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Karen Lynn TOBIE





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Murder for hire - To collect insurance money
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 30, 2004
Date of arrest: October 9, 2004
Date of birth: April 21, 1965
Victim profile: John Cataneo, 45 (her husband)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Volusia County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on February 6, 2007

photo gallery


Karen Tobie and her neighbor Lynne Blake orchestrate the shooting death of Karen's husband, plumber John Cataneo, in June 2004 on his doorstep.


Woman Sentenced To Life In Prison For Hit Man Murder

February 7, 2007

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — A Volusia County woman will spend the rest of her life in prison without any chance of parole. Late Wednesday morning, a judge accepted the jury's recommendation in the sentence for Karen Tobie. It was a short hearing, Wednesday. The judge said he weighed every factor, including the jury's recommendations, and he agreed with them.

"You, Karen Tobie, are herby committed to the Florida Department of Corrections for the remainder of your life without the possibility of parole," the judge said.

Life on the outside is over for Tobie. She was convicted on January 26 of paying a man $4,000 to kill her husband. The victim, John Cataneo, was shot to death on his front porch in June 2004. The shooter was one of his employees.

Last week, the jury decided to spare Tobie a trip to death row, but decided that she should never again be free.

When Tobie's lawyers were pleading with the jury for lenience, they said she was helping other inmates learn to read and write inside the jail. They said she has pledged to do nothing but good work for the rest of her life.

The mother of the victim said she got what she deserves, saying she still doesn't buy it.

"She's not doing any good out there," said the victim's mother, Phyliss Cataneo. "I don't think she knows how to tell the truth, to be honest with you."

The convicted triggerman, Ty Cooper, was also found guilty in late January. His sentencing has not yet been scheduled.


Woman convicted of hiring hit man to kill her husband sentenced to life in prison

By Matt Pordum - Court TV

Feb. 1, 2007

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The same jury that last week found a plumber's wife guilty of conspiring to slay her husband spared her the death penalty Wednesday — and instead decided she should spend the rest of her life in prison for her crimes.

After deliberating for about an hour, jurors recommended that Karen Tobie, 41, serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole for orchestrating the murder of John Cataneo so she could collect $500,000 in life insurance.

Tobie was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy for hiring her husband's plumber's assistant, Tysjohaun Cooper, to kill him on June 30, 2004.

Although she has displayed little emotion throughout her trial, Tobie stood and tapped her fingers nervously on the defense table Wednesday as the jury entered the courtroom to read its verdict.

With a death sentenced averted, Tobie turned to her adoptive parents and her sister and offered them a smile and a wink before she was handcuffed, fingerprinted and escorted out of the courtroom by bailiffs.

Defense attorney Jeffery Dowdy had asked the jurors earlier Wednesday during closing arguments to consider that both a "good Karen" and a "bad Karen" exist — and that the latter only existed when she was under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Dowdy reminded the panel of testimony from Tobie's family members, who described a woman who made poor life choices because of her drug and alcohol abuse.

He also asked the jury to look at what Tobie has become since she has been clean and sober while living in the structured environment of prison.

"That Karen Tobie, that self-destructive Karen Tobie, is dead. She is gone," he said. "This life is worth saving, she deserves a vote for life," he said.

Assistant State Attorney Ed Davis, however, argued that death was the only appropriate sentence for the "cold-blooded killer."

"This is not about a good Karen or a bad Karen," Davis said. "This is one defendant who has done good things and bad things, and one of those was making the horrific choice of having her husband murdered."

The prosecutor said that although addictions to drugs and alcohol and coping with depression are nothing to dismiss, most people who suffer these problems do not commit crimes.

"This is about what a 39-year-old adult did at that point in her life, and that's what we are her to focus on," Davis said. "Lots of people have an alcohol problem, but there is a large leap between being an alcoholic and planning a hitman for hire murder."

Tysjohaun Cooper, 26, was also convicted of manslaughter and conspiracy to commit murder. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors focused the guilt phase of the case on the testimony of an admitted accomplice, Lynn Blake.

She told authorities that she, Cooper and Tobie plotted to murder Cataneo because Tobie feared Cataneo was going to divorce her and relocate with the couple's son.

The couple's 4-year-old boy is currently living with Cataneo's surviving family members.

Blake, 58, previously pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.


Sentencing Hearing Begins For Woman Accused Of Hiring Hit Man

January 31, 2007

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — A Volusia County jury is hearing testimony, Wednesday, to decide if they'll sentence a woman to death for hiring a hit man to kill her husband.

Both of Karen Tobie's adoptive parents took the stand Wednesday morning. They talked about the two sides of their child, good Karen, who was always looking out for others, and bad Karen, the wild child living on the edge.

There were a lot of tears on the stand Wednesday morning and, for the first time, a hint of emotion from Karen Tobie as she sat in court. She has, for the most part, remained stoic through the entire proceedings.

Tobie was found guilty of hiring a man to shoot her husband to death in 2004. Her father spoke of possible psychological problems with her daughter, how she told them she heard voices in her head.

Tobie’s father also told the jury how she bottles up her emotions, remaining calm and accepting the verdict that was handed down when he visited her at the jail.

"Karen didn't cry, and I knew that she knew that it was kind of the end of the trail," said Harold Tobie, the defendant's father.

As the defense wraps up, Wednesday, the jury will soon have to decide if they will recommend death for Tobie. They took two days to come up with the guilty verdict, but they expect the jury to take much less time with this decision.

Tobie’s co-defendants, Ty Cooper, the alleged triggerman, and Lynne Blake, a woman who confessed to helping to plan the hit, will be sentenced at a later date.


Testimony: Witness Says She Watched Woman Hire Hit Man

January 17, 2007

HOLLY HILL, Fla. — A woman told a courtroom, Wednesday, she watched her friend hire a hit man to murder her husband. Karen Tobie could face the death penalty if she's convicted in her husband's murder.Prosecutors said Tobie wanted John Cataneo dead so she could collect the insurance money.

The woman on the stand Wednesday has already cut a deal with the state attorney in exchange for her testimony. She said she was in on plan to murder Cataneo every step of the way.

After wearing a wire to help investigators close in on Tobie, it's safe to call Lynne Blake an ex-friend of Tobie and, on the stand Wednesday, Blake told all.

She said she was tired of him bullying her and it was time for him to die," Blake said.

Blake said, first Tobie had planned to do the shooting herself, but the gun she bought jammed during a test fire. So, Blake said, Tobie went to co-defendant Ty Cooper and asked him to do the job for her.

"She said that she was going to have to find somebody to kill John. Tyshon mad some sort of gesture. 'I'm your man,'" Blake testified.

Blake said $4,000 was the asking price for murder. Tobie planned to pay Cooper with her husband's insurance money. Blake said she was right next door when the shots rang out and she knew her friend's plan had actually happened.

"I heard him gasp his last breath," Blake said.

Blake will be sentenced after Tobie's trial is over.


Police: Woman hired hit man to kill her husband

The man had taken out a $500,000 insurance policy. Three people face murder charges

Associated Press

October 10, 2004

HOLLY HILL - A widow is accused of helping plan the murder of her husband, which police say was fueled by a $500,000 insurance policy taken out by the plumber before his death.

Police arrested Karen Lynn Tobie, her friend, Lynne Marie Blake, and Tysjohaun Verdell Cooper on first-degree murder charges Friday in the June 30 killing of John Cataneo.

Tobie and Blake, 56, were being held without bail at the Volusia County Branch Jail. Cooper was already at the jail on an unrelated charge.

"This heinous crime can be summed up in one word - greed," said police Cmdr. Mark Barker.

Cataneo was fatally shot on the front porch of his duplex on the evening of June 30. His mother, Ann Cataneo, said there was a knock on the door and her son answered and walked outside.

Ann Cataneo heard four or five loud popping noises, according to the police report. Her son was shot four times at close range with a .22-caliber gun, police said.

Police said they discovered several inconsistencies in their interviews with Tobie and Blake, both of whom had moved to Seattle soon after the shooting. Investigators said Tobie, 39, offered Cooper $30,000 to kill her husband. The shooter had worked with Cataneo for 10 months as a plumber's assistant, Detective Joe Borelli said.

Police said the motive was the insurance policy that John Cataneo opened to financially ensure the future of his 2-year-old son, Louis.

Tobie was the beneficiary of the policy.

Police said Blake was a longtime friend who lived in the second apartment of the duplex owned by Cataneo.



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