Two members of an Irish Traveller family living in Texas have been accused of murdering of a 72-year-old woman to cash in on a million dollar insurance policy.
Bernard Gorman, 26, and his late father, Gerard Joseph Gorman, who was found dead of natural causes in a Houston hotel room in January, allegedly attacked Anita Fox, a 72-year-old grandmother, on September 23 in the Colleyville, TX home where she worked as a housekeeper.
There are a number of witness accounts indicating that the Gormans followed Fox in the days leading up to her death, in order to familiarize themselves with her routine.
Autopsy reports show that she was stabbed seven times in the chest, back and head, and also suffered head trauma.
The murder was, according to the local Star-Telegram, the city’s first homicide in 23 years.
Fox’s body was discovered in the entryway of Maria Cruce’s home by another woman who watered Cruce’s plants. The woman alerted a neighbor, who called Cruce and the police.
Fox “was a beautiful soul. She was the sweetest woman,” Cruce told the Star-Telegram.
The woman who found Fox’s body informed police that when she arrived at Cruce’s house, she saw a short, stout man with an orange bucket getting into a tan pick-up truck with a black ladder rack, driven by a second, younger man. Based on her account, a police sketch was released that bore striking resemblance to Gerard Gorman.
Furthermore, Fox’s relatives had reported seeing a similar vehicle in the days leading up to Fox’s death.
It is believed that the Gormans – known to family as “Joe” and “Little Joe” – killed Fox in order to cash in on a seven figure life insurance policy in her name.
In 2013, there was a transfer in ownership on Fox’s life insurance policy and one of Joe Gorman’s brothers became the main beneficiary. The Star-Telegram reports that the two brothers, along with two other Gorman relatives, were paying $700 per month each on the policy.
To date, no one has cashed in the policy.
Police Sergeant J. Garner, whose precinct handled the discovery of Gerard Gorman’s body, told the paper that his understanding was that the Gormans had “decided she [Fox] was too healthy,” and that “she wasn’t going to die anytime soon” of natural causes.
Bernard Gorman was arrested last month in Florida, was extradited to Texas and is awaiting trial in the Tarrant County Jail. A grand jury investigation is underway.
On March 13, Gorman’s application to have his bail amount reduced from $500,000 was denied. To date his family has only been able to raise $10,000.
Meanwhile, the FBI and the Texas Department of Insurance are currently investigating the insurance fraud and are working to determine if there was a larger scheme at play.
Gorman is being represented by Stephen Rocket Johnson, a Houston attorney who has worked with Irish Travellers many times in the past.
“I have, I believe, a good relationship with them,” Rosen told Deanna Boyd of the Star-Telegram. “I have always been honest and forthright with them. A lot of them are very hard workers. There are some that are scammers and schemers. I’m not going to lie to you.
“I’m not here to judge people. I’m here for one thing: walk into a courtroom and present the best possible defense that I have available to my client.”
He also said that the case was ‘one of the strangest’ he’d seen in his 34 years as an attorney.
"I can tell you that this is one of the most complex cases that I've ever been involved in," said Colleyville Police Chief Mike Holder.