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Woman sentenced to 99 years for murder

Last week, Mechele Linehan, 35, of Olympia, Washington, was sentenced to 99 years in prison for the murder of her fiancé, Kent Leppink, back in 1996.

She was accused of convincing another fiancé, John Carlin III, of New Jersey, of killing Leppink. The crime and trial took place in Alaska, and Carlin was found guilty of murder. Under Alaska law, Linehan was ruled equally guilty, so she got the same sentence as Carlin.

“I can find no principal distinction between the puppet who pulls the trigger and the puppeteer who pulls the strings,” said Judge Philip Voland. “In my judgment, Ms. Linehan was the puppeteer who pulled the strings.”

Crime based on murder movie

The case sounds just like a movie. In fact, prosecutors contend that Linehan was inspired by the movie The Last Seduction, in which a woman coaxes her lover into killing her husband for money.

Back in 1996, Linehan, then 24 years old and named Mechele Hughes, was working as an exotic dancer in Alaska. At one point, three different men believed they were her fiancé—Kent Leppink, John Carlin and Scott Hilke. The three men knew of each other. Scott Hilke had already broken up with Linehan and left Alaska.

After Leppink and Linehan became engaged, he named her as the beneficiary of a $1 million life insurance policy. So according to prosecutors, the motive, quite simply, was money.

But a week before he died, Leppink changed his life insurance policy, removing Linehan and naming his family as beneficiaries. He also sent his parents a letter inside a letter. He asked his parents not to read the second letter unless something happened to him.

By the time the letter arrived, Leppink was already dead. And here’s what Leppink had written: “Mechele, John or Scott were probably the people or persons that probably killed me. Do me another favor, make sure Mechele goes to jail for a long time.”

A few months after the body was discovered, both Linehan and Carlin left Alaska and the criminal investigation stalled. Linehan married a doctor in Olympia, Washington, had a child, and became a soccer mom.

But in 2004, the Alaska State Police formed a cold case unit. The first case they investigated was the murder of Kent Leppink.

For a comprehensive story about the case, read Love and Death in the Wild, produced by the CBS News television show, 48 Hours.

Linehan continued to claim she was innocent. “I just feel like there is nothing I can do to make people believe me or make people like me,” she said in her television interview. “A witch I may be, but a psychopath I am definitely not.

Is she a psychopath?

So is Linehan a psychopath? In addition to being convicted of murder, other people described behavior that fits with a psychopathic personality disorder.

She was engaged to three men at the same time, which would probably qualify as having many short-term marital relationships on the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R). One of her fiancés, Scott Hilke, said, “I think she outsmarts most people that she gets involved with. I think she reads the situation and figures out how to recreate her personality in such a way that she will profit from that.”

The victim’s mother, Betsy Leppink, said, “Mechele Linehan is an evil lady who continues to do deeds of deception and manipulation. I fear for her next victim if she’s ever permitted to enter society again.”

But Linehan’s husband, Dr. Colin Linehan, continued to defend his wife’s innocence. According to the Seattle Times, he said Mechele Linehan is not a manipulative monster, as portrayed in the media. “Mechele’s character … has been reduced to a stereotype in a cartoon to fit a narrative that was full of lies, half-truths, conjecture and speculation,” he said.

Dr. Colin Linehan spent $35,000 on a psychiatric evaluation of his wife. Dr. Mark Mills, a forensic psychiatrist from Washington, D.C., testified for five hours at the sentencing hearing. The psychiatrist said Mechele Linehan “is unlikely to be someone who schemed or planned the murder of anybody,” according to The Olympian. The psychiatrist said Mechele Linehan does not like to be told what to do, but she is not a sociopath or psychopath.

Women can be evil

I don’t know for sure if Mechele Linehan is a psychopath. There hasn’t been much media coverage of this case, at least on the East Coast, so I don’t feel like I have enough information to make a decision. Perhaps the forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Mark Mills, is right, although it’s well-known that any psychological opinion someone wants in court can be bought.

I will say that women certainly can be psychopaths. Female psychopaths are just as deceitful, heartless, manipulative and cruel as male psychopaths. But they can play the role of “damsel in distress,” or “sweet soccer mom,” to disguise their vicious behavior.

Women are not always the fairer sex, or the weaker sex. Sometimes, women can be evil.



5 Comments on "Woman sentenced to 99 years for murder"

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  1. khugill says:

    “Deeds of deception and manipulation”

    Doesn’t that pretty well sum up a psychopath?

    Yes women can be deceitful, heartless, manipulative and cruel.

    Let me say for the record, that as far as I know, my ex P-fiancé never killed anyone.

    But from what I have been able to put together of her past. She has always used heartless deceit and manipulation to get what she wants.

    Our relationship ended when I found out she had met, seduced and started a long distance affair with a guy she met on a six-day cruise. (He is wealthy, go figure)

    Unfortunately for her, her sister witnessed it all and spilled her guts. She was very upset at getting caught (she hadn’t had time to set the hook yet)

    I have found out much more about her past since then than I did the whole five years we were together.

    By the way, we were engaged also.

    I am sure they will live happily ever after. lol

    BPD,NPD,AsPd !!! yuck



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  2. Ariadne says:

    khugill,

    Yes, those of us who know how deceitful S women can be have no problem believing a story like this. It sounds like she fit the bill pretty well. I think that if women S’s want someone dead, they generally get it done through someone else so as not to get their pretty little hands dirty. I don’t think my stepmom has killed anyone either, but I know she is capable of it.

    Even though the realization that your fiance is so heartless must be painful, you should be glad that you realized it before you got married. My father is still with my S stepmother and has been for the last 20 years. I think he is staying for the sake of the younger kids but it is really hard for all of us. I think it might take something as outrageous as what your fiance did to make him realize how manipulative and evil she is.

    They met when she was in her 30s and she hadn’t been married before ( at least that’s what she says). I shudder to think what kind of stuff she did before they got married, how many homes she wrecked and how many hearts she broke. We don’t know anything about that time in her life and she isn’t volunteering the information herself.

    Reading posts about female sociopaths really strikes a chord with me because that is what I had to deal with and their manipulation techniques are slightly different. Keep posting, khugill. 🙂 By the way, that other guy doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into!



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  3. OxDrover says:

    I’m still not totally sure what an “official” diagnosis of my X-DIL’s personality disorder, it has shades of Borderline Personality Disorder and other shades of psychopath, but she also tried to have her Boy Friend (an exconvict with 3 sexual convictions for child molestation) kill my son, and they were trying to make it look like “self defense” after he had discovered their affair.

    For a few days after the disovery of the affair on Sunday until they tried to kill him on Friday she pretended to be “sorry” for the affair and to be wanting to reconcile—in the meantime she stole money she had persuaded my mother to give to her “in trust” and bought a gun each for her and the BF, rented a storage and was taking some things out of the house—

    Since her subsequent arrest, sentencing (5 years probation), and now release, she continues to lie and scheme and plans to reunite with her lover when he is released from prison.

    Khugill, just be glad that you “let that one get away”—who knows, you might have been her first HOMICIDE VICTIM. Aren’t you glad you dodged the chance for that bullet! LOL

    I wish more judges would sentence P-murderers and other P-criminals etc to longer prison sentences that will STICK and keep them in. I wish more states would pass 3-strikes you’re out laws and enforce them. Put the Ps behind bars, keep them there, and rehabilitate/educate the rest of the prisoners. Focus on the ones that can be helped and throw the keys away on the rest.



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  4. Thanks for reporting this Donna,

    Recently a psychopathy researcher, Dr. Edens sent me a paper he wrote. He investigated the agreement rate between psychiatrists/psychologists who were paid by the defense or prosecution to evaluate clients with the PCLR. The usual agreement rate is 80% among trained raters, they report the number drops to 39% when people are paid. Here is a quote from the publically available summary:

    “We reviewed all 43 sexual-offender civil-commitment trials
    in one state and identified 23 cases in which opposing
    evaluators reported PCL-R total scores for the same individual.
    Differences between scores from opposing evaluators
    were usually in a direction that supported the party
    who retained their services. These score differences were
    greater in size than would be expected based on the
    instrument’s standard error of measurement or the rater
    agreement values reported in previous PCL-R research.
    The intraclass correlation for absolute agreement for the
    PCL-R Total score from a single rater (ICC1,A = .39) was
    well below levels of agreement observed for the PCL-R in
    research contexts, and below published test-retest values
    for the PCL-R. Results raise concerns about the potential
    for a forensic evaluator’s partisan allegiance to influence
    PCL-R scores in adversarial proceedings.”

    $35,000 is not a small sum! Even if psychiatrists are not intending to be biased, any human would have a difficult time avoiding bias when these sums of money are involved.



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  5. OxDrover says:

    Dr. Leedom, this research report seems to underscore a “common sense” assessment that the one who is paid to “rate” someone would tend to be biased for that person.

    It is true that some of the payments for affluent individuals are quite large, and high social status and affluence of the individuals involved would possibly tend to influence the raters.

    I would also be interested in the results of rating the (influenced) raters themselves on the PCL-R scale. I have personally known psychiatrists/psychologists with what appeared to me (and others) to be personality disorders themselves. Apparently no profession is immune from psychopaths with intelligence and talent.

    A psychologist or psychopath with excellent academic credentials could take a “tidy living” by being a “defense” witness. If an affluent psychopath, had a really good psychopathic lawyer along with a psychological “expert” who was also high in psychopathic traits–they might have a “dream team” of a defense team.

    While in an ideal world every profession would only be populated with moral and caring experts, common sense tells us that some professions that are high in “status” and “earning potential” seem to have a higher rate of pathological behavior among its practitioners than other professions. The small town where I practiced and live near has a well known physician (surgeon) who everyone who knows him professionally would rate him VERY high on the PCL-R scale of behaviors—but he is the arguably the BEST surgeon in a large geographic area. I would hands down choose him to operate on me if I needed those services.

    I think most people know individuals who are “shining stars” in their professions who are living chaotic and psychopathic life styles in their private (and in some cases professional lives) Eliot Spritzer, former Governor of NY is a classic example.

    Thank you for sharing the results of this study.



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