They were the picture of an all-American family: The loving husband and the doting wife raising two kids in a charming Southern California town.

But when you looked closer -- things weren't what they appeared.


Everyone in the Mojave Desert town of Helendale, California admired and envied the seemingly special bond between Robert and Sabrina Limon.

"They were best friends, they were partners," said Richard Terry, Sabrina's former attorney.

Robert Limon was the spark that got the party started.

"Robert's very outgoing, very friendly," said Robert's sister Lydia Marerro.

A spirited outdoorsman and a people person who worked as a first-responder for the railroad.

"He was always at the river, he loved the water," Lydia tells Crime Watch Daily.

Sabrina, a vivacious blonde, could disarm with her charm.

"Everywhere we go she puts a smile on everyone's face," said Sabrina's cousin Krystal Barr.

"She seemed to have a lot of love and compassion. She was very friendly," Lydia said.

One exchange of vows and two children later, the Limon family appeared solid and intact. But in time, Robert and Sabrina's lifestyle began to exceed the boundaries of traditional marriage.

"They decided to open up their relationship and at that point she went along with it to make him happy," said Krystal.

Sabrina's family told Crime Watch Daily that the swinger lifestyle took its toll on Sabrina.

"She did not want to have an open relationship anymore, and he wanted to, and it was a battle in their marriage," said Krystal.

The free-loving crowd included Sabrina's best friend, Kelly Bernatene and her husband Jason. But there were some suspicions that Kelly and Robert were allegedly having a private one-on-one affair behind the scenes.

"He'd come home and actually start telling Sabrina what Kelly had just done that was so awesome, sexually, and she would go 'I don't want to hear this,'" said attorney Richard Terry.

Sabrina's family says she was feeling tormented, lonely and desperate.

"He wasn't there for her in the emotional way that she needed," said Terry.

With the kids in school, Sabrina got a part-time job at the local Costco. At least it was a distraction and she could earn a little money on her own. One day, a fresh-faced 22-year-old firefighter named Jonathan Hearn walked into the store while Sabrina was on the job. There were sparks. And even though their lives were worlds apart, the attraction could not be denied.

"She was 11 years older than him. He was a bit sheltered. He was home-schooled but very educated, grew up in a religious home, had a good family," said Kern County Sheriff's Detective Robert Meyer.

Jonathan was intrigued.

"She lived that other lifestyle that he was never exposed to," said Det. Meyer.

But Sabrina needed an emotional connection. Jonathan turned out to be just that guy. Sabrina lured him in with sexy snapshots in lingerie and love notes.

"She was getting attention from somebody who told her 'You would be the only person in my life, I'd only want you, I would never do those things to you,' and you know, it makes someone feel good after not getting attention for however many years," said Krystal.

And Johnathan appeared to be head over heels with Sabrina.

Sabrina wanted no one to know of the affair. She was admired in the community as a good wife and devoted mother.

"She wanted to keep this image of a perfect family," said Sabrina's cousin Ryan Barr.

Robert Limon was ambushed, gunned down on August 17, 2014 in the dark of night at the remote railroad facility where he was working the graveyard shift. Robert was there all alone in Tehachapi, California, about 85 miles from his home in Helendale. He was shot twice. And it was a shoot-to-kill attack.

"He was struck in the face and it traveled through and exited the neck," said Det. Robert Meyer. "The other one was a shot in the chest. It went up into the jaw area and lodged in the brain."

A grief-stricken Sabrina Limon posted a loving tribute to her husband while struggling to stay strong for their two young children.

Given Robert's unconventional lifestyle, it's hard to tell who had it out for him. A jealous husband? A jilted lover?

"Don't know where we're going next, we were still looking for leads," said Det. Meyer.

There was no relevant forensic evidence at the crime scene. All Kern County detectives had was surveillance video of a shadowy figure roaming the crime scene.

"The subject was wearing some heavy clothing and also walked with a limp," said Det. Meyer.

And there was footage of someone with a similar build on a motorcycle at a nearby gas station and convenience store right around the time of the murder. Crime scene photos showed Robert's office looked as if it had been ransacked. Was this a random attack?

"They thought maybe it was a robbery or something to that effect. There was a lot of stories going on," said Robert's sister Lydia.

Sheriff officials offered a $100,000 reward. Even that wasn't tempting enough for anyone with good information to come forward.

"They all pretty much led us to a dead end," said Det. Meyer.

The unknown is almost as painful as the grief for loved ones.

"It left a lot of open questions that nobody seemed to answer or give us the answers to those questions so that we could heal," said Lydia Marerro.

A few weeks later, Det. Meyer gets an interesting call from Jason Bernatene. Jason and his wife Kelly were best friends with the Limons -- "friends with benefits."

"Jason wanted to provide me with a couple of text messages that he received from a subject by the name of Jonathan Hearn," said Det. Meyer.

The same Jonathan Hearn involved in an affair with Sabrina Limon. But why on Earth would the young fireman be texting his married lover's best friends?

"He basically was wanting to ask for forgiveness for how shameful he had been," said Meyer.

No, it's not a murder confession. Jonathan was actually texting a rather curious apology for having an affair with Sabrina Limon. But why?

"I obviously thought it was very strange that he would be apologizing for that," said Det. Meyer. "I had some work to do, so I started looking into Jonathan Hearn."

Meyer's next move was a visit with the adulteress herself, Sabrina Limon.

"I asked her if there were any issues in the marriage such as infidelity or boyfriend/girlfriend, anything like that, and she had denied that," said Det. Meyer. "She said her and Rob had a great marriage."

Nothing like a bold-face lie to energize a lagging criminal investigation. But the ever-image-conscious Sabrina may have been deceptive for a reason that doesn't involve killing her husband.

"I don't think she wanted to paint Rob in a negative light or herself in a negative light for the children in this terrible time," said Sabrina's cousin Ryan Barr. "She didn't want her kids to know about the open relationship, and how they were both having affairs."

Det. Meyer keeps digging for clues and hits on some gold.

"Sabrina had purchased what is commonly referred to as a 'burner phone.' They started communicating with that," said Det. Meyer.

In fact, in the five months leading up to Robert Limon's death, the illicit lovers exchanged 7,000 voice calls and text messages on their throwaway phones.

"That was very suspicious," said Det. Meyer.

Adding to the suspicion, Sabrina Limon suddenly goes underground, cutting off Robert's entire family, even refusing to let them see the children -- and for no apparent reason. It broke the heart of Robert's sister Lydia, and it also raised suspicion.

"Why are you hiding, Sabrina? If you didn't do anything wrong, why are you not communicating or talking to us?" said Lydia.

Sabrina may have sidestepped her family, but she can't beat the badge. Cops are listening to calls between Sabrina and her young lover.

Sabrina: "There's a purpose for all of the things that God has shown us, so."

John: "Yes, there sure is, Sabrina."

A judge approved 24-hour surveillance and telephone wire-taps of conversations with Jonathan Hearn. The subject matter was Jonathan's paranoia.

Jonathan: "There's a truck that's definitely, definitely keeping eyes on you."

Sabrina: "Really?"

Jonathan: "Yeah. They both look like typical cops trying not to be cops."

And stunningly, a prayer for salvation -- not the kind in the afterlife; the kind in a courtroom.

Jonathan: "God, please help us, God please help us to be wise."

The couple prayed that God would steer the criminal investigation away from them as suspects.

Jonathan: "Help Sabrina to have the right words."

While the calls don't reveal any direct evidence, one might detect a certain "consciousness of guilt" in their conversations.

Sabrina: "God, this is, this is what you -- I guess you really do want me to be with him."

But investigators needed more, and it so happens they've been able to gather the incriminating goods. When they search Hearn's house, they find a motorcycle helmet and gloves like the ones spotted in that surveillance video close to the crime scene the night Robert was killed.

"Based on Jonathan Hearn owning a motorcycle that was similar to the motorcycle that was around the scene around the time of the murder, based on his relationship with Sabrina Limon, also him owning firearms that were similar to the caliber that killed Robert Limon," said Det. Robert Meyer.

And there's more: Sabrina stood to gain a sweet payout from Robert's railroad pension. Cops are convinced Sabrina and Jonathan had the means, motive and opportunity to get Robert out of the picture.

Three months after the cold-blooded murder of Robert Limon, Kern County Homicide detectives are convinced they've got enough evidence to make cases against Jonathan Hearn and Sabrina Limon. Hearn is arrested at his firehouse where he was on duty. Sabrina Limon was on her way to her children's school, where she was scheduled for a parent-teacher conference.

"The whole thing is ridiculous," said Krystal Barr, Sabrina's cousin. "If you know Sabrina at all. I mean, I love her to death, she's amazing, she's got the biggest heart, but she's no mastermind."

"She said it: 'Why would I want him dead? I had the best of both worlds,'" said attorney Richard Terry.

When prosecutors looked at the case, they felt they had the goods on Jonathan Hearn, but not enough to convict Sabrina Limon. It was a blow to homicide detectives, who were forced to send Sabrina home to the comfort of her children and family.

Robert Limon was executed by his wife's secret boyfriend, a local firefighter. But sheriff's detectives believe the murder plot was not just his idea -- they also believe Limon's wife was in on it. But they needed more evidence to prove it.

A "cougar" and her God-fearing young firefighter, bonded in love, partnered in crime -- or so thought the Kern County Sheriff's Department. Detectives were forced to let Sabrina go, but they put the screws to her forbidden lover Jonathan Hearn.

"We spoke on several different occasions for several hours," said Det. Meyer.

Jonathan Hearn fully expected to spend his last dying days in prison. And he knew there was only one thing he could do to change that. He had to turn on his beloved Sabrina Limon. For Jonathan, nothing says "I love you" like throwing your girlfriend under the bus.

"He provided the details of their planning and preparing. He allowed us access to his cellphone," said Det. Meyer.

Then a move that afforded the young evangelical man some mercy. Jonathan Hearn struck a plea deal

"What he pled for is 25 years and four months in prison in exchange for that testimony against Sabrina," said KERO-TV Reporter Ken Mashinchi.

"I was shocked. I was shocked," said Krystal Barr. "They were intent on making sure that she took the blame for this. He is calculating, not naïve."

But interrogating Sabrina Limon was like trying to crack ice with a feather. Her interrogation was recorded.

Sabrina Limon: "It's unbelievable to me. I seriously feel like there's no way. There's no way that he would be capable of that."

Detective: "Jonathan tried to tell me that you started all this and you talked him into it."

Sabrina: "That wouldn't be true."

Detective: "Robert is dead because of you. Make no mistakes about that. That is something that you're going to have to live with for the rest of your life. It's time to [----] or get off the pot. If you don't have anything for us, I think we need to get you to jail. You are under arrest for conspiracy to commit murder."

Three years after the fatal shooting of her husband Robert, Sabrina's case goes before a mostly female jury. The star witness was Jonathan Hearn. And once the floodgates opened, details of an astonishing plot emerged.

Jonathan Hearn: "She asked me how I thought would be best and we discussed car accident and fire, and quickly skipped over those and arrived at poisoning."

Their choice of poison? Pudding laced with arsenic. Crime scene photos show bottles of arsenic found in Hearn's trash.

Jonathan: "I experimented with that on a neighbor dog who causes me considerable issues in the past, and put it on some meat."

The dog never bothered Jonathan again. Sabrina then put some of the tainted pudding in Robert's lunch. But the lovers chickened out the last minute.

Jonathan: "She called Robert, she had told him to not eat the pudding, because I think she said that she told him the bananas had gone bad in it."

Sabrina still insisted Robert die on the job at the railroad, because the medical care in the area was substandard. But perhaps there was something else.

"If Robert Limon was killed in the line of duty, that she would be also getting money from BNSF," said Det. Meyer.

Not to mention the $300,000 life-insurance payout Sabrina stood to collect.

Attorney: "You searched for 'How long for a life insurance policy to pay out,' is that correct?"

Jonathan: "It appears to be, yes."

The question that comes up in every spousal murder is, Wouldn't divorce be much more simple?

Johnathan: "Divorce was not something very appealing to her as an option. She expressed that he would honestly rather be dead than divorced, losing her would essentially kill him. I had a frank disgust for him that was developing and contributing to me being very dismissive of his life, ultimately."

Jonathan proved his disdain for Robert the night he disguised himself, got on his motorcycle, drove 85 miles, then ambushed an unwitting Robert Limon.

Attorney: "After you fired the first shot, what happened to Robert?"

Jonathan: "He fell, seemingly mortally wounded. Then headed up into the office to follow through with the previously discussed plan of overturning the interior of the office and making it look like a robbery. I didn't really want to leave him if he wasn't entirely dead, so I went around the back side of the truck and quickly fired one more shot at him."

The public servant turned public enemy had killed a man, and in a call to Sabrina after the fact, appears convinced he was guided by a higher power.

"He's working through me to administer to you, it's a God thing all the way, and it's a God thing always. He knows what he's doing, he know the work that he's doing," said Jonathan in a recorded call.

When it came time for Sabrina Limon to take the stand:

Sabrina: "Well, I was protecting my image."

She tried to explain why she lied to cops.

Sabrina: "I didn't want to put my affair into a murder investigation. I never wanted to believe that Jonathan was the one that did this."

Prosecutors reminded Sabrina of a certain significant prayer she and Jonathan shared after Robert's murder.

Prosecutor: "'Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed of God, you who are my God, my savior.' When you read that verse, what did you think?"

Sabrina: "What my memory recalls, I remember Jonathan reading that, Psalms 51 to me, and I don't think I was following along, I was distracted."

And when cops asked Sabrina if she knew of a man with a motorcycle possibly named John, she gave them the names of two other Johns who were acquaintances of her husband.

"Sabrina suffers from ADD, she's not been on medication for it, she's not extremely articulate. In fact she has difficulty in communicating her thoughts," said her former attorney Richard Terry. "She's a high school dropout."

So why let her testify? Because, her attorney insists, she's innocent.

"Considering that Jonathan Hearn is a psychopathic killer, I would tend to believe Sabrina more than him," said Terry.

But it only got worse for Sabrina's image when her formerbest friend Kelly Bernatene, the "friend with benefits," took the stand.

Attorney: "Are these wild sex orgies that you're going to the river to have?"

Kelly Bernatene: "No. It was usually Sabrina and I, and then we would go have sex with our husbands. In the same room, but not together."

Kelly denied having a private affair with Robert, but blamed his murder on Sabrina.

Kelly: "She killed Rob."

Attorney: "She didn't kill anyone, did she?"

Kelly: "I believe she did. I believe she told Jonathan to shoot Rob."

If Sabrina Limon is convicted, she'll get more prison time than the man who pulled the trigger: 25 years to life in prison.

Judge: "Whatever the jury decides, everyone present has to sit quietly and calmly."

It's judgment day in Kern County.

Clerk: "We the jury find the defendant Sabrina Limon guilty of a felony, to wit for the murder of Robert Limon, as murder in the first degree. The crime was done with premeditation and deliberation."

There was no mercy for Sabrina Limon.

Judge: "As to count one, murder in the first degree, the term proscribed by law is 25 years to life. Defendant is remanded to the Department of Corrections. We're adjourned."

"The court is supposed to find somebody guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and I've never seen a case where there's more reasonable doubt than this one," said Sabrina's cousin Ryan Terry.

Do you get any sense that she has any remorse for what transpired?

"Not at this time," said Robert's sister Lydia Marerro.

Do you forgive him?

"Not at this time, I can't yet," said Lydia.

A husband and father dead and gone. A wife and mother facing life in prison. A religious firefighter who sold his soul to the devil. And all for what?

"You don't invite evil into your home like Sabrina invited Jonathan, by bringing him and this relationship to destroy that family," said Lydia.

At Sabrina's sentencing, the Limons' children both wrote letters to the judge urging their mother be released with just probation. Her teenage son said in part: "My mom is one of the best people I know. She's loving and loves God. She loved my dad and we do everything together. I need my mom in my life .... I would do anything to get her home."

For now the two children will continue living with Sabrina's sister.

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