Erin Everett loves her new girlfriend. But Tory Minnick still loves her ex-boyfriend.
And this hot-wired love triangle is about to short-circuit and leave one of them dead.
Jerome, Pennsylvania is an ultra-conservative small town, Among the 1,000 residents lived 25-year-old Erin Everett.
"Grew up in a very regimented, strictly, staunchly religious family," said attorney Brent Peck.
Much to the delight of her proud mother Patricia Everett Fay.
"She was brought up in church, went to church every Sunday, Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night," Patricia tells Crime Watch Daily.
And when other girls her age were partying their way through spring and summer breaks, Erin Everett was helping teach Bible classes.
"Her social activities were through the church," said Brent Peck. "She was very limited in what she did and what she allowed herself to become engaged in."
Growing up to be a nurse, caring for the elderly at a local hospital at a nursing home.
"By all accounts was just a nice girl," said Peck.
She was planning on getting married and having a family.
"She didn't date a lot, but she had dated a young man that she had met through the church, and at one point they had become engaged," said Peck.
But Erin wouldn't make it to the altar.
"Erin determined that that wasn't what she was, or who she was, and broke that engagement," said Peck.
"She broke the engagement off because she knew it wouldn't work, because she obviously didn't like boys," said Patricia, who was shocked and angry. "And of course as a Christian mother, I exploded. I'm like, 'What do you mean you like girls?' I was very upset and tried to tell her, 'You know that's not right.'"
Erin pleaded with Patricia for forgiveness.
"I can't really say I accepted it," said Patricia. "I love my daughter, and of course would always be there for her no matter what happened."
Patricia's tolerance was put to the test when Erin met Tory Minnick, a fellow nurse who worked the night shift with her.
"Tory Minnick was quite the opposite of Erin. Tory was very outgoing, very popular, very self-assured," said Peck.
But Tory Minnick had a few things in common with Erin Everett.
"She liked the nursing field, and it was a good field for her to go into. She's well-liked, well-thought-of, had a good family life," said Judy Ellich, a reporter for the Daily American.
And like Erin, Tory had just broken up with a boyfriend she was engaged to marry.
"They started talking. They started getting to know each other," said Ellich.
Erin was fast falling in love with Tory.
"They really got along well at the beginning," said Ellich. "They were happy. They laughed all the time, they joked all the time. It was like Tory allowed her to be herself. She could be who she really was with Tory."
And she wanted to spend the rest of her life with her.
"Erin asked Tory to marry her, and Tory said yes. So Erin got her a ring," said Ellich.
Then the two decided they wanted to live together, and Erin actually asked her mother if Tory could move in with the family.
"At first I said no," said Patricia Everett. "In order to keep her in my life and know where she was, I left them stay there at the house. They stayed in the basement. The only time they came upstairs was to take a shower or get food."
Little did Patricia know her daughter and Tory were starting to have problems.
"There was arguments and fights over money and the relationship," said reporter Judy Ellich.
And Erin was about to make a heartbreaking discovery.
"That the love of her life was being unfaithful to her," said Ellich.
The honeymoon was over before Erin Everett and her live-in fiancée Tory Minnick even got married.
Their nine-month relationship had deteriorated so badly that Erin was reportedly showing signs of being physically abused by Tory.
"She had a black eye, a bloody lip one time. She had the bruises on her back," said reporter Judy Ellich. "She actually had to go to the doctor for that."
Erin's mother Patricia actually witnessed something alarming in the basement room of her Jerome, Pennsylvania home, where the two young lovers lived.
"Tory had Erin in a chokehold," said Patricia.
But they told Patricia they were just fooling around.
"And I didn't think anything about it because Erin had never said anything to me about the abuse," said Patricia.
Tory had also been spending weekends away from Erin, visiting family and friends in her nearby home town of Meyersdale, Pennsylvania. Among them, 24-year-old Kody Donaldson, the fiancé Tory had broken up with before meeting Erin.
"They knew each other since kindergarten," said Ellich.
Ellich says they had an on-again/off-again romance that lasted through high school and right up to the time of their engagement.
"They would argue and they were both bullheaded," said Ellich.
But now they were on again, with Kody reportedly wanting Erin out of the picture.
"He didn't want them to be together," said Ellich. "And he didn't want Tory to be in a lesbian relationship. He wanted her to be with him."
Erin's mom says a furious Kody once even stormed into the nursing home where the two nurses worked.
"Kody showed up one night and threatened Erin to stay away from Tory," said Patricia.
But Tory is said to have wanted the best of both worlds.
"So Tory was living a double life," said Patricia. "She was with Erin when she was in Jerome, and when she would go home to Meyersdale, she was with Kody."
"And apparently kept it quiet from Erin," said defense attorney Brent Peck.
And then it happened. A brutal attack left Tory Minnick lying dead in the basement room she shared with Erin, two gunshot wounds to her head. Her skull had also been bashed in with a claw hammer.
"The crime scene was very bloody and very violent," said Judy Ellich.
"She was totally naked," said Patricia. "She had a sheet or blanket covering the top of her head. Blood all over the bed."
Erin's mother had gotten a frantic phone call from her daughter and rushed home to find her sitting in blood-stained clothes, hysterical, beside her lover's body.
"Erin had blood all over her, and they weren't sure if it was her blood or whose blood it was," said Patricia. "Erin was just crying and saying 'Why did they take her from me? Why did they take her from me?'"
Erin told her mother and police at the crime scene that an intruder had broken into the house while she and Tory were both sleeping.
"It was a male, and he had a black mask, and he had a hammer, and he was saying to Tory, 'You're coming with me, you're coming with me,' and she was saying 'No, no, no,'" said Patricia. "And Erin said that she was trying to help get this man away from Tory. Erin said this man actually tried to tie her feet and hands together to get her away, so that he could either hurt Tory or take Tory with him."
"She said he said, 'I come for Tory, not for you,'" said Ellich.
Before shooting and beating Tory to death.
"The nature of the murder, the gunshot wounds to the head, and then the bludgeoning with the hammer, it indicates to at least me that this murder was emotionally charged," said Brent Peck.
Erin Everett said she couldn't recognize the killer's face, but had an idea who it might be.
"She described a man that has the same physical appearance as Kody," said Ellich.
She said he fled in a green truck just like Kody Donaldson owned.
"So it all sort of pointed to Kody," said Ellich.
Complete with motive.
"Erin indicated that Kody was jealous of their relationship," said Ellich.
"Ultimately that's what led to the investigators pinpointing Mr. Donaldson as a suspect in this murder," said Peck.
"Kody was a prime suspect," said Ellich.
And police had located and questioned him within hours of the murder.
"They took him in for questioning and they were asking him all kind of questions about where he was, what he was doing, his relationship with Erin, his relationship with Tory," said Ellich.
But Kody vehemently denied killing Tory out of jealousy, telling investigators he didn't even know her relationship with Erin was romantic.
"Kody Donadson was led to believe that Erin Everett was simply a roommate," said Peck.
Crime Watch Daily reached out to Donaldson, but he declined to be interviewed.
Detectives turned their attention to other suspects who might have had a motive to kill Tory Minnick.
Tory Minnick was shot with a gun and beaten to death with a claw hammer.
Kody Donaldson had a rock-solid alibi, telling cops he was working at his job on a loading dock at the time of Tory's murder. And detectives were convinced Donaldson had nothing to do with the crime.
"He was pretty quickly ruled out as a suspect," said attorney Brent Peck.
So now they take a closer look at Erin Everett, Tory's fiancée, the third player in this love triangle, and the only one who was with her when she was murdered.
This time detectives have brought Erin to the station, where she appears to be in shock, curled up under a blanket, shivering as they re-question her about the story she'd told at the scene of the crime, that Tory had been murdered by a masked intruder while she and Tory were asleep. The interrogation was recorded on camera.
Erin Everett: "I heard the gunshots."
Detective: "Two gunshots?"
Everett: "Two, yes."
Unaware detectives have already ruled out Kody Donaldson as a suspect, Erin trips herself up when she continues to point the finger of blame at her love rival.
Detective: "Why do you think he may have been involved in this?"
Everett: "Because he didn't like her being with me. He knew she was gay and he didn't like it, and he wanted her to move back in with him."
Detectives suddenly flip the switch on Erin. Turning up the heat, they now suspect Erin is trying to frame Kody for a murder she committed herself.
Detective: "This person that you're saying came into the house. It clearly did not happen like that. OK. Now, what we've established already is that you are not telling us the truth."
Detectives move in the for the kill, telling Erin the crime scene evidence tells a different story than the lie she's telling them.
Detective: "That did not happen, OK."
One of the biggest clues was a shattered window through which Erin says the intruder must have entered the house. But detectives found it had actually been broken from the inside, not the outside.
Detective 1: "Well, I don't think someone else came into the house."
Detective 2: "Erin, listen, we're passed that point now, OK. There is three people in this room and all three of us know what happened to Tory, OK. We have all the pieces, we just can't put the puzzle together one-hundred percent."
Detectives urge Erin to tell them the truth.
Detective: "If you're involved in this, we need you to tell us that now, OK? What is your involvement in this?"
Everett: "I was just there. I was just laying in bed with her, that's all."
But after being confronted with more incriminating evidence, Erin finally cracks, confessing that she broke the window herself as part of her cover story for Tory's murder.
Detective: "At what point did it get so bad that you had to shoot her?"
Erin tells detectives she was heartbroken and insanely jealous after learning Tory was cheating on her with her ex, Kody Donaldson.
Detective: "And how did you know that she was still sleeping with Kody?"
Everett: "Because she told me."
But Erin says the breaking point came when she found texts between Tory and Kody revealing that the woman she loved was planning to leave her to live with him.
Detective: "What did you do?"
Everett: "I was just sitting downstairs, thinking."
Detective: "Where were you sitting?"
Everett: "On the bed."
Detective: "On the bed beside her while she was sleeping?"
Everett: "Yeah, she slept the whole time."
Detective: "What were you thinking about?"
Everett: "Thinking about how much I wanted to be with her."
Detective: "So then you said you went upstairs and got the gun?"
A .357 Magnum from her father's gun collection.
Everett: "Then I took it downstairs and I shot her once."
Detective: "And where did you shoot her the first time?"
Everett: "In the head."
But Tory was still alive
Everett: "And then she was moaning, and then I shot her again."
And when she still didn't die, Erin says, she picked up a claw hammer lying nearby to finish her off.
Detective: "How many times did you hit her with the hammer?"
Everett: "I think twice."
Detective: "And where did you hit her at?"
Everett: "Like in the face area."
Detective: "Why did you hit her with the hammer?"
Everett: "Because she was gurgling, and honestly, she was suffering."
But detectives still haven't heard the full story. And to their surprise, they learned there was a fourth player in this tragic love triangle: Bill Nair, who was engaged to one of Erin Everett's cousins.
Everett: "He told me how to load the gun, how to pull the trigger."
Erin tells detectives that Nair had texted her shooting instructions, fully aware she had murder in mind.
Detective: "Did he know that you were going to do it today?"
Detective: "And how does he know that?"
Everett: "Because I told him yesterday that I was thinking about it."
And Bill Nair admits it when detectives bring him to the station for a grilling.
Detective: "So what you are telling me is, you get numerous texts from Erin, who says that she's going to shoot Tory?"
Detective: "And you dismiss that."
Nair: "Yes sir."
Detective: "Then you get more texts asking how to load a gun?"
Nair: "Yes sir."
Detective: "And instead of dismissing that or telling her, you know, 'Maybe you ought to think about it,' your question is 'What kind of gun is it,' correct?"
Nair: "Yes sir."
Detective: "So then you asked her to send you a picture of the gun?"
Nair: "Yes sir."
But Nair claims he didn't believe Erin was serious until after she'd actually murdered Tory.
Nair: "I swear to God, right hand up, I did not know she was really gonna do it. I thought she was just [----], and that was it."
Detectives don't buy it, but give Bill Nair a choice.
Detective: "You can either be a good witness, or you can be a good suspect."
When Nair agrees to testify against Erin in return for reduced charges, the prosecution believes they can prove Tory Minnick's killing was pre-meditated and convict Erin Everett of first-degree murder, which carries the death penalty.
"I remember saying 'There is no way. There is no way.' And I just started crying. I thought I was gonna throw up," said Erin's mother Patricia Everett.
Patricia says she could never have imagined her very religious daughter committing such a heinous crime.
"Erin is not capable of something like that. She is not. She is not an evil, mean person. She is not," said Patricia.
In fact, Erin's defense attorney Brent Peck argued that Tory's killing was an uncharacteristic crime of passion.
"I believe that it was premeditated, but I believe that that premeditation was a result of something outside of Erin Everett's control," said Peck.
Peck claimed the savage murder was triggered by Battered Women's Syndrome.
Peck claimed Erin had simply snapped after being emotionally and physically abused by Tory.
But the judge rules there is insufficient evidence of abuse to introduce at her trial.
"So we weren't permitted to present that testimony of the possibility that these syndromes did exist," said Peck.
Erin Everett was convicted of the first-degree murder of Tory Minnick and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
"It's unfortunate and it's sad for everybody that's involved, it's sad for both families," said Peck. "Both families have suffered a loss here."
It's a tragedy that Erin's mother says she will never fully understand.
"How could this have happened?" said Patricia Everett. "What could have got her to this point that she could have done something horrendous like this?"
Erin Everett's attorneys have filed several appeals, but so far, all have been denied. Bill Nair, who turned witness for the prosecution, was sentenced to time served, 40 days in jail, as part of a plea agreement for criminal use of a communication facility, a third-degree felony, and obstruction of justice, a second-degree misdemeanor.