What Happened To Melanie McGuire, The Suitcase Killer?

In May 2004, a fisherman and his child were sailing the Chesapeake Bay when they spotted something odd floating in the water. They were in for a horrific discovery (via YouTube). The fisherman pulled a dark green suitcase from the estuary and pried it open to find that the contents of the suitcase were two human legs, cut at the knees.

Just a few days later, a second dark green suitcase washed ashore on Fisherman Island, New York (via People). This suitcase held more human remains and clues that would help determine the identity of the victim, which contained the torso and head of Bill McGuire. At this point, it was clear that the man had been shot multiple times in the torso and once in the head (via YouTube). After another five days, a third suitcase appeared. Another unfortunate boater found a human pelvis inside.

The remains belonged to Bill McGuire, who was 39 years old and had two sons. He had been married to Melanie McGuire — and it was soon discovered that she was his killer.

A rocky marriage

Per Asbury Park Press, Melanie and William "Bill" McGuire married in 1999. Bill became a computer technician, while Melanie sought out a career path as a fertility clinic nurse. The New Jersey couple occasionally had fights and broke up from time to time but always got back together (via YouTube).

After a few years, the marital dynamics began to shift. Melanie claimed that Bill was abusing her and was frequently violent (via ABC News). During her work as a nurse, Melanie formed a longstanding romantic relationship with her boss, Dr. Bradley Miller. In an interview, Melanie said that Bill had gambling troubles and took his frustrations out on her, while Bill's stepfather noted that he had a split personality that vacillated between kind and manipulative (via YouTube). Melanie recounted an example — when Bill got a speeding ticket, he became so enraged that he told her he was going to return home and kill her.

The breaking point

The couple's fights began to escalate, leading to a quarrel on April 29, 2004 (via ABC News). As Melanie tells it, Bill accused her of not watching their child while doing laundry, saying that there was a choking hazard from a dryer sheet (via YouTube). She says he then pinned her to the wall, hit her, and tried to choke her with the dryer sheet.

Melanie says she yanked her child away and tried to hide in the bathroom, but this was a breaking point for Bill, who fumed out of the house. "​​I just wanted to get away from him at that point," she said (via YouTube). "He said he was leaving, and he wasn't coming back, and I could tell my children they didn't have a father." On April 30, the next day, Melanie filed for divorce and a restraining order. She didn't contact Bill or report him as a missing person, which some of Bill's friends found suspicious.

An out-of-state weapon

As My Central Jersey reports, Melanie McGuire allegedly dismembered Bill's body and brought the trio of suitcases to a bridge. She dropped them into the water below, and just days later, the set of suitcases was discovered in quick succession.

ABC News reports that Melanie had actually purchased an out-of-state firearm in Pennsylvania, although she lived in New Jersey. She purchased a gun just two days before he was shot, so the timing was suspicious — but she claimed Bill had asked her to buy the gun for him, and she agreed. On an episode of "20/20," Melanie said (via My Central Jersey), "There were times I wanted him [Bill] gone, but gone doesn't mean dead."

NJ.com reports that in 2007, Melanie McGuire was charged on eight counts and found guilty of four: desecrating remains, murder, perjury, and the possession of the murder weapon — a gun — for an unlawful reason.

Life in prison

Just weeks after Melanie McGuire was found guilty, she appealed her case, claiming that Bill was $90,000 in debt to loan sharks in the mob (via NJ.com). But even her appeal fell apart when the key witness was found to be uncredible. Melanie has claimed that she didn't have effective representation in the courtroom, reports My Central Jersey.

Melanie McGuire is now serving a lifetime sentence at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey, as Entertainment Weekly reports. She does have an interesting new cellmate: In 2020, Melanie began sharing a cell with former actress Amy Locane, who starred in the TV show "Melrose Place." In 2010, Locane got into an accident while driving drunk — killing one person in the crash — and was convicted of second-degree homicide and assault with a vehicle.

Per Asbury Park Press, the "suitcase killer," Melanie McGuire, has returned to court most recently in 2014.

Still claiming innocence

In an interview with "20/20," Melanie said (via ABC News), "After all these years, I still feel hurt. I still feel bothered. Like, how could somebody think that I did that?" Melanie maintains that she is innocent and worries that the real suitcase killer is still out in the world somewhere. The 49-year-old insists that Bill's gambling habits got him into trouble with the wrong crowd (via YouTube).

Melanie McGuire's story has been documented in six TV shows since 2007, including "20/20" and "Deadly Affairs" (via IMDb), and one book in 2008, "To Have and To Kill." "Direct Appeal," a 20-episode Apple podcast hosted by criminologists, examined her case once more, suggesting that much of the evidence against Melanie was circumstantial. And Lifetime will revive the sensational story once again when it releases a fictional movie about the McGuire suitcase killer on June 22, 2022 (via Yahoo).