Prosecutors Say Woman Planned Fatal Carjacking for Insurance Payout

June 28, 2006

A Des Moines, Washington woman who tearfully pleaded for her husband’s killer to come forward actually plotted his death, a crime that was staged to look like a random carjacking and left her a millionaire, King County prosecutors said Tuesday.

Velma Ogden-Whitehead, 48, her teenage son and his friend now face first-degree murder charges in the March 2005 shooting of Ronald Whitehead, 61.

The friend, Wilson Sayachack, 17, is accused of hiding in the trunk of Whitehead’s car until it stopped at an intersection near Sea-Tac Airport, then pushing his way through a fold-down backseat and shooting him in the back of the head.

King County prosecutors said John Ogden, 18, sitting in the passenger seat, kicked his wounded stepfather from the car and shot him three more times as he lay in the street.

Sayachack told King County sheriff’s detectives that Ogden-Whitehead masterminded the crime and paid him $1,000 for his role, according to court documents.

Ogden-Whitehead was having an affair with a 26-year-old man she worked with at a Schuck’s Auto Supply store, some of her acquaintances told investigators. She allegedly told them she wanted a divorce but couldn’t afford to live on her own.

In announcing the charges Tuesday, Prosecutor Norm Maleng called the shooting “a cold-blooded crime” and “an inside job of domestic violence set up to look like a random act of murder.”

He said Ogden-Whitehead’s repeated media interviews and televised pleas for justice since her husband’s slaying “were a part of the plan, and a part of the cover-up.”

Maleng said Ogden-Whitehead was a millionaire within six months of her husband’s death, selling two of his properties for $460,000 and collecting more than $650,000 in life insurance and benefits from the years he worked for Boeing.

But Ogden-Whitehead’s attorney, Jeffrey Cohen, said investigators have offered inconsistent theories of what happened. He noted that a sheriff’s detective first claimed that Ogden-Whitehead confessed to helping facilitate her husband’s slaying but backed off that assertion in documents filed Tuesday, saying she merely acknowledged a plan to commit insurance fraud.

Cohen also expressed skepticism about what Ogden and Sayachack told investigators about the crime.

“This appears to be two adolescent, drug-addled kids who seem to be making statements to avoid responsibility here,” he said. “We’ll find out what the facts are when we get to trial in this case.”

After his arrest last week, Ogden told investigators he referred his mother to Sayachack but denied shooting his stepfather or being in the car that day, court documents state.

The teen’s attorney did not return phone calls seeking comment. Sayachack, who will be prosecuted as an adult, is expected to have a public defender but had not yet been assigned to one.

Ogden-Whitehead allegedly told investigators that she was aware of a plan to steal the money in her husband’s wallet and make an insurance claim for his car. She said she believed the gun would be used only to scare him, according to court documents.

She also told friends that Whitehead abused her, the documents state. A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office declined to discuss that claim.

If convicted, all three could face 25 to 32 years in prison.

Source: Coalition Against Insurance Fraud

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.