David from extremes.

“If God wants us to be together, God will make it happen,” she said.

But Pastor Love spoke as if he were an instrument of God’s will.

“It’s the warrior in me.”


The investigation at the insurance office slowed that night when police determined they’d need a warrant before conducting a more thorough search.

After the medical examiner’s office removed Randy’s body, detectives sealed the office and posted a guard.

Rosewaren, with 23 years on the force, already had classified the case as a “whodunit.”

Investigators would scrutinize everyone close to Stone to see who had the means, motive and opportunity to commit the crime.

Rosewaren’s bosses ordered crime analysts and detectives from other units to drop everything and move onto the case.

Within days, more than two dozen detectives, officers, analysts and specialists would be assisting.

“Keep your eyes open,” Rosewaren told other detectives.

Rosewaren had plenty of leads to chase.

Someone out there had to know these people and understand how they thought.

One of them lived hundreds of miles to the east, in West Virginia.


“Like a River Glorious!”

Coming the day after a murder, that wasn’t the answer that Pastor David Trump had expected.

In an afternoon phone call, Trump had asked David Love how he was doing, given that someone had gunned down a prominent member of his church the previous afternoon.

Pastor Love responded with a happy quotation from a 19th century hymn that celebrated being perfectly at peace with God.

“Like a River Glorious!” he said with a cheerful swagger in his voice before changing the subject to the NCAA basketball tournament.

Trump, pastor of a Baptist church in Beckley, W.Va., had known David Love and his wife since 1990, though he hadn’t spoken with them for years.

Earlier that morning, Teresa Stone, another distant friend he hadn’t heard from in a while, called to announce that her husband, Randy, had been shot the previous day. She followed that with a quick accounting of her activities for the day and rang off after about 10 minutes.

Trump immediately called David Love to confirm that this wasn’t a cruel April Fools’ joke, it being April 1.

After David Love returned the call, Trump steered the conversation from college basketball and back to Randy Stone.

David Love responded much like Teresa, with a detailed description of his day, mentioning a funeral service he had performed in Gladstone in the early afternoon, a stop for a sandwich and a hospital visit he had made in south Kansas City much later in the afternoon.

“Do you think you’ll be questioned?” Trump asked.

“I could be, and if I am I have a stack of dirt on (Randy Stone),” Love responded.

The pastors spoke briefly about Love’s plans for Randy’s funeral and ended the conversation.

After hanging up, Trump thought about an earlier discussion that now troubled him on a number of levels.

In 2002, when the Stones visited Trump in West Virginia, Randy had confided that he’d found a letter from Teresa, brimming with sexual fantasies and written to someone named “David.” Randy advised that he’d confronted Teresa, who responded that she’d read that “staging an affair letter might improve (Randy and Teresa’s) sexual relationship.”

Randy never again raised the subject with Trump.

Now Randy was dead. And within hours Teresa Stone and David Love each had shared their complete alibis for the day Randy had been killed.

Trump felt uneasy and resolved to contact police in Missouri. But he held off, thinking his suspicions too implausible.

“Have I been watching too much TV?” he asked himself.



Detective’s questions reveal lies, secret love

Rumors had long swirled about an affair between David Love and Teresa Stone. Now, police had to prove it.

Detective Keith Rosewaren had scrambled successfully through the foothills of his interview with Teresa Stone.

At 6:10 p.m., April 20, 2010, she signed a Miranda waiver, agreeing to be interviewed without an attorney.

Now Rosewaren had to climb the mountain.

Faced with too-tidy alibis and rumors flying of a long-term affair, Rosewaren had plenty of reasons to suspect Teresa and Pastor David Love.

Teresa had been an atypical homicide victim’s wife. Most call detectives regularly, fishing for information and offering new leads. Teresa had been remarkably quiet in the 20 days since her husband’s murder.

Detectives believed that Teresa and David had engaged in a nearly 10-year affair, that Teresa had given David a .40-caliber Glock that belonged to her husband, Randy, and that they had communicated about the killing using disposable cell phones.

But even with a solid theory and a nice pile of circumstantial evidence, Rosewaren believed that prosecutors never would file charges without significant admissions from Teresa Stone or David Love.

She was in the chair that Tuesday evening because detectives felt they had a better chance of breaking down her defenses.

Rosewaren decided to start with that torn-up birthday note detectives found in Teresa’s trash can the day of Randy’s murder. Previously, she said she had no idea who’d written the note and claimed it had appeared on her windshield three years earlier. She claimed she’d torn it up to keep it from her husband.

“We have to know,” Rosewaren began, “who wrote that note and … what’s going on behind it.

“I think you understand. If you have somebody who’s … infatuated with you, that’s been pursuing you, we can’t rule that person out as a suspect.”

Rosewaren pointed to passages where the writer said, “I praise you. I adore you. I’m blessed by you.”

“There is verbiage … that indicates that whoever wrote it is involved in Christianity or the church,” he said.

Was it David Love?

Stone wilted.

“Yeah, he wrote it.”

But she wouldn’t give up that easily.

“Is there any chance that David Love had anything to do with your … husband’s death?” Rosewaren asked. “Do you think he’s capable of it?”


Rosewaren would have to be patient with Teresa.

He had all night.


Unknown to Rosewaren, a video feed of the interrogation had drawn a crowd in a small conference room nearby.

Detectives, prosecutors and police commanders, all of whom had met daily to review and analyze evidence, settled in for a long night. Even some day-shift employees hung around to watch.

With each of Teresa’s evasions, knots of frustration tightened in the group, only to release when Rosewaren teased out a new admission — such as Teresa’s acknowledgement that she and David had communicated covertly with cell phones to hide a “counseling” relationship from David’s wife.

The detective’s tone sharpened when Teresa denied a sexual relationship with Love.

“I’ve got about 20 detectives out there that want to take this to a grand jury today, tomorrow,” Rosewaren said. “They think we have … enough evidence against you to have you charged, ’cause they think you’re involved in this … not that you killed him, but that you had something to do with this.”

Teresa’s jaw dropped and she began sobbing.

“I have told you everything that happened on that day,” she said. “I have receipts to show you. My daughter was with me.”

But aware of the birthday love note and secret cell phones, Rosewaren wasn’t buying that her relationship with David Love was chaste.

“We’re not going to wave red flags and tell the world, OK?” Rosewaren assured her. “Teresa, I already know what you’re going to say, but I have to hear it from you.”

“Yes,” Teresa sobbed. “We had sex.”

She soon acknowledged the 2005 miscarriage.

Switching course, Rosewaren picked at the odd discrepancy between the first two calls she made after finding Randy’s body.

She told her parents that Randy had been shot.

She told the 911 call-taker only that Randy had blood coming from an ear.

Rosewaren stood, emphasizing that his patience was near exhaustion.

“Who told you that he’d been shot?” he pressed. “How did you know that he’d been shot? And why didn’t you tell us? You’re not being truthful with me, Teresa.”

“I, I didn’t know,” she replied with a toss of her head.

“You’re not being truthful.”

“I didn’t,” she said, stopping to pause.

“He sent me a text and told me.”

The opening grew wide.

“Who did? Say it.”

With an anguished whisper, Teresa took the case far beyond theory and circumstantial evidence.

“Brother Love.”


The content of the text had been ambiguous — SERIOUSLY URGENT, DO NOT GO BACK TO THE OFFICE — but Teresa’s admission that David had sent her the message propelled the questioning along more than a dozen new and productive avenues.

Investigators suspected from the shell casing found at the insurance office that Randy had been killed with his own gun. But how did Brother Love get the gun? Teresa expressed complete bewilderment, though she speculated that Love may have memorized the combination of Randy’s gun safe when her husband was showing off his firearms collection.

The tempo of the interview increased.

“This is tearing you up,” Rosewaren said.

“I’m trying to protect a godly man, supposed to be a godly man,” Teresa said. “He told me in my room that next day.”

Teresa began sobbing, which quickly moved to hyperventilation.

“Courage, Teresa,” Rosewaren said. “… what did he say?”

“He said, ‘You know, if you tell them that, I’m going to jail for murder,’ ” she said.

However, Teresa remained adamant that she had no role in planning the killing.

She seemed willing to acknowledge terrible behavior on her own part, but nothing that could expose her to criminal liability, Rosewaren concluded. She also wasn’t afraid to lay the crime at her lover’s feet.

Rosewaren’s breakthroughs lightened the mood in the nearby conference room, where other investigators began tossing around ideas for new questions.

Collapsing into a chair outside the interview room during a break, Rosewaren fended off high-fives from colleagues, telling them they still had a long way to go. Teresa Stone, he knew, did not give up the truth easily.

One idea percolating through the room was to somehow put Teresa and David together to see if he would say something useful.

More than six hours into the interview, a plan came together to have Teresa call him at home and press for a confession.

Now completely at the detectives’ mercy, she agreed.


She put the call through at 12:43 a.m. April 21. Immediately, David appeared suspicious.

“You have to do something,” Teresa said. “I can’t live like this anymore. This is just killing me.”

“OK,” he responded. “Who’s there with you now? Are you home?”

Quickly, it became clear that David’s wife, Kim, stood nearby, inhibiting David’s ability to speak frankly. But Teresa pushed ahead.

“I need to know why. I need to know why you killed my husband. I need to know. Please. I can’t live like this anymore.”

Before David could respond, Kim came on the line, demanding to know why Teresa was calling and asking what she thought her husband had done.

Kim would not allow them to meet without her.

“Trust you, after all that you’ve already done?” she asked. “Teresa, what do you want with David? What do you want with my husband? Just tell me what you want.”

Seeing that the call was going nowhere, Rosewaren gestured for Teresa to disconnect.

At the Love home, Kim fired questions at her husband.

“Are you going to hurt me?”

“Honey, no! I would never do that.”

“Did you have anything to do with this?”


“Well, what is she doing?”

By then, David wasn’t really paying attention to his wife.

“She’s not going to pin this on me,” he said.

Both Loves headed for the garage. Kim stopped at the door and looked at her son, Shelton, who was watching television.

“Pray for me,” Kim said. “I don’t know what’s going on.”


David Love’s home and church, New Hope Baptist, had been under surveillance for much of the evening. Just seconds after Teresa hung up her call, Detective Chris Summers detected activity at the house.

At 12:55 a.m., a gray Buick backed out of the driveway and headed toward U.S. 24 and the Stone home.

David, the driver, glanced in a mirror and told his wife, “There’s a car following us.”

Kim again felt the cold grip of fear and uncertainty. She imagined Teresa pulling up and shooting her in the head.

“Honey, is something about to happen to me?” Kim asked.

“No, honey,” replied David, unruffled.

In less than a minute, an Independence patrol officer pulled over the car, and police handcuffed and arrested Pastor Love. Kim agreed to go to headquarters for an interview, even though officers assured her that she was not a suspect.

Back at headquarters, another plan materialized. Rosewaren quizzed Teresa about her willingness to meet with Love to see if she could encourage him to say anything. She was willing to try.

“I would hope he would cooperate with you guys, being that he is in the state that he is in,” she said. “I mean, as a man of God he is held liable to the most high God that we have, and I know I am, too. I would think he would be honest.”

Minutes later, David Love stepped off an elevator, flanked by two detectives. Teresa Stone, with her own detective escort, emerged from a hallway, looking as if she had stumbled into a chance meeting. The two stopped and looked at each other.

In their final encounter, neither spoke the truth.

“I told them everything,” a distraught Teresa said.

David appeared stoic and did not speak for 20 seconds.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I will take care of everything.”



A wary, sleuthing wife helps detectives

Independence police searched the Rev. David Love and plopped him in a bare interview room.

Not far away, Teresa Stone had spent the previous eight hours gradually implicating him, step by reluctant step, in the murder of her husband, Randy Stone, three weeks earlier.

Alone with his thoughts, David put his shoes back on and laced them meticulously. He adjusted his socks and a pant leg, carefully smoothed out his shirttail and fluffed his hair.

And then, clasping his hands in his lap, he settled in, stared straight ahead and scarcely moved for nine minutes.

Detective Keith Rosewaren, by then mentally exhausted from his interview with Teresa, finally entered and told David that he had learned quite a bit in the past few hours.

Rosewaren knew from his time with Teresa that couching questions in a church-friendly manner could be effective with these suspects. He’d try it again, even though Rosewaren was not a particularly religious man.

“I’m going to tell you right now that this is not easy because I know that you have spent your life working for the Lord,” Rosewaren began. “You are the leader of a church and from what I know now this is hard. It’s not going to be easy. You just need to find it in your heart to have the courage to be truthful with me and … put it in the Lord’s hands.”

Before asking questions, Rosewaren needed David to agree to be interviewed without an attorney.

Love declined, telling Rosewaren softly that he’d “rather have a lawyer present.”

“I definitely need some kind of representation because I’m a preacher,” Love said. “I don’t know the law.”

But before leaving to arrange a jail cell, Rosewaren told Love to expect charges soon.

“We’re going to take the case file to the courthouse tomorrow and ask for an arrest warrant for murder,” Rosewaren said.

Love again clasped his hands impassively, sat stone still and waited for detectives to return with the handcuffs.


Just down the hall, detectives Loran Freeman and Aaron Gietzen had found a cooperative witness in Kim Love, David’s wife.

Profoundly suspicious of her husband, Kim agreed to speak with investigators, probe what they knew and share the details of her own systematic investigation of David’s odd relationship with Teresa.

During almost 28 years of marriage, Kim had become acutely aware of the perils of being married to a charismatic spiritual leader.

“A handsome pastor and all that stuff?” she said. “Sometimes you kind of fear women.”

She confirmed something that had been only a promising theory 24 hours earlier: Yes, her husband and Teresa Stone had been communicating with disposable cellphones.

In March 2009, she’d caught him late at night in the family’s kitchen sending the text “I love and miss you” to a number she didn’t recognize.

He explained it away as a text to someone he didn’t know, a “nobody” really, and immediately took texting off his cellphone plan.

“I’ll prove to you that I love only you,” he told her.

A year later, on March 16, 2010, she again suspected that he was sending text messages, this time after disappearing into the garage during a televised University of North Carolina basketball game. After he returned to the game, she charged out to look for a phone but found nothing. She returned to the couch and prayed.

“I said, ‘Lord, if there’s something out there, you help me find it,’ ” she told Freeman and Gietzen. “And I went back out and put my hand right on that phone.”

Her husband immediately acknowledged that he had been texting Teresa but insisted that it “was just a talking relationship” and that he was counseling her on her marriage.

“I’m so dumb to believe all this,” Kim told the detectives. “It’s like movies that you watch.”

Teresa long had been in Kim’s sights. Not long after Kim and her husband arrived at the church 11 years earlier, Kim had become suspicious of Teresa when she would put her head on David’s shoulder while speaking with him. Kim had broken that up quickly, telling her husband that it “doesn’t look very good.”

“Sometimes you just … have a feeling about certain women that kind of have a thing for your husband,” she told the detectives. “I just always kind of felt like she did, but I could never put my finger on anything he did wrong.”

In the ensuing years, her suspicions grew.

Earlier in 2010, David had given Kim a silver ring purchased from an Independence Center jewelry store. Kim took it back to find something more to her liking. A retail clerk printed out a copy of the receipt, which included a $299 silver ring, set with several small diamonds. Her husband had paid only a sixth as much, $49.99, for Kim’s ring.

Willing to believe that David might have been saving the second ring for her upcoming birthday, Kim remained curious and checked the jewelry store website to see what it looked like. Instantly, she recognized it as one Teresa had been wearing recently with her wedding ring.

At church one Wednesday night, Kim decided to probe.

“Ohh, that’s a pretty ring,” she cooed to Teresa.

“That’s a $9.99 ring from J.C. Penney,” Teresa snapped.

After Kim confronted her husband about it, David recovered the ring from Teresa and gave it to his wife — but still insisted that the relationship was not physical.

“I really believed him,” Kim told the detectives. “He said, ‘The stupidest thing I’ve ever done was buy her that ring.’ ”

Her own credulity aside, Kim expressed pride in her sleuthing.

“Honest to goodness, I think I should be a detective because I have the best intuition in the world,” she said before offering the detectives a parting gift.

Digging into a large purse for her billfold, she withdrew a slip of paper containing phone numbers that she’d methodically copied from the electronic memory of the disposable cellphone she’d found in the garage March 16. She’d thrown the telephone in an Independence Center trash can after returning both rings to the jewelry store and picking out a gold one.

And she took the news that investigators believed her husband was “directly involved” in Randy Stone’s death — and had made plans to kill her, too — remarkably well.

“How is it that you are holding it together right now?” Freeman asked.

“It’s God,” Kim said. “I’m surprised, but I had my questions.”


Twice during his 24-hour stay in the Independence jail, David Love called family members, asking that they bring him a Bible and then a hairbrush. And each time, Kim pressed him on whether the investigator’s accusations were true.

“Did (Teresa) set you up, or what’s going on?” Kim asked during the first call.

“Well, this is all being recorded,” David replied before trying to change the topic. “So I think I’m going to appear in the morning sometime to get an attorney, and I think they call that being arraigned.”

“Did you do it?” she followed up.

“Honey, I wish you could be there with me in the morning,” he said.

“Did you do it?”

“Sweetheart, it’s not wise for me to say anything on the phone because it’s being recorded, OK?” he said finally.


The murder charge that Rosewaren promised the next day didn’t materialize.

Jackson County prosecutors wanted the investigation cinched down and complete before they filed charges, and the analysis of cellphone records and computers still was under way. Those results could take months.

So after an overnight stay, David walked out of jail and into a hail of questions from members of his church.

He called a meeting at his home Friday, April 23, and announced to seven church members his resignation as pastor. He’d written a statement.

“It is with remorse and repentance that I resign…,” it read. “I have sinned against my Lord, my family and against the Lord’s church. I am resigning because of my sin of immorality. I have asked God to forgive me for sinning and deceiving my family and each of you.

“I ask the staff, deacons, officers and members to receive my resignation and to forgive me of my sin.”

A church deacon later reported that David admitted the affair but denied any role in Randy’s murder.

On the following Sunday, Rosewaren and a squad of detectives and officers appeared at David Love’s house to serve a search warrant.

“Detective,” David Love said, greeting Rosewaren at the door.

“David,” Rosewaren replied.

Police herded the family together to get them out of the way while officers took photos and gathered evidence. David Love, in turn, gathered the family around a piano and treated police to a family gospel sing-along.

But the media and police attention weighed on the preacher.

After the detectives left, David Love slipped out of town with his brother.

David would not tell Kim where he was headed but said to contact his brothers if she needed to reach him.

He took his birth certificate and passport with him.



A clearer picture of motive emerges

Randy Stone had decided to leave New Hope Baptist Church, taking Teresa farther away from the Rev. David Love.

Clara Koehler’s wire passed the hug test.

As Teresa Stone greeted her mother-in-law at Smokehouse Bar-B-Que in June 2010, she didn’t notice the transmitter that Independence police had wrapped around Koehler’s waist or the microphone they’d hidden under the blouse at her shoulder.

The tension in Koehler’s gut eased, and the pair settled down to lunch and a chat about the police investigation into the murder of Randy Stone, Teresa’s husband and Koehler’s son, at his Noland Road insurance agency three months earlier.

Outside in the parking lot, Detective Keith Rosewaren and two other investigators listened.

Despite an eight-hour interview with Teresa two months before, detectives didn’t believe that Teresa had divulged everything she knew.

True, she’d told Rosewaren that the Rev. David Love, her secret lover for 10 years, had confessed the murder to her, but how did the pastor get Randy’s gun, and what role did Teresa really play in the homicide?

Teresa theorized over lunch that perhaps the pastor hadn’t acted alone.

Maybe, she speculated, Love had someone else shoot Randy, and the preacher just came in to check that Randy was dead and close the office blinds.

Overall, Independence police didn’t seem to have much, Teresa concluded in her chat with Koehler.

They’re “just fishing,” she said.

Rosewaren knew that wasn’t true. Still, he wanted more.


By summer of 2010, Independence police had stitched together a convincing circumstantial case against the lovers, even without the damning admissions Teresa had made during her long April interview with Rosewaren.

As word spread of progress in the investigation, old witnesses came forward with fresh recollections, and new witnesses appeared with insights into how the couple had behaved immediately after Randy’s death.

David Trump, a Baptist pastor in West Virginia, contacted detectives and reported that he’d spoken with David Love and Teresa Stone the day after the murder and was struck with how both immediately shared their alibis for that afternoon.

He offered detectives detailed notes of those telephone calls and even agreed to record any future conversations with the two.

One of the biggest breakthroughs came when the crime lab established conclusively that Randy had been killed with his own .40-caliber Glock, cementing the theory that he had been shot by someone he knew.

In her April interview, Teresa revealed that David Love had told her he had dumped the weapon 20 miles from the murder scene. But police had not found it.

Police did recover five old shell casings fired from Randy’s gun at a target range on Teresa’s parents’ rural property.

Weeks later, experts matched firing pin strike marks on those casings with the one on the casing found near Randy’s feet the day he died.

Randy’s insurance benefits also became clear, and the news shocked Teresa. After a thorough analysis, experts concluded that she was not entitled to up to $800,000 on her husband’s death, as she first told her friends.

Randy had taken Teresa off his policies in 2005, the year she miscarried David Love’s child. Randy had directed that the money — which actually totaled $625,000 — go to their two children, minors at the time.

Computer forensics that bore fruit in the summer of 2010 gave Rosewaren other insights into the motive.

Recovered emails showed that two weeks before the murder, Randy had made a firm decision to leave New Hope Baptist Church, informing the pastor that he wasn’t pleased with the church finances.

“I am resigning as the Finance Minister and as a Sunday School teacher effective immediately,” he wrote in an email.

“I do not want to talk about it.

“I do not want any emails.

“I do not want any visits.”

Randy also had been upset that church leaders had not been informed that Love’s son, who worked as New Hope’s music director, had been charged with driving while intoxicated. That point was particularly sensitive, Love knew, because in a conservative congregation, even the son’s legal problems could lead to the pastor’s dismissal.

Randy’s announcement prompted an ugly showdown at the insurance office. Love accused his congregant of being too prideful, and tried to drive a wedge between the Stones by accusing Teresa of sexual indiscretions with two other men.

And Kim Love, the pastor’s wife, had confronted Teresa about a ring David had given her and about a disposable cellphone Teresa used to communicate with the pastor.

The showdown did not shake Randy’s determination to leave New Hope. But he was gracious in a follow-up email to David Love.

“I love you, pastor, and I really wish things could be different, but too much has been said and done to come back!!!”

As detectives examined the new information, the primary motive for the homicide became clear.

The insurance money was a factor for Teresa, but by walking away from the church, Randy was taking her farther away from David.

She no longer would work in the church kitchen, attend choir rehearsals or hear David’s sermons stir the congregation on Sunday mornings.

Randy also knew, or suspected, enough to possibly crash David Love’s future. His financial questions could get David fired from New Hope. And if he acted on suspicions of his wife’s affair, Randy could wreck any hope that David Love ever would work again as a Baptist pastor.

Whether or not he realized it, Randy Stone had become the greatest threat to David Love’s happiness and livelihood.

Soon after the killing, prosecutors and investigators had agreed that the case only would be charged when the investigation was as complete as detectives could make it.

They reached their comfort level in November 2010, when prosecutors presented their evidence to a grand jury.



Love’s secrets, finally revealed

Independence police detectives Keith Rosewaren and Christina Nunez hovered over the speakerphone at a South Carolina truck terminal and heard rising suspicion creep into David Love’s voice at the call’s other end.

Love’s supervisor had called him to come to the office to sign paperwork — a ruse, actually, so the Missouri detectives could arrest him.

Seven months after Pastor Love shot congregant Randy Stone to death in Stone’s Noland Road insurance agency, a Jackson County grand jury had indicted Love on a charge of first-degree murder.

“What do you have for me to sign?” Love asked his boss that day in November 2010. “Is everything OK?”

Love had slipped out of Independence after resigning as pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church in late April, nearly a month after the killing. By then, Teresa Stone, Randy Stone’s widow, had told police that she and Love had been lovers for 10 years, eventually meeting almost daily for sex.

The financial hit to the Love family had been substantial. Kim, still devoted to her family, had joined her husband in South Carolina, where he’d found work as a long-haul trucker.

Everybody in the Tidewater Trucking office got antsy after 10 minutes of waiting. Finally, a worker stepped in to say that Love had parked his 18-wheeler outside the gate, gotten in his car and taken off.

Leaving a deputy at the terminal, Rosewaren and Nunez hopped into Spartanburg County patrol cars and raced to Love’s home about 20 minutes away.

Just as they arrived, the radio in Rosewaren’s cruiser lit up.

“Hey,” the deputy called, “the guy’s back.”

Love hadn’t been trying to flee. Suspecting he was about to be arrested, he’d gone to get his wife so she would be there to take the car and, hopefully, keep it from ending up in a police impound lot, as had happened to their cars back in Independence.

As Rosewaren returned to the truck terminal, Kim recognized him as one of the detectives who had searched her Independence home that spring.

“Do you believe he did this?” a distraught Kim asked him. “Do you believe he did this?”

The Spartanburg County deputy already had handcuffed David Love’s wrists.

Later at the county jail, Rosewaren showed Love the arrest warrant.

“Here are first-degree murder charges,” Rosewaren said. “You’ve lost your job. You’ve moved out here. You’re not talking to us. Is this working for you?”

Love fell back on a familiar line.

“I just feel I need an attorney,” he said. “I don’t trust you guys.”

Continuing to press, Rosewaren told him that people hurting back in Independence needed closure.

That brought tears to David Love’s eyes.

“Look,” he said, “Randy was a friend of mine, too!”


Eight months after her husband’s murder, Teresa Stone entered a small first-floor office at the Jackson County Courthouse Annex in Independence finally ready to reveal her final secrets.

She had yet to detail just how her former lover had obtained her husband’s .40-caliber Glock, which fired the fatal shot. And she still hadn’t been honest about whether she encouraged Love to commit the murder or helped him plan it.

But hoping desperately to avoid a long prison sentence, and thinking that cooperation would help, she sat down with prosecutors.

Accompanied by veteran defense lawyer John P. O’Connor, Teresa announced that she was prepared, without conditions or promises, to answer questions under oath.

Assistant Jackson County prosecutor Patrick Edwards remained queasy about using her as a witness against Love because she’d be too easy to discredit. Why should prosecutors own those problems, Edwards asked himself.

For anything to work, Teresa would have to show that she could make crisp and truthful admissions without the histrionics she’d employed to frustrate detectives.

As a court reporter recorded the discussion, assistant prosecutor Tammy Dickinson got right to the key questions.

“How was he going to get access to Randy’s guns,” she asked.

“I gave him the code to the (gun) safe and the code to our garage door and to our alarm code,” Teresa replied.

“So he had access to get into your house?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Teresa also admitted that she helped turn Love into a killer.

“I sent him a text that said, ‘I want him dead. …’ I told him that I just wanted him out of my life.”

And with that, her last secrets were out.


In her job as an assistant public defender, Molly Hastings usually represented violent street criminals — not an educated, articulate and once-respected man of God like David Love.

Prosecutors had charged Love with first-degree murder, which carried a mandatory life sentence, so he had every incentive to seek acquittal at trial.

Love proved a low-maintenance defendant, seldom calling Hastings but always grateful and concerned about her well-being when he did. He became an immediate hit among her other clients housed at the Jackson County jail. They appreciated his acute listening skills and liked having their own pastor among them.

“He’s really blossoming there,” she mused in her Kansas City office after getting the case in December 2010.

The state’s case against Love also was blossoming.

As crime and computer labs finished their studies, Hastings’ office slowly filled with interview and forensics reports, computer hard drive analyses and cell phone records that had been matched with data showing where each phone had pinged a cell tower on the day Randy Stone died.

A lot of it looked very bad for David Love.

One cell phone tower analysis had his phone within at least striking distance of Randy Stone’s insurance office in the rough time period in which investigators believed Randy died.

As she plowed through the evidence over several months, Hastings’ strategy began to take shape: Apologize to jurors for David Love’s “despicable” conduct with Teresa Stone; encourage jurors to at least consider that Teresa could have pulled the trigger; and then tear into Teresa’s credibility on cross examination, exposing the lies she had told during her various police statements.

Prosecutors indicted Teresa Stone on May 27, 2011, for allegedly conspiring with David Love in the murder. But even with that weighing against her, Teresa’s testimony still could damage David critically.

Jurors had to see Teresa as the party who drove the adulterous relationship and who was in a twisted and unrelenting competition with David’s wife, Kim. Hastings honed a line that she could use to drive home that point to jurors in closing arguments.

“Some women love a man in uniform,” Hastings said. “Teresa has a thing for the clergy. She is the one who thinks she could be a good pastor’s wife.”

With trial scheduled to open Dec. 5, 2011, Hastings and prosecutors began deposing witnesses during a grueling three-week stretch in the fall of 2011. With almost two dozen depositions completed, the last one loomed particularly large: Teresa Stone on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

For Hastings, the deposition represented a full-contact practice round with Teresa before she had to repeat it in front of jurors.

Working late the evening of Thursday, Nov. 3, Hastings noticed a fresh email from prosecutors pop into her inbox.

It was a new analysis of text messages between David and Teresa, showing contact between the two later than her client previously had acknowledged.

Hastings exhaled in frustration: “It’s one more thing,” she thought.

Exasperated, she called Dickinson about 7:30 p.m.

“Would you give me a Murder 2 on this?” Hastings asked, pleading for a deal that could take mandatory life-without-possibility for parole off the table.

Dickinson agreed, but with conditions. David would have to accept life with the possibility of parole, but he had to take the deal by Monday so the prosecutor could spare Randy’s son and Teresa from depositions.

Hastings was not optimistic that Love would accept, and she felt fine with that. She looked forward to trial and remained convinced that Teresa had a lot more to do with her husband’s murder than she had admitted.

In a jail visiting room the next day, she laid out the plea agreement for Love in the starkest possible terms.

“Here is the benefit to you: You’ll get out of prison before you die.”

Love, 51, could be out of prison on parole by about age 70, his lawyer estimated.

“No way,” he said. “Absolutely not.”

“OK!” she replied and left to call Kim Love.

Hastings waited to call Dickinson. The deadline wasn’t until Monday.

Over the weekend, Kim Love called Hastings.

“Pastor wants to speak with you,” she said.


Over a small metal table in the jail’s visiting room, David Love could see his lawyer’s anger. A few minutes earlier, he’d asked Hastings to shoo away her investigator and co-counsel, both of whom had invested the same long hours as Hastings in his defense.

“I really need to talk to you by yourself,” Love said.

“You have 5 minutes,” Hastings replied.

Love’s tone softened.

“Put your hands on the table,” he said.

The request angered the lawyer even more, but she did as he asked.

Love covered her hands with his.

“What … is going on?” she asked.

“I’ll take it,” he cried.

Hastings’ eyes widened.

“What do you mean you’ll take it?”

“I am not an innocent man,” he said, and then began to sob, fully acknowledging his fall from grace for the first time.

Love’s posture in the chair seemed to ease, as if a vast weight had slipped off his shoulders.

They talked more. After a few minutes, Hastings took a break and called Dickinson, pulling her out of a meeting two blocks away.

“Cancel all our depositions,” Hastings said. “We have a deal.”

Dickinson asked if Hastings was joking.

“No, but 100 million things can go wrong with this.”

Returning to the interview room, Hastings found her client more composed. His eyes seemed brighter and he appeared more relaxed, hopeful and confident.

“You’re a special person,” he said. “I’m taking the deal. I’m taking responsibility for this.”

Still, Hastings worried about the court hearing Love now faced. A courtroom packed with family, friends and media could cause the plea to crumble.

And prosecutors worried that a sudden influx of national media could force a change of venue for Teresa Stone’s trial to Springfield or even further afield.

All the lawyers felt a quiet plea was the way to go. And prosecutors had a plan to keep some of Stone’s more distant relatives from tipping off the press. They warned that if word of the plea leaked out ahead of time, prosecutors would consider a less serious prison term for David Love, perhaps one that could have him out in 10 years.

It worked. Reporters and the general public learned nothing about the hearing, which began at 8 a.m., Nov. 9, 2011, in an Independence courtroom.

Wearing a suit instead of jail attire, Love took the stand while Hastings positioned herself between the Stone family in the gallery and her client’s line of sight.

The previous day she had rehearsed the legal litany that she and Love would have to recite to have the guilty pleas accepted by the court. She had pared it down to the bare minimum.

On March 31, 2010, in Jackson County did you knowingly cause the death of Randy Stone by shooting him, she asked.

“Yes,” Love responded.

Did you use a firearm and commit the crime of armed criminal action, she followed up.


The judge sentenced Love to life in prison. The hearing took only about 30 minutes.

Heading out the door to prison, Love told prosecutors in passing that he had thrown Randy’s Glock into a fast-food restaurant’s trash bin shortly after the killing. Prosecutors remained skeptical, however, since he never made the admission under oath.

By 8:40 a.m., Hastings pulled away from the courthouse and noticed a TV news van screech to the curb.

Hastings left with mixed feelings. By pleading guilty, Love had accepted responsibility and spared both the Stone and the Love families the misery of a trial.

“But it would have been the trial of my career,” she thought.


The court set Teresa Stone’s judgment day for June 15, 2012, a Friday.

She’d pleaded guilty six weeks before, never having received a “deal” from the prosecutors. With a pile of her own incriminating admissions stacked against her record, a trial seemed pointless.

A media horde packed the hallway outside the Division 16 courtroom in Independence. Inside, spectators filled the courtroom’s pew-like benches.

Michael and Miranda Stone sat in the first row. Not far away, their mother, Teresa Stone, wearing a blue jacket over a white top, sat at a table facing Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Marco Roldan.

Randy Stone’s mother, Clara Koehler, sat behind Teresa, in the first rows of pews across the aisle from Michael and Miranda, her grandchildren.

Prosecutors had given the defense lawyer, O’Connor, copies of photographs of Randy Stone’s body lying on the office floor. They planned to project them on the courtroom wall and wanted his children, who hadn’t seen them, to be prepared.

Dickinson, the lead prosecutor, rose and began:

“Her lover was her hit man.”

The image of Randy’s body didn’t linger as Dickinson swiftly described other evidence, such as the torn-up love note and emails between Teresa and Pastor Love documenting dialogue the two had shared regarding their wedding plans.

“She wanted a perfect life, no matter the cost,” Dickinson said.

But, Dickinson added, “Today is not about what Teresa Stone wants, it’s about what she deserves.”

Dickinson detailed the murder scheme and Teresa’s mistaken belief that she would receive as much as $800,000 in life insurance payouts.

The prosecutor summoned Rosewaren, who described Teresa’s detailed alibi at the time of the killing.

Randy’s Farmers Insurance supervisor, Robert Davis, described Teresa’s distraught demeanor when he visited the Stone home the day after the murder, and how that didn’t last long.

“She suggested that we go out on the front porch,” Davis testified. “She immediately regained her composure and started asking about the life insurance.”

Randy had switched the beneficiaries on his policies from Teresa to Michael and Miranda in 2005, Davis said.

“Randy Stone didn’t trust her, and do you blame him?” Dickinson said.

“The man was on to something.”

Miranda and Michael pleaded with Roldan to show their mother mercy.

Then Randy’s niece, Shelly Bell, testified that the previous day would have been her uncle’s 45th birthday. She asked Roldan to impose the maximum sentence available, to reflect “the cold-hearted decision made by this woman.”

Finally, Teresa stood.

A newspaper photographer’s camera began firing.

“I am so sorry,” Teresa said, sobbing. “If I could do anything to change it. ... I ask you today to show mercy. … I am totally responsible for my actions.”

O’Connor pointed out that Teresa had no prior criminal record and had returned to school to prepare for a new career as a medical technician.

Roldan chose the most severe option recommended to him in a pre-sentencing assessment: eight years.

A deputy led the 40-year-old Teresa toward a door. Teresa put her hands behind her back, and the deputy snapped on a pair of handcuffs.

As the courtroom cleared, Dickinson hugged Randy’s mother, Koehler, and his sister, Shannon Bell.


Two days later, Koehler joined others in a 30-acre field in northeast Independence for a groundbreaking for a new picnic pavilion at the future site of New Hope Baptist Church.

Even after all that had happened, Koehler still belonged to the congregation, which had about 250 members before her son’s death.

Membership had dipped to below 100 members in the aftermath of the murder, but has since rebounded to more than 300.

Pastor Darren Tharp, who replaced David Love, handed the shovel first to Koehler so she and other Stone family members could turn the first dirt for the Randy Stone Memorial Pavilion.

“You will be able to come out, bring your families and have picnics,” Tharp said. “We will have a beautiful plaque up, with Randy’s picture.

“We’ll build it. We’ll build it to the glory of God and the memory of a precious man of God: Brother Randy Stone.”



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