Sharon Elizabeth Hill Kinne is not a typical serial killer. She was very specific in her choice of victims and had a solid motive for killing each one. Most interesting, Sharon is one of few who has escaped from prison, remained at large, and may even still be alive somewhere south of the border with Mexico.
The Murder of James Kinne
The daughter of an alcoholic single mother, Kinne grew up fast in Independence, Missouri, thanks to her beauty and physique.
In 1956 at a church social, Sharon Hill, then 16, met her eventual husband and first murder victim, James Kinne. Although he was a shy Mormon attending school in Provo, Utah, John, 22, was smitten with the blonde beauty and they began a heated sexual relationship. But when the summer ended, James returned to Utah to continue his studies, promising never to forget Sharon and pledging to write.
The two corresponded by mail and at the end of the year Sharon wrote to James telling him (falsely) that she was pregnant. James returned to Independence and the two were married, living next door to his parents. Unable to get pregnant to cover up her lie, Sharon opted for the next best thing. She pretended to have a miscarriage.
Later that year, however, Sharon did become pregnant, giving birth to a baby girl the couple named Danna.
By 1959 Sharon had bored of James and his plain vanilla lifestyle and took several lovers. Her most-frequent partner was her former high school beau, John Boldizs, who, as an ice cream vendor, had access to a lot more flavors.
James, however, could not admit his marriage was over and unsuccessfully tried to work things out with Sharon. For him divorce was out of the question. By this time Sharon had given birth to a son, Troy. Unable to get rid of her husband by the traditional method, Sharon chose a much more radical means.
On March 19, 1961, a single shot broke the quiet in the Kinne bungalow. According to her later statement to police, Sharon rushed into the bedroom where James was napping. Standing beside the bed, or so she claimed, was 21/2-year-old Danna. A .22 caliber pistol, one of several in the Kinne house, was on the bed beside John, who was bleeding from a fatal gunshot wound to the head. It appeared Danna had accidentally shot her father to death.
At first the police were quite skeptical that a toddler could pull the trigger on a pistol, but when Danna demonstrated that she could, that, combined with the lack of evidence of foul play, prompted the coroner to pronounce the death an accidental homicide.
The Murder of Patricia Jones
Once the insurance check cleared, Sharon headed to Kansas City, where she bought a new powder-blue Thunderbird and met a new lover.
“Sharon was in the market for a car; (salesman) Walter Jones was in the market for a little side action,” The Kansas City Star reported in a retrospective. “Despite a wife and kids at home, Walter enjoyed messing around. And what a day it was when he met Sharon Kinne; he sold a car and began a new affair.”
Over the next few weeks Walter and Sharon enjoyed a few dates and once spent the night in a motel.
As these things tend to do, the affair cooled and Walter announced that he was reconciling with his wife, Patricia, a clerk with the Internal Revenue Service. But Sharon, who was also still seeing Boldizs, did not want things to end until she said it was time. She told Walter she was pregnant, but he did not fall for the ruse.
“I told her to wait and see what happened,” Walter testified at one of Sharon’s trials. “I told her it was all over between us.”
Having her bluff called sent Sharon into a rage.
“Naked and screaming, Sharon followed Walter’s car into the street, cursing and threatening to get even with him, as neighbors watched carrying-ons of a woman who had lost her husband less than three months earlier,” the Star reported.
Abandoned by Walter, Sharon was determined to get even. She contacted Walter’s 23-year-old wife and arranged a meeting for May 26, 1960 in a quiet area outside Kansas City. Sharon’s plan was not to ruin the Jones marriage by ratting out Walter. Instead, she pulled out a pistol and fired four shots into Patricia in the form of a cross (well, the prosecutor pointed out it was cross-shaped, but a secular perspective yields a diamond shape).
It was not a foolproof plan. Before she left for the meeting Patricia told some friends that she was going to see Sharon. The last time anyone saw her alive is when her friends watched her get into Sharon’s Thunderbird.
When Patricia failed to return home and Walter learned of the planned meeting between his wife and ex-lover, he immediately suspected foul play. He confronted Sharon. Walter told authorities that he searched Sharon’s purse for evidence. The 6-foot, 200 lb. car salesman also held a knife to Sharon’s throat and asked her if she knew anything about Patricia’s whereabouts.
Sharon was nonplussed. “No,” she responded.
Two days later Kansas City police received a telephone call from Boldizs that he and Sharon had been out looking for Patricia when Sharon suggested they call off the search and go parking at one of their favorite spots. Driving down the lovers lane, Boldizs’s headlights shone on what he thought was a pile of abandoned clothes. Sharon was more certain of what they saw, Boldizs testified later.
“Is that her?” Sharon asked. “It could be her. I’ll bet that’s her!”
When Walter was cleared by a polygraph test, suspicion naturally turned to Sharon and Boldizs. But Boldizs also passed the lie detector test. Sharon refused to give any statement or take a polygraph.
On June 1, 1961, Sharon was charged with Patricia’s murder, even though authorities did not have a gun or any direct evidence that Sharon was involved. The circumstantial evidence should have been more than enough to establish her guilt. A co-worker of Sharon’s at a local camera store, told police that he bought a .22 pistol for her. Sharon told police she took the pistol with her to visit relatives in Washington state and left it there. Later she claimed it was lost. It would turn up much later.
Shreds of weeds — they were wild oats — were also found on the undercarriage of Sharon’s car.
Not one to let the grass grow under his feet, Walter Jones left town and remarried two months after Patricia was murdered. Eight months after Patricia was slain and more than 10 months after James died, Sharon gave birth to another daughter.
After a 10-day trial in 1961 involving 27 prosecution witnesses and 14 defense ones, an all-male jury acquitted Sharon of killing Patricia Jones. Perhaps it helped that her defense attorney said he could not defend her morals, and “it was obvious that she likes boys.” A juror told the prosecutors after the trial that the state’s case had “just too many loopholes.” Another juror asked Sharon for her autograph.
Sharon on Trial Again (and Again and Again)
Sharon was not off the hook yet; the prosecution had already arrested her for James Kinne’s murder and a January 1962 trial was planned.
John Boldizs was supposed to be the prosecution’s star witness in the trial; during his grand jury testimony he said Sharon had offered him $1,000 to kill James Kinne.
It was approximately two weeks to four weeks before Kinne’s death. W was talking about her husband. She said, ‘Would you kill my husband for $1,000?’ I said, ‘No. Hell no.’
‘Do you know of anybody that would?’
I said ‘Yes; I know somebody.’
She said, ‘If you find somebody, let me know.’
I said, ‘Yes.’ But I never did.”
The prosecutor pressed him.
“Do you have a feeling she was serious in her request?”
Boldizs replied: “I believe so, now.”
However, when he took the stand at trial, Boldizs hedged while expanding on the conversation:
“Man, I’d like to carry you off if you wasn’t married,” Boldizs recalled saying.
“Well, I’ll just give you a grand,” Sharon reportedly replied. “You can bump off my old man.”
Sharon’s defense attorney, James Quinn, asked him if he thought it was a joke.
“It was just like if I’d say to you, ‘I’d give you $100 to jump off city hall,'” Boldizs answered.
Prosecutor J. Arnot Hill attempted to do damage control during his summation. “(Boldizs) now tries to take the sting out of what he said before,” Hill told the jury. “I’ll leave it up to you to draw your deductions as to why he changed his testimony.”
Meanwhile, Quinn attempted to smooth over Sharon’s reputation, telling jurors that it was not their role to judge her for being loose.
“What ever breach of the moral law, she has suffered and her God will chastise her,” he said. “She has done plenty of penance for that.”
After 51/2 hours of deliberation, the jury convicted Sharon of first degree murder. Meeting the verdict with a stoic appearance, Sharon was sentenced to life in prison.
“Not until she was changing into her jail uniform did a few tears mist her eyes,” a jail matron told the Associated Press. “She didn’t weep. She said she didn’t feel too good.”
Sharon told her attorneys that she was confident she would be freed on appeal, and she was right. In 1963 the Missouri Supreme Court found enough errors in the trial record that she was granted a new trial. The second trial was an abortive affair. Just a few days into it, the judge declared a mistrial when it was learned that one of the jurors had once been a client of one of the prosecutor’s law partners.
The third trial began in the summer of 1964 and was almost a repeat of the first, except that Sharon took the stand for the first time.
Her performance, as one would expect for a woman like Sharon Kinne, was masterful. She blamed 21/2-old Danna for the murder.
Dressed in black, Sharon recounted her version of how James was killed. He had just cleaned his .22 and left it on the pillow beside him while he took a nap. The couple was supposed to attend a church function and she was in the bathroom getting ready.
Danna came into the bathroom trying to get me to play with her. She made several trips to the bedroom trying to get attention from James. She brought in several toys and asked him questions. Then I heard Danna in the bedroom. She was saying ‘Show me this, Daddy. Show me this.’ just as she had done several times before with her toys.
And I heard a shot, I guess it was a shot. I went into the bedroom and Danna was standing there and James was lying there and I saw the blood and I thought he was dead. I picked up Danna and put her on the couch and called James’s father.
After two days of deliberation the jury announced that it was hopelessly deadlocked and a mistrial was declared. Immediately Prosecutor Hill announced that the state would try her a third time for James Kinne’s murder.
Free on $25,000 bond posted by her in-laws, Sharon was awaiting her next trial when she decided to take a vacation to Mexico City with a new friend, Sam Puglise of Chicago. The pair met a few months earlier in Kansas City and she fell in love with him. She said they were in Mexico to get married.
However, on September 18, 1964, the lovebirds had a quarrel and Sharon left the hotel room. She decided to get a drink in a nearby bar, when she met Francisco Paredes Ordonez, an American ex-patriot. She later told authorities that when she began to feel ill, Parades offered to take him to his hotel room.
“I lay down; he took off his jacket and got me a glass of water,” she said. “After a while I started to feel better and told Mr. Paredes that I was leaving. He made some advances. When I pushed him away, he hit me and then put his knee on my stomach. He hit me several times,” she continued. “He covered my mouth so I could not scream, but I managed to throw him off and onto the floor. It give me time to pull my gun from my purse. I fired — I don’t know how many times; one or two.”
In her haste to escape, Sharon also shot and wounded the hotel clerk.
Investigators later determined that the serial number on Sharon’s gun was the same that was being sought in the Patricia Jones murder.
Mexican justice was swift, and after a brief trial, the woman known to Mexicans as La Pistolera was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. She appealed, of course, and was surprised by a quirk in Mexican justice when the appeals court added 3 more years to her term.
That was not the end of Sharon Kinne, however. In December 1969, Sharon once again made headlines when she escaped from a suburban Mexico City women’s prison. Her escape was aided by a former Mexican secret service agent and several ex-prisoners, authorities said. Lax security allowed her to scramble over a wall. A subsequent investigation revealed that four guard towers were unmanned. It was not likely that this was part of the escape plan, however. The towers were used as trash dumps.
Sharon had plenty of money to aid her escape. The ex-agent was suspected of a recent robbery where $15,000 American was stolen from two couriers.
From December 7, 1969, Sharon Kinne has been on the run. Authorities have said they believe she made it over the border to Guatemala.
Although she would be in her late 70s, there is no reason to doubt that she is still alive. The strongest evidence that she is dead, however, is that she has not been linked to any other murders.