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Barbara Stager
Born (1948-10-30) October 30, 1948 (age 67)
North Carolina, United States
Criminal penalty Life imprisonment
Criminal status Incarcerated
Conviction(s) First Degree Murder

Barbara Stager (born October 30, 1948) is an American woman who was convicted in 1989 of murdering her husband, Russell Stager, in 1988. Stager is also suspected of the earlier murder of her first husband, Larry Ford, who died in nearly identical circumstances.[1]

Staging Murder[edit]

At 6:08 a.m. on 1 February 1988, the police in Durham, North Carolina got a call from Barbara Stager, reporting her husband had been shot. She told the responding officers that her husband kept a handgun under his pillow when he slept, and that she must have touched it as she stirred in her sleep, causing it to discharge killing Russ Stager. Initially the police accepted this account and ruled the incident an accidental shooting. According to shocked friends, coworkers and family members, Barbara was a devoted wife, mother, and "Christian".

As it turned out, Russ Stager had become fearful for his life, he tape recorded himself, asking questions like: “Why if I was asleep at 3 or 4 in the morning, would Barbara wake me up to give me sleeping pills?” After his death, Jo Lynn Snow, Russ’s first wife, led police to the audiotapes. After listening to the tape, the police re-opened the case. Jo Lynn was also integral in finding evidence of Barbara's stealing from Russ's personal accounts and forging his name on checks and other documents, including his will.

At the conclusion of her trial for first-degree murder on 30 August 1989, the jury deliberated for 44 minutes to reach a guilty verdict, Stager was sentenced to death the next day. In such cases the matter is automatically reviewed by a higher court; in this case the death sentence was changed to life imprisonment (now being carried out at the North Carolina Department of Corrections[2]) due to a technicality in the first proceeding. Stager was given the possibility of parole in 20 years as required by law.


Barbara Stager had a parole hearing in March 2009. She was denied parole at that time and given a new parole review date for 2012.[3] She is currently incarcerated at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women and her next parole review was scheduled to begin August 1, 2015. [4]

In media[edit]

"Till Death Do Us Part: The Barbara Stager Story", is a 2003 episode of A&E's American Justice, which profiled the case. Jerry Bledsoe also wrote a book in 1994 about the case, entitled Before He Wakes: A True Story of Money, Marriage, Sex and Murder, which was later made into a TV movie in 1998 with the same title starring Jaclyn Smith. A&E's City Confidential presented its perspective on the case in the 2003 episode "Durham: Dangerous Housewife".[5] Investigation Discovery's Deadly Women portrayed the story in the 2010 "Fortune Hunters" episode and their Scorned: Love Kills revisited the case in its own "Till Debt Do Us Part," in 2012. The Forensic Files series had an episode "Broken Promises" about this case; Investigation Discovery examined the case a third time in 2015, with an episode entitled "No Accident" in its Fatal Vows series. In 1996, the Discovery Channel's The New Detectives series, Season 1, Episode 20, "Women Who Kill" featured Barbara Stager's crime.


  1. ^ "Crime TV Guide - Watch on SKY 553, 554 and HD 555, and Virgin 237 on Crime and Investigation Network". Crimeandinvestigation.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-08. [dead link]
  2. ^ "DOC Legacy Resources". Doc.state.nc.us. Retrieved 2013-10-21. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Parole denied for Durham woman who killed husband". WRAL.com. Capitol Broadcasting Company. 13 May 2009. Retrieved 11 September 2015. 
  4. ^ "NC DPS Offender Public Information". Webapps6.doc.state.nc.us. Retrieved 2015-09-11. 
  5. ^ "City Confidential - Episode Guide". Aetv.com. 2010-08-18. Retrieved 2012-08-08. [dead link]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Stager — Please support Wikipedia.
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13 news items


Wed, 07 Mar 2012 13:56:14 -0800

Ricky Buchanan of the Durham County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday that he went with Russell Stager's family this week to ask a member of the state Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission not to release Barbara Stager. "I told him, in all my ...


Fri, 27 Feb 2009 00:00:00 -0800

Prosecutors didn't believe Barbara Stager's story, and after a sensational 1989 trial in Lee County – the case had to be moved from Durham because of intense publicity – a jury deliberated less than an hour before convicting her of first-degree murder ...


Tue, 12 May 2009 14:36:40 -0700

Durham, N.C. — A Durham County woman convicted 20 years ago of killing her husband was denied parole this week. Russell Stager, a baseball coach at Durham High School, was fatally shot on Feb. 1, 1988. His second wife, Barbara Stager, told ...


Tue, 03 Mar 2009 09:36:01 -0800

Russell Stager's family drove from Tennessee to meet Tuesday morning behind closed doors with the state Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission to express their opposition to Barbara Stager's release. "In my opinion, I feel like 20 years of ...

Real Estate Weekly

Real Estate Weekly
Wed, 29 May 2013 05:14:04 -0700

Above, the balcony of an apartment at Five Star, in Park Slope, Brooklyn, staged by Cathy Hobbs. Inset, Kim Depole's 200 s/f extra room. Thousands of New Yorkers are living in homes roughly 70 square feet bigger than they thought — and they do nothing ...


Thu, 19 Mar 2009 00:00:00 -0700

Most recently, he asked the commission to deny parole for Barbara Stager, a Durham woman convicted nearly 20 years ago in her husband's fatal shooting. The commission is expected to decide on her case in May. "The parole commission is under pressure ...


Mon, 08 Jun 2009 14:47:29 -0700

Carthage, N.C. — A man charged with fatally shooting his wife last month told an emergency operator she had been moving his gun when she accidentally shot herself, according to a 911 call released Monday. "(She was shot) in the head. She's dead ...


Mon, 11 Aug 2008 00:00:00 -0700

Hillsborough, N.C. — Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said Monday he will seek the death penalty against one of two men charged in the shooting death of last year's student body president at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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