January 19, 1999
Springfield, Missouri
Erin Vanderhoef (36) and her 3 children Darlene Vanderhoef (8) Jimmy Vanderhoef (11) and Chris Franklin (10) are killed by Vanderhoef’s former and occasional lover and 2 accomplices

Vanderhoef had allegedly been sleeping with Richard DeLong, a man she used to date, while DeLong’s girlfriend and mother of his child, Stacie Leffingwell, was out of town. Leffingwell was dying of AIDS and, the court claimed, feared Vanderhoef would replace her as mother to Scooby, her child by DeLong.

On January 19, DeLong, Leffingwell, and their neighbor Harold Lingle, visited Vanderhoef and her children. They planned to kill the children first while Vanderhoef was distracted then murder her as well. Lingle was not on board with the scheme at first but, after the promise of methamphetamine, was coerced. He refused to harm the children, so his role was to take Vanderhoef to a grocery store to get her away from the children.

While Vanderhoef was gone, DeLong and Leffingwell strangled each child, then the 3 attacked Vanderhoef when she returned. DeLong also reportedly kicked Vanderhoef in the head so hard he limped for days afterwards. Vanderhoef had a rag shoved in her mouth to suppress her screams, had her hands and feet bound, her feet pulled behind her back, and a cord tied around her neck to another binding her feet, so the weight of her legs would suffocate her. The full-term unborn child Vanderhoef was carrying, who was days from being born, was also killed in the attack.

Both DeLong and Lingle were sentenced to life terms in prison. Leffingwell died of complications of AIDS before she was able to stand trial.

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