Tracey Roberts’ trial: from hero to murderer.
Tracey Roberts was celebrated as a heroic mother who acted in self-defense to protect herself and her three children from men who broke into her home in Early, Iowa, and assaulted her in 2001.
Now Tracey Roberts, 45, faces jail after a series of revelations over the night when she fired nine shots from two guns into neighbor Dustin Wehde, 20, leaving him dead in her home.
Tracey Roberts murder trial begins on Tuesday and questions will be asked over where she is a manipulator leaving a trail of deceit, who planned the killing and concocted a hoax to let her get away with murder.
Dustin Wehde was found slumped at the bottom of a bed at Tracey and Michael Roberts’ home in December 2001 in a pool of blood. A bullet had gone through his head and out of his eye socket.
Tracey Roberts was heard screaming in the kitchen with her three children and deputies. Her report that two other intruders escaped sent deputies canvassing everywhere and fear spread in the town.
Tracey Roberts claimed that with her husband on a business trip, she was home with her three young children – Bert, Noah and Mason – when Dustin Wehde and another man barged through her unlocked door.
She also said that one of the men choked her with panty hose, she lost her glasses and blacked out and woke to the sound of Bert screaming, who was holding a baseball bat to protect his younger siblings.
Tracey Roberts said she ran to the bedroom and reached for the gun safe, as Dustin Wehde tugged at her hair and yanked on her feet. When the safe opened, she grabbed a 9 mm handgun and pulled the trigger.
Then the woman said she grabbed a revolver, spotted Dustin Wehde moving and fired at him. Dustin Wehde stopped moving and the second man fled. Tracey Roberts later said it was only one man, not two, who got away.
An investigation remained open but no second intruder was found and no charges were filed as of late 2002. Then Dustin’s father, Brett Wehde, walked to the grave where his son was buried.
After Dustin Wehde was killed, his father broke up with his wife Mona and filed for divorce. Brett Wehde was distraught over the crumbling of his family. At the graveside, Brett Wehde put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.
After the tragedy, Mona wanted answers and she filed a wrongful death lawsuit attempting to hold Tracey Roberts accountable for Dustin Wehde’s death and to learn what happened that night.
Brett Wehde ex-wife’s attorney picked up on inconsistencies in Tracey Roberts’ story as she retold it. In different accounts, Tracey Roberts said she fired from different positions. But in the end she dropped the suit just days before trial.
On January 2011, Sac County had a new prosecutor in Ben Smith, who went through years of files and months later filed a first-degree murder charge against Roberts, who is now called Tracey Richter.
A key piece of evidence had been found by investigators in Dustin Wehde’s car. After months of speculation in town, prosecutors revealed this month it was a pink spiral notebook that claimed to be his diary.
In Dustin Wehde’s handwriting, it suggested he had been hired as a hit-man by a “mysterious fellow” named John Pitman III, who was Tracey Roberts’ first husband. They split up four years after marrying in 1988.
“J.P. wants me to get/force his ex T.R. to kill her son Burt and then commit suicide, and if that plan fails Plan B is to make it appear as though T.R. had committed the murder of her son & then committed suicide,” Dustin Wehde wrote.
But investigators never believed it was credible. Dustin Wehde, a special education student, did not like to write and he had never met John Pitman. They decided to keep the journal’s existence a secret.
Prosecutors suspect Tracey Roberts had convinced Dustin Wehde to write the diary, perhaps on the day he died.
DCI Special Agent Trent Vileta, who took a fresh look at Dustin Wehde’s death in 2008, told Ben Smith the last three shots went through the back of Dustin’s head while he was face down on the ground.
In 1996, Tracey married Australian businessman Michael Roberts before they divorced around eight years later. Tracey Roberts tried to pin involvement in the home invasion and Dustin Wehde’s death on him.
Defense lawyer Scott Bandstra said Tracey Roberts’ self-defense case in the murder trial will actually be simple for jurors to understand.
He added: “December 13, 2001, was a nightmare for Tracey. The nightmare is not over.” Now aged 45 and facing life in prison if convicted, Tracey Roberts is being held on $1million bail.
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