The death of an ex, and the start of a nightmare...

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Vickie Cushman

Vickie Cushman

As soon as Vickie Cushman arrived at work that day in August 1989, it was obvious something was wrong. Nothing could make the 29-year-old smile.

A few weeks earlier, she’d told colleagues at the Ski and Sports shop in Rhode Island, USA, that she was having an affair with one of the customers. Jeffrey ‘Scott’ Hornoff, 26, was a detective and member of the police diving team.

Scott would drop by the shop, and they would sneak up to Vickie’s apartment two floor above for passionate encounters. But while Vickie was madly in love, for Scott it was just a fling. He had a 7-month-old son – and no intention of leaving his family.

And now he’d told Vickie it was over. She was devastated.

The next day, on 11th August, Vickie didn’t show up for work.

Colleagues went upstairs to her apartment. The door was ajar.

Vickie was slumped on the floor of the living room, blood was seeping from her head. A fire extinguisher and smashed jewellery box lay next to her. She’d been bludgeoned to death.

Police arrived. Found a letter on the table, addressed to Scott Hornoff. My day doesn’t feel complete until I see you. I’m hooked on you.

Police had a lead. Could one of their own be a killer?

Scott admitted being in a relationship with Vickie but denied having anything to do with her death. He said he’d been at a party the night before. His wife backed up his alibi. With no evidence against him, there was little officers could do.

Five years passed. State investigation began to look into the case again.

They questioned guests at the party Scott had been at that night – and discovered a vital clue. Scott had left the party for over an hour.

Now, Scott told police he’d only gone to get some tapes and that he was home by 1am. But his timings didn’t match up with other witnesses or even his wife.

Four months later, he was charged with first-degree murder.

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Jeffrey ‘Scott’ Hornoff in court. (Photo: PA Photos)

On 15 May 1996, at the Rhode Island Supreme Court Scott pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution claimed that Scott had killed Vickie because he was scared she would expose their affair. The defence argued there was no physical evidence linking Scott to the murder.

After six weeks Scott was found guilty of first-degree murder. He continued to plead his innocence.

The verdict

In October 2002, six years into Scott’s sentence, a man named Todd Barry contacted police. He was a former lover of Vickie’s with a shocking confession.

Barry had murdered Vickie 13 years earlier. He’d visited her that night, and when she’d told him about Scott they’d argued and he’d bludgeoned her using the jewellery box.

Scott was released from prison, cleared of murder, and received $600,000 compensation. A few weeks later Todd Barry was sentenced to 30 years for second-degree murder.

 

By Rachel Tompkins

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. The verdict
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