Bart Corbin: Double Deception

A dentist's wife is dead. It looks like suicide. But the case turns out to be far more sinister.

By Ann Rule from Too Late to Say Goodbye (Pocket Books) (Pocket Books)
Also in Reader's Digest Magazine June 2007

On the morning of December 4, 2004, two patrolmen swept the Corbin home, then waved the EMS team inside. The teams entered the master bedroom and found it just as Kelly Comeau had reported. The woman who lay across the bed had what appeared to be a single gunshot wound behind her right ear. The palm of her hand rested very close to the butt of the .38-caliber revolver. Medics checked her for signs of life. They found none.

Patrol Sgt. E. T. Edkin joined his officers and immediately saw that there was nothing they could do for the blonde woman. At first look, it appeared that she had killed herself. Still, with his years of experience working homicides, Edkin questioned whether this was, in fact, a suicide. With crime scene tape, Edkin set up a perimeter around the house and yard, and then briefed homicide detective Marcus Head, who took charge, about his suspicion that this death was not what it seemed.

Kelly Comeau now approached and asked if someone could get clothes for Jenn’s two boys — they were still in their pajamas. Officer Michelle Johns went upstairs and grabbed pants, shirts, shoes and socks from what was obviously the children’s bedroom. Glancing into another bedroom on the second floor, she saw the clothes of an adult male hanging neatly in the closet.

Crime scene investigators from the Gwinnett County police department and forensic staff from the medical examiner’s office began arriving. All sudden and/or unattended deaths were worked first as homicides, next as possible suicides, third as accidental, and only then as a natural occurrence. Nobody yet knew where the dead woman would fit. A search warrant was being obtained; detectives were trying to locate relatives of Jennifer Corbin.

Neither Kelly Comeau nor her husband, Steve, knew where Bart was. Kelly managed to find a number for his mother, Connie Corbin, who lived nearby. Steve called her at 8:45 a.m. “Jennifer’s been shot,” he said.

Connie then called her younger son, Bobby, and told him what had happened. He said that Bart was with him and he would break the awful news. Steve Comeau also called Heather, Jenn’s sister, who lived about 25 miles away. Heather collapsed in tears, crying out, “Jenn’s dead!”

“We ran through the house, collecting our kids,” recalled Doug Tierney, Heather’s husband. They headed for Max and Narda’s house. “In the car, I called Bobby back and said, ‘Where’s Bart? Is Bart with you?’ and he said, ‘Yes, he’s here, but he’s really, really upset.’ ”

Doug asked if he and Bart would be on their way over to the Corbin house. Bobby avoided answering. “Heather kept saying, ‘Go! Go! We have to take care of the boys.’ ” Doug asked Bobby Corbin again, “Are you on your way?” There was no response.

Doug couldn’t believe it. Surely Bart realized that Dalton and Dillon needed their father? Meantime, fighting panic and disbelief, Max Barber got in his car and drove as fast as he could to Jenn’s house.

Detectives at the scene kept expecting Jenn Corbin’s widower to drive up any minute. They assumed he would be crying and upset but that, like most fathers, he’d pull himself together and race to his children in a crisis. It was eight hours before Corbin called the detectives back.

By then he had “lawyered up,” according to Marcus Head. He agreed to meet at police headquarters to be tested for the presence of gun residue, but he would answer no questions — not even about securing his home.

Marcus Head spoke briefly to the young boys, who remained at the Comeaus’ home until their extended family could arrive. Dalton told the detective he had gone to wake his mother to fix breakfast and he had seen blood coming from her mouth. He had also seen the gun.

“I tried to call 911 from our phone,” he said, “but it didn’t work. So I ran to Kelly and Steve’s to get help.” The boys were questioned again later at police headquarters. When a detective asked Dalton if he wondered why his phone wasn’t working, the boy replied, “Maybe my dad cut it off.”

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