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FINGERHUT KILLING Officials: Letters reveal scheme



Published: Tue, January 1, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Police found nearly 290 letters the two suspects wrote to each other.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Love, a new Cadillac and a $325,000 life insurance policy are what drove Donna Roberts and her lover to kill her husband, prosecutors say.

According to an 11-page affidavit filed by the Trumbull County Prosecutor's Office, Roberts, 57, of Fonderlac Street S.E., Howland, and Nathaniel E. Jackson, 29, of South Pearl Street, Youngstown, planned for several months to murder Roberts' husband, Robert S. Fingerhut, 57.

Police found 145 handwritten letters from Roberts to Jackson in the trunk of her vehicle. They also found 143 letters from Jackson to Roberts in Roberts' bedroom, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit states the letters show Roberts and Jackson "were and had been lovers for over two years. These letters also established that they were plotting to murder Robert Fingerhut."

In an Oct. 29 letter to Roberts, Jackson wrote, "An as far as that Robert problem. Yes I'm taking care of that the next night, because I told you I'm tired of living like this when I don't have to. An after that will you get me a 2002 Cadillac DeVille? Because I dream of it a lot."

The affidavit notes that Fingerhut had a $325,000 life insurance policy and his wife was the beneficiary.

According to documents, Jackson was released from Lorain Correctional Institution Dec. 9 after serving one year after being convicted in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court of two counts of receiving stolen property.

Charges: Roberts and Jackson have been indicted on charges of capital murder, one count each of aggravated burglary with firearm specifications and one count each of aggravated robbery with firearm specifications.

Both could face the death penalty.

They pleaded innocent Monday before Judge John Stuard in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. They are being held without bond in the county jail. Judge Stuard said he will discuss bond during a Jan. 30 hearing.

The affidavit, filed with the court Dec. 21, was released to the public Monday after the arraignment. The judge, however, declined to release copies of letters written by Jackson and Roberts that were attached to the affidavit.

The affidavit notes that Roberts picked Jackson up at prison and took him to the Wagon Wheel Motel on Market Street in Boardman.

Police think Fingerhut was shot Dec. 11.

Trumbull County 911 records show that Roberts' called the center about 12:25 a.m. Dec. 12 to say she found her husband dead.

Fingerhut was shot at least three times, including once in the back of the head, according to the affidavit.

Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, the county's forensic pathologist, also concluded that the victim was probably engaged in a struggle with the assailant because of other injuries, including lacerations, abrasions and contusions.

Employees: Roberts told police she was not having trouble with her husband, but employees who worked with her and Fingerhut at the Greyhound bus station in Youngstown said the two had been fighting.

The affidavit quotes one witness as saying that on Dec. 10, Roberts asked Fingerhut for $3,000 and he said no and she gave him "the dirtiest look, like she was out to get him."

Roberts wrote to Jackson Nov. 26 that "I (live) exist in hell on earth. Like last night -- I got so sick of just looking at him. And hearing the same s--- over and over. And seeing his skin. And watching him walk or breathe. I can't hold my disgust and contempt for him ...Which makes him feel worse about me in return. Which makes him talk to me and treat me like dirt."

The affidavit also notes that police obtained tapes of 18 telephone conversations between Roberts and Jackson while Jackson was incarcerated.

On one tape, Roberts says, "I can't take it anymore here. I even gave you permission to do that to Robert to be with you forever."

sinkovich@vindy.com




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