Thursday, April 10, 2008

Death and Taxes

by Vanessa Leggett

It's that time of year. Taxes are on everyone's mind. More removed from our thoughts, perhaps, is life's other inescapable event: Death. Eleven years ago today, in Houston, Texas, murder-for-hire target Doris Angleton (pictured left with a friend) sat at a computer normally used by her 12-year-old twin daughters. Manicured hands on the keyboard, Doris typed this message to a childhood friend a week before she died:

Thanks for the Happy Birthday. Friday nite is supposed to be a surprise thang. . . . I think its dinner at Ruggles. Anyway, its birthday week, month, I’ll take it!

We need to get together and have lunch or drinks or something. You know??? I am trying to spend some time with the girls the next two weekends cuz I will be gone the next one, and I am glad to be gone, but not away from them. Anyway………life goes on and progress is slow but sure. Tomorrow I go to a Tax attorney. I need some advice, professional type, you can imagine.
Talk to you sooooooooooon.

love,
Doris

Doris did not need to consult a tax lawyer because returns were due in five days. It was a court setting she had in mind. Two months earlier, she had filed for divorce. The man she intended to leave that spring was mega-successful bookmaker Bob Angleton (pictured right with their twins, age two). Though living on the edge had been exciting in the early years of the marriage, now that their daughters were older, Doris had grown disenchanted with the lifestyle.

The Angletons had been married for fifteen years. Each year, they paid taxes. A small percentage of them, anyway. In only the past three years of his marriage, Bob's business had grossed $64 million, of which he'd reported $2.6 million. That degree of underreporting for fifteen years could put someone in the federal penitentiary for a very long time.

Bob never served time for bookmaking. Cops looked the other way because he was a confidential informant. Doris was aware of her husband's arrangement with police. She knew all about the business. Doris also understood that because the couple filed jointly, she was just as liable for unpaid taxes as the breadwinner. Problem was, if Doris revealed their underreporting, her husband would be charged with tax evasion. Doris could be a witness against him. She was leaving, which meant she could not refuse to testify against him by citing a spousal privilege. Given these facts, it doesn't take a calculator to do the math.

On April 10, 1997, Doris met with a tax attorney at eleven in the morning. The first attempt on her life was around 8:30 that night. She would have another week to live.

If her execution would have been successful that first time, she would not have lived to see her forty-sixth birthday the next day. That morning, she sent this e-mail message to the same girlfriend, a teacher:

I am “crestfallen” at the thought of my youth slipping away. (well, i know it ain’t the greatest sentence, teach, but its early and I’m old!) How ’bout: I looked in the mirror this am and my crestfallen. (lol)

Sat. looks free, and we can toodle down to the beach house, sans men…. get together at my house in Houston----have margaritas around the corner first we can walk from here--LOL-----order pizza, but the beach house would be completely kid free****** husband free***** and carefree******

. . . Thanks for the Happy B-day!!!!

love
Doris (46th version)

She celebrated her birthday with her husband and their close friends at Ruggles, the restaurant where she and Bob had spent their first date. Doris and Bob sat at opposite ends of the banquet-size table. (Doris is pictured above with friend Tex Welsh that night at Ruggles.)

Doris had always possessed a joie de vivre. When she laughed, which was often, she would toss back her head, flash her "million-dollar smile," as friend Missy Welsh described it, and laugh with abandon. "She smiled with her eyes," remembered another friend. But the last week of her life, it seemed, the light had dimmed from her eyes. "She was getting scared of what was to come," said a lifelong friend. "Not necessarily that he was going to harm or kill her. Just this big, scary unknown."

While her eyes might have betrayed her unhappiness, Doris considered herself lucky in many respects, even that night. "Bob threw her a very nice party," one of her friends recalled. "She felt like it was their last time in public as a couple and she was grateful for how gracious he appeared about doing it, about being there, and having this party and having their friends there. She did say she tried to thank him with her eyes but he wouldn’t look at her."

Doris might not have been able to catch her husband's eye, but she had the attention of everyone else wherever she went. Though she joked that her "crest" had fallen, Doris Angleton, who modeled several times a year, had the body of a woman twenty years younger.

And Doris was as healthy as she was fit. She especially appreciated her health those last few days. Missy Welsh, Tex's wife, and a good friend, was ill. A few days after the party, Doris spent the day with Missy at a Houston hospital, where she was recovering from serious surgery. "She was still on Demerol," Doris wrote to her mother. "I don't envy her next few days."

Doris did not have a few days. When she sent that e-mail, she did not have twelve hours to live. Even if Doris had known she was at the end of her life, no doubt she would have spent that day at the hospital with her friend. That Doris had come from her first spinning class--that she was able to exercise while her friend was hospitalized--probably made Doris feel guilty. (Missy also died an early death, but not before Doris.)

On April 15, taxes were filed as expected. April 16, Doris was murdered, shot 12 times in the head and chest. Though she died, she lives on in the memories of those who loved her. Everyone who ever met her remembers her smile.

Bob Angleton was charged twice for ordering his wife's murder. He was acquitted in the first trial, and he fled the country days before the second. But taxes he could not escape. In 2005, Angleton was finally convicted. He is now serving his sentence for tax evasion on "Terminal Island," a federal penitentiary.

Aside from death and taxes, life has no guarantees. We keep our standing date with the IRS year after year. But moment by precious moment, we should enjoy our daily date with life. Don't wait to go to lunch with a good friend. Have a margarita. Order pizza. Live. Laugh. Love.

Doris died before she could meet her childhood friends for their special retreat. She was not able to spend both weekends she had planned with her daughters.

"I am trying to spend some time with the girls the next two weekends," she typed to a friend five days before her death, "cuz I will be gone the next one. . . ."


3 comments:

Leah said...

How tragic. Do you know how has her twin daughters?

Jenna Jackson said...

Hi Leah,
Vanessa could probably answer this, but I'm jumping in here b/c I've gotten to know the girls well over the years. They have both graduated college now and are doing incredibly well -- living and working on their own and in close touch with their father. They are both amazing young women. Jenna

Leah said...

Kids are resiliant. I don't know if I could forgive one parent if they killed another. He was pretty selfish.